I am not a bargain girl, don’t get me wrong if there is money to be saved or a sale to take advantage of, I will be right there, but I will not seek it out, mostly because I am not interested in exerting the effort. I am not the girl standing outside the store because there is going to be a one hour sale in 10 minutes and we all need to line up. No, generally I am the girl that happens on the sale at checkout thanking her lucky stars that she can now afford to buy the dress AND go out to dinner that night. That said I am obsessed with Groupons, Living Socials, and whatever else is luring me to buy some exciting activity or meal. It requires no effort, just clicking on an email that is sent to your computer. The newest to my list: Gilt City. I had never heard of it before until my coworker asked me if I saw that Todd Gray was doing a Market Brunch Muse at the Corcoran—and the opening of his newest endeavor was being sponsored by Gilt City. She had me at food—I am a food-aholic, especially when it comes to new and different dishes or restaurants, so I was immediately interested, plus I have always loved the Corcoran museum. The deal: $40 for a buffet brunch at the Corcoran (menu below), a meet-and-greet with Todd Gray, executive chef at Equinox in DC, a bloody mary or mimosa, and admission to the museum. I signed up and lured my parents to go with me—they are usually game for all things prance, food, and museum.
Market Brunch at Muse Menu
Tuscan Farro Salad (Brussels Sprouts, Red Onion and Parsley)
Path Valley Roasted Beet Salad (Danish Blue Cheese, Beets, Spiced Pecans)
Market Arugula Greens with Roasted Butternut Squash (Barlett Pear, Toasted Walnut, Apple Vinaigrette)
Seasonal Quiche Selection
Baked Vegetable Frittata (Zucchini, Baby Spinach, Fontina Cheese)
Brussels-Style Waffles (Cinnamon Maple Syrup, Whipped Vanilla Cream)
Deviled and Pickled Farm Eggs
Trickling Springs Yogurt (Granola, Early Autumn Berries)
Artisanal Cheeses (Goat Cheese and Crostini)
Tom’s Buttermilk Scones (Dried Mission Figs, Caramelized Sugar)
Mini-Vegetarian and Egg Quiches
Sunday, October 23 was our brunch—all of us dressed in our finest attire and headed off to DC and the Corcoran. It could not have been a more beautiful day—sun shining, cool breeze. We got there early and walked to the White House, which reminded me why I asked my parents to do this—we rarely come into DC all together and of course, because I had not seen them in a while. So with a bright blue sky behind us we headed into the Corcoran with hungry stomachs and to judge Todd Gray’s Muse. Where do I start…I wanted to blog about this shortly after we came home, but was at a loss for words, mostly because I think I left the museum not knowing what I was feeling about the Gilt City deal and more surprisingly the brunch itself. Don’t get me wrong it was a wonderful afternoon with my parents, full of laughter and fun, but I was just unsure about the whole culinary experience. Instead of giving you a play-by-play, I will do a top 10 and a bottom 10 (in no particular order) to illustrate my confusion.
Top 10 Things at The Muse
1. It is at the Corcoran, which I think is one of the most beautiful museums in DC.
2. Todd Gray chose the menu—it is always fun to see what a celebrity chef prepares.
3. My parents were in fine form and we laughed and chatted the whole brunch—a very enjoyable day overall.
4. The bloody mary’s, which my Mom and I had, were made to perfection—spicy and delicious.
5. For the mimosa, which my Dad had, they actually give you a small bottle of champagne, which makes the $8 price tag a little easier to swallow (no pun intended!).
6. All the food comes from the White House farmer’s market and was so unbelievably fresh, particularly the fruit and the sausage.
7. The salad with the Brussels Sprouts was amazing. It had a great mixture and balance of flavors and both my parents and I really enjoyed it. I might try to recreate it with my own spin for a later post.
8. I had never had pickled deviled eggs—an experience definitely worth repeating, as they are delicious.
9. The frittata was excellent. I have never had one combined with zucchini and squash, but the flavors really came together nicely and it tasted very fall-like to me.
10. It was a new and different experience and fun to combine brunch with a walk around the exhibits in the museum, which on that particular day can only be described as “interesting.”
Bottom 10 Things at The Muse
1. The singer was so awful and her voice so boisterous, that it was physically jarring to hear her hit the high notes (and I use hit loosely).
2. Staff seemed a bit disorganized and in fact the waitress asked my parents and I, as we arrived for our 1230pm seating, what time the next seating was—1230pm or 100pm?
3. There was both goat cheese and blue cheese present at the brunch—which I know for most people is a bonus, but I just cannot stomach either one, no matter how many times I have tried to like them, so that unfortunately precluded me from trying two of the dishes.
4. Todd Gray never appeared—we think we figured out who he was at one point, but there was no meeting or talk as the Guilt City deal had promised and actually no one even mentioned his name.
5. The quiche was virtually inedible—it was watery, the eggs were undercooked and the crust was so thick it overpowered whatever other flavors were there.
6. They did not bring the mini quiches out until the end and at first only brought them to select tables before placing the tray on the main buffet—once people were mostly done eating.
7. While the food overall was excellent, I think it would have tasted better in smaller quantities, not in buffet portion sizes.
8. There were not enough tables so many groups (not ours) had to be split apart and sit separately or sit with people they did not know.
9. There was no order to the way things were done and there was no announcement about the food or the event itself.
10. I was so full by the end of the brunch that I was not able to try the yogurt, which looked divine—in hindsight I should have started the meal with it, sprinkled with the seasonal berries.
Overall the afternoon was a lot of fun and it was a great excuse for my family to get together and spend a really enjoyable day in DC. It would be interesting to go back and see how a typical Sunday brunch is at the Muse—it is not buffet style generally—perhaps a post for the future. If you go, or have gone, let me know. I would be interested to see if any changes have been made since the opening and how the menu, which varies on what is in season at various farmers markets, has been shaped.
My final rating: 2 ½ stars (out of 5)
For more information visit: http://toddgraysmuse.com