Are you looking for a new neighborhood gathering place? A good place for brunch without dealing with the tourist crowd? Or, do you like elegant Southern fare? Then Del Merei Grille in the Del Ray neighborhood is for you. Now, they are conveniently located on Mt. Vernon Avenue, but the restaurant is located underneath the Calvert Apartments right near Glebe Road. So, keep that in mind and you won’t get lost! There is plenty of parking available. Also, brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays…great for those lost, lazy entire weekends.
I would describe the brunch menu as Southern-influenced, without being gimmicky. Owners Mary Abraham (whose relatives owned the restaurant previously) and Eric Reid are childhood friends who grew up in this neighborhood. Then, they both discovered the Southern cuisine of Virginia and the Carolinas. The restaurant has two distinct rooms, one to accommodate smokers. I visited during the “Grand Opening” period; the atmosphere was open and airy. Dress is casual and while some tables made reservations, they have plenty of room. There seemed to be people of all ages there, enjoying themselves, from young guys having brunch to seniors.
Dining Companion and I love Southern food, so we started out with creamy garlic cheese grits. Those $3 are extremely well spent on this tasty side. I don’t care if you eat grits, you don’t eat grits, or you think you don’t eat grits — think of a rich, thick, cheesy polenta in a white crock. I only wished that there were some little hot sauces on the table. I was extra hungry that morning, so I ordered a side of applewood smoked bacon ($3), which was a good go-with for the grits. We both got a nice, strong, dark coffee — the way they do in places in New Orleans.The main thrust of Del Merei Grille’s brunch is a wide selection of gourmet egg dishes. There are all kinds of eggs benedict: bacon and tomato, ham, steak, crab. They’ll set you back between $9 – $13. Another option includes a salmon omelet with dill creme fraiche. I went off the beaten path, more towards a Southern route with the Delta Omelet ($9). It is a creative take on the down home ingredients of chorizo sausage, crawfish, grilled peppers and onions with Vermont cheddar cheese. Del Merei Grille doesn’t skimp on the good stuff, either. The omelet was loaded with big hunks of crawfish and spicy sausage. One of the non-egg breakfast type items that I’d love to try was the Sour Cream Pancakes ($8 ), served with vanilla honey butter, real maple syrup and blueberry compote on the side. Many of you readers know by now how much Dining Companion loves a good sandwich. While I would have bet the rent that he was going to order the Braised Beef Rib BBQ Rib sandwich ($12)
scrambled eggs, Vermont Cheddar cheese and applewood smoked bacon or homestall ham between 2 slices of French toast, served with home fries. I think this would make a very gourmet to-go brunch! And, about those home fries . . .they are served with most of the brunch items and are excellent. Del Merei Grille does them with tater tots (yum!), grilled onions and peppers.
In the mood for something lighter, a little more “ladies’ lunch”? Del Merei Grille has several salads, including the Lolla Rossa ($8), which is served with crumbled bleu cheese, raspberries and spiced pecans tossed in vinaigrette. With all the salads, the restaurant has a variety of add-ons that you can order for just a few dollars to create an entree salad: grilled shrimp, chicken breast, chicken tenders, flank steak or chicken tenders.
Del Merei Grille has a fully stocked bar with its own bar menu, too. It features traditional bar favorites, along with “Frickles” ($4), which are fried pickle chips with a spiced remoulade and also Garlic Lime Marinated Shrimp ($10), served with shoestring fries and tequila cocktail sauce.
Del Merei Grille is located at 3106 Mt. Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305 (703) 739-4DEL.
Brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday, from 11:00 – 3:00.
he tried a true brunch combo in the Momma Reid ($13). This house invention is a sandwich of