Dubliner Restaurant and Pub
4F Street NW. 737-3773.
Hours: Sunday breakfast starts at 7 a.m.; brunch menu available at 11 a.m. Open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. for dining; pub stays open until 2 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays, 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Atmosphere: On a quiet Sunday morning the Dubliner exudes old world charm and character.
Price Range: Brunch from $1.95 for a continental breakfast to $5.75 for steak and eggs. Most dishes around $3.95.
Credit Cards: All major cards.
Reservations: Advisable for lunch during the week, not necessary on weekends.
Special Facilities: Patrons in wheelchairs will find no architectural barriers if they enter through the Hotel Commodore entrance to the Dubliner. No easy parking.
The evening atmosphere at the Dubliner Restaurant and Pub near Union Station would never give you the impression that it caters to a family trade. It's a place where adults who have worked hard all day gather to have a dring, talk shop, listen to the lively, and live, Irish music, and maybe eat Irish stew.
Sunday morning is another story. The turn of the century look of the rooms that make up the bar and restaurant are nearly empty and have a quiet elegance: rich wood paneled walls and bar, heavy gilt frames around old prints and pictures, bud vases with fresh flowers on tables set with mauve tablecloths.
One miserable, rainy Sunday morning we called another family and suggested that an Irish breakfast was what we all needed to brighten the day. We arrived wet and hungry and were seated at a long row of four tables for two. Those who won seats against the wall leaned back on plush leather banquettes.
We let the waitress struggle with our children's orders. Because there were neither a children's menu nor children's portions, the waitress suggested that that the four youngsters, who ranged in age from 9 to 12, share two orders from the brunch menu. Since each order came with two eggs plus other items, that sounded like a good idea.
Only the simplest of the dishes appealed to their young appetites. They ordered the Irish country breakfast, $3.95, which included two eggs any style, thich sliced bacon, pork sausage, broiled tomato, home fries and toast.
The adults studied the other offerings. Brunch dishes from "The Old Country" included the Irish country selection as well as Cashel Cottage Eggs, $3.75, which was corned beef hash served in a casserole with sauteed mushrooms, sliced tomato, poached eggs and cheddar cheese sauce, and Dubliner Benedict, $3.95, which promised to be eggs benedict with a cheesier sauce.
From "The New World," Dubliner listed a small sirloin steak with eggs and homes fries, $5.75; eggs benedict, $3.95, and plain eggs any style, with potatoes and toast, $2.50. For those with more of a lunch time appetite, there were spinach salad, $3.25; hamburger, $2.85, and chef's salad, $3.25.
None of the brunch dishes included coffee, juice or milk, and we gave our waitress high marks for keeping the orders straight for orange juice and grapefruit juice, 75 cents each, and milk and coffee, 50 cents each, especially as one or two children changed their minds in mid-order.
The kitchen got slightly lower marks for the long time it took to make breakfast. Adults drinking coffee were brouhgt hot mugs as they sat down, but everything else took half an hour or more.
The brunches, when they arrived, were quite good. The best dish, by unanimous decision, was the Cashel Cottage Eggs. The corned beef hash was not the dish I remembered unpleasantly from school cafeteria days. Rather, it was rich and light and enhanced by the mushrooms and cheese sauce. The poached eggs were slightly overcooked.
Dubliner Benedict took second place. The poached eggs, again too well done, were served on English muffin halves and covered with a rich, hearty cheese sauce. The platter also came with a healthy serving of broccoli flavored with cheese sauce.
The Irish Country breakfast was not bad -- just not that different. The potatoes and cheese-glazed broiled tomato were a fine addition, and the bacon was thickly cut as promised on the menu. Out children, who shared the breakfasts ordered with scrambled eggs, reported that the eggs were well made and that half a portion was enough to eat.
While the food was good and priced right -- our family of four ate for $13.15 -- what we enjoyed most about our morning outing to the Dubliner was the atmosphere, It was a perfect place for a rainy day. The old world decor made us feel cozy, warm and well protected from the elements.
We never felt rushed by the staff; our coffee mugs were constantly replenished. If only we'd brought the newspaper along, we would have been happy to settle down there for the rest of the day.