With my family meeting up with me for a long week celebrating birthdays, completion of residency, and other happy things our plans were ambitious and enviable to many gourmands…the plans were also made far in advance – they had to be given the difficulty in obtaining some of the reservations. Arriving before my family I asked a friend in the area where a local would recommend for an early breakfast on a Saturday and the immediate response was “Market Lunch – get the Blue Bucks!” Fair enough I thought, I love pancakes.
Hopping on the metro shortly after disembarking from my early morning flight I found myself at the Eastern Market by 9:05am and as I was warned I found a line – a line that took only 5 minutes less time than my flight from CMH to DCA. Waiting in the line I read the story of the counter’s history and re-establishment after a fire, I talked a couple of friendly college-age (and clearly hung over) folks from Georgetown, and I dealt with the potent smell of raw fish wafting from the Market Seafood Stand across the way – I also read the Soup-Nazi-esque rules regarding payment, seating, and ordering.
Finally arriving at the front of the line I was greeted by a hurried young lady who shouted out “ONE CRABCAKE AND ONE BLUEBUCKS” as I placed my order. Handing her the cash I stepped to the size and waiting approximately 5 minutes before my food was plated, placed on a red tray, and topped with butter before being handed to me with a “have a nice day.” Growing ever weary of the fishy smell I filled two small carryout containers with syrup and hot sauce and made my way to the outdoor seating area to enjoy my $15 breakfast.
Beginning first with the Crab cake, first plain and then with some crystal hot sauce and a sprits of lemon, it was a solid example. Moderate in size and perfectly crisp the cake itself featured plenty of lump crab and a bit of back-fin bound by a creamy breading and hints of old bay seasoning – slightly spicy, mostly sweet, entirely worth the price.
Moving next to the Blue Bucks – three thin buckwheat pancakes packed with fresh whole blueberries – I expected they must be good as I’m rather certain every single patron ordered a plate. Taking my first bite I will admit the pancakes were well prepared with golden brown exterior, fluffy interior, and a nice mouth feel. Unfortunately, while ample notes of buckwheat and buttermilk were notable the blueberries were largely underwhelming, most likely due to the season and the generic syrup did nothing but add sweetness.
While the rest of the Eastern Market was a nice (albeit quick) browse I was mostly impressed by the outdoor weekend market as opposed to the daily indoor selections and unless I lived in the area I wouldn’t put the market high on my list of things to see and do in DC. A decent breakfast – sure. A breakfast worth an hour wait – not at all. More focus on crowd flow, air flow, and using a quality maple syrup might help, but I’d still not rush back.