International-Inspired Food and Drink at Curious Grape’s Brunch in Arlington, Virginia
Sparkling Sunday Brunch at Curious Grape in Shirlington Village
A brunch that extends itself a bit beyond the typical fare is something I’m always on the lookout for, and at the Curious Grape in Arlington, Virginia, that’s what you’ll find. Their new Sparkling Sunday Brunch really delivers on its concept, with an eclectic range of international flavors and unique offerings based on seasonal and local ingredients.
Curious Grape is actually a wine shop turned cafe, wine bar and restaurant, so while the brunch food is excellent, the menu really begins with and is based around its beverages.
That means that for each starter or entree on the brunch menu, you’ll find several wine pairing suggestions. They also make it easy for anybody to make their wine selection, with wines listed in categories such as light, crisp whites or full-bodied reds. It’s an intuitive categorization for the uninitiated wine drinkers out there, ensuring there’s no confusion about what you’re getting.
However, you may want to skip the wine pairings entirely and opt instead to check out the collection of brunch cocktails. Curious Grape has three different Bloody Mary options, all with homemade mixes — the Italian-inspired Ciao Bella Maria, with balsamic vinegar, roasted pepper and basil, the Spanish-inspired Bloody Maria, with smoked paprika, piquillo peppers and cumin seed, and the Chinese-inspired Beijing Mary, with soy sauce, wasabi and sesame oil. Each is tasty and unique, and if you can’t settle on just one, then opt for the trio and try them all.
You can then do your own flavor pairing, matching the Ciao Bella Maria with something such as the buffalo mozzarella, Serrano ham and oven-dried pineapple starter, or the Beijing Mary with a doughnut and wild boar sandwich starter.
You may have to do a double take on that one — doughnut and wild boar sandwiches — but it’s something you absolutely have to try. Here, you’ll find bite-size doughnut sliders stuffed with pulled boar meat, hoisin sauce, cilantro and pickled onion, topped with powdered sugar. It’s a fantastic combination of sweet and sour and is the exact antidote to simply sticking with more of the same old.
Standout entree choices include options such as the flat iron corned beef with sweet potato hash, topped with a poached egg, and the Austrian pancake souffle, a melt in your mouth sweet pastry served in a cast-iron skillet with apples, raisins, bacon and hickory syrup. Each bite is truly a luscious experience meant to be savored, but it manages to stay lighter and airier than you’d expect.
Other dishes on the starters list include a Belgian endive salad with Asian pear and toasted hazelnuts, white wine-poached pears and yogurt, and ricotta blintzes. If you tend to opt for lunch over breakfast, then you could choose heartier entrees including a penne pasta with Vietnamese-spiced pork and beef Bolognese ragu, pan-roasted shrimp with slow-roasted bacon and smoked cheddar polenta, or the lamb and beef burger.
Still hungry? When you haven’t had enough, there are several dessert choices as well, and a collection of sweet wines to finish things off with. Other options on the menu include freshly baked muffins, pastries and bagels, and all the cheese you can handle, with cheese fondue, brunch cheese plates and mini cheese souffles.
Still thirsty? Beyond the Bloody Mary trio, you’ll also find several unique mimosas on the brunch menu. Check out the Icy Hot Apple, made with apple ice wine, hard cider and spicy ginger ale, or the Ruby Fizz, with ruby port and sparkling rose.
If you’re looking for a rowdy brunch atmosphere and bottomless drinks, this isn’t quite your spot. But for a change of pace, with unique and memorable food and drink, the Curious Grape is certainly worth a visit.
The Curious Grape Wine, Dine & Shop is located at 2900 South Quincy Street in Arlington, Virginia, within Shirlington Village. Sparkling Sunday Brunch is available from 10:30am-2:30pm. More information is available at CuriousGrape.com.