Dish of the Week: Barley Mac’s breakfast gnocchi

Media Credit: Diego Mendoza | Photographer

Barley Mac's breakfast gnocchi is crispy, oily, cheesy and flavorful – the perfect decadent brunch.

For a Sunday brunch spot serving American comfort food, Barley Mac is a top contender. 

Located at 1600 Wilson Blvd., the restaurant is a quick Metro ride to Rosslyn station, then a 10-minute walk down the street. The patio is adorned with red flower arrangements and string lights and televisions air sports games both inside and outside the restaurant. 

I opted for outdoor seating, mostly because Rosslyn’s skyscrapers gave some shade on a relatively hot day. Indoor seating is limited during the pandemic, but you’ll be greeted by modern, geometrical chandeliers and a facade of plants above the open kitchen if you choose to dine inside. 

Barley Mac prides itself as an innovator of American comfort food, so you can expect some hearty, indulgent and buttery dishes. If you’re hungry enough, start off with the restaurant’s famous mac and cheese ($10), topped with garlic cream and truffle oil, or the crispy risotto balls stuffed with mozzarella and served with marinara sauce ($9). 

The restaurant offers four different types of eggs benedict if you’re looking for a traditional brunch dish. My mom opted for the lobster benedict ($18) served with hash browns and Texas toast, saying it was among the best brunch plates she’s eaten. If it were up to me, I would have chosen the french dip benedict ($16) with shaved prime rib, dipped in au jus– a light gravy. 

You can also opt for sandwiches like the smoked provolone and tomato jam Barley Mac burger, or a ham and swiss croque-madame on sourdough (both $14).

My friends and I were drawn to the brunch specials, which included the breakfast pizza topped with house sausage ($15) and the strawberry shortcake french toast ($14). I was craving something savory rather than sweet, so I ultimately settled on the breakfast gnocchi special ($13) with pesto, house sausage, and a fried egg.

My first impression of the dish was its relatively large portion size – for $13, the bowl was filled with enough gnocchi for at least two meals. The pasta was chewy on the inside and slightly crisped on the outside from being pan-fried. Each bite was drenched in pesto, which tasted fresh, oily and cheesy. 

A fried, runny egg makes any dish just that more delicious. The yolk drizzled over the gnocchi, adding yet another layer of flavor. Along with scattered chunks of juicy and spicy sausage, both my stomach and I were stuffed by the time I was done. 

I washed down my meal with cocktails, a staple for any brunch outing. The mimosas ($3) were customizable at Barley Mac. I started off with a sweet glass of a strawberry and basil-infused mimosa, then enjoyed a prickly pear flavor with my gnocchi. You can also add mango-lime and blueberry-lemon flavors to your mimosa.

Other drinks include beers like the brunch shandy ($6), made with hardywood pils and house lemonade. You can order a classic Bloody Mary ($5) or the restaurant’s own take on the tomato-based drink, the “bloody mac” ($5), which is made with bourbon instead of vodka. 

If you’re looking to double your brunch dish as a leftover meal, dine out at Barley Mac.

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