I’ll begin my thoughts about Kramerbooks & Afterwords with a positive note, which is the bookstore component. I actually really love the bookstore, and have spent many an afternoon nosing my way through the different sections of the store, stealing samples of different books. I happened to buy one of my favorite books, Neither Here Nor There, from Kramerbooks. After having been to the bookstore so many times, I naturally noticed the Afterwords Cafe that is settled in the back of the store. It seemed to always be crowded and buzzy, so my friend and I thought to go there for brunch. It was a poor choice. My friend and I stumbled into the cafe at around 2:30pm on Sunday for a late brunch. While we were skimming over the menu, we both happened to notice that the mimosas on the brunch menu were a cool $3 a pop, and each mimosa after that was only $1.50. Therefore, in the name of our deprecated bank accounts, we ordered a round. I opted for the traditional mimosa, while my friend ordered the strawberry mimosa.
Ok, I’ll put it this way, I really have nobody to blame but myself. It is probably unreasonable to have any sort of optimistic expectation for a mimosa that costs less than a bar of soap. After a single sip of my mimosa I quickly came to the conclusion that I was drinking a glass of orange juice, with what was likely accompanied with a thimbles-worth of cheap prosecco.
My friend agreed when it came to her strawberry mimosa. It was essentially strawberry juice, a snippet of prosecco, and a lone strawberry that sadly drowned at the bottom of her glass.
The positive note of the meal was that the food was actually not too shab. I ordered the Mediterranean Vegetarian Omelette, which came stuffed with kalamata olives, spinach, tomatoes and feta cheese. The flavor profiles all worked well together, and I was actually satisfied with my meal. The kalamata olives added a briny piquancy, the tomatoes were sweet, and the thyme added a fresh, herbaceous note. My only slight gripe was the feta cheese, which was a little overly salty which I would assume was due to the quality.
My friend opted for the Chesapeake Bay Crab Omelette, which included jumbo lump crab meat, corn, spinach, jack cheese, and was served with a lemon hollandaise. She was also pretty jazzed up about her omelette.
My biggest gripe about Kramerbooks and Afterwords was the service. The service that we received was, and I use this word quite seriously, blasphemous. My friend and I had been seated for at least 10 minutes before someone brought us water, and nobody came to take our order. Not a single person. We were being ignored, which made us inevitably look like a pair of confused, sad simpletons.
After about 15 minutes of being snubbed, I finally flagged down a waitress to take our order. During the meal, I thought it a good idea to order a different drink considering my mimosa tasted
like a cold glass of the most dreadful excuse for a brunch cocktail that I’ve ever suffered through subpar, and I thought to ask our waitress for the menu again. She brought it over, begrudgingly, as though I had asked her to go down the block to buy me a sack of diapers.
When our meal finally came, my friend asked our waitress if she could bring our table a bottle of Sriracha, which was just in eyeshot. She said she would, but proceeded to instead bop around, talking to her friends, yet again ignoring us. Eventually, a different waiter happened to stumble by to ask how we were doing, and my friend had to yet again ask for a bottle of Sriracha.
Good food can be ruined by poor service, which is precisely what happened today. After we finished eating, my friend and I opted to look around in the bookstore before we went our separate ways. We were looking at the cookbook section when we noticed that it was organized in a strange way, as the authors were not organized together. My friend joked that un-organization seemed to be a running theme here.
I took half of my omelette home, because it was pretty sizable. When I got back to my apartment, which is probably about a 15 minute walk, I noticed that my omelette had fallen apart. It looked like an olive/tomato explosion had detonated in my to-go carton.
In closing, the food at Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe isn’t actually so terrible. Just make sure to do the following:
- Avoid the mimosas. Like the Black Plague.
- Expect service that is equivalent in quality to a b-list airline attendant.
Kramerbooks and Afterwords Cafe
1517 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20036