Bethesda Stalwart Keeps on Truckin'
Persimmon was one of the early pilgrims to colonize the now fully bloomed Bethesda restaurant scene. Although diners complain that as packed with restaurants as the little downtown area is, the quantity of choices doesn't promise quality. However, there are exceptions, both established, like Raku and Persimmon, and relative newcomers, like Jaleo and Black's Bar & Kitchen.
Whether in Bethesda or anywhere in the country, for me there are two hallmarks of a good brunch: a well-made Hollandaise, and a breakfast food dish that's unique enough to the restaurant that gives you an idea of what might be in store should you come back for dinner another time. I sometimes use brunch as a cheaper way to test out a higher-end restaurant before committing to full-on dinner. Although the downside of this is that the executive chef is usually not in the kitchen during weekend brunch service, you at least get a feel for the restaurant ambience, experience, etc.
A recent brunch at Persimmon had me checking off both boxes — my friend's Hollandaise (atop eggs and smoked salmon on toast) was silky and not too heavy or thick, and my sweet potato duck confit hash with perfectly poached eggs was an inventive and indulgently rich surprise. As a fan of classic diners, I love a good corned beef hash, and this was a creative way to elevate a traditional brunch dish.
As I've heard from other people, Persimmon's interior could use some sprucing up; it's not worse for the wear but some dramatic flourishes would really make the space pop. Still, on a sunny weekend morning before the traffic on Wisconsin Ave. really gets going, a nice sidewalk table is a great place to be.