The night before our brunch at Level One, I lost my contact lens. We came back from the bars, it had been my friend Justin's birthday and we had been drinking since 7 pm on a "party yacht" (which sounds a lot more bougie than it was), and I just wanted to go to bed. And thankfully, but maybe not, I remembered I should take out my contacts. I managed to get the right lens out and into the case, but the left one ended up somewhere on the floor, the table, or maybe Vietnam because all I know is, it went MIA.
This depressed me both because I brought no other contacts up to DC - just my glasses, which I never wear in public - and I still had a week left of wear in that contact.
The next morning, I was even more bummed at the prospect of wearing glasses for my next two days hanging out in Arlington and DC. We were about to go to brunch. I was going to be photographed in glasses. Would people see me as a hipster or as the bedhead wreck glasses make me feel like that? Whenever I'm bespectacled and not in the comfort of my apartment, I just feel ill prepared for life.
Justin offered up his own contacts. "You could have one of mine. I have so many."
"But we're different prescriptions," I said, but then wondered if maybe our prescriptions were close enough. I searched my email and found my prescription from 2014 and compared it to Justin's. I was a 3.5, and he was a 4.75.
Whatever. I didn't want to wear glasses to brunch. I realize I sound like a diva saying that. Nevertheless, I popped his contact in, and we hailed a Lyft for Level One.
I had been feeling great before we arrived, but as the Lyft pulled up, I recognized the tendrils of a hangover creeping over me. I also realized I had taken a multivitamin thirty minutes ago with no food in my system. Oops.
"I need food," I announced to my friends. "Immediately." My pallor emphasized this need.
Of course, inside on the ground floor of what I'm told is a three-storey bar (hence Level One), of which the top floor is called COBALT (a gay club), our waitress asked what we wanted to drink. At this point I wanted food more than I wanted water and let alone before I wanted a mimosa, but this was a drag brunch. Alcohol came first.
We all ordered different drinks - me the mimosa, Justin and friend the rose mimosa (it was red), and our friend the pointsetta (champagne and cranberry juice). I wondered if I'd even drink my mimosa. I couldn't decide if I was hungover or if this multivitamin was just having a field day in my stomach.
I urged my friends to order an appetizer. "I need food," I repeated. "I feel nauseous."
"Are you hungover?"
"I can't talk right now."
I also felt the beginnings of a headache. I questioned whether this was from last night's alcohol, the multivitamin's revenge, or from wearing the wrong prescription contact lens in my left eye. Honestly, who knew.
We settled on the bacon and cheese tots ($6). I had settled on them the first moment I saw them on the menu.
They didn't come out soon enough. I'm not saying the service is slow at Level One. I'm saying, don't take a multivitamin on an empty stomach. When they arrived, I wish they had a bit more cheese and that the toppings were slathered between the tots. Nevertheless, I launched into them and prayed for my premature death to pass.
Between the tots we ordered and our entrees, our waitress brought us a bowl of miniature muffins. I don't think we would have ordered the tots if we had known we got free muffins (I wouldn't have). I gobbled a muffin down, too. It was hard to choose whether I wanted banana nut, lemon poppyseed, or blueberry between also wondering if I would stop sweating and if it would be better if I removed this wrong contact and put on glasses.
Our waitress never let our drinks get too low. You can guess I wasn't sipping my mimosa too much, but she refilled all my friends' glasses.
Our food finally came. Again, the wait was not that atrocious. I was just dying. They try to get food out to you before the show begins. I ordered the breakfast burrito with sweet potato fries. Half of the burrito brought me to full recovery. I proudly announced to the table I was alive again.
"You were dying over there," Justin said. "I saw you."
So I definitely recommend the burrito ($10). My only regret is, it wasn't spicy. I probably should have asked for some Sriracha.
I got to try everyone else's dish. Just kidding. Only my one friend let me try her hash brown casserole (called the "It's a Brunch Bowl" on the menu, $11). The rest let me take photos. The casserole was densely packed, but so good and cheesy. Definitely worth a try if you're not on the Atkins diet. And the brunch burger looks good? Thanks, Justin, for a bite.
The brunch itself is a drag show, which probably doesn't tell you much. I've only been to one other drag show (at Godfrey's in Richmond), and that one had a lot more pizzazz. This show felt slightly disjointed, but that could be because of where we sat. The restaurant is L-shaped, and the drag queens, strut as they may, can only entertain half the room while the other half becomes distracted by their booze and friends at their table. All in all, the show is background entertainment - until the performer is right upon you, putting your hand on his/her (fake?) boob. (Yes, that happened. I won't share photos.)
The performers ranged in how they wowed you. There were four the day we went, changing attire every time they appeared, and some had the vocals, others had the costumes, and most just had presence. I apologize I don't have great photos of them, but with my faulty contact lens...
Bring ones - or fives if that's how you roll - to tip them. And beware their lipstick.
Also, wear the correct prescription contacts and maybe take your multivitamin after you eat.