Kramer Books: The Bookstore Where Lewinksy Shopped
In 1976, Bill Kramer–the then manager–had a desire to open a business that provided customers with a place to both eat and read, what he describes as “two of the three most enjoyable activities”. Shortly after the bookstore was opened, the amazing Afterwords Café was launched, bringing Kramer’s dream to life. In the early days, the store was open 24 hours and soon became a popular destination and meeting place for neighbourhood residents, authors, and politicians alike, and also earned a reputation as a place to meet a potential date. Remember Monica Lewinsky? Her purchases attracted national attention during the scandal and led to a high profile legal battle.
With the current opening times of 7:30 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. daily, and until 3:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, it’s a fantastic place to lose yourself in a sea of books and enjoy some of the most varied food that the region has to offer. With a warm and welcoming ambiance, you cannot help but be drawn into its embrace. Whether meeting with friends and loved ones or enjoying a relaxed dinner for one with your new book, it is the perfect location.
As I arrived in the Capitol, the snow was gently falling and I was in need of a welcoming place to have dinner. I pulled on my hat, gloves, and scarf took out my map and set off in search of Kramer Books. I hadn’t reserved a table and the restaurant was bustling, but a table was promptly found and I was shown to my seat by a very jovial and friendly greeter. Frequented by a diverse range of people, from families with children, friends, lovers and thankfully other singletons, I felt very comfortable as I perused the menu at the same time as scanning the dishes being brought to nearby tables.
The dinner menu is very varied from light bite salads through to pot pies, steaks, fish dishes, burgers, and the famous crab cakes. I skipped the appetizer and chose a glorious halibut dish served on braised lentils and diced vegetables, which was so rich and flavourful I was saddened when I had cleared my plate and emptied my glass of deliciously rich Cabernet Sauvignon. I ordered a second glass and settled down to read my book.
I was intrigued and distracted by a young couple that sat close to me who were lost in conversation. They shared the fabulously fragrant chicken pot pie and dipped into each other’s plate of salads and sides, oblivious to their surroundings and the people around them. A large group arrived and were seated behind me. Their humour and joviality on this cold Winter evening were infectious; I found myself staring into the pages of my book without taking in a single written word and instead tuning in to the snippets of the conversation that went on around me.
Satiated by the whole pleasant experience, I continued to flick through my book and sip on my wine until I noticed it was almost 10 p.m. and the next sitting of diners was arriving. Reluctantly giving up my table, I packed up my belongings, donned my winter wear, and ventured out once more into the snowy evening.
The Bottom Line: 5/5 Brookie Stars
Kramer Books is one of my favourite brunch spots in the world. What can be more perfect than eating perfectly cooked and presented food in a relaxed, welcoming and cosy atmosphere while surrounded by books? I literally went there and bought the t-shirt! Delightful.
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With 30 years of general management experience in the global insurance industry and having lived in 4 countries, Jacqui now spends her time between London and New York where she continues to pursue her passion for writing, food, books and travel.
A Reiki practitioner, yogi and huge animal advocate, her home isn’t complete without a furbaby or three. In addition to being a BooknBrunch contributor, she writes for industry publications.
Favourite book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Favourite brunch dish: avocado toast with tomato and chilli