In Tarrant County we have plenty of food wars. We argue over who has the best barbecue, or the best fried catfish and hushpuppies. And we will definitely argue over our steaks.
But it seems that we can all agree on our obsession with brunch and its wide-ranging food groups – fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy (with a side of mimosas).
The history of this breakfast-lunch hybrid begins (in theory) in 1895, according to “Brunch: A Plea,” written by Guy Beringer, a British writer. It’s the first time this word – brunch – had been used to describe what he hoped to be his persuasive plea for his local mates to share a lighter meal than what was typically served during lunch. Also, during those days, breakfast was thought to be a meal of solitude, and perhaps for many that remains.
It is more common to find one sitting in seclusion, quietly sipping a hot cup of coffee or tea and clutching their cell phone, reading the Fort Worth Report, during breakfast than it would be during brunch. Brunch usually conjures up images of eggs Benedict (a personal fav) with luscious lemon yellow and creamy hollandaise, flavored coffees with whipped creams, fluffy pancakes, and extravagant fruit parfaits. Brunch also, most likely, brings to mind casual conversations shared with friends and loved ones about the week’s comings and goings, or intimate personal conversations shared amongst loved ones. Beringer wanted the focus of his newly minted feast to be purely on the extravagances of the food.
So here are a few Tarrant County restaurants that are able to capture Beringer’s luxe brunch experience as he so eloquently described almost 130 years ago. Some may have a delicious menu alone or they may offer both excellent food and atmosphere:
The Fort Worth Club, 306 West Seventh St., Fort Worth: The private club nestled in the middle of downtown Fort Worth was established in 1885, and most likely captures the essence of what an “original” brunch would have looked like in 1895. Feasting on spreads of fresh baked breads, gourmet jams, Maine lobster and crab cake benedicts is opulence personified. The lobster meat is succulent and slightly sweet, paired with the Bearnaise sauce is indeed the perfect bite.
First Watch (various locations across Tarrant County): Although a chain restaurant, First Watch offers consistently good “reimagined” healthy or traditional classics that are sure to meet even the most discerning palate at an approachable price point. The kids menu is also impressive with a nicely arranged plate of fresh fruit and half portions of waffles and or French toast, to name a few. If you’re not sure where to start, order the “Trifecta” and can’t go wrong. Fluffy eggs, a side of bacon and one waffle with a nice pat of warmed butter melting gently over the crevices.
Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles 1450 Texas 114, Grapevine. 817-251-2663: Lo-Lo’s just gets it right. If you want good soul food but also brunch and can’t decide, then run, don’t walk, to this laid-back establishment with hearty sides like squash mac and cheese, collard greens and candied yams. Uncle Brotha’s fried shrimp and grits yield you seven plump shrimp and sauteed scallions, bacon, cheddar cheese on a bed of creamy thick grits. They even have a waffle breakfast samich/sandwich that comes with your choice of breakfast proteins. Of course, when in Rome get the Lo-Lo special – three-piece fried chicken with two delicious homemade waffles.
Main Street Bistro & Bakery, 316 South Main St., Grapevine: 817-424-4333: This popular Grapevine bistro is French-inspired, but boasts all Texas flavors inside. The portions are good, and the food is outstanding. The hot chocolate is divine and transports me back to the most indulgent ones I order when visiting Europe. Honestly, I have yet to have anything bad at this restaurant. I love it. The one complaint I have? Just as in France, the seating can be limited. Call ahead for wait times if you are unable to make reservations or stroll the shops on Main Street while you wait for a table.
Winslow’s Wine Café 4101 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth, 817-546-6843: Don’t be surprised. This quaint unassuming stark white structure with the blue signage packs a mighty punch with its entire menu but especially their weekend brunch offerings. Looking for something a bit different than usual chicken and waffles but not too far astray? I recommend the chicken and French toast combo. House-made French toast and a perfectly seasoned, crispy boneless chicken breast.
Each of these five establishments is exactly what Beringer had in mind – to bring an element of conviviality to his neighborhood hangout with his British homies. In an excerpt of his 700-word essay, the writer sets the precedent for today’s modern Brunch with the finale of his sweeping prose:
“To begin with, Brunch is a hospitable meal; breakfast is not. Eggs and bacon are adapted to solitude; they are consoling, but not exhilarating. They do not stimulate conversation. Brunch, on the contrary, is cheerful, sociable, and inciting. It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper; it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow-beings. It sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week. The advantages of the suggested innovation are, in short, without number, and I submit it is fully time that the old régime of Sunday breakfast made room for the “new course” of Sunday Brunch. P.S.—Beer and whiskey are admitted as substitutes for tea and coffee.”
And yes, by the way, Guy Beringer did add that last quip.
Deah Mitchell writes about more than food. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.