Brunch, it could be said, is a religious experience. It’s attended regularly, on Sundays, in the company of like-minded individuals. Champagne and breakfast breads are the sacraments, and they’re presented at the altar of youthful urban privilege. It elicits strong opinions from both detractors and supporters.
In Dallas, brunch tends to follow a familiar (perhaps liturgical) format. Out-too-late-last-night servers leisurely refill bottomless Mimosas and drip coffees, skirting a steady conga line of Texas-sized plates of vaguely Southwestern-inspired egg dishes from the kitchen while keeping a wary eye on the vanishing bacon and shrimp garnishes on the Bloody Mary Bar.
Not that that’s not fun. But beyond the pale of brunch predictability lies Knife, at The Highland Dallas. Since opening last May, John Tesar’s temple of steak has earned itself a much-talked-about position in the Dallas food scene, particularly for tasting flights of bacon, sumptuous expense account cuts of Texas beef, and an understated-yet-still-somehow-Dallas late “Mad Men” design aesthetic. And dinner’s a great way to experience Knife. There are lesser-known cuts at popular prices, engaging hospitality from well-informed servers, and a well-crafted beverage program to attract. But that’s just dinner.
Brunch at Knife launched in February, and there are plenty of good reasons to add it into everyone’s brunch rotation. The bar program is notable. Strict adherents to the idea of the cheap, free-flowing brunch cocktail may balk at some of the cocktail prices ($9 and up), but there’s no cheap champagne and well vodka to be had here. There’s the delightfully piquant Green (courtesy of tomatillo) Bloody Mary, the gingery Bug’s Reward (it tastes like how sunscreen smells) which is like a boozy fruit-and-vegetable egg cream, and the stunning hot pink, cachaça-forward Hibiscus Caipirinha. It would be too easy to order every drink on the cocktail menu and simply have that for brunch; it would probably be worth the $67 bar tab.
If cocktail aficionados have their day with a great cocktail menu, it’s not surprising that foodies will find plenty enough to love about the brunch menu. Several regular Knife favorites such as the Ozersky burger and the bacon tasting (which is not to be missed) find their way onto the menu here, along with some straightforward and expectable brunch items like steak and eggs. Salads are done particularly well, especially arugula salad which pairs the peppery green with roasted pepper, parmesan, and satisfyingly crunchy Ibérico pork.
Baked goods are also show-stealers, thanks to pasty wizard David Collier, for the croissants and chocolate croissants hit the utterly correct notes of flake and fluff and the bite-sized lemon poppyseed muffins impart a good burst of citrus. Light brunches will appreciate the tropical fruit plate of in-season citrus in an elegant cold soup with an eye-opening passionfruit tang, topped with a light not-too-sweet coconut sorbet.
In addition to the steak and eggs, lovers of meaty breakfasts will like the Crispy Pork Belly Hash, which has very generous cubes of pork belly that are well-seasoned and satisfyingly chewy, and the Shortrib Benedict, which is honestly just as good without the muffin. The eggs on both have reached that pleasant harmony of firm and runny, in spite of needing a twist or two of fresh cracked pepper and a pinch of salt. The clear winner, however, was the (also gigantic) brioche French toast that had the richness of a custard and the bounce of a souffle, which comes with seasonal berries and ham.
Brunch is a late affair at Knife, only available from 11:15 to 2 on Sundays. Early risers can still enjoy the more limited Breakfast Menu from 6:30 to 10:30 seven days a week. Valet parking is complimentary.
Food and beverages were furnished by Knife Dallas in preparation for this article.