What do good comedy and good cuisine have in common? They each take a familiar framework and start to break things, drawing new connections as they go. But the key, of course, is that things have to be broken carefully. Too heavy a hand threatens the audience’s sensibilities; too light and they may get bored. There are plenty of successes that cling to the edges of Olive Garden, Gabriel Iglesias mediocrity, but once in awhile, a Tina Fey comes along and everything just seems so right in the world. Equally rare but just as beautiful: A plate of warm grits and fried chicken that makes you think this world is good and free from all that is lukewarm. Meddlesome Moth’s brunch menu has a way of inducing this kind of happy delirium.
But perhaps this is just hyperbole. The aforementioned fried chicken – the Mother and Child Reunion, as it is known on the menu – may be good, yes, but does it challenge diners’ preconceptions of chicken and grits while simultaneously transporting them to an alternate dimension where Mondays never come and Bloody Mary carafes are quite literally bottomless?
Yes, it does.
A creamy, comforting alabaster puddle of hominy grits serves as the dish’s foundation. Spooned atop the grits is jalapeño gravy, whose muted, avocado green appearance serves as a striking contrast against its vibrant flavors. Slightly hot but mostly savory with hints of cilantro and lime, the gravy makes the dish, imbuing each bite with an addictive quality that leads the diner to hunt around the edges of his or her plate for any sauce that might have evaded previous forkfuls.
But man cannot live on grits and gravy alone. This is Mother and Child ($15), after all. Let us not rehash the oldest argument known to man but instead recognize that we will never know which came first, only that we are glad they both landed on the chef’s table at the Moth. On top of the grits, chicken breast is fried beautifully golden, creating a flaky and delicate exterior. The accompanying poached eggs perform their job well by bathing the grits, gravy and chicken in rich yolk. Together, these elements make for a dish that delights, bite after bite.
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And, just like a good infomercial, there’s more. Brunchers would be remiss to not order the French toast sandwich ($13). Restaurants love to reach for that perfect meet cute of sweet and savory, but often the results are mixed. Meddlesome Moth gets it right with slices of battered, pan-fried brioche with slices of pit-smoked ham and a fried egg tucked inside. Tillamook cheddar glues the sandwich together in a melty swath of love, and a drizzle of sorghum cream seals the deal, proving this to be no mere meet cute: This is love.
Other brunch favorites include sticky sweet morning buns ($10), pork cheek hash ($13), the badass bacon waffle ($13) and egg white frittata ($13.) This being the Moth, there are of course a litany of libations to choose from. In addition to their regular beer list, the brunch menu includes a selection of cocktails apt for a late morning or early afternoon rendezvous with the food Gods.
Like moths to a sorghum-doused French toast sandwich, Meddlesome draws crowds weekend after weekend. They know how to break things and how to put them back together. But mostly, they know to put crack in their jalapeño gravy.
Meddlesome Moth, 1621 Oak Lawn Ave., 214-628-7900