In a Sea of Mediocre Dallas Brunches, RM 12:20’s French Bistro-Inspired Brunch Shines

There’s something pleasant about a perfect ski run on an early morning. Or maybe your thing is the beach after an early-morning tide smoothed the sand as if no human has interfered.

For those of us who are landlocked or mountain-less, we rejoice in other perfections, such as a brunch that is not just OK, not just satisfactory, but excellent enough to revisit — for brunch, lunch and dinner.

RM 12:20 Bistro is that.

The unassuming French bistro-style restaurant sits in what’s essentially a construction zone; the road in the strip mall is bumpy enough to blow a tire.

The interior feels like a box, one that's been made chicer through DIY projects. There’s a large patio that feels quite pleasant. In our cold weather, it’s sealed in and feels like the inside of a light box, which makes you forget there’s any kind of construction or rough road nearby.

click to enlarge The bloody mary ($11) at RM 12:20 - TAYLOR ADAMS
The bloody mary ($11) at RM 12:20
Taylor Adams
The menu has some usual suspects, including a bloody mary ($11), which was unfortunately another expensive, watered-down drink with pepper stuck to the bottom. How many times I will continue to write a sentence like this when reviewing brunch, I do not know.

To start, we opted for cinnamon rolls ($8), which were enough to feed three people but were so good that the two of us knocked them out easily.

The tiny, icing-topped rolls come out on a little wooden board, a homey display that makes you feel comfortable enough to eat them all. They are suffused with that perfect sweetness you want in a cinnamon roll, and you don’t have to be embarrassed by the cartoonishly large pastry that so many restaurants make you endure.

click to enlarge The cinnamon rolls ($8) are great for splitting with two or three people. - TAYLOR ADAMS
The cinnamon rolls ($8) are great for splitting with two or three people.
Taylor Adams
You can also get assorted pastries ($6) or salmon gravlax ($16) if you don’t want a start that’s so sweet.

As for the main course, there are plenty of appetizing choices. The croissant ranch toast ($10) has us curious, and the croissants and fried chicken ($14) seems like a safe attempt at an item that’s served at every brunch.

We opted for some others, including Erin’s English Breakfast ($12). Everything about this place says French bistro, but it’s not our fault that a French place has an English breakfast.

Two eggs, banger sausage, sautéed mushrooms and a choice of frites or croissants make up this plate. We took the croissant, of course. The banger was solid, and the sautéed mushrooms were good enough to top any plate.

While there’s a classic French dip ($14) and a Parisienne sandwich ($12) of French bread, French butter, French cheese and French ham served with fries, we couldn’t avoid the croque tartine Parisienne ($12).

click to enlarge The croque tartine Parisienne, $12 - TAYLOR ADAMS
The croque tartine Parisienne, $12
Taylor Adams
First of all, a ham-and-cheese sandwich is pretty safe. Top it with an egg and it’s a real meal. But RM 12:20 Bistro makes it more than just a meal. It makes it something to brag about.

This is a sandwich you have to eat with fork and knife. This sandwich doesn’t just have a simple cheese slice, but what seems more like a béchamel sauce. It's not just topped with an egg thrown on top, but with an egg that is delicately cooked, possibly from a hen that lives in paradise.

RM 12:20 not only offers a brunch worth returning to, but will become a Lake Highlands standard for lunch, happy hour, dinner and whatever it wants to serve.

RM 12:20, 9850 Walnut Hill Lane (Lake Highlands). Brunch served 10 a.m. -3 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.