Brunch at Whiskey Cake: Tasty, or Surreptitious Exercise in Upselling?

Whiskey Cake is many things. It is a Green Certified business of Plano. It is a farm-to-fork restaurant. It is very, very popular. And it is passive aggressive. This is quite an accusation to bandy about, I know. Call it cavalier, but Whiskey Cake had it coming when they served my drop biscuits with a side of condemnation.

Let me explain.

The brunch began, as many brunches do, with perusing the menu. Whiskey Cake has one of those big brunch menus you can really luxuriate in. There are the “starters” (more on this later) such as fried green tomatoes ($6), deviled eggs ($5) and goat cheese fondue ($10) — because nothing says good mid-morning like a steaming bowl of melted goat cheese!

The menu then slides into the brunch-light options, with salads sure to appeal to the health-minded crowds that flock to Whiskey Cake from their neighboring Collin County dens. The salads here do provide a much needed reprieve from the dishes that typically permeate restaurant brunch menus and that encourage the act of gormandizing. And with options like a grain bowl of quinoa, millet and shrimp or a citrus and watermelon salad with ricotta insalata, the options happily diverge from the tired-and-true Caesar or house. Of course, if you give a Plano-ite a salad, she'll probably want some juice, preferably squeezed by blind Romanian nuns, to go with it. Whiskey Cake offers several fresh fruit juices which are popular with the brunch crowd.

The rest of the menu is dedicated to the big-hitters: the ubiquitous Benedict, pork, eggs and grits, lemon poppy seed pancakes and the like. Our table, which consisted of three almost fully functional adults, ordered the chicken and waffles, hangover burger and cheddar and jalapeño drop biscuits with sausage gravy.

The chicken and waffles were good, though perhaps not something you would slap your mother over. The chicken tenders lived up to their name, as they were, in fact, quite tender. They were also coated in a very light, very crisp batter, earning the first half of this dish a solid thumbs up. The latter half of the dish — the waffle — was initially deemed ho-hum. Conditions were improved, however, upon striking bacon. The menu prepares you for the fact that imbedded into every waffle are pieces of smoky, salty bacon, but it still feels like Christmas morning as a 5-year-old when you find them: That shit’s exciting. Our table found that the best way to enjoy this dish was to drown everything in the accompanying sausage gravy, Pompei-style.

Ultimately, the only person you should be slapping is yourself, because $13 is a lot to pay for fried chicken and waffles, and because you just shaved off 2.5 years of life expectancy with that gravy train.

The hangover burger comprises a brisket patty, sunny side egg and all the trimmings on a challah bun. Woe betide the poor soul who is actually hungover and orders this burger, as it requires higher-order cognitive processes just to eat it. It’s one of those burgers in which all of its components, while perhaps not particularly fatty in isolation, when combined result in a riptide of grease. Here, diners are made or broken by their ability to home in on the bite that should be taken next and to rotate the burger accordingly. Failure to adequately judge the situation and/or to demonstrate wrist flexibility will result in the diner holding a shape-shifting, interdimensional challah nightmare. 

Aside from the logistical aspect, the burger patty was just fair, though a bit under-salted and ultimately too fatty when combined with the egg, cheddar cheese and mayo. Like the chicken and waffles, my end impression of the burger was that it fell short of what it could have been, especially considering the price at $12.50.

And then there were the cheddar and jalapeño drop biscuits. While listed as a starter, the small lime-sized biscuits are certainly enough to make for a satisfying meal, and when coupled with the accompanying sausage gravy might push you all the way into cutting-your-Spanks-off-in-the-women’s-restroom territory. But to Whiskey Cake, the biscuits are an overture, not an oratorio. They let me know this by tucking a small card with descriptions and prices of other dishes beneath my cup o’ gravy  

Nice move, Whiskey Cake. But you may want to reconsider tagging your diners' plates with mini-menus. I mean, just think of the other things you could have put on my plate. For instance, another biscuit. Because the biscuits were excellent, truly. Little puffs of savory, flaky goodness laced with cheddar and just enough jalapeño to give them a kick. And they went perfectly with that gravy — that oddly pink gravy, flecked with fennel seeds and breakfast sausage.

But that’s OK, Whiskey Cake. I forgive you and your passive aggressive mini-menu. Because I’m a generous person. Okay, no, that’s a lie. I forgive you because of that gravy, which lovingly coated not only the chicken and the biscuits but also your faux pas.