Halcyon's Brunch Aims For the Idyllic but Misses the Mark

Kathryn DeBruler
High blood pressure? Order the Benny!
Halcyon is a lofty name for a cafe.

Halcyon is defined as denoting "a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful," so one might describe their childhood as halcyon, or a summer spent touring the English countryside, or that time when one's stomach capacity seemed as infinite as the burrito it was responsible for digesting. Those honeyed, halcyon, burrito-filled days.

click to enlarge Halcyon's interior. - KATHRYN DEBRULER
Halcyon's interior.
Kathryn DeBruler
Now halcyon is more than an adjective you can ascribe to your nostalgic memories; it's a place to make them. Halcyon, a combination coffee house/bar/restaurant, recently opened shop on Lower Greenville in the spot once occupied by Cafe Brazil. White-washed walls, vaulted ceilings and massive windows afford a lovely backdrop for splashes of neon such as the light fixtures that hang overhead like great cotton-swab visions from Ray Eames herself. The space has been thoughtfully configured to allow distinct nooks for nursing lattes, drowning sorrows and digging in.

Should you opt for the latter, you will find that in keeping with their coffee-house core, orders at Halcyon are placed either at or near the bar and are then delivered to your self-chosen table. This service structure could pose a problem to the indecisive, who might find the line coming to its end without important decisions – such as which mimosa to choose – having been made. But fret not, dear irresolute readers, for Halcyon offers mimosa flights (four novelty mimosas for $12), so you can have your chili-mango and your cardamom pear, too.

click to enlarge The carrot bloody mary: because you could use a little beta-carotene with your liquor. - KATHRYN DEBRULER
The carrot bloody mary: because you could use a little beta-carotene with your liquor.
Kathryn DeBruler
On second thought, you might want to skip the chili-mango mimosa, as its mango puree flotsam and chili-sugar rim barely summon a nontraditional flavor. A better bet can be found in the carrot juice bloody mary. Here the carrot juice is not a top-of-tongue flavor but instead evens out the acidity of the tomato base. It's peppery, caraway-seed studded and about as fine a mary as they come, though it comes at the equally fine price of $8.

The menu stretches its coffee-house core muscles with the likes of chicken and waffles ($12), egg skillets ($8-10), pancakes ($8-12) and other made-to-order items. There are a few more health-conscious options as well, like an acai bowl ($11) and avocado toast ($14), both of which come with a side of yoga pants.

With four Benedicts on the menu, we opted for one that has become as ubiquitous as the Canadian bacon/English muffin variety from whence all subsequent Benedicts were conceived. With fried chicken, white gravy and a buttermilk biscuit, the Country Style Benny ($12) should be the kind of dish that brims with over-the-top-flavor and threatens waistbands everywhere. What arrived was under-salted chicken, an oddly sweet, gummy biscuit and tepid gravy. The overall effect was dull indeed, for even the accompanying hot sauce and fried egg could not save the dish from C-SPAN levels of yawn.

click to enlarge A somber sandwich. - KATHRYN DEBRULER
A somber sandwich.
Kathryn DeBruler
With visions of Nova's BLT – its bacon cathedral dripping in golden yolk – swimming in our head, we ordered Halcyon's fried egg sandwich. As its name implies, the fried egg sandwich is not a BLT. It is an egg sandwich, thank you very much. It comes with just enough bacon, cheddar and tomato to keep itself out of Depression-era levels of asceticism, but it does not include enough of any of the aforementioned components to taste like much more than the standard-issue white sandwich bread that holds it all together. At $6.50, it's the cheapest option on the menu, but the true cost comes when you find yourself trying to aid the sandwich by dipping it, toddler-style, into ketchup. Truly, there's no lower point.

From all appearances, Halcyon is ready to be the place where fond memories are made. A place where respite is found, where work is done amidst chatter and indie music – a true local coffee house. But if it wants to carve out a similar place for itself in the discerning, vodka-soaked hearts of Dallas brunchers, it has some work to do.

Halcyon, 2900 Greenville Ave.