More than 40 years ago, a restaurant and bar by the name of Chelsea Corner took up residence on the corner of McKinney and Monticello. It was adopted by SMU students, area residents and workers alike as a beloved neighborhood hangout, a place where you could grab a slice of pizza and a drink. Chelsea Corner eventually passed on, its corner spot inhabited by a succession of different businesses including the Corner Spot, its most recent tenant. But Chelsea Corner is back now, reprising not only its name but in fact its former address.
In reviving Chelsea Corner, owner Len Critcher (The Tavern) and partners Chris Camillo and Tracy Rathbun (Shinsei) have re-imagined the décor, favoring an innocuous combination of dark upholstery, exposed red brick and pale wood in lieu of Chelsea’s original nautical theme. An elongated bar and flat-screen televisions dominate the eye, but oversized windows and a macrame wall-hanging help keep things from feeling as if a sports bar swallowed an episode of Cheers.
The brunch menu, meanwhile, is about as straightforward as they come with offerings like chicken and waffles ($15), eggs Benedict ($15), a three-egg omelet ($14) and farm-house breakfast ($14). In other words, don’t come here and expect to have your perception of brunch irrevocably altered. What you should expect is that you will enjoy a well executed version of something exceedingly – and perhaps endearingly – familiar, like Chelsea Corner itself.
And that was the case when it came to the fajita grilled steak enchiladas ($16.) Morsels of steak were tucked inside corn tortillas and topped with a plucky, piquant roasted tomato salsa. A sprinkle of nutty Mexican crumbling cheese and two perfect sunny-side eggs melded everything together and edged the enchiladas into brunch territory. The only gripe was that the steak – which was otherwise flavorful – had an unappealing grayish hue, as if it had been given a steamy bath.
A counter to the soulful and rib-sticking enchiladas came in the form of the McKinney Avenue Veggie Frittata ($14). One should only demand so much flavor and interest from any egg dish that willingly omits the yolks, of course, and so one orders and accepts an egg white frittata for what it is: a food created to help people look shapely in yoga pants. Chelsea Corner's version packs a veritable salad's worth of fresh vegetables and fungi into the poor, bone-white frittata. The salsa side is a must: use every precious drop to elevate your negative-calorie brunch choice into the land of the delicious.
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Certainly, Chelsea Corner is a standout in terms of its unique history. But with Uptown positively replete with “neighborhood” brunch options, we were curious as to whether the menu and overall dining experience would also help distinguish Chelsea Corner from the crowd. What we found was a good though not particularly memorable brunch service. Only time will tell if good is good enough to cement Chelsea Corner’s second chapter in the Dallas brunch scene.
4830 McKinney Ave. Brunch served 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m.Saturday and Sunday