Every so often, it’s good to revisit a place you know, an established place that you know will be reliable.
Go to enough consecutive bad brunches, and this is a nice break.
That break came recently at Fearing’s Restaurant in Uptown’s Ritz-Carlton. It’s a little snazzy and pricey, but it will get you a decent brunch.
The menu is a decent size, probably larger than it needs to be with breakfast breads ($6 per order) and brunch starters ($12), hot plates ($28) and dessert ($10).
You’ll do yourself a favor if you start off with the Uptown bloody mary ($14). It’s not a cheap drink, but you’re at the Ritz. And it’s bloody well done. Despite the facts that our server warned us of the spiciness and it comes with a half of a giant jalapeno sticking out, they could amp up the spice quite a bit. There are also tortilla strips, which have no business being in something you’re drinking. Still, the balance of the actual drink is better than you’re going to find in most of the rest of Dallas.
If it’s in your budget, you’ll like Dean’s (Fearing) signature margarita ($22) with his own hand-selected Patron añejo tequila. It’s perfect. Really, it’s the balanced, smooth margarita you always want when you order a subpar one. However, if $22 is an expensive meal to you, much less a cocktail, you’ll still wonder what the point is.
You can also get a pomegranate mimosa ($14) if the regular one doesn’t suit your style for the day. It’s fine, still a light cocktail with a little welcomed bitterness.
Under the “breaking bread” section, you can split buttermilk biscuits, banana bread, ham-and-cheese croissants or mini cinnamon rolls among the table.
The starters are more suited for individuals (and at $12 each, that’s a more reasonable breakfast anyway).
Take the campfire breakfast: You’ll get a cup of ranch-style beef brisket beans topped with a baked farm egg, along with a side of West Texas Chow Chow (which appeared to be sliced peppers here) and a cut of cast-iron cornbread.
The cornbread is on the sweet side but very good. The sliced peppers were just that (and for those of us who literally love to snack on those, thank you). The bowl was where things got weird: We didn’t find much of an essence of brisket, though the beans were smoky. And the tiny egg, which did seem fresh and cooked fine, sank among the beans as soon as we tried to break into it.
It’s not that wonderful moment of yolk flowing over other ingredients. It’s an experience of your farm-fresh egg becoming mush in black beans, harming the very integrity of the perfectly good egg.
That was the lowest point of the meal.
The poached jumbo prawn “michelada” cocktail was worth sharing. It’s served with avocado jicama pickled red onion relish and cilantro-crema.
It’s a delicate plate with truly large shrimp, cooked properly and laced in relish with a slight bite. For $12, this was the best deal on our table. While presented in a way that makes it easy to share, it was light and good enough that you really wouldn’t want to.
The main courses are called hot plates, again, at $28 a pop.
The menu has a lot of words (we may have referenced “too many notes” from Amadeus while we were perusing), making the two-page spread less convenient to look over.
The fried chicken is worth a shot, especially since you get half the bird. “Granny Fearing’s ‘paper bag-shook’ fried chicken” seems brined to where you get the juiciest of meat. The batter is delicate and the right texture, but it lacks flavor.
That’s where the gravy comes in. The smoked tomato gravy comes in a small dish, but even a little bit will give you a savory taste and more. It was good on the chicken and on the creamy whipped potatoes that come on the plate. It was even pretty incredible on a bit of the cornbread.
Carmella’s truck stop buffalo enchiladas may be the real highlight. On top of black bean puree, they’re topped with pico de gallo queso, basted farm eggs and served with a side of excellent cumin-carrot slaw.
Everything is done right: The ingredients are in their best representation, you have that glorious moment of yolk breaking over the meal, and the plate leaves you feeling satisfied nutritionally and in the soul.
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Overall, the food that came out was good. The service was fine, though not exactly on point with the rest of the meals. If you drop in for lunch at Fearing’s on a weekday, you'll see top-notch service. Either different people work brunch or when they work brunch, they just don’t care.
There was also no music playing while we were seated. And it’s not a bustling place. The crowd you see during the week isn’t here on a Sunday, which means a quiet dining room. Lord forbid you have a lull in conversation and have silence over your plate of prawns.
Otherwise, Fearing’s is a perfectly good place to land if you’re in the mood for a snazzier brunch.
Fearing’s Restaurant, 2121 McKinney Ave. (Uptown). Brunch served 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Sundays.