Similar to other hotel restaurants' dining rooms, the one at Knife in the Highland Dallas is fairly quiet on a Sunday morning.
It has a convenient enough location at the southeast corner of Mockingbird Lane and North Central Expressway, but this isn’t a time in Dallas when hotels are destinations for a good meal, for whatever reason.
Knife has plenty of well-deserved accolades for John Tesar’s steak. It truly is superb. Brunch comes through with the food, nearly compensating for some rough service.
Luckily, we weren’t in a terrible hurry: The lack of speed was evident from the moment we ordered drinks. A glass of grapefruit juice ($4) never arrived, and while the bloody mary ($10) did reach the table, it took nearly 10 minutes.
It’s a decent version of the brunch cocktail: nothing special, but the right amount of spice and Deep Ellum Vodka to start a Sunday.
Knife has had the bacon tasting ($16) on its dinner menu, and it’s even more welcome in the morning hours. Five options came out with a heap of bacon jam — you’re supposed to have the bacon jam with the bacon. Though the sweet-and-smoky jam is good enough to scoop to go and enjoy the rest of the week, it overpowers the multiple flavors of the bacon.
One downfall was that our server, who was new, got the descriptions incorrect for what was before us. (She stated the Benton’s bacon was from New Hampshire, when that company’s out of Tennessee; and didn’t budge when we asked for clarification.)
Teresa’s watercress salad ($16) is a healthy start to share. Endive, walnuts and tangy goat cheese make this good enough for a meal. That’s a good thing if one visits Knife and doesn’t eat meat.
Outside of the four-item salad section, everything is heavy on the meat (welcomed by most of the table, of course).
The short rib “Benedict” ($22) deservedly has those quotes on the menu, because the ingredients aren’t stacked together. English muffins come topped with perfectly poached eggs and a perhaps-too-delicate hollandaise. Breakfast potatoes quickly become greasy from the healthy short rib dominating the plate. This was the best item on the table for us: not surprising, as beef is Knife’s thing.
The braised short rib is tender enough to cut with a gentle tug of a fork, and each bite gives that fatty flavor only a good cut of beef provides.
Back to the non-meat-eater, you can also get brioche French toast ($16) or buttermilk pancakes ($14) if you swap out the bacon or sausage for another side. The French toast is impossibly thick, with good flavor but a less-than-finished texture in the center.
You can also just go for straight steak, if the carbs don’t cut it for brunch. Try the flat iron ($25) or go all out for the wet-aged, bone-in rib-eye ($65). These are from 44 Farms and prepared with the expertise Knife staff uses that leaves us raving about steak.
Sandwiches range from a Reuben ($18) to banh mi ($17). Our waitress urged us to go for the burgers that are apparently popular.
The pimento cheese burger ($14) is worthy of acclaim. The beef was cooked well, though it could’ve used a touch of salt, and the made-in-house pimento cheese was good enough to eat on its own.
We also went for the salsa verde French fries ($7), which we were assured are fantastic. They’re fine, and more like herb fries with simple seasonings.
The avocado fries ($10) are OK, too. The batter has decent flavor and is the proper crispness but would be better if it were thicker and able to contain the thick slices of avocado.
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All of this would’ve been better if it had arrived more quickly. Of course, that’s more irritating when you feel like you’re almost having a private dinner in the near-empty dining room.
Our server also had some awkward moments that put a damper on the mood. At a regular restaurant, we would’ve walked away feeling less satisfied with the experience. At Knife, the flavors make up for that.
As long as that service can take it up a notch, the space in Knife deserves to be full at brunch.
Knife, 5300 E. Mockingbird Lane (Glencoe). Brunch served 11:15 a.m.-2 p.m. Sundays.