Go to enough brunches in Dallas and the menus start to look the same.
There’s a take on a Benedict, a plate of shrimp and grits, eggs cooked your way — unless you want over-medium, in which case you get them over-easy.
The look of the menu alone at the new Merchant House — owned by the restaurant group behind Oak, El Bolero and Pakpao — immediately lifts expectations. It’s a sizable list with options for shared plates and entrees, which they categorize as “selfless” and “selfish.”
Merchant House has that look of Maple Avenue’s new construction: small Victorian.
You’ll want to take a big group — a lot of the menu sounds promising.
Take the very first dish on the menu: billionaire’s bacon ($6). Four thick slices of house-cured and candied bacon come on a plate you’ll want to fight over.
There’s also a tater tot waffle stack ($10). A waffle made of tater tots starts things off right, and an avocado and poached egg on top is perfect. Smoked trout comes mixed in there — which is good, though all that’s going on here overpowers what could be a good bit of meat, to the point of possibly harming the integrity of the smoked fish.
The Merchant House kolaches ($8) are more like pigs in a blanket. A spicy homemade sausage comes wrapped in biscuit dough — each is done well, though the assortment might be a little heavy for an appetizer.
Other options that look good on this side of the menu include “miscut donuts” ($6), a Vietnamese summer roll ($12) and crab mac and jack fritter with Sriracha aioli ($10).
Luckily, there are to-go boxes here. The short rib is flavorful throughout, making for a good breakfast and leftovers. It’s also worth noting those were particularly good tater tots.
On the “what’s mine is mine” side of the menu (as they list it), there’s plenty to try.
The short rib and eggs ($16) is well worth your money, given the cut of meat that arrives on your plate. And it’s not just a big hunk of meat — it’s seasoned well and cooked appropriately. Not only that, but the eggs came out cooked to the over-medium we requested, something that never seems to happen in restaurants.
For those of us who can appreciate a well-executed, simple breakfast sandwich, Merchant House comes through. For $10, your sandwich comes on a tender biscuit sturdy enough to hold two slices of sausage, melted cheddar and kale. The only wish here is for more kale.
A plate of bacon to start? When house-cured and candied, yes, please.
The brunch burger ($13) also sounds good, served with Bloody Mary aioli, pickled celery, beef bacon, lettuce, tomato and onion — a perfect hangover-cure concoction.
On the lighter side is a parfait ($9) with milk and patience ginger Greek-style yogurt, coconut granola and seasonal fruit.
And it appears 2019 might not be the year to let go of avocado toast: It’s here for $12 with dark wheat bread, avocado, oven-dried tomato, egg and cilantro.
The griddle cakes ($12) sound much more appealing: pumpkin pancakes are served with poached pear and maple.
The kolaches (klobasneks, actually) are good, but heavy. If you're in the mood for pigs in a blanket, these are for you.
Merchant House is new enough that it has some things to work out — one of those being a largely flavorless Bloody Mary. But for $5 — same price as the mimosa — it’s not terrible, but it just leaves you wanting more.
It would be unjust to speak of this restaurant without mentioning the beautifully designed space with warm colors and a setting fit for a nice home. It quickly puts you in the mood to stay awhile once you’re seated. And with a playlist that’s on-point, you might as well.
Merchant House, 4040 Maple Ave. (Oak Lawn)