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.”
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).
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.
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.
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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)