Rare is the brunch that is punctuated by the sounds of lives being gained and lost. Not real lives, of course — electronic ones.
In the summer of 2016, a hybrid venture called Nerdvana opened shop in Frisco, positioning itself as a caffeine and gaming-lovers' paradise. One component of this paradise is Nerdvana Coffee + Shop, a place where you can have a latte made from locally sourced beans and printed with your cat’s face while playing one of the shop’s many board games. The other component is Nerdvana Food + Spirits, a full-service restaurant and bar featuring more than 20 beers on tap, gaming consoles both at dining booths and in a communal space, and brunch offerings sure to tempt even the most entrenched of player away from their controller.
Forget small plates or dessert; here the menu jargon takes on techy terms like “cross platform” (entrees; $10-19), “hand helds” (sandwiches; $10-$17) and “expansions” (salads; $10-16.) Staple brunch items dominate the menu, including two takes on eggs Benedict, a two-eggs plate and French toast, which gets the 1up treatment with slices of thick-cut brioche and toppings like bourbon pecan maple syrup.
There are also a couple of skillets. The seafood skillet seems like it’s one Mario short of a true underwater adventure with its inclusion of lump crab, prawns and salmon. We opted for the decidedly more land-locked version, the pig skillet. Served with a side of warm salsa and either toast or tortillas, the skillet was comprised of ham, pork belly and pork loin. The swinetastic lot was tossed with a smattering of onion, peppers and scrambled eggs, proving once again that skillets are nearly impossible to mess up; a few good ingredients, some fresh eggs and a little heat and you’re in business. The ham did tend to overwhelm its pork peers with its salty, smoky flavor, so make sure you’re pro Easter's favorite entrée before ordering.
The menu also offers a generous assortment of melts – including a jammy, caramelized onion version and an interest-piquing crab melt with its lumps of blackened crab meat, fried green tomatoes and provolone. The chicken melt was reminiscent of a less porky Cuban, marrying a fried chicken breast with paper-thin slices of ham, dill pickles, Swiss and a generous slathering of grainy mustard on grilled brioche. The tender chicken’s amber-hued crust had a thin, crisp exterior that crunched like Panko. What could have been an overly heavy, greasy sandwich was rendered rich but palatable by the mustard and pickles, which cut through the cheese and fat-slathered bread with pops of acid.
Nerdvana’s drinks menu features “10 shades of alchemy,” an extensive and sometimes exotic selection of mimosas. Those who prefer to keep their imbibing classic can do so with freshly squeezed orange juice, but if you want to really up your mimosa game then flavors like rose, maple, apricot or mango may be just the ticket. Served in a slender, beaker-inspired glasses, these drinks are as tall as they are reasonably priced at just $5 a pop. The prickly pear proved to be a stunner: fuchsia-tinted, persimmon-sweet, tart and verdant all at once. An orchid version was a delicate affair, with a subtle, floral perfume and taste.
Nerdvana Food + Spirits is a welcomed addition to the northern suburbs. Not just for its brunch – though it's good – but for its overall ethos. In a land of chain restaurants where vanilla begets vanilla, it’s refreshing to walk into a place that’s trying something new: a place where yes, you can drink your prickly pear mimosa and play your video games, too.
Nerdvana Food + Spirits, 5757 Main St., No. 112, Frisco. Brunch served 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday
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