Shortly after you take your seat at Rosemont, Deep Ellum's newest breakfast, lunch and brunch spot by Local's chef and owner Tracy Miller, you're presented with a small porcelain-white bowl that could just as easily land on a snack table in a preschool. Miller chose this as the first food image that greets customers in this sparsely decorated, white-on-white dining room; sometimes it arrives before coffee, water, or even silverware hits the table.
It's a nice image. Tiny black currants and freshly roasted granola join Cheerios, in both plain and honey-nut versions, in an upscale take on the snack mix many of us munched out of plastic sandwich bags with our hands. Reaching for that bowl could easily take you back to your days of footie pajamas, cartoons on television and cartoons on your underwear too.
The youthful, almost soothing bowl is a far cry from the sophisticated experience the menu offers. Small, stylish portions of high-quality ingredients on comely plates point to a refined and serious restaurant, even if it doesn't offer dinner service.
2912 Elm St., 214-741-6066, rosemontdallas.com. 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m.Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Closed Monday. $$
Brisket sandwich $14
Grilled cheese $8
Frozen yogurt and fruit $8
Not too serious, though. There are powdered mini-doughnuts on the menu that feel whimsical, and glazed and chocolate ones, too. The dense, cakey rounds are impossibly expensive at three for $6, but they go so well with the excellent coffee service it's hard to neglect them. The java is black, rich and aromatic, unless you order a cappuccino capped with snow-white foam, accented by softly shaved cinnamon that tickles your nose with every sip. Cost be damned, this is one of Dallas' most compelling breakfast combinations.
Other dishes are equally impressive. The frozen yogurt with fresh fruit is a beautiful update on a classic, healthy breakfast food. The small perfect scoops of fro-yo are tangy enough to make your mouth pucker, with a smooth texture contrasted by a sprinkle of crunchy granola. Ripe peaches and blueberries sweeten a dish that feels like a decadent dessert for breakfast.
The oatmeal is less impressive. The brown sugar flavor is as welcomed as the black, dried figs for sweetness, but a soft, gluey texture might remind you why you hated this cereal as a kid. Good oatmeal has texture. Great oatmeal you have to chew a bit. Rosemont's oatmeal is too paste-like to be considered either.
An omelet cooked with a perfect canary yellow exterior was filled with sharp, smoothly melted cheddar cheese and dressed up with a tangle of arugula, but the eggs were overcooked. Stone-faced, they didn't weep at all and, worse, were close to drying out.
The eggs on a chalupa are cooked more carefully, perfectly fried sunny side up with trembling, glistening yolks on top of beans layered on freshly fried tortillas. On one visit the dish came topped with a cabbage slaw dressed in a flavorful, oily vinegar, and on another plain chopped lettuce — a considerable downgrade.
The inconsistencies are confusing considering the reliability that's become expected while dining at Local, two doors down Elm Street. There, food, service and decor come together seamlessly to create a dining experience that feels like it's been honed for nearly a decade (that restaurant opened in 2003), but at Rosemont the team appears to still be ironing out some wrinkles, and maybe even a few deep creases.
The waitstaff, decked out in dark denim, Rosemont baseball T-shirts and Adidas, means well, but even the most accomplished front end can only tap dance for so long to distract diners from what is sometimes a seriously backed-up kitchen. Waiting can be tiresome here, whether it's for a plate of pricey doughnuts or a refill of coffee that always seems to be brewing. Thankfully, lunch service, food and otherwise, seems a bit steadier.
The hush puppies served with a fried fish sandwich are tiny, dry and ultimately forgettable but the sandwich itself is perfect, pairing a thick hunk of lightly battered, flaky cod with a chunky herbal tartar sauce. A pillow-soft brioche holds the whole thing together in a stylish bun.
The brisket sandwich is equally good if you have a thing for a sexy Manwich. Miller's version pairs strings of fatty chopped brisket in a sweet but bright barbecue sauce muddied with coffee on another fluffy bun. This plate comes with a diminutive dish of herbal potato salad that's so good you'll be left wanting much more.
Croque monsieur and grilled cheese sandwiches are also so small you'll leave feeling hungry, and the latter seems lonely without a hearty bowl of tomato soup. A bowl of thick tortilla soup topped with cotija would have stood in nicely as a cheese sandwich dipper, if it hadn't arrived tepid.
Despite all these flaws Rosemont is such a compelling and likable space you'll be drawn to return. Large windows let tons of light into the minimalist dining room accented by sparsely placed art. A collection of food-themed line drawings on a side wall anchor the front of the restaurant and the occasional flower on the bar or tables explodes in sunny gold. If the food here catches up with the aesthetics (and if Local is any indication, it should) Rosemont will elevate a meal that's often neglected.
Back when Underoos were popular, breakfast was a mindful indulgence people actually enjoyed together. Lately, it's taken a back seat to Blackberries, busy lives and breakfast bars. Rosemont offers us a chance to resurrect this forgotten tradition, or at least indulge its memory while fingering a bowl of Cheerios.
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