Sunday morning dawned early, but not bright, in my house. You know how people say cheap beer gives you a bad hangover? Well, expensive beer does too, if you drink enough of it. I have the Anvil Pub to blame for its enticing and extensive selection, but only myself to blame for ordering round after round.
It was one of those inexplicable early-morn hangovers, wherein you wake up well before you've gotten your necessary slumber, but just can't seem to get back to sleep. My Man O' The Hour was in a similar state, and we knew the only cure for our ills was brunch. But it was 10 a.m.! Dallas doesn't do brunch until 11 a.m., even noon in some places. We dithered around on the Internet, searching desperately for a brunch locale besides Denny's, and finally settled on Tillman's Roadhouse, the Bishop Arts Texas-fare fixture. By the time we called for the hours, its was already open. We couldn't get in the car fast enough.
But at Tillman's, they don't serve brunch. They serve "blunch." So let's go ahead and get this out of our systems, shall we? We took a big blunch. It was a smelly blunch. Occasionally, the blunch was greasy. After we ate, we were full of blunch. We spent Sunday morning blunching. We blunched for like an hour and a half.
At first, we were the only people blunching at Tillman's, which looks like an Urban Outfitters home decor catalog blunched all over the place, with hipster-frilly curtains, exposed wood and a lot of fake animal busts and chintzy chandeliers. Between the decor and the two awful Bloody Marys to start, Tillman's blunch wasn't looking to be a winner. But then our waiter brought us a heaping ladelful of absolutely heavenly fried potatoes, State Fair-style. In fact, the rest of the food at Tillman's would turn out to be top-notch. Only the drinks disappointed.
The Bloodys were watery and slim. Tasted like little more than a thin tomato whisper with a sniff of vodka. The celery garnish was appreciated, and the lone, dinky bar olive was better than nothing, but altogether, I was again disappointed by a Southern cooking showstopper that hadn't bothered to pay any attention at all to the most classic of brunch (blunch) beverages. And at $7 apiece, it really just felt like a way for Tillman's to squeeze another few dollars out of patrons already prepared to spend it up at their joint.
Certainly, however, the food is worth twice the price. I ordered the $14 "Bennie and the Jets," a Tillman's take on eggs Benedict, and have rarely had a finer dish. Blue corn pancakes were topped with a tender, spicy pulled pork, runny poached eggs and "green chile bacondaise." That's right, bacondaise. Barbecue sauce on the side to dip, but I hardly used it -- the meaty Hollandaise was all the flavor I needed.
The Man O' The Hour loves him an egg sandwich, and reports that the very affordable $9 Tillman's installment of the classic sammy was "further proof that there's nothing boring about an egg sandwich at brunch." Crammed with goat's milk Gouda and mushroom aioli, this version was just a notch below Bolsa's, which is the present MOTH fave. At Tillman's, the sandwich comes wrapped on a hoagie-style bun with a side of sweet potatoes fried to perfection.
And speaking of perfect fries: do not leave Tillman's without an order of their cheesy breakfast fries, a $5 pile of starchy lovingkindness slathered with cheese and peppers. I could hardly grab an individual fry from the pile, they were so gobbed together with amazing hangover-curing ingredients. Somehow, we got outta there without taking our leftover fries home, and in a post-hangover nap hunger haze later in the day, the Man O' The Hour and I deeply regretted not having a cheesy breakfast fry to nibble upon.
If Tillman's would step up and treat its Bloody Mary with the respect it deserves, the restaurant could easily move into the upper echelons of the best brunches in town. The dishes are easily as good as Hattie's and Smoke, but dropping the ball on drinks is a major blunch.
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