The Design District’s Wheelhouse just broadened its menu to brunch, and while the food’s good, the music is what makes the experience interesting.
Each Sunday as Wheelhouse serves brunch, a DJ is set up at “center court," the open-air courtyard between Wheelhouse and Sassetta, spinning vinyl. The result is an easy vibe for a less pretentious and more comfortable brunch.
Brunch, served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays, is an added section on the menu among the regular small plates, sandwiches and the rest. The cocktail menu (all $10) has a bloody mary with Cajun spices, but for a smokier start, try the Texas Sunrise, with tequila, mezcal, orange, lime and hibiscus.
You can pair any cocktail with the standby, all-American breakfast ($13), which comes with two eggs, bacon, sausage, breakfast potatoes and wheat toast.
If you’d rather opt for something you wouldn’t make yourself, try the fried green tomato Benedict ($14). Hollandaise drowns this plate, which offers a nice change from an English muffin or biscuit and uses a battered, fried green tomato instead as a base. Although the change was nice, the tomatoes didn’t seem like they had reached peak ripeness. (Yes, some green tomatoes are ripe.)
The pancakes ($13) offer flavors of fall, but even in the heat of June, you’ll still crave them. Caramelized apples and raisins, pecans and a seriously addictive cinnamon butter top the three-stack with a side of syrup.
The shrimp and grits plate ($16) offers small rectangular cakes of grits topped with heavily seasoned shrimp, pepper jack, pickled green tomatoes for acidic bites and a poached egg. Much of that shrimp seasoning comes from what’s covering the dish: piperade, a sauce of onion, green peppers, tomatoes and Espelette pepper.
It's a big, shareable plate — unless you’re not the type who likes to separate yourself from a plate of good food.
Other promising plates include the fish and chips ($19) and breakfast tacos ($11) with brisket.
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The most expensive item in the brunch category also sounds delicious, if it’s worth the $25 price tag. The butcher’s cut comes with steak (the cut is up to the chef) topping a wedge salad with blue cheese, tomato, bacon and a steak sauce.
Of course, because it's brunch in 2018, there’s avocado toast ($18), which sounds good enough with spicy tomato, pumpkin seed and bitter greens. You can up the protein with an egg for $3, which feels a little steep.
The plates on the first Sunday of brunch seemed haphazardly thrown together, offering less than aesthetically pleasing Instagram opportunities. But most of the flavors were executed well. And if the playlist remains, it’s sure to lure return visits.
Wheelhouse, 1617 HiLine Drive (Design District)