For this column, we search out the best Sunday funday spots in and around the gayborhood. Last week, we stayed in Uptown with the buzzy, busy Social House, where you might need to wait for a table and the hum of conversation lubricates the energy as much as the cocktails. This week, we turn our attentions to the chill outskirts of the Oak Cliff enclave: Kessler Park Eating House.
After the hubbub of last week, my dining companion and I set out early on our quest for brunch this time. Even with an 11 a.m. start, we expected there to be a line to snag a table at Eating House. After all, it’s a satellite for the owner of the popular Jonathon’s a stretch down the road, where we’ve often found ourselves elbow-to-elbow with fellow diners until a seat clears. So when we drove up and quickly found a parking space, we wondered if we might have come a tad before the rush. The truth was, though, it was never overwhelmed with activity — a total 180 from Social House, but not an unwelcome departure.
The setting is cool and retro, with smallish booths and an open kitchen and a big howdy from the host/waiter. We took a table on the patio to soak up some vitamin D from the early spring rays, and ordered a few mimosas to get us started. (At $3 per, a bargain.) The menu arrived in two parts: The large list of permanent items, and a smaller insert of the week’s specials.
While we evaluated our options, we took a chance on an item plainly called pepperoni rolls. Priced at just two bucks, we imagined something bite-sized and perhaps boring, but what we got was a happy surprise: A kolache stuffed with sticks of pepperoni, sliced in half and delivered with a generous ramekin of warm red salsa. The sauce was chunky and a trifle prosaic, but pleasant and a well-chosen accompaniment to the doughy, mildly-spiced hot pocket. It was more than enough to prime the pump for the main courses.
My dining companion stayed with the main menu, ordering the pulled pork sweet potato hash ($18). “A delicious mess,” he accurately called it, in on the best sense. The use of sweet potatoes to provide the structure to the pork was an inventive choice, as was the tang from the cilantro-lime hollandaise, giving the dish gastropub credibility. I opted for the chicken and waffles ($11.50, pictured) — three large tenders brined and breaded, then crowning a Belgian waffle and tipped with pepper-jalapeno white cream gravy. It delivered only a subtle kick, but the price was ideal (though the breasts were slightly underdone). No matter: We finished it off with a flute of poinsettia (the cranberry version of a mimosa) and toasted a lovely, low-key solution to the bustle of the typical brunch. It’s always good to have a place in your pocket where folks can gather without being swamped.
1619 Beckley Ave. Sunday brunch from 10 a.m.
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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 11, 2016.