For the past week or so, I’ve been making my way through a half-dozen breakfast-centric — or mostly breakfast-centric — restaurants that have opened locations in Tarrant County this year (hey, it was my boss’s idea; who am I to argue?). The crawl comes to an end with Yolk, a restaurant with a breakfast-centric name if ever there was one.
The history: Yolk was founded in 2006 in Chicago by Taki Kastanis, who, according to the website, had “innovative food and a great customer experience in mind.” Kastanis grew up in the restaurant biz, with parents who owned “family-oriented eateries.”
He started working in his parents’ restaurants as a teen, and opened his first breakfast-lunch restaurant when he was 20. He sold it a year later, went to business school, got a real estate broker’s license and ... within a year, he got back into the restaurant biz. He was 24. He started working on the concept for Yolk a year and a half later.
Yolk now has a combined seven locations in Chicago and Indianapolis, with another to come; the only other locations are in Dallas’ One Arts Plaza and in Fort Worth’s Sundance Square, with an additional Dallas location coming soon. The Fort Worth location opened in March 2016 in the former home of Cowtown Diner and, before that, a La Madeleine.
The vibe: Awake. In contrast to the homey, laid-back, loungey feel of other restaurants on the crawl, Yolk comes at you with a yellow, blue and white color scheme — emphasis on the yellow, as befits the restaurant’s name. Whenever I ate breakfast at Cowtown Diner, it felt a little sleepy; Yolk feels, as my dad used to say, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
And at nearly noon on a Tuesday, the dining room I was seated in (there’s a maze of them, plus a counter and an appealing patio) was nearly full, abuzz with diners — nearly all of them bypassing the lunch menu for breakfast, from what I could see. Music played just loud enough that you could hear contemporary wailing female vocals (I overheard someone at another table complain, so it’s not just me). The one song I did pick out was Kylie Minogue’s 2001 hit Can’t Get You Out of My Head, which I actually kind of like and was comparatively better than whatever else was playing.
The food: You name it, if it’s a breakfast item, it’s probably here. Benedicts, combos, oatmeal, hash, chilaquiles, crepes, wraps, smoked salmon, three-egg “scramblers,” skillets, frittatas, five-egg omelets, and a whole category called “sweet specialties.”
This wasn’t my first visit, and the restaurant has decent chicken and waffles and a whopping Croque Madame. But people rave about the Red Velvet French toast ($12.50), and since this was the last stop on the crawl, why not finish with dessert?
And yes, it’s the best thing I’ve had there, even if I was a little dizzy afterward from the sweetness. Subtle chocolate flavor from the red-velvet cake, which is filled with cream cheese, cooked to a nice eggy/doughy texture, and topped with strawberries and whipped cream. And, just in case that’s not sweet enough for you, there’s maple syrup on the side. Ignore it — it actually takes away from the flavor of the French toast.
Straight black coffee was pretty good, although when something that’s $2.75 is described as “bottomless,” it should be refilled more than once. Three sausage links on the side ($4), ordered in a futile effort to balance the carbs out with protein, were tasty but otherwise unexciting.
The verdict: Yolk’s breakfast menu is so large that there’s always something to call me back. It’s only a few blocks from our offices, and although I usually tend toward supporting the local establishments downtown, this is a place I like to drop in on every now and then. But after the Red Velvet French toast, I should probably return to my homemade steel-cut oatmeal for a few months.