When we think brunch, we think of a sit-down meal consisting of egg dishes/pancakes/waffles/French toast, with probably a Bloody Mary or mimosa around to complement or replace the coffee. Sometimes we think of a buffet.
All of those elements were there at Rise + Dine, Saturday’s celebration of brunch at the Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival -- except there wasn’t a lot of sitting, unless you found your way to one of the lounge areas outside the Renaissance Worthington Fort Worth Hotel ballroom where brunch was being served in the typical food-festival sample-size way. And there were plenty of non-breakfast dishes to stand up for the “lunch” side of brunch.
This was basically a brunch version of Friday night’s Grand Tasting, working the same way: Each restaurant/brewery/winery/distillery had a table with a sample dish or two. Think of it as one of the biggest brunch buffets you’ve ever seen.
A small group of restaurants was set up in the ballroom foyer, so that when you walked in, you immediately saw an eclectic group of Fort Worth breakfast/brunch heavy hitters: Righteous Foods, with a clever “fruit sushi”; Swiss Pastry Shop, which came up with an ingenious macaron version of its popular Black Forest cake as well as a savory truffle-champignon turnover; Little Red Wasp, with a pestoized green eggs and ham; and Buttons, whose spicy shrimp and grits was probably my favorite thing of the morning, throwing down a gauntlet for all that came afterward.
Here’s what rose to the challenge, both in the foyer and in the ballroom: Cornflake-crusted French toast from The Tavern; chicken and waffles, imaginatively presented on a tiny skewer, from Cast Iron at Omni Hotel Fort Worth; and roasted goat hash with a kicky chipotle hollandaise from the soon-to-open Fixture Kitchen and Social Lounge, which is already showing promise weeks before its scheduled mid-to-late-April opening date.
Several restaurants not known for brunch — Thai Tina’s, Tokyo Cafe, The Flying Carpet Turkish Cafe, a few others —took care of the lunch side, with items such as Tokyo Cafe’s bone-in pork rib and Flying Carpet’s eggplant saute. Avoca Coffee had the big coffee concession, although our favorite delivery system for it was the Iron Joe — Rahr & Sons’ Iron Thistle Scotch Ale with Avoca Coffee blended in. Beer and coffee all in one shot — it’s not the first time it’s happened, but it may be my new brunch addiction.