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100 Favorite Dishes 2013: No. 81, Catfish and Grits at The Breakfast Klub

If you can finish this entire meal in one sitting, I applaud you.
If you can finish this entire meal in one sitting, I applaud you.
Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg

This year, leading up to our annual Menu of Menus issue, Kaitlin Steinberg counts down her 100 favorite dishes as she eats her way through Houston. She'll compile a collection of the dishes she thinks are the most awesome, most creative and, of course, most delicious in town. It's a list of her personal favorites, things she thinks any visitor or Houstonian ought to try at least once and dishes that seem particularly indicative of the ever-changing Houston food-scape. It's a list to drool over.

I've been on a major seafood kick lately. After years of going without (never trust fish from a landlocked state, I always say), I've been up to my eyeballs in seafood here in Houston. And I'm loving it.

One thing I don't always love, though, is seafood for breakfast. I've always thought the British breakfast standby kippers and eggs was just wrong. And while I got accustomed to eating white fish and oyster kimchi for breakfast during a stay in South Korea, I'm much more a get-your-day-started-with-some-wholesome-carbs kind of person.

Which is why the catfish and grits breakfast at the breakfast klub was so enticing to me. It's a big ol' piece of battered and fried catfish, two eggs cooked however you want, a biscuit (or toast, but really?) and a delectable mound of perfect grits with a little pool of yellow butter in the center. It's the ideal combination of seafood and carbs for breakfast.

The crunchy catfish filet is salty to the max (in a good way), but it's tempered by the warm, gooey grits that I made sure I scooped up with every forkful. I also ordered my eggs fried sunny side up, so the buttery yolks became a kind of sauce to sop up with the fish. And then there are all the condiments that the breakfast klub offers, most of which you don't even need.

I stuck with some simple Louisiana hot sauce -- because I'm a Texan, and I can't eat eggs without something spicy to go with 'em -- and just a touch of butter and honey for the steaming biscuit.

Now, the catfish was great, as were the biscuit and the eggs (though fried eggs aren't hard to master), but the true gem on that nearly overwhelming plate of food is the grits. These aren't a half-assed instant mushy mess. They're smooth and creamy with just the right amount of sweet and just the right amount of savory. The cooks will put cheese in them if you ask, but I prefer my grits on the sweeter side, so I drizzle a bit of honey on top. If you wait too long to eat the grits, they'll start to congeal, which gives them an entirely different -- but no less wonderful -- texture. They're a breakfast item that evolves!

Fortunately, though, the breakfast klub itself hasn't evolved much since it first opened, and it's a good thing. The consistency is part of what makes the klub (and its grits) a Houston morning staple.

The list so far: No. 100: Bangkok Fries at Boheme No. 99: Almond Croissant at Phoenicia No. 98: Bulgogi Tacos with Kimchi at Chi'Lantro No. 97: Soft Pretzel from Mongoose Versus Cobra No. 96: Chicken and Waffles at Adair Kitchen No. 95: Sweet Potato Gnocchi at Brooklyn Athletic Club No. 94: Foie Gras Mac & Cheese at BRC Gastropub No. 93: Vuelve a la Vida Soup at Connie's Seafood No. 92: Homeroom at Bernie's Burger Bus No. 91: Lobster Cake Benedict at Sorrel Urban Bistro No. 90: Uncle Daryl's Cake at The Chocolate Bar No. 89: Porchetta e Fagioli at Giacomo's Cibo e Vino No. 88: Sesame Soft Balls at Golden Dim Sum No. 87: Crab Daddy Bao at Fat Bao No. 86: Ham, Egg & Cheese Crepe at Melange Creperie No. 85: Pork Tamales at Irma's No. 84: Greek Burger at Hubcap Grill No. 83: Lobster Roll at Maine-ly Sandwiches No. 82: Grilled Ahi Tuna at St. John's Fire

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