For starters, there’s the smell. On multiple visits, a gaseous odor enveloped the Taft side of the building, infiltrating the patio. One brunch visit revealed the source of the stench: a burbling river of slowly solidifying scum bubbles welling up from around the edges of the foundation. While the stench didn’t make its way inside, crossing that bog was not a pleasant framework for a meal.
Inside, Biskit Junkie feels like a restaurant still in transition. Between visits, the layout of the restaurant shifted (for the better), with slim, counter-height tables now filling in what had been an awkward chasm between the main dining room and the tablet-based ordering kiosks. The digital menu shifted as well, several dishes disappearing even while whole new sections popped up to replace them. Of course, both of the absent dishes had failed to impress, so their departure may be a sign of improvement.
The Hot Flight (a biscuit sandwich featuring a truly depressing riff on chicken tikka) leaned perilously sweet, as if the tomato-based curry had been gigged with strawberry jam. It came slopped on top of a piece of fried chicken breast that shed its crispy skin like a molting snake at the slightest provocation, an issue that repeated itself a few times across various items. Adders of house pickles (+75 cents) and a tangle of fried red onions (+$1) both helped and hurt things, the pickles adding a needed punch of acidity to counter all the sugar. The onions proved tough and stringy, as many of them nude as wearing crispy coats.
That same slippage afflicted the chicken waffle stacks, an ungainly presentation of bread and bird insistent upon forcing diners to play a sticky game of Jenga. That might be fun if the chicken weren’t tough around the edges, dry within and constantly threatening to pull entirely free of its crispy coating. The waffles, for their part, were capable. A bit more yeasty perfume, a bit more contrast between exterior crisp and interior crumb would be nice.
The catfish and grits (another now-absent item) had size as its main selling point, with two large planks of fried fish flanking a couple of fried eggs, a large ramekin of creamy grits plopped down between them. The eggs came sunny side up (nobody ever asks you for an egg preference, and there’s no clear and easy way to indicate one via tablet), bearing a bit more still-snotty whites than most folk will likely want, but their yolks retained a pleasing flow. Unpleasantly mushy fish isn’t much of a selling point, regardless of portion size, especially when the too-thick crust keeps shrugging its way free.
Bright spots show up in unexpected places, as with the breakfast salad. Ordered in the name of covering bases, the salad proved itself far more beguiling than the name would imply. Cut down through the pair of perfectly fried sunny-side-up eggs (the menu bills them as poached) and let their golden yolks add richness to the bed of greens underneath. Crisp shards of bacon provide salty, savory backbone, while a sprightly maple vinaigrette rounds out a delightful mishmash of breakfast-tinged flavors. The overall impact recalled a Thai salad tuned in a different key.
The chilaquiles worked similarly, a generous trio of fried eggs oozing onto a tangle of fried tortilla strips coated in workmanlike salsa verde. Some of the chips retained a nutty crunch, while others had begun to meld with the salsa, creating an array of textures that kept the plate interesting from one bite to the next. Nothing about this dish stood out on its own, but something about the combination of flavors and textures was simply satisfying. It’s a simple thing, putting an egg (or three) on top, but sometimes it makes all the difference.
Even properly cooked eggs couldn’t redeem the Mr. Benedict, what with its deli-counter ham slices that seemed ripped from a brown-bag sandwich. The thin, overly buttery hollandaise brought no zip of lemon or eggy richness, and quickly saturated the triangles of Texas toast cosplaying as English muffins. Biskit Junkie might be better served pressing one of its namesake breads into service here. The point of a tangle of undressed arugula splitting the plate remains unclear.
Biskit Junkie tries to cover the rest of its breakfast/brunch bases with pancakes, breakfast tacos and hash in various forms, but only finds extremely mixed success. While piña colada pancakes sounded great in theory, the dense cakes and their topping of distractingly desiccated shredded coconut failed to deliver. A trio of tacos bore dry, brown-edged scrambled eggs seemingly devoid of the advertised bacon, a similarly disappointing scramble with wan chorizo, and a short rib hash that just missed being pretty good.
That same hash showed up as a plated meal with a couple of fried eggs and a biscuit, too. Tender and rich, it tasted like the leftover pot roast that might form the basis of a home-style hash your mom whipped up. Unfortunately, Mom braised the roast with something sweet, delivering a distractingly sugary note. If the kitchen could dial that back, the hash might well be one of the best things on the menu.
Similarly, the El Chapa biscuit sandwich could be tweaked into excellence. The sandwich almost solves the problem of dry scrambled eggs, as the chorizo-studded rectangle is topped with creamy avocado, perky pico and a lubricating dollop of crema. Cook those eggs into creamy delicacy and this sandwich would be worth a visit, bog or no bog.
Biskit Junkie seems like it should be an easy A. Everybody loves a good biscuit, and the biscuits here are actually quite good. Everybody loves all-day brunch (booze options would be nice), and the sorts of things Biskit Junkie puts on its menu are the sorts of things people love to eat at all-day brunch. Unfortunately, tempting menu descriptions often fizzle on the plate. That leads to a cycle of excitement and disappointment, which is the unifying characteristic of my meals at Biskit Junkie.
We’d sidle up to the annoyingly indexed tablet, quibbling over the enticing options glowing on the screens above us. “Ooh, that sounds good. No, that sounds good. It all did. Too often, the excitement began and ended with those glowing screens.
Some of that glow could be won back with a few relatively simple changes. Fix the sweetness issue in the hash. Go a bit easier on the scrambled eggs. Don’t pull an eggs Benedict bait-and-switch or, if you must, at least switch the muffin out for a biscuit. Surely you have some on hand. Whatever is causing that stink-river on the side? (I’m guessing a plumbing problem bubbling up through the clean-out.) Definitely fix that.
Maybe pull back a bit more on the menu. Even while some items disappear, the menu board glows with the promise of forthcoming French toast. We’ll see how that goes.
You don’t have to serve everything someone might order at breakfast or brunch. You just have to make sure that what patrons do order makes them want to keep ordering it. The menu has a few of those things, but not enough to make a junkie out of me. Seriously, though, do something about that smell.
403 Westheimer, 713-688-1754, biskitburgerbeer.com. Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day.
Mr. Benedict $11
Flight of pancakes $7.75
Chorizo and egg taco $2.75
Bacon and egg taco $2.75
Short rib taco $3.50
Chilaquiles verde $9.50
Breakfast salad $7
El Chapa $8.50
Hot flight $8.80
Catfish and grits $13
Chicken waffle stacks $13
Short rib hash and eggs $14