Chicken and Religion at the House of Blues

When the House of Blues rolled out their World Famous Gospel Brunch buffet shortly after they opened in downtown Houston, I was eager to try it. Then I heard about massive lines and long food waits, and I was scared off. But when I got the opportunity to go this past weekend, I figured the hype had died down and decided to strap on the feed bag for some home cooked vittles.

They used to have two set Sunday seatings, at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., and the event was formerly held in the music hall. But they have since switched it to open seating between eleven and one and moved it to the restaurant. The crowds these days are definitely manageable.

Writing about a brunch like this should be easy, right? There could be endless descriptions about dishes being "biblical" or "divine," but does the food live up to the heavenly handles? Yes and no.

The fried chicken is truly heaven-sent -- crunchy and juicy, and made even better with a drizzle of honey and some of the chipotle hot sauce on the table. The omelets are also something worth filling an ark with. There is a fresh-made omelet station offering mushrooms, onions, bacon, ham and smoked gouda. My omelet was perfectly cooked, and the cheese poured out like the waters of the Red Sea. The bacon was crispy, the grits were cheesy and the banana bread pudding was a breakfast dessert worth crossing a desert for.

But there also were items that were obviously straight from Beelzebub himself (or at least straight from the Sysco truck). If you go, don't even waste belly space on the extra-greasy, hotel-style potato chunks or the previously frozen sausage patties. The green beans also looked and tasted like they had arrived from the steam table at the banquet room of a Red Roof Inn.

Good food, bad food, whatever. What made it really fun was the gospel quartet singing traditional spirituals on the stage. You will have to decide if that makes it worth the Goliath-size ticket price of $27 per person, but for me it was a good way to spend a late Sunday morning.

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