Pico Benedict at Black Walnut Café, Rice Village

Another Saturday morning, another last-minute decision for breakfast in Rice Village--this time my husband and I settled on Black Walnut Café. I had only dined there once, for one very lovely, delicious lunch last summer. This breakfast certainly left me wondering why we hadn't been back, because it was--in a word--spectacular.

I ordered the Pico Benedict, which Black Walnut's menu describes as: two poached eggs, sautéed spinach, pico de gallo, toasted English muffin, house potatoes, cayenne citrus hollandaise. On this plate, the sum is so much greater than its parts.

I chose the dish on the strength of the presence of sautéed spinach; I usually forgo Eggs Benedict in favor of Eggs Sardou (when available), because of the creamed spinach component. The Pico Benedict piqued my interest, and I hoped that the sautéed spinach would prove as wonderful a combination with eggs as creamed spinach. My friends, dreams do come true.

The Pico Benedict far exceeded my expectations, and I believe it has superseded Eggs Sardou altogether as my favorite eggs/hollandaise dish. Black Walnut presents a perfectly poached egg: silky and creamy, with plenty of runny yolk available for dunking/potato soaking. The sautéed spinach adds an earthy, natural flavor, and both the pico de gallo and the cayenne citrus hollandaise bump the finish up with brightness and freshness.

The total effect is fun in every bite: texturally and flavorfully rich from the egg and hollandaise, with a real lightness from the citrus and pico de gallo; the English muffin and spinach contribute enough body to keep it on the side of "food" rather than "puree." I won't hesitate to declare this the best breakfast dish I've eaten in Houston thus far.

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Christina Uticone