When people wonder why we Houstonians put up with the heat and humidity of our blazing summers, I like to point out that sometimes, in the middle of January and February, we get 70 degree temperatures under perfectly blue, cloudless skies. My Connecticut friends are not sitting outside on a January afternoon sipping margaritas. The Buffalo Bills fans who just returned home, sad and defeated, are probably shoveling snow right now, wishing they were back in Houston downing some of our awesome craft beers on our equally awesome patios.
It was one of these recent 70 degree, cloudless days that I found myself alone, the boys having been treated to the Texans/Bills game with a friend. I wanted to catch the An Impressionist Autumn exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts before it ended January 12. So, I left the suburbs of Cypress to spend some time getting my in-town fix.
As I made my way down I-10, I decided to take the Heights Boulevard exit and see what was going on. I know most of us have Heights envy. It's hard not to covet the beautiful, old houses or the facsimile old houses that are just as adorable. And if I had $800,000 to drop on a house, I would love to live in its environs. Alas, for many of us, we spend an afternoon or evening vicariously basking in the ever-increasing retail and dining options that abound, pretending to be residents.
After slowly cruising through the various dog walkers and stroller pushers, I found a parking space near the Heights Mercantile to see if I could grab a bite to eat. It was a pleasant walk among the trees as I admired the stately homes still dressed in their Christmas finery. The beautiful weather had brought out every hipster family within a 20 mile radius and couples with their fur babies. The vibe was one of energy and community and Donovan Park across the street was filled with happily-screeching toddlers and their parents counting down time until they could wander over for a mimosa or a cold brew.
I thought I would get a bite to eat at Local Foods, but it was crazy busy. In fact, Melange Creperie and Cloud Ten Creamery were also hopping with humanity. I remembered that The Toasted Yolk had recently opened nearby, so I made my way back to the car and drove over to 4601 Washington Avenue.The Heights location opened December 9 and is the eleventh location for the small chain which originated in Conroe and has now expanded all around the Greater Houston area.
I easily found (free) parking in the garage behind the restaurant which is adjacent to the newly opened Napoli's Wine Cafe. As I walked through the arches to get to the restaurant, I was greeted warmly by a French bull dog named Gelato, who was accompanying his owners to the Toasted Yolk as well. At first, I thought I would sit at the bar, but I couldn't resist the lure of a patio on a beautiful day, so I asked to sit outside. The traffic on Washington was not that wild on a Saturday morning, though a pedal trolley from Pedal Party made its way down the avenue.
I knew already that I was going to order the Southern Fried Arnold ($13.42). It was my last weekend before "clean eating" and I was going to make it count. As I perused the drinks menu, I considered the different flavors of mimosas, but I opted for a coffee drink instead, for a pick me up. I ordered the Cappuccino Cooler. In hindsight, I should have probably ordered the hot Irish Coffee because the patio was shaded and a wee bit chilly.
I was a little disappointed in my cocktail. The espresso was there, but the caramel was lighter than I would have liked and the Absolut vodka and Bailey's Irish Cream seemed non-existent. I realize vodka is a flavorless liquor, but the only kick came from the caffeine. It was a $9 iced coffee.
The green plastic patio chairs were more comfortable than they looked, so I settled in, sometimes watching the world go by on Washington Avenue, other times, looking over at my handsome friend, Gelato. When my food arrived, it was a well-constructed plate of perfectly poached eggs atop fried chicken tenders sitting on buttermilk biscuits. With a choice of either grits or hashbrown casserole, I picked the hashbrown dish. It was cheesy and onion-y and creamy.
The eggs were almost impossibly fluffy. They were covered in sausage gravy which had a nice peppery bite. When my fork broke through the egg, a beautiful stream of yellow yolk dribbled out. The tenders were fried nicely and the batter had strong herbal tones. The addition of fresh fruit made me feel a tiny bit less guilty about the calories I was enjoying.
In fact, I only ate half my dish. It's a big plate for a short, plump gal like me. I got a box to go and of course, a side of gravy as well.
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The new restaurant is bright and cheery inside with lots of green accents. I give an A-plus to the bathrooms because they were especially nice. The bar area has some seating at the counter with a number of high tops as well.
The Toasted Yolk has far more on its menu and next time I am in the area, I will bring some pals or my family to enjoy a lingering brunch or lunch. And I think I will try the sangria or mimosa. Breakfast is served all day and includes omelets, pancakes, French toast and various forms of Eggs Benedict which it calls Arnolds. The lunch menu has sandwiches such as the French Dip, the Yolk Burger and a Reuben. There are also entree salads, soups and quesadillas.
But today, I could not linger. Berthe Morisot and Vincent Van Gogh were awaiting my arrival at MFAH, so I was off to the Museum District with the church bells ringing among the twisted limbs of the old live oaks on Main. And that is why, I love Houston.
The Toasted Yolk
4601 Washington Avenue
Open Daily, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.