If ever there were a doubt that Dallasites love brunch, it was put to rest Saturday when hordes of local foodies descended upon the Dallas Farmers Market for The Morning After Brunch Festival.
The inaugural event, hosted by the Dallas Observer, invited dozens of local restaurants, bars and beverage companies to set up booths and feed the hungry masses, dressed in their spring brunch best to match the 80-degree weather. Attendees received unlimited food samples and a voucher for eight libations with the cost of a $35-$75 ticket.
Sound like a good time? It was. Tickets sold out a month before the event.
The Morning After festival provided one of the most inventive ways try out new brunch spots without having to commit to a whole meal.
Plus, it's the only festival I've ever been to with a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar. Score!
That's not to say patrons got a feel for each restaurant's full menu, however. Few, if any, places served egg dishes, likely because they don't keep for long periods of time. And, if I'm being picky, many of the bites I tried weren't even warm. But for fans of chicken and waffles, there were options aplenty.
The standout dishes, though, had more unique flare. A doughnut served with syrup and strawberry jam from Ivy Tavern, for example, perfectly satisfied my sweet tooth. It bodes well for the restaurant new brunch menu, which rolls out March 1. Top Knot, the Asian spot located above Uchi in Dallas, also pleased with its cheddar-jalapeño biscuit served with miso butter. The restaurant's Vietnamese coffee was also the talk of the festival, and it didn't even have booze in it.
The Dallas Observer gave each attendee a token to vote for their favorite dish, and the people's choice award went to ... drum roll please ... TopGolf, for its chicken and waffle skewer. (I didn't try it, but was fairly surprised by the announcement considering it was up against brunch staples like Bread Winners and Nick and Sam's Steakhouse.)
Despite the numerous perks, from strong drinks to tasty eats, there were some downfalls to The Morning After. For one, the crowds, which reached peak capacity around 12:30 p.m. Lines stretched from one side of the venue to the other, which made maneuvering between booths a headache. Most queues moved quickly, except for perhaps the most important one: The Grayson Social Bubbly Bar, the only booth pouring Champagne at the event.
After waiting 15 minutes in the nearly stagnant line, I left the brunch festival without having a single mimosa. That's practically a crime!
The festival provided attendees with a cardboard tray for their goods, but it needed more tables and surfaces where they could set things down. How is one supposed to Instagram a drool-worthy dish if all hands are full?
Thankfully, there were no shortages of whiskey, rum, and gin cocktails, craft beer from Deep Ellum Brewing Co., good tunes or good times. If The Morning After can tweak a few aspects to make it a more relaxed brunch experience, the festival could be a winner for many editions to come. Oh, and more bubbles next time, please.