By: Deb Cantrell
By: Kendall Louis
Nostalgia gets naughty at the Hot Box Biscuit Club, a new pop-up brunch of leveled-up Southern cuisine with a fresh, edgy vibe.
Dishes at this monthly event would feel right at home on the potluck table at your childhood church. Grandpa’s pimento cheese. Mamaw’s buttermilk pie. Green bean casserole. Ambrosia.
But the Hot Box Biscuit Club is a long way from Sunday school. Flipping down-home favorites with forward-thinking style, the indulgent brunch is playful with a pinch of provocative. Campy and casual. Comfort food for cool kids.
Chefs Sarah Hooton and Matt Mobley met at Le Cordon Bleu in Dallas, and the two classically trained chef instructors launched the concept brunch last November. Chef Hooton explains, “Fort Worth needs good biscuits. It was my idea, but Matt is the one who ran with it. We wanted to do something really chill and relaxed.”
Found on the fringes of the city, Magdalena’s rustic-industrial setting amplifies the brunch’s offbeat ambience. Bottles pop. Diners whoop. Snoop raps, Zeppelin rocks, and Waylon croons on a soundtrack with multiple personalities.
Excited guests shuffle to the bar through whiffs of baking biscuits for the Hot Box Gin and Juice. Deftly balancing bright and bitter flavors, the bold concoction mingles fresh lemon, elderflower liqueur, honey, gin, and a green sprig of rosemary to set it all off. OJ is on offer for mimosas with BYOBubbles, along with hot coffee (of course).
Well-lubricated, we settle in for a feast. Steaming trays of secret-recipe biscuits descend first, pillow-soft rounds that fall apart in your mouth. We slap them silly with homemade apple butter. Paloma citrus jelly. Whipped butter with caramelized onion. No one can decide on a favorite.
An audible gasp arises from the crowd when the chefs announce that the fried okra has not been dredged in cornmeal. But shock soon turns to stuffed-full faces. Halved lengthwise with a hard, crunchy batter, the okra is served with “dang awesome” Four Horseman Dunk – an apocalyptic mixture of house-made ranch, honey mustard, barbecue and buffalo sauces.
Pickle-brined fried chicken swaggers out for the main course, the O.D.B. (Old Dirty Biscuit). Strapped with aged cheddar and a runny-yolk egg, the farmer-style sandwich flaunts a velveteen slather of bacon gravy. House-cured “Notorious P.I.G.” bacon is a regular treat at the Hot Box Biscuit Club. The rich, creamy gravy flatters the chicken’s frisky dill flavor and ultra-crispy crust. Piled high on the wide lap of a buttermilk biscuit, the uncensored stack well deserves the “explicit” warning label beside it on the menu.
Sides of garlic pickles, savory-sweet-tart coleslaw, and silky mac and cheese transform the table’s conversation into outbursts of elation. Nods of approval all around.
Dessert arrives with a full-on gangsta lean. Portly slices of “One for My Homies” pie are decadent even before the drenching of whipped cream and coconut caramel sauce. Globs of dark chocolate and bourbon praline pecans create a lavish confection.
I look around. People are faded. Disheveled. Dazed. We roll out – right toward naptime.
Email [email protected] to add your name to the list. You'll receive an email when the next brunch is scheduled. Reservations fill up within the day, so act fast. Cost is $45 for brunch with coffee, orange juice, and one complimentary adult beverage. Gratuity not included. The chefs explain the menu before each meal.
502 Grand Ave., at Magdalena’s
By: Deb Cantrell
By: Kendall Louis