Nestled among the retail stores and restaurants lining State Street’s pristine pavement within Richardson’s sexy, new mixed-use community, City Line, there lies an unexpected early afternoon delight. When walking past the Tricky Fish, the last thing I would think is, “I bet this place has a good brunch.” It’s not that it’s unappealing; the location is perfect and the atheistic is mesmerizing. The space is wrapped in a bold, brick veneer that melds into modern subway tiles as you walk towards the fish market-inspired kitchen. There are bonded polished wooden planks flanked in steel and embossed with rivets separating tables to break up the space, accompanied with walls of corrugated steel cleverly capping corners. It just feels like you’ve walked into a sleek Cajun restaurant on the edges of Port A that’s looking for an excuse to throw a party instead of serving a late breakfast.
We’ve learned that there’s always a party happening in Tricky Fish’s the kitchen, and it opens to the public on Saturdays and Sundays at 10am. The brunch menu here is focused and the kitchen clearly knows their strengths.
I’m a huge fan of breakfast pastries, so I started the meal with Praline Pancakes. Served with macerated raspberries, candied praline pecan whisky syrup, and orange cream delivered on a sizable plate framed with ramekins for toppings; I can’t think of a better way to get two servings of fruit and a little whiskey to start the day. While the cakes didn’t look like anything special, they were. The cakes were fluffy, lightly crisp, and I really liked getting the toppings separately so my pancakes didn’t get soggy half way through the celebration. Explosions of raspberry layered with the sweet satisfying crunch of pecans wrapped in whisky syrup, finished with a dollop of creme confetti-ed in orange zest, made every bite feel sinful.
After shaking my sugar buzz, it was on to heartier, protein-filled plates. The only thing missing from my pancake cavalcade were bacon and eggs, so I gathered myself and crawled over to the NOLA Benedict to get my fix. Flaky biscuits loaded with Andouille sausage, grilled peppers and onions topped with poached eggs and a creole mustard hollandaise sauce surrounded by fried okra brought this dish to the next level. This is a robust benedict. (The impregnable moment right before the perfect pop of a poached egg yolk reminds me of energy building in a crowd before a heavy breakdown in a dynamic rock song, or an elongated pause before a bass filled beat drop from your favorite DJ. Just me?) Cascading over the milky white edges of egg and through a meat and veggie medley before finally soaking into the biscuit below; the warm yolk and hollandaise blend really binds the individual pieces of the dish together into a perfect finish. However, the life of the party on this plate is the fried okra! Perfectly salted, briskly breaded and fried with a crispy gratifying texture that begs you to eat more. It’s the after party you didn’t know you wanted to go to, but once you get there, you don’t want to leave.
Walking away from a dish with such an unexpected connection was difficult, but the party wasn’t over. So, I cautiously cozied up to the Fried Shrimp and Oyster Grits. At first glance this is an odd and eclectic bowl—it was laced with hidden bits of corn and bacon, with melting cheese and a gooey yolk under a canopy of fried egg with a juicy, golden brown assortment of sealife splashed with a tangy BBQ sauce from Shiner. the first bite was like saying the right secret password at a speakeasy—decadent, spicy, and savory with depth and texture rarely experienced in a single dish. These grits are phenomenal. The oysters and shrimp are coated and fried, and bear a brash crackle in contrast to the creamy grains of hearty, whipped wheat.
After the serotonin release from consuming something so obscenely rich, I was ready to call it an afternoon until the FOMO and temptation of tequila and bananas foster convinced me to stay for a brunch cap.
The arrival of the Bananas Foster Monkey Bread (pictured at the top) was similar to the feeling that you may have had one drink too many before closing your tab. This rum-based dessert has a brittle shell that’s punctuated with slices of candied banana that crumbles into puffy folds of warm monkey bread when you dig in. You can comfortably share this treat with four people, and its quite rich, so the option for added ice cream might be overkill.
Finally, doing last what I should’ve done first … I ordered a cocktail, a La Paloma. Tricky Fish’s take on the La Paloma starts with a grapefruit-infused tequila, then they add real grapefruit, lime, and agave, and top it with Topo Chico. It’s a fantastic refreshing summer drink that provides a great guilt-free way to enjoy tequila before noon. If you don’t know how to enjoy alcohol guilt free before noon, that’s okay too … Tricky Fish’s happy hour starts at 5pm and goes until close every night of the week.
Good food, great drinks, and a party in the kitchen. Next time you’re in Richardson, let this fish show you a few tricks.
Pictures courtesy of Tricky Fish.