Top Knot = Top Notch
On a recent Sunday morning, we decided we needed to get out and grab brunch at a new, interesting spot. We'd hear a lot about this interesting place called Top Knot, located on top of Uchi in Uptown. It had great reviews, and had been open long enough to find itself and present its true colors when we visited. A glance at the menu sealed the deal--it was going to be a Top Knot brunch.
We found the place easy enough, but parking is definitely challenging. Either get there early, or embrace the valet stand. Luckily, the valet was quick and efficient, and we were walking up the stairs to Top Knot in no time flat. When we walked on to the sheltered patio, we noticed it was spacious, and will be an awesome place to visit when the weather gets warmer. BUT, since things are still a bit chilly outside (despite their built-in heaters), we headed inside for a table.
A couple things on that--Top Knot is only open for brunch one day a week--Sunday. SO, if you decide to frequent the place on a Sunday, be prepared for a busy crowd. When we called ahead to inquire as to reservations, we were told there was no wait for 2. 30 minutes later, when we arrived, there was a 20-30 minute wait. So things can change pretty rapidly (thanks, in large part, to the fact they are very popular right now). Be prepared. Call ahead. Make reservations. OR, do like us and sit at the beautifully-apportioned bar!
A note on decor: we loved it - it was bright, clean, fun and had some tasteful Asian flair. The bar was a beautiful mix of stainless steel and carerra marble, with light wooden shelves to give it warmth and life. As for the brunch menu: it is a variety of southern and Asian-fusion dishes, with great variety and fresh choices mixed in equally. We decided to try a little bit of everything, and we're glad we did! Mezcal Mule - While Cameron really liked it, Natalie thought it was cloyingly syrupy and sweet. It also had passion fruit juice, which we imagine was the culprit behind the sugar rush. There's also a piece of candied ginger attached to the skewer / mixer, which we thought was a nice little touch. Second Story Bloody Mary - First thought was "good flavor, but a little thin." It was served with celery and a cube of queso fresco submerged in the drink, rather than laying across the top. The QF quickly fell apart and disintegrated into tiny chunks that made it impossible to finish. Not that Natalie wanted to finish it anyway, since the ice melted quickly and the drink was too watery 1/3 of the way through to pleasantly finish. Not the best bloody mary either of us have ever had. Hot Fried Chicken Bun - One order = 1 bun, so get at least 1 order per person. Perfectly fried piece of chicken, glazed with a sweet/spicy sauce--we're thinking a blend of tamarind, Asian 5 spice, and hints of fish sauce. Served with house-made pickles sandwiched between a house made Parker roll. We could eat these every day and not grow tired of them. These put Chick-fil-A's classic chicken sandwich to shame. Delicious.
Chilequiles - Overall good flavors and texture. The chips didn't get soggy, and the fried egg was perfectly cooked. The pork was tender and melted in your mouth. The chili sauce was tangy and not too spicy, and gave a nice and perfectly-balanced contrast to the crunchy chips. The QF provided a nice creaminess. Easy on the raw onions next time.
Katsudon (pork bowl) - So good. The sticky rice was the perfect texture. Balanced with a yolky fried egg and kimchi caramel, which provided a tangy, spicy counterbalance that cut through the richness of the rice and fried pork. A healthy portion of fresh green onions also helped create a lovely balance of flavors and textures. The fried pork was a little overdone, but otherwise it was a great dish.
Onigiri - The classic crispy sticky rice patty that we all know and love sitting on top of that wonderful kimchi caramel. Of course, served with a perfectly poached egg. Topped with a delicious glazed short rib. Mix well and enjoy a perfect flavor and texture combination.
Kitchen Attention - While at Top Knot, we were fixated on the kitchen. So clean, shiny, stainless, functional, and huge (for a restaurant kitchen). Then we saw the sous chef on duty inspecting each item that came through the pass. That is a good thing. Although, as we experienced once with Chef Blythe Beck, enormous pieces of plastic film can sometimes still evade even the most watchful of eyes. But this sous chef did his job on this brunch shift. We saw him adding extra sauce to plates, wiping plates down, and actually saw him grab two slightly over-fried eggs off a plate and playfully threaten to throw them at the line cook who hadn't checked them before sending them to the pass. Needless to say, the dish got re-made, and the customer never knew. But we knew, and were impressed at the attention to detail.
We'll certainly be back for brunch at Top Knot. It's great for a light, fresh brunch when you're in the mood for something outside the box. Great service and great food. We're also looking forward to trying it for dinner.