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Bryant's Breakfast

3965 Summer Ave., Memphis, TN - (901) 324-7494
Posted By Michael Stern on 10/24/2013 11:44:00 AM
I didn't love most of what I ate at Bryant's Breakfast, but I really like the place. A hugely popular destination for early morning meals, Bryant's puts you elbow to elbow with a crowd of Memphians who come for traditional southern-style breakfast. Before you get a seat at a booth or one of the long communal tables, you will likely wait in line to place your order. The bustle of the line, the high spirits of conversations that bounce around the room, and the warm aroma of bacon, ham, and hot biscuits make this a really nice place to start the day.

Many house specialties, like the cinnamon roll or a ham biscuit, are presented in line, as you pay your bill. Those that take some time to cook – such a bacon pancakes or omelets – are brought to your place by a member of the staff. Of everything I tried, I liked biscuits best. They are mid-South beauties, large and substantial, and unctuous enough to leave fingers glistening when you pick one up. They may be ordered plain or stuffed with country ham or city ham, with smoked sausage, bologna, bacon, chicken, steak or pork tenderloin. To go whole hog, the meat inside can be amended with eggs or cheese. It also is possible to get a breakfast sandwich on toast, but with biscuits this good, why bother? There was some discussion at the table of Roadfood.com eaters as to whether the ham was just-right salty, chewy, and big flavored or perhaps too dry. I felt that in concert with the oily biscuit, it was just right.

Bacon pancakes are less impressive: a stack of ordinary pancakes with fistfuls of crumbled bacon that, although abundant, is not abundantly flavored. Likewise, sausage gravy, while thick and hearty, is somewhat timid in taste.

While breakfast is the house specialty, lunch also is served: burgers, ham sandwiches, and such square-meal anchors as chicken fried chicken, grilled pork tenderloin, meatloaf and, on Friday, catfish. With any of these items, you can choose from a long list of classic Southern sides, including mac 'n' cheese, fried okra, squash casserole, and turnip greens. Biscuits and cornbread round it out.

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Scorecard

3 - Overall: Excellent - Worth a Detour
Overall: Excellent - Worth a Detour
Ham Biscuit
Tenderloin Biscuit
Cinnamon Roll
Sampler
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This is the dish I want to come back for: a ham biscuit. The country ham is rugged and intense. The biscuit is pure luxury.
"This is the dish I want to come back for: a ham biscuit. The country ham is rugged and intense. The biscuit is pure luxury."
Michael Stern





Bryant's 'Sampler' gets you some of just about everything: ham, bacon, sausage, and a tenderloin, plus a potato pancake, three eggs, and grits.
"Bryant's 'Sampler' gets you some of just about everything: ham, bacon, sausage, and a tenderloin, plus a potato pancake, three eggs, and grits."
Michael Stern


When you get a cinnamon roll, the man behind the counter will ask if you want it heated. That causes the icing to melt down into swirls of dough: a good thing!
"When you get a cinnamon roll, the man behind the counter will ask if you want it heated. That causes the icing to melt down into swirls of dough: a good thing!"
Michael Stern


The tenderloin is fine, but it's the biscuit that stars.
"The tenderloin is fine, but it's the biscuit that stars."
Michael Stern


Early in the morning, a line has not yet formed. Once it does, it will snake its way through much of the dining room.
"Early in the morning, a line has not yet formed. Once it does, it will snake its way through much of the dining room."
Michael Stern


Bryant's opens at 5:30am, when you can be sure the biscuits are oven-hot.
"Bryant's opens at 5:30am, when you can be sure the biscuits are oven-hot."
Michael Stern



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