Kitchen No. 324: breakfast and lunch downtown
by Tim | February 2, 2013
Kitchen No. 324
It’s becoming rather routine nowadays — another Good Egg restaurant opens, another Good Egg restaurant is greeted with great success and rave reviews. So, you’re not likely to be surprised by the fact that we’re fans of downtown’s new Kitchen No. 324, but I certainly hope you’ll take the time to read on and discover some of the unique qualities of this restaurant.
“Gorgeous” is the word I used the first time I set foot in the space. I tweeted it, Facebooked it, texted it to my wife, and shared that word with the owners. The intricate work that has been done on the interior of Kitchen No. 324 is nothing short of breathtaking. It’s located inside downtown’s historical Braniff building, which has recently undergone an intense restoration process. The pristine white surfaces are nicely set off by rich green fabric on the seating and brushed metallic table tops. Thick window casings and intricate ceiling details bring historic charm that is complemented nicely by modern light fixtures and other elements. This is a place you want to visit to just sit in it. It’s inviting and comfortable. That is, as long as it’s not too crowded.
Crowds can be an issue here. Perhaps that’s due to its newness, but I’d imagine things will stay busy during the lunch rush and on the weekends for quite some time (my wife recently visited around noon on a Saturday and waited an hour for a seat). One way to beat the crowds and experience some of the best that Kitchen No. 324 has to offer is to visit early for breakfast on a weekday. They open at 6:30am and if you’re there any time in the early hours you’re likely to have a much more relaxed experience. You get a relaxing, quiet place to sit, free wifi, high quality coffees, teas and pastries and, of course, their breakfast menu.
The food here is all created in-house. They bake the breads and pastries, smoke their own meats, blend their own juices — you get the idea. On my first breakfast visit, I had the Pastrami and Eggs served with crispy potatoes ($7.99 – see a pic). The smoked pastrami was delicious and tender and hard to beat when topped with two perfectly poached eggs. On my second breakfast visit, I had the Fried Green Tomatoes Benedict, also served with the potatoes ($8.99). This was a delightfully tasty spin on one of my favorite dishes. It didn’t take me long to determine that I would enjoy the food here as I do at every other Good Egg restaurant.
One of the best values I’ve found at breakfast is the Cat Head Biscuit with Chorizo Gravy (see a pic). At just $2.99, this can make a modest but decent-sized breakfast on the cheap. The gravy is some of the most flavorful I’ve had and full of large chunks of tasty chorizo sausage. Add a poached egg to this dish for another dollar and it’s even more substantial.
As I mentioned, they blend their own juices here and I’ve discovered that the Green Good Morning juice (see a pic) is quite a brilliant concoction. Their menu claims that this combination of spinach, cucumber, pear, green apple, lemon, mint and jalapeno juices will make you “smarter and better looking.” I’m not sure if that worked for me, but I did enjoy it. At $4.99, it’s a splurge and not something I could make a regular part of my morning routine. Still, they do serve it in a 12 ounce bottle which allows you to refill your glass or take the extra home with you for later.
At lunch, Kitchen No. 324 rolls out a different menu. I’ve had the Classic Navy Bean and Roasted Butternut Squash Soups ($4.99 each), the Aromatic Chicken Salad ($10.99), and the iconic Fried Chicken Pot Pie (see a pic). At $9.99, I think this pot pie is definitely a must try. It’s a modest portion but very filling and its dramatic presentation only makes it more delicious. My wife and also shared one of their Layered Brownies which was an incredibly rich treat to satisfy any chocolate lover.
The food was all delicious, but I have to say I enjoyed Kitchen No. 324 more at breakfast than I did at lunch. For one thing, it gets very loud and when it’s crowded, and it’s pretty much always crowded at lunch. I also felt a bit of a disconnect between the higher-end quality and presentation of the food and the fast-casual experience overall. The service is unusual because you order and pay at the counter but from that point on you have full-service, yet the service isn’t at the level of what you’d get from a sit-down restaurant. For example, our soups and our entrees were all brought out and quickly placed on our table at the same time, as opposed to being served in courses as you might expect. This overwhelmed our small eating space with dishes, making it difficult to eat. Also, our soup dishes (which were quite large) were never removed when we were finished. At breakfast, everything seemed more relaxed and I didn’t notice this issue as much, but maybe that’s because I didn’t order multiple courses.
One unique aspect of Kitchen No. 324 is that they are really operating two concepts in one. There are literally two “sides” to the ordering process. On the east side, you have what basically amounts to a coffee shop approach where you can get quick beverages, pastries, bagels, donuts, muffins and the like (all made fresh in-house, of course). You can dine in with these items or take them to go. The west side is where you order from their full menu which contains most of the items I’ve mentioned thus far. Though the ordering is separated, the seating area is all combined and you can sit anywhere in the restaurant no matter which counter you approach.
There’s no doubt that Kitchen No. 324 deserves your attention. There’s so much great food to experience here and you get to do so while enjoying an absolutely breathtaking atmosphere unmatched anywhere else in town. I know many of you have tried it already, so please let us know your thoughts about Kitchen No. 324 in the comments below.
More Photos from Kitchen No. 324
Some photos provided by A Good Egg Dining Group.