When I found myself walking into Down House in the Heights last Saturday with brunch on my mind and half my family towing in behind me, I wasn’t surprised there was a one-hour wait for inside seating. While I usually take it as a good sign when a restaurant is busy, no matter how good the food is I wouldn’t wait an hour just to sit down.
Lucky for us, the patio was open and the weather was at that perfect stage of not cold but slightly breezy. Plus, Down House has heaters outside, which we only used once when the wind picked up.
I’ll admit I’m not a fan of eating on patios, mostly because tables always feel dirtier outside. So, I was pleasantly surprised about the cleanliness of Down House’s patio tables and chairs. And because of this I felt genuinely excited to be eating outside with dirt beneath my feet.
I ordered a cappuccino and from the waiter’s advice, added vanilla to it. It hurt a little to have to pay an extra dollar for vanilla, but it did give the cappuccino a nice flavor that wasn’t too sweet.
However, my nephews and niece were a little disappointed to learn that their hot chocolate didn’t come with whipped cream. The server let us know the hot chocolate came from the bar, which makes its own whipped cream, but it takes 10 minutes. The kitchen has its own whipped cream, but the server said she wouldn’t be able to use it. So, we let it go and the kids were still happy.
I got my cappuccino relatively quickly, but others in my group waited at least 15 minutes for iced tea.
The menu was broken into “breakfasty,” “lunchier,” and salad options. The bottom of the menu features a list of vendors Down House uses so that customers can see where their meals came from. Some of the vendors Down House uses are 44 Farms, Houston Dairymaids, Fat Cat Creamery, Cake & Bacon and Farm to Table HTX.
Before our meal we got two orders of biscuits that came with berry jam. We thought it was a lot to spend $5 on an order of two biscuits, but since we had two orders we found that breaking the biscuits apart for everyone to share gave us enough to go around.
Now, I love a good biscuit drowned in jam, but these aren’t typical biscuits. The biscuits weren’t fluffy and flaky, but rather had more of a cornbread texture. This paired well with the sweet jam, and I didn’t even have to go heavy on the jam. Just a dip of jam complemented the biscuits’ flavor.
For my entrée I got the “lunchier” option of chicken and waffles to satisfy my sweet tooth and savory craving. It comes with buttermilk fried chicken, a whole-grain waffle, real maple syrup, whipped cream and spicy pepper honey.
When it came out a while later I found the chicken thigh and leg on my plate next to the waffle to be breaded and seasoned deliciously, while not being too greasy. I prefer my chicken and waffles to feature white-meat chicken, so I was a little disappointed that it didn’t specify on the menu that it came with dark meat.
I put my prejudice aside and continued eating the chicken. I had my reservations about it, but it turned out just fine. The waffle was perfectly cooked and the whipped cream tasted good slathered on top.
Halfway through the meal I wandered inside and was able to appreciate the dim lighting and a few leather couches that gave the place a comfortable, casual vibe. I also found that most of the patrons had left, causing me to wonder why it still took 10 minutes to get a refill on iced tea.
A restaurant can have great food, but if the service is slow, then the whole experience can be tarnished. During busy hours I have sympathy, but once the crowds have largely gone on with their day I have higher expectations.
Address: 1801 Yale St.
Hours: 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Monday, 9 a.m.–9 p.m. Tuesday–Thursday, 9 a.m.–10 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m.–10 p.m. Saturday, 8 a.m.–9 p.m. Sunday
Entrée pricing: $8-$16
Senior discount: No
Health options: Yes
Stars of the show: Cappuccino, biscuits and jam