Better Know a Biscuit, vol. 3 Brunch Biscuits

Well, guys, I gained noticeable weight and may never eat another biscuit as long as I live (ok, doubtful), but the Better Know a Biscuit project is officially OVER! I ate about 20 biscuits over a few weeks and am seriously entertaining a "Better Know a Damn Kale Salad" quest to help realign my bod and rid it of some of this gluten.


But enough about my carb intake. Let's get on to the biscuits. These are brunchly options, ideally enjoyed with a Bloody Mary (or, in the case of Helen's, an iced Irish Coffee) in hand. Unlike the previous biscuits that ate like a meal, these biscuits are, in fact, a meal, the best meal--brunch.

Helen’s Chicken Biscuit Sandwich

Helen's has a classic diner soul with a contemporary personality. The menu doesn’t need to change much. There’s no rush to keep up with the times, to chase trends. This place exudes confidence, and this biscuit alone would be reason enough for that.

Helen's biscuit is an impressively tall, substantial though fluffy, feat of flour engineering. During brunch service they sit in a deep hotel pan above the line, daring diners to order anything else. I could never imagine eyeballing the stack of those glorious specimens and ordering an English Muffin. No.

Inside the biscuit you’ll find the kind of fried chicken that is specifically and especially meant to live between biscuity walls. It’s a juicy piece of meat but thin enough to not get in the way of itself. Still glistening from the fryer, the coating on the outside is piping hot and audibly crispy. To that, Helen’s adds a single slice of sharp cheddar cheese and two pieces of crispy bacon. They gild the lily with black-pepper-flecked honey. It’s a triumph. It’s exactly what it needs to be. No more or less.

Black Sheep - Bayou Biscuits and Gravy


Stop. Take everything you know about brunch, and punt it across the field. Free your mind for what Black Sheep has to offer--It seems familiar-ish on the surface, but this is a reimagined kind of brunch that you will find nowhere else in Richmond.

Their take on the biscuit is an apt example of this: It’s not biscuits & gravy (they have that too, actually). This one, however, is bayou-style. And anyone who’s from New Orleans, or who partied through Mardi Gras, or, you know, watched full seasons of Treme or Party Down South knows that any claims to bayou carry a hefty weight. This is a region whose food culture is so rich and complex that it’s one of the true, unique American culinary contributions to the world. That’s kind of a big deal.

But back to the biscuit: You take two of them and sprinkle on the parmesan cheese. Then it's on with the darkly-rued gravy, punctuated with chewy bites of tasso ham and springy crawfish bombs. There's a fried catfish "finger" on top of the pile (though logic would suggest that catfish have paws, if anything). The bottom layer of the fried fish takes on a sheen from the gravy it soaks up, while the top stays crispier than an autumn leaf. A handful of green onions drive the last bayou note home, and with each bite you're that much closer to hearing a foggy old Dr. John song playing softly in the background.



I was almost too busy making love to my pamplemousse (a cocktail comprised of grapefruit juice, Lillet, and champagne) to notice the plate in front of me, but as I finally set down the glass, there it was: An impressive mound of biscuitery fortified with rich, sausage-studded gravy and a sprinkling of roasted brussel sprout leaves. There’s a fried egg with a runny yolk and crispy edges. There’s hot sauce, swirled around rather delicately. It’s easily more than anyone could actually need to eat for brunch; but, as has been tirelessly pointed out lately, brunch isn’t about fulfilling needs; it’s about quenching desires.

That’s something this biscuit is amply capable of. A scoop of yolk and fluffy biscuit, a little hot sauce and a smear of gravy, with one crunchy brussel sprout leaf impaled on the end of the fork--It’s a perfect bite, best followed by another sip of that pamplemousse.

Southbound Biscuits and Gravy


When something is a classic, it's best to treat it with respect. We don't need an updated version of Huck Finn, the movie, with James Franco in the lead role. It's possible and desirable to leave some things well enough alone. That seems to be the idea with Southbound's take on the old B&G. It's exactly what you want when your crave that thick, creamy, fluffy Hardees-esque experience but would prefer excellent quality, ambiance, and, of course, beverages.

One square biscuit, doused to full saturation with Southbound's peppery, sage-y gravy is all you'll need to set you on your way (back to bed for a nap because DAMN SON!), but this dish comes with a side of satisfyingly crispy home fries, the kind of season-salt-crusted, blanched-then-fried beauties that compel an otherwise worldly 30-something to ask for a side of ketchup...ketchup that she will then happily dip said homefries into before shoving the whole mound of them into her happy face.

Dog & Pig Show Chorizo Biscuit


There’s a ton of flavor in this biscuit. Your tastebuds may feel bewildered at first, like a stranger who stumbled into a party where he knows no one. But eventually, they’ll get the hang of it and embrace the party, and what a party it is. Two crumbly, butter-soaked biscuit halves envelop a chorizo patty, a folded omelety egg, Dog & Pig’s stellar pimento cheese, mayo, and (because why the hell not) chimichurri. WELCOME TO FLAVORTOWN!

I would not suggest putting this biscuit down for one second as you make your way through it. For one, you might not be able to scoop the rather unwieldy concoction back into your hands, especially if you’ve made the mistake of letting the biscuit loose from its paper wrapping. Also, someone will probably steal it from you because this is the kind of biscuit that turns friends into biscuit-thieving enemies. Let’s be real: Who can be expected to resist all that flavor?