Light Brunch

Healthy Houston: Brunch at Union Kitchen

A dietitian shows how to slim down the fattiest meal of the week.

By Marla Murphy April 21, 2016

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Cornbread is OK if it's this tiny.

Image: Marla Murphy

Everyone has their go-to brunch spot, and people are hitting them with abandon at this fleeting perfect patio time of year. Brunch, to some Houstonians, could even be considered a sport. Houston takes brunching very seriously and this dietitian is no exception. By now, I am sure readers can see where this post is going. It's time to share some dishes from one of my new favorite spots so you can brunch with the best of them and still keep your healthy habits in mind.

My husband and I decided on Union Kitchen in Memorial as our destination for a few reasons: I love supporting local restaurants, I had heard rave reviews, and we wanted to be adventurous and travel outside of the loop, like the wild people we are.

I was expecting a laid-back café vibe but was pleasantly surprised to step inside to wooden walls, white tablecloths and a beautiful wine case, which would also be great for a date night. Luckily, the dress code is casual for brunch, so as many patrons were dressed for church as for a morning run.

From sweet, over-the-top pancakes that will satisfy any sweet tooth to savory omelets filled with fresh seafood, the menu has something for everyone. The waiter brought us mini cornbread rolls while we waited for our food and they were the perfect size for an easy appetizer. I also loved that he asked us if we wanted them before bringing them to our table, so if we were watching our carbohydrates the little guys wouldn’t have been sitting on the table tempting us. 

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Crab and spinach omelette, $14.95.

Image: Marla Murphy

I ordered the crab and spinach omelette. The spinach is sautéed in olive oil and then added along with Swiss cheese and fresh crab meat. The dish gets a 10 out of 10 for being tasty and healthy. My husband also wanted to try out the omelettes and ordered the Peggy’s lobster omelet—butter-poached lobster and white cheddar topped with avocado and dill crème fraîche. He ordered his without the crème fraîche to save a few calories and really enjoy the taste of the lobster. I ended up liking his better and he liked mine better, so we switched and everyone was happy.

I know brunch is about the drinks and while we didn’t personally indulge that day due to our long list of errands after, my go-to drink is a mimosa, but I ask for just a splash of orange juice. If the mimosas are pre-made and that is not a request the restaurant can accommodate, then odds are they have overloaded their mimosas with too much sugary orange juice and not enough champagne, you are better off just ordering your own champagne with a small side of orange juice to mix yourself.

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Peggy's Lobster Omelette, $16.95.

Image: Marla Murphy

Lastly, one of my favorite tricks for indulging during brunch without going overboard is ordering the healthiest menu item for my meal and splitting a more indulgent item for dessert. For example, I will order a high protein, low carbohydrate meal like an omelette, but then my husband and I will split a waffle. That allows us to brunch with the best of them and still keep everything in moderation. Some restaurants will even bring you a half order of a dish if you ask. Some healthy honorable mentions on Union Kitchen’s menu were: the Union bowl, the California Benedict (ask for light pour on the hollandaise sauce, or get the sauce on the side) and any of the omelets they have to offer. My husband said that Union Kitchen is his new favorite brunch spot, so if you give this place a try you just might see us there. 

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