Melt with you

Co-owner Jessie Watnes works behind the counter at Two Chicks.

Co-owner Jessie Watnes works behind the counter at Two Chicks.

Photo/allison young

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Sometimes the toughest act to follow is your own. How else to explain leaving behind an award-winning business in order to begin anew with 10 times the challenges? People of lesser ambition might be content to let the good times roll, but not Jessie Watnes and Haley Wood of the GourMelt food truck. Two of Reno’s favorite road chefs have parked their wheels and opened Two Chicks, a brunch restaurant located in the heart of Midtown.

The space is open and welcoming, with very hip, bright decor sporting a ketchup-and-mustard color scheme (including strawberry and lemon garnish on egg-shaped plates). Plentiful seating includes a mix of high tables with metal stools, booths, low tables and a handful of counter seats. On a slow morning, you can seat yourself—Early Bird specials are available 6-8 a.m. on weekdays—though business was anything but slow for my trio’s Saturday morning visit. The hostess seated us at the first available table in less than 20 minutes, and our server was ready to take our beverage orders just moments later.

The locally-roasted coffee, a special blend created just for this restaurant, was very smooth and low acid ($2.29, free refills). As a true “only in Reno” brunch joint with full bar, they offer draft beers from local breweries and a cocktail menu full of interesting selections. I opted for the Kimchee Bloody Mary ($6.75), a mix of vodka, house bloody Mary mix, Sriracha sauce, and kimchee (Korean-style fermented cabbage and vegetables). Delicious, not too spicy, and full of flavorful, chunky bits rounding out a great “hair of the dog” morning indulgence.

My dining companions and I ordered a mix of breakfast and lunch dishes. The biscuits and gravy combo ($9.49) was served with locally sourced eggs and hardwood-smoked bacon, the latter being just a tad overcooked. I prefer bacon with a little chew, but it was fine if you like your bacon on the crispy side. The gravy was excellent, with tons of sausage and just enough seasoning. The “biscuits,” though, were more cakey than flaky and appeared to be square-cut from a sheet pan. The dense-yet-light texture was reminiscent of angel food cake, which is something new to me for this dish. They weren’t grandma’s buttermilk biscuits, but they did a fine job serving up that tasty gravy.

If you were a fan of GourMelt, you’ll be happy to hear all your favorite cheesy sandwiches are included on the new menu, along with some new goodies. I ordered the Two Chicks Burger ($10.99) and was delighted with the dish. A fresh-ground beef patty was joined by melted cheddar cheese, avocado, grilled red onion and fried egg on toasted “Icky bread” from Great Basin Brewing. I ordered the meat medium rare and the egg over medium, adding plenty of gooey goodness to the flavor collective. The meat had just enough pink to be perfect, and although the bottom of the toast got a little soggy, it didn’t last long enough for me to care. I chose their signature garlic-parmesan fries and basil aioli—a favorite from the old menu—and it was like greeting an old friend you haven’t seen in a while. Brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it.

Rounding out our meal was a well-executed plate of eggs Benedict ($10.49), including veggie fritters that resembled hash browns, yet crispier and with more flavor. The usual suspects were in the mix, including thick-cut ham on an English muffin topped with perfectly-poached eggs and a very light, creamy Hollandaise sauce. Classic and satisfying, yet I look forward to trying all the other variations the menu has to offer. In a town full of brunch options, these two chicks have just started their climb to the top of the pecking order.