Upcoming Saturday Brunches in Houston Celebrate Dolly Parton

The Jolene cocktail surrounded by dishes for The Union Kitchen's upcoming Dolly Parton-themed brunches

National treasure and 2022 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Dolly Parton will always live in our hearts, and The Union Kitchen is hosting special brunches to celebrate the country music legend. 

All five of The Union Kitchen restaurants, which are owned by Gr8Plate Hospitality and located in Cypress, Katy, Kingwood, Memorial, and Oak Forest, are celebrating Parton’s 78th birthday with a special menu and book-donation event on Saturday, January 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“We’re really big on celebrating women icons. We’ve done a Taylor Swift brunch. We’ve done a Beyoncé brunch. And they’re always really big hits,” says Rebekah Vera, general manager of the Union Kitchen in Katy. “Dolly for us was just the next logical thing, because she is such an icon. We’ve got Beyoncé, Swifties, Barbie and then… who’s next?”

Alongside Gr8Plate Hospitality executive chef James Lundy, Vera and her team have created three cocktails inspired by some of Dolly’s timeless tunes. The Jolene pays homage to the woman Vera dubs “the heartbreaker.” It’s a sweet-and-smoky mezcal tequila concoction with agave, fresh lime juice and muddled mandarin served in a glass rimmed with black salt. Jim Beam infused with brown butter forms the base of The New Cowboy in Town, and it’s gussied up with bitters, brown sugar and an orange rind. Named after the singer herself, The Blonde Boss mixes Reposado tequila with fresh lime juice, muddled raspberries, lychee liquor and agave, all finished off with a food-safe pink glitter bomb. (Think of it like a sparkly bath bomb that you can drink.)

The 9 To 5 Special of biscuits with milk gravy and either sausage or bacon for The Union Kitchen's upcoming Dolly Parton-themed brunch
The 9 To 5 Special of biscuits with milk gravy and either sausage or bacon for The Union Kitchen’s upcoming Dolly Parton-themed brunch. Photo by Dylan McEwan.

For “Dolly Day”, The Union Kitchen is adding three special dishes to its normal brunch menu that highlight the singer’s career and Southern heritage. The 9 to 5 Special has biscuits and milk gravy made with the singer’s own recipe — which she cooks up for her husband every morning—and pairs them with a choice of bacon or sausage. Named after Parton’s beloved home state, The Tennessee Homesick Blues puts a twist on the classic eggs Benedict, swapping jalapeño cornbread for the traditional English muffin, and rounding out the dish with fried eggs, a fried chicken tender, jalapeño slices, hot honey and gouda. There’s a dessert, too: the Puddin’ Parfait whips up fresh banana pudding with vanilla yogurt and vanilla wafers.

The banana Puddin' Parfait will be a special dessert for The Union Kitchen's upcoming Dolly Parton-themed brunch
The banana Puddin’ Parfait will be a special dessert for The Union Kitchen’s upcoming Dolly Parton-themed brunch. Photo by Dylan McEwan.

Playing during brunch is a soundtrack of Parton’s music, as well as songs by her contemporaries Tammy Wynette and Loretta Lynn, and successors Miley Cyrus (her goddaughter) and Kacey Musgraves. Diners are encouraged to channel Parton’s generosity through her Imagination Library program by donating children’s books to Casa de Esperanza. This organization provides housing and family support programs for infants and children suffering from abuse or neglect.

Imagination Library is a nonprofit promoting literacy in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia by sending free monthly books to children from birth until they begin school. Parton launched the effort in 1995, focusing on Sevier County, Tennessee where she grew up, and expanded nationally in 2000. 

For Vera, Lundy, and the Union Kitchen team, honoring Dolly’s big personality and big legacy meant also honoring her big heart. “She’s such a multigenerational icon, with Dollywood, her philanthropy with the Imagination Library, being Miley Cyrus’s godmother and appearing on Hannah Montana,” Vera says. “And of course, all of her classic songs. We were just like, ‘This is perfect.’ This is super-fun and everyone’s gonna love it.”

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