The first thing you notice on the Armoury D.E
. brunch menu is the French Toast Von Chocula. That’s the classic Count Chocula cereal living gloriously in French toast. One cocktail comes with cookie crisps and a whole egg. Beyond brunch, there’s the awesomely named Darkwing Drums: Five duck wings, deep fried and tossed in “mango-peach chili sauce.” “Charred pulpo” is white wine-simmered octopus with Spanish spices. That glint in your eye is the beer steins shimmering over the bar. A stuffed buck’s head, I think, is intent on watching you order burgers. Armoury D.E. is nailing the art of fun.
I’m sitting at the lacquered bar, still feeling lacquered from the night before. A jar of fresh mint for cocktails is staring at me, mocking me. There’s something about Deep Ellum on a Sunday morning that makes you think everything — the deer head, the heavy forks, the bar’s library ladder — is hungover. Like they’re all going, “I’ve been there, man.” I had already ordered the “Damn Burger” about two hours earlier in my head.
Speaking of: The “Damn Burger” is damn good. It’s a short rib and brisket blend, topped with 4-year-aged cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onion and “mason pickles,” on a buttery challah bun. The menu lets you know you can ask for “pink or done,” and you can add bacon and a farm fresh egg. I skip the latter (I may or may not have eaten a pound of bacon the night before) and go with “pink.”
The first thing to walk from the kitchen is the aroma of garlic fries. Is anything more beautiful in life, the morning after a night of All the Bourbon Ever, than the waft of hot, crispy garlic fries? I slice the burger down the center and there’s pink on the beef horizon. Good construction, too: medium-thick pickle discs on top of columns of sunflower-yellow cheddar, very fresh lettuce, tomato and onion on the bottom. It’s thoughtful, and it tastes that way: Sharp and punchy cheddar meets flavorful pickles. And the burger is juicy — not griddle greasy — and charred. Condiments are worthless.
The guy next to me is eyeing my burger, enough to make me think I’ll need to throw a wild elbow if he comes close, and he says something like, “If that burger’s good, I may have to order one.” It is good, Brunch Sir. Damn — or whatever word you want to use — good.