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I Don't Know What's Happening at So & So's, but the Burger Is Amazing

A few feet behind the bar at So and So's is a deer wearing a bright red t-shirt. Playing cards are stuck to the wall like they were sprayed on, and nearby a S&S logo has a single, sheathed knife below it. Also behind the bar: A tiny giraffe is sitting on keys of a piano that looks like it was found in Titanic wreckage. Like the Gap-clothed deer, the giraffe looks deep in thought sitting on the rotten keys.

I have no idea what the hell is going on at So & So's, but it is good. Cocktails, like a Pimm's Cup, are on draft. Chicken and dumplings come with Parmesan gnocchi, there's a boat load of pizzas (including a breakfast pizza with sausage gravy?!?), and a painting on the Easterly wall of two Colonial-style boats chasing each other in shafts of sunlight. It's like someone plucked bits of restaurants around the globe, shook them up in a wooden barrel and dumped them into Uptown.

The Lady Friend and I ordered a Caesar salad, chicken and dumplings, and a burger. The Caesar came like a steakhouse salad, with bouqets of Romaine, crisp baguette and awesome piles of Parmesan Reggiano with black pepper. Our staff critic has been eating here lately and will have a full review next week, but for me a lot of this was punch-own-face satisfying.

The reason for my visit -- that burger -- was immediately special. It comes on a Challah bun with a slathering of bacon shallot aioli, which are the best three words I've written in a while. I asked for medium rare and it was the most spot-on medium rare I've gotten since the burger at Knife that ruined previous burgers. A rush of juices flooded the wooden cutting board, right up to the pickle. You can see the glorious meat swimming pool in the photo. I wanted to wrap my arms around the deer and engage it in a Jane Austen-esque dance as a teary-eyed thank you.

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When ordering medium rare, it's always a gamble. I love a medium rare to have a gradient from blackened to deeply red center, and So & So's center was blackened on the outside and red enough in the middle to entice vampires. Three very happy things hit you with the first bite: 1) salty crunch 2) smoke 3) juice. The challah bun added a soft richness to a burger loaded with texture (I disagree with Leslie Brenner's burger one-liner in her review). Add the smoky bacon aioli, and it's one of the best burgers in Uptown right now.

I honestly have no idea what's happening at So & So's. It's the restaurant version of the Island of Dr. Moreau. One of things on the menu is a Chili De Arbol Pickle, which has the description "Movie Theater Style a Kick." There's also hamachi crudo. I think there's a stuffed mongoose below the deer. I don't care. It's all madness, but in the best possible way.

So & So's is at 3309 McKinney Ave, Dallas, TX 75204.

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