Short Orders: Hully & Mo

Hully & Mo
2800 Routh St.

The place can fool you.

In saying that, I mean to point out the gap between normal sports bar expectations and what Hully & Mo actually delivers--and how this can overawe just about anyone.

Yes, they serve wings and burgers and those little diuretic sandwiches, just like any other sports bar. But the kitchen has also mastered (to some extent) steaks, seared tuna, oyster shooters and other odd fineries. Then there's the upscale vibe and sophisticated layout. Walk in and you can easily be wowed before ordering a meal.

And this is how they turn above average cooking into something buzzworthy.

But if you ignore the surprise and the scene, you notice a few things. Their oyster shooters--or shooter, rather, for it is just a single bivalve stuffed in a tiny glass of Bloody Mary mix (for $7)--is a schizophrenic blast of tart juice, on the one hand, and a very musty oyster on the other.

When two strong flavors meet face to face, as Kipling kinda said, they don't always come to terms--at least not willingly. The mix pierces your palate with vinegar-like lashings while the oyster droops across it in sad, silty flavors. There's nothing to bridge the two; nothing to find common bond.

Worth it at $7? Not a chance...unless you've got lots of $7 to burn. And even then, sitting behind a line of empty glasses would just mark you as a poseur.

The fish and chips--real cod, the waitress assured me--shows more competence, some of the time. Over the course of three pieces (on one plate), I endured textures ranging from mushy up to beautifully firm, all inside a crisp but oil-heavy shell. A side of jalapeno slaw flashes a nice level of heat and the frites surpass Dallas standards...which means they are made in haste but seasoned right and quite easy to wolf down.

When I tried the same dish a couple months ago, I ended up with a woeful assembly: rubbery crust, soggy fish. They've improved, and dramatically so.

Hully & Mo isn't fine dining, of course. And the place hardly merits a trip of any distance. But, no fooling, they stack up very well against the sports bar norm.

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