I'm in a movie called Tavern.
That's what you think when you walk into The Ivy Tavern, the new pub on Lemmon Avenue. It's the most taverny tavern ever, as though you've accidentally strolled into the movie set approximation of a tavern filled with previously unused tavern props.
There are two stuffed deer on the wall, one antelope (from what my burger-eating eyes can tell), a mini version of a grandfather clock, and a Renaissance cherub painting. The grandfather wasn't ticking. Above the bar, just below the flat-screen, was the best tavern icon I've ever seen mounted on wood: an iron eagle in the throws of patriotism, talons gripping the mast of a ship with two sails shooting on either side.
Where I sat at the bar, the antelope's eyes were dead on me. The antelope watched me order the certified Angus beef from the "Bad Ass Sandwiches" section of the menu. The burger, says the menu, is a 50/50 ground brisket and ground chuck blend, served on sourdough Texas toast.
At first, the bartender exclaimed, "I didn't know we had a burger!" which did not make me pump my fist in the air with confidence. I added cheese, asked for medium rare and hoped the antelope wouldn't judge.
The Ivy Tavern's burger joins the ranks of Dallas cheeseburgers that are almost good. It's just teetering on the edge of being good. It arrived on crunchy-looking, big sourdough, and one half was pierced by a pickle wrapped around a pepperoncini.
The meat was juicy and cooked nicely for a half brisket burger, but it really needed a punch of seasoning. More salt and pepper would push this burger right over the edge to iron eagle level. The toppings -- lettuce, red onion and pickle -- were whatever. They're like the taverny movie props in the bar. They're just there. Stop looking at me, weird antelope!
If you stuff that pepperoncini into the burger, the whole experience gets better. It's all almost-great. One of the Tavern's staff stopped to ask me how it was, and excitedly told me the brisket sandwich was her favorite thing. BUT I'M HAVING A BURGER, I thought. The sourdough was good, but the under-seasoned patty and the perfunctory toppings kept the burger from being truly great. Or maybe I'm still messed up from the meat heaven at Knife.
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