Deep Ellum Offers Comfort Cuisine, Craft Beer
Edgy yet down-to-earth spirit of Texas district in Allston
The Deep Ellum district of Dallas, Texas, has been a jazz, blues, culture, and arts hotspot for more than 100 years. About 1,500 miles to the northeast, a bar and restaurant by the same name, on Cambridge Street in Allston, is trying to keep that district’s edgy yet down-to-earth spirit alive.
Deep Ellum is a destination for beer nerds and food geeks alike, with house-made charcuterie and a full craft beer and cocktail list.
The place was packed on a recent Monday night. Plates of deviled eggs, chili, and pepper jack fries changed hands at the bar, where patrons swigged rare spiced Belgians and dirty martinis with fat olives. The lighting is so dim, a cell phone is nearly essential for reading the menu. Shelves on the exposed-brick walls are stacked with worn books about beer, and the skull of a longhorn steer hangs above the bar, a reminder of the restaurant’s Texas roots.
The draft list changes daily; this night it included local Massachusetts brews from Pretty Things and High and Mighty and quality Belgians from Ommegang and De Ranke, just right for washing down the Parmesan fries, served in a heap with thick truffle mayo, or the buffalo wings, deep-fried and sticky with a spicy, buttery house-made sauce.
Deep Ellum excels at world-inspired comfort cuisine that pairs well with the high-quality quaffs. That means the rich and flavor-packed appetizers and sandwiches may be just as satisfying—and easier on your wallet—than the pricier entrées. The meatloaf sandwich is a hearty blend of beef and pork on a soft roll, with pepper jack, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. It’s sweet and sour, savory and spicy. The reuben, which sandwiches hot corned beef and melted Swiss between two grilled slices of pumpernickel bread, is served piping hot, its richness tempered by a lightly dressed, crunchy slaw.
If you wait until after 8:30 p.m. to order the fried chicken, pepper jack grits, and honey biscuit that you’ve been dreaming about all day, you may be out of luck, as I was—the kitchen had run out. Instead, I opted for the Best Wurst Plate, featuring house-made sausage and two side dishes that rotate daily. That night it was a goat cheese, zucchini, and eggplant gratin along with red beans and rice. The gratin, topped with crispy breadcrumbs, could have used a bit more seasoning and more goat cheese, but the beans and rice provided a great base for the garlicky, smoky sausage.
A busy night may require waiting an extra beat or two for your food, but that will leave you with plenty of time to hole up in a dark wooden booth, savor a drink, and soak up the Deep Ellum spirit.
Deep Ellum, 477 Cambridge Street, Allston, Mass., 617-787-2337.3 Comments