Opening day finally arrived for Armoury D.E., the Deep Ellum restaurant-bar that took over the old Kettle Art Gallery space on Elm Street.
Co-owner Peter Novotny says that he and his partners, Dan Murry, Johnny Brown and chef Abram Vargas, are catching up on sleep after weathering their opening weekend and are turning out an exciting menu with recipes inspired by his Hungarian mom.
"We do have a full menu with salads, entrees and a cheese and charcuterie board, but there are a lot of Hungarian items as well because I'm Hungarian," he says. That includes a goulash, a slow-simmered soup that takes a few hours.
"It's traditional style, it has onions, peppers, potato, celery root, garlic and chuck beef," he says. "It has Hungarian paprika, so it's a little spicy. My mom came in and showed Abram recipes for about a dozen Hungarian dishes I grew up on. She watched him cook. Of course, he's a chef so he added his own little twist. They're traditional Hungarian recipes, but with a little more spice."
Named for an old sign stenciled on the inside brick wall, Armoury is a restaurant-bar with craft beer, cocktails and crafty food from a quartet with nearly a dozen years of experience in the service industry. Collectively, the crew has worked at well-known spots such as the Fillmore Pub in Plano, Vickery Park, Goodfriend, Libertine, Cedars Social, Bottle Shop and The Londoner.
In addition to goulash, they have sandwiches — including a steak sandwich, chicken sandwich, burgers, pork belly and Hungarian sausage sandwich — and entrees such as steak, mahi mahi and chicken paprikash. Appetizers include octopus, pork belly fritters and duck wings. It's mostly pretty meaty although there are a few cactus fries, veggie sides like Brussels sprouts, papa brava (potato hash) and cheese spaetzle, plus a Hungarian fried flat bread served with garlic spread and korozott, a Hungarian-style cream cheese.
"It's a little different," Novotny says. "The duck wings came because we were talking about doing duck and that’s what he wanted to do. They're like lollipop-style drums. They come out super crispy and not that fatty, like a brown meat chicken.
"The pork belly fritters are almost like State Fair food," he says. "It has a big chunk of pork belly with dough wrapped it, like funnel cake. They come with an Aperol orange sauce, made from the Italian citrus bitter. We're doing a lot of liquor here. We have a big section of Italian amaros and digestifs, we liked the idea of that because we don't see a lot of people doing that yet. Our steak is seared with angostura bitters, and there's Chartreuse in our mahi mai. We have liquor and beer on almost every single dish."
Their current hours are 4 pm to 2 am, and within a couple of weeks, they'll open for Saturday and Sunday brunch, as well. "People seem to be welcoming having options for late-night eating, since our kitchen is open until 2 am," Novotny says. "We'll see how long that lasts. But our chef is driven and would like to keep it open."