Into Shelley’s Belly: Bryan Street Tavern

The BST Deluxe (left); billiards and tattoos (right) photos by Matthew Shelley

Deep beneath the winds of rainy streets
In old East Dallas a tavern beats
And pulses and dances along the glades
Of Bryan Street, where troubles fade.
A legend tells of a wandering soul
Guided by whispers and owing no toll
To man nor beast, nor season or flame
In winter’s arms he seeks refrain
He casts his sword beside the hearth
And glides with grace upon the earth
This tavern sways and soothes his heart
With whiskers and songs and joy a part
Of every laugh and chuckle and bounce
The patrons live and ne’er renounce
A stranger’s needs and long respite
For in these arms be his home tonight

In my fortunes left to me by my great uncle Rasputin of the Old Dallas Gentlemen’s League, I found this poem amongst his keepings. I vowed then to visit this place and was left with nothing short of a happy belly and a good night’s sleep. Bryan Street Tavern is a tattered, grungy home bar with saloon grittiness and old world charm. It possesses an excellent stability and comfort with so many offerings for those of us who make pub life a second home. Live music, the sweet sounds of crashing billiard balls, a wide open bar top, big screens, and spacious dining space all cater to the whiskered, happy madness of the pub house conviviality. One of my favorite rooms is the couch-filled den beneath the romantically ironic chandeliers suitable for a good party group or lovers with much to whisper about. The neon and concrete compliment the twisted homey sophistication with boundless well-being.

Inside the Tavern

Tonight the fortunes smiled upon me and my affinity for Texas craft beers, since they were offering everything on draft at only $3 for a pint. Holy busting bosom of brew-swilling jubilance! I chose the Southern Star Buried Hatchet Stout. It’s dark and rich with a diving chocolate and toffee resplendence finished by notes of coffee and roasted walnuts. This raspy voiced, husky lounge singer of a beer sings brightly with all of its stoutly charm and is just the kind of rough-knuckled, soothing powerhouse I needed for a cold rainy evening away from home. This place echoes the simplicity and universality to arouse any patron while possessing an outstanding, hand crafted array of food and drinks. The beer list alone will delight the tastes of any aficionado. Friendly hugs and farewells fill the space around the bar, and the mood is intoxicating. This place has endurance, esteem, moxy and tenderness.

The Tavern Twist and three sauces (left); Southern Star’s Buried Hatchet Stout (right)
Billiards are for playtime

For my dining adventure, I started out with the Tavern Twist. It’s a fresh, soft pretzel baked in a stone oven that comes with a choice of whole grain mustard, housemade ranch, or a simple cheese dipping sauce. I decided to try all three. The mustard had a marvelous attitude of tang and kick with a sharp aftertaste, while the cheese dip wasn’t too heavy and had some genuine flavor. But the ranch was where it all came together. This beautifully soft and luxuriously savory pretzel was elevated beyond its already tremendous flavor and texture by the balance and robust profile of the housemade ranch. They should sell this ranch in stores or cover me in it and let me lay for hours under the stars, though that might lead to an over stimulation of energy and arousal that I’m not adequately trained for.

The Lou

Next up, I decided to go for the pizzas, which I’ve heard a great deal about. I went for the BST Deluxe and The Lou. The BST Deluxe has marinara, Jimmy’s spicy/mild sausage, pepperoni, black olives, green peppers, red onions, and mushrooms. The mushrooms ride high on the backs of the peppers and jalapeno, which both are surprisingly mild, and I want to thank them for removing the seeds. It had an inviting heat and diversity of classic toppings, which sat heartily on top of the crispy crunch of the stone fired crust. The Lou is marinara, provel cheese, pepperoni, Jimmy’s sausage, onion, and mushroom. I know, I really mixed it up with some variety. Deal with it. The Lou did well with the silky and savory provel cheese, and the crunch of the onions made for some nice battling textures. Both pizzas carried with them the essence of what this place is all about. They are filling, simple, and made with love and care. Everything screams genuine and local, and while I started to get dizzy and confused by so much comforting awesomeness, I maintained peace. Do yourself a favor and cozy up inside this tavern’s warm and welcoming splendor, and you might just find yourself as in love as I am. And if you’re interested in membership in the Old Dallas Gentlemen’s League, you’re out of luck. I shouldn’t even be telling you about it, so just drop it. Cheers.