Some bar openings feel a bit like an arranged marriage. Yes, we knew it was only a matter of time before a brewery from the Big D set up shop here. No, we had no idea which one it would be until it happened. Larger breweries like Community Beer Company, Four Corners Brewing Company, and, a’hem, Deep Ellum Brewing Company were likely suitors. After my first visit to the last’s Funkytown Fermatorium last week, I can say that Fort Worth and its newest Dallas transplant are set to enjoy a long and happy honeymoon.
That might seem like a rosy forecast considering how many locals were p.o.’d over recent online comments by the founder of Deep Ellum Brewing Company. Two weeks ago, John Reardon took issue with the city’s decision that forced him to paint over a large mural on the southern wall of Funkytown Fermatorium because it violated Fort Worth signage laws. After quipping that Fort Worth “isn’t so funky after all,” dozens of commenters shot back on social media, accusing Reardon of disrespecting the city rather than taking responsibility for not researching local ordinances. Reardon later apologized, though the whole inauspicious episode still shrouds the opening.
The layout and vibe of Funkytown Fermatorium lie somewhere between a hip DIY brewery and polished West 7th restaurant — something akin to a lovechild between The Collective Brewing Project and World of Beer. The long bar boasts dozens of tap handles, and there’s a handful of TVs in the center of the brewpub. In the back, a large glass wall allows visitors to peep into Funkytown Fermatorium’s brewing facility. An adjoining dining area in the rear houses a few dozen additional tables and booths. My guests and I sat next to the kitchen’s wood-fired brick oven.
Fans of Cane Rosso may appreciate one culinary connection. A manager told us the chef who developed the Dallas pizzeria’s original menu was the lead consultant for Funkytown Fermatorium’s. Among the bill of fare’s six pizza choices, I sprung for the Texas AF. The Neapolitan pie arrived steaming hot, its chewy crust marked by a tinge of char. On top, the spicy Calabrese salami packed a welcome bit of heat that was cooled by a coating of sweet bacon jam. For $18, the pizza can probably comfortably feed two but no more.
The brisket arancini, three golden-fried risotto balls stuffed with bits of brisket, was as filling as it was delicious, but it could have used a bit more meat. I quelled the heat of the accompanying fiery garlic aioli with a pint of Play Date sour ale. Other starters include fried goat cheese, Brussels sprouts, apple cider donuts, and meatballs.
There were a dozen Deep Ellum brews on tap that evening. I passed on popular favorites like Deep Ellum IPA (known for its bold West Coast-style bitterness) and Neato Bandito (a flavorful take on typically mild lagers). Play Date was mildly tart with ample hints of fruit and berries. Oak Cliff Coffee Ale, a lively coffee-forward brown ale, featured a light body and lingering sweetness.
The service that night was prompt and polite. Opening night for any restaurant can be a nerve-racking affair for the staff, but if there were any problems, we didn’t notice.
The real treats will come when Funkytown Fermatorium starts brewing exclusive Fort Worth beers. I have no idea what to expect other than that the beers (I’m guessing here) will probably have kitschy Fort Worth names like Dickies Arena Doppelbock or Stockyards Stout. Deep Ellum Brewing produces some of the most popular beers in the region, so beer fans could be forgiven for having high expectations.
611 University Dr, FW. 817-873-3322.