Friendly, neighborhood gastropub Argyll Whisky Beer, seemingly transported from across the pond, is a little bit UK, a little bit kitschy, and quite a bit boozy. Brunch is served with a British twist and offers a great opportunity to grab a traditional English breakfast, enjoy the people watching along 17th Avenue and sip a cool cocktail with a good book under the summer sun.
Argyll's huge interior space makes it easy to walk right in and seat yourself, but even with a wrap-around, three-seasons atrium, it can feel a little too dark for a cheery summertime brunch, so grab a spot on the fenced-in patio that feels like a European sidewalk cafe. If you’re nursing a hangover and like the idea of easing into the day without so much sunshine, the dining room is decorated with playful drinking quotes, framed photos and argyle wallpaper.
While there are many clues that Argyll’s focus is on drinking over food, the first are the rows of wall-mounted whiskey flasks above the host station along with a sign proclaiming that the soup of the day is whisky. Once you get the brunch menu though, you’ll learn that the soup of the day is actually bottomless mimosas — and who’s to say there’s anything wrong with a liquid lunch?
Priced at just $3 a pop and $9 for bottomless, Argyll's mimosas are a steal in Uptown. The table next to me sent back their mango mimosas for being too sweet, saying they didn’t want to start the day with diabetes; I stuck with a more traditional English pick: the Pimm’s cup. The dark brown concoction was unlike any Pimm's Cup I’ve had before: It came with no pretty fruit garnish other than a very potent cherry and tasted more like a spiked Arnold Palmer. The waiter educated me that there were variations of the drink beyond the light and fruity, but this darker version still went down way too easy and I was sufficiently buzzed after just half a glass, whether that was from the strong pours or the sweltering heat. The bar also offers Bloody Marys made with whiskey instead of vodka, which certainly piqued my curiosity, but I know better than to mix booze, especially before noon.
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While the English aren’t exactly known for their spectacular international cuisine, Argyll brings the best aspects to Denver, including curry and other Indian touches on the lunch menu. Looking for anything unique or non-traditional, I immediately gravitated toward the crayfish artichoke stew, which the waitress warned smelled a little fishy — a warning that proved unnecessary as I didn't find it to be a problem. Instead, I was amused by the perfectly segmented portions of white rice and red stew — a British version of the American TV dinner, perhaps. Huge, fresh chunks of artichoke were a welcome first bite and the tomato sauce had a subtle spice, with a heat that became more intense with each bite. Despite my best efforts to disperse the red mixture and soak the grains, the rice could’ve stood to be cooked a little more, as it was a little too al dente for my liking.
The portion size was perfect for brunch — the first brunch plate I’ve finished in awhile — even after I was pleasantly surprised by an additional egg (the menu mentioned only one as a topping). While it was a big heavy and hearty for a hot day and probably more suited as a cool-weather dish, it is one of the more unique brunch options I’ve found on this side of the pond.