Monday, November 5, 2012

Ten Bells Gets Two Thumbs Up - Hands Down!

Hey all! Halloween was fun, but it's over now and time to start thinking about the holidays, oh... and the impending apocalypse. Here's my November article for Lit Monthly, unedited!...

Sorry everyone, I missed last month’s deadline and Mark had to cover for me, but that certainly doesn’t mean that I’ve been lax on the food and drink front. Far from it! In fact, we’ve been embracing some of the awesome, new destinations in Dallas’ quickly developing downtown and Bishop Arts districts, and have been making some great new friends, sampling some amazing food, and imbibing a plethora of particularly palatable pints in the process.

With Dallas topping the list of U.S. cities with the most restaurants per capita, there is a constant barrage of new places popping up. Unfortunately we get stuck on auto-pilot and tend to follow the same rut that leads us straight to our old familiar haunts time and again. It’s like putting on that old tattered bath robe, slipping on those duck-tape covered Converse All-Stars with the hole in the toe, or sliding into that faithful couch with the tear in the cushion that’s now covered by a blanket… it’s just damn comfy. But with so many talented and ambitious restaurateurs and chefs in our vicinity, it’s ludicrous not to venture outside of our comfort zones to see what Dallas has to offer. Who knows? Another blanket-covered couch could be just around the corner!

Such is the case with our new favorite neighborhood pub...
Ten Bells Tavern -- 232 W. 7th St. in the Bishop Arts District, Dallas, TX 214-943-2677.

I don’t often devote an entire article to one single establishment, but as I began writing about Ten Bells, I found my “word limit” quickly approaching, and thought to myself “there’s just something about this place…” so this month, it’s all about “The Bells”.

Meri Dahlke, Michael Hickey, and Greg Mathews are the brain trust behind Ten Bells, and have turned a former (possibly haunted!... Just ask) Alcoholics Anonymous meeting hall into our new favorite watering hole on the other side of the Trinity.

Michael and Meri's photo from their recent D Magazine article.

I know that many of you are old Lee Harvey’s regulars and have fond memories of Jack, the Pit Bull Terrier that used to guard the warehouse next door to LH’s. Meri is the wonderful lady who adopted him when the warehouse went out of business, and a painting of Jack now guards the beer taps at (Jack’s) Ten Bells Tavern.

Ten Bells mixes the feel of a pub; ox-blood colored walls, a dark wood bar, nice takes on traditional British pub grub, with an Austin beer garden; lots of dog-friendly patio seating on picnic benches, a walk-up bar window, and an outdoor stage, and a tremendously friendly, knowledgeable and helpful staff.

The bar is well stocked and offers a thoughtfuly chosen eight or so regularly rotated draft beers and a bountiful selection of bottled brews. There's also a nice choice of Scotches, Tequilas, Vodkas, and Bourbons.

They have movie nights on Wednesdays, showing two or three feature films (from a wide variety of genres) on the back of the outdoor stage, and DJs and bands play outside on the weekends, weather permitting.

The kitchen, manned by young and upcoming Chef Carlos Mancera, formerly of Stephan Pyles, Eddie V's, Cedars Social, and Bolsa, with additional training by Katherine Clapner (the genius behind Dude Sweet Chocolates), is open until 10 pm and produces some pretty exceptional bar food.

Chef Carlos

Recently several Ten Bells dishes have gained notoriety including the house-made pickled eggs (2 or three flavors are usually available) which were named The Observer’s 2012 Best Appetizer, and the slightly sweet and spicy Chicken Wings garnered the #23 spot on the Observer’s 100 Favorite Dishes list.

Ten Bells Wings

There is a short and simple set menu, with Chef Carlos creating some awesome daily specials. Some recent offerings we’ve seen… Hatch Chili Mac and Three Cheeses, Risotto Frito on Corn Pico de Gallo, Pork Cheek on a Three Bean Cassoulet, and Roasted Stuffed Quail on Polenta with Pickled Onion, to name a few.


Pork Cheek and Bean Cassoulet

Menu staples include a well presented cheese board, an outstanding Grilled Cheese Sandwich, authentic Fish and Chips (Chef Carlos only uses fresh flounder and house cut fries), a very simple but great slow roasted prime rib Roast Beef au jus Sandwich, a classic British Pub Butty Sandwich (toasted brioche filled with house made fries, white cheddar, and caramelized onions, served with a side of whole grain Jack Daniels Mustard), a stand-up Cheeseburger, and a phenomenal Chicken Cobb Sandwich, that just narrowly missed winning the 2012 Dallas Observer’s Best Sandwich.

Fish and Chips


Cheese Board

On a recent visit Chef Carlos told me that he is adding a Pulled Pork Cuban Sandwich and a trditional Ruben on Marble Rye (which I've now had and can proclaim as a downright decent Ruben!) to the permanent menu. He is also adding a nice selection of small plates and brunch items as well.

Chicken Cobb Sandwich

Ten Bells is an unpretentious, very comforting destination for us, and often, out of the blue, I find myself thinking about sitting on their welcoming patio, sipping a beer, munching on some tasty wings or some nice cheeses, and talking with Meri, Michael, Greg, and their awesome staff, to a backdrop of Bishop Arts patrons strolling through the neighborhood. A very relaxing afternoon or evening indeed!

Dell Mixing a Cocktail

Ten Bells is open 7 days a week -- Monday through Friday at 3. On Saturdays and Sundays they serve a delightful brunch from 11 to 3 (the eggs Benedict are to die for… oh so buttery!).


Stop by, say “hi”, and see why everyone’s ears are ringing with Ten Bells!