By Greg Holman
Ten Bells Tavern may be a newcomer to Dallas’ flourishing gourmet cuisine-scene, but it certainly feels like a trusted, old friend. Ten Bells is comforting. It’s like putting on a good fitting glove; it’s like tomato soup and grilled cheese, it’s the quilt that your grandmother made you…it’s home.
Meri Dahlke, Michael Hickey, and Greg Matthews are the brain trust behind Ten Bells Tavern, and have turned a former (and possibly haunted!) Alcoholic’s Anonymous meeting hall in the Bishop Arts District, into Dallas’ first “Gastro-Dive”! Ten Bells is my new favorite watering hole, on the cool side of the Trinity.
Named after the infamous Ten Bells Public House in London’s East End (noted for its unique and lively interior and patrons, and for its association with a couple of Jack the Ripper’s victims), Ten Bells fuses a traditional English pub – ox-blood colored walls, a dark wood bar, nice takes on traditional British pub grub and vintage British decor – with an Austin beer garden’s live music and DJ’s (on the weekends), a tremendously friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful staff; an ample patio complete with a walk-up bar window, and lots of picnic-bench patio seating (there are two huge communal tables outside too).
Many of you old Lee Harvey’s regulars may have memories of Jack, the awesome Pit Bull Terrier that used to guard the warehouse next door to LH’s. Meri is the wonderful lady who adopted Jack when that warehouse closed, and a painting of Jack now graces (guards) the beer taps at (Jack’s) Ten Bells Tavern, so of course, dogs are more than welcome to bring their people and come hang on the patio.
The well-stocked bar offers a thoughtfully chosen selection of regularly-rotated draft beers (most are locally brewed) and a bountiful selection of bottled brews. There’s also a nice choice of liquor, thanks to Greg Matthews, who has an exceptional palate when it comes to spirits. He has master-minded the assembly of an absolutely amazing selection of local and rare Scotches, Whiskeys, and Bourbons, to tickle your tongue’s fancy. TB also is beginning to host some outrageously cool tasting/pairing dinners.
Recently Ten Bells has gained notoriety by being voted one of the 10 “Best New Bars” in Dallas; its house-made pickled eggs were named The Observer’s 2012 “Best Appetizer;” the chicken wings garnered the No. 23 spot on the The Observer’s “100 Favorite Dishes” list, and were just named some of the “Ten Best Wings in the Country” by Robb Report Magazine.
The kitchen is manned by innovative, young and upcoming Chef Carlos Mancera, who already has an impressive background having previously cooked for Stephan Pyles, Eddie V’s, Cedars Social, and Bolsa, (with additional training by Katherine Clapner – the genius behind Dude Sweet Chocolates). Food is served nightly until 10 p.m. and the kitchen produces some truly exceptional dishes.
The set menu is short and simple, with Chef Carlos also creating some amazing daily specials. Recent special offerings have included Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with Roasted Heirloom Beets in Citrus-Brown Butter Reduction, Risotto Frito on Corn Pico de Gallo, Grilled Pork Cheek over Three Bean Cassoulet, and Roasted Stuffed Quail on Polenta with Pickled Onion, just to name a few.
Menu staples include a well-executed cheese board, fish and chips, a classic Reuben sandwich, a traditional British Pub Butty sandwich, a stand-up cheeseburger, and a phenomenal chicken Cobb sandwich.
Ten Bells is an unpretentious, comforting destination and I find myself longing to sit on the welcoming patio, sipping on a cold beer, munching some tasty wings or nice cheeses, and talking with Meri, Michael, Greg, their awesome staff, and their like-minded but diverse patrons, all to a backdrop of classic new wave tunes, and strolling Bishop Arts patrons. It’s a very relaxing and fun time indeed!
So, stop by this intriguing gastro-dive and see why everyone’s ears are ringing with Ten Bells!
Ten Bells Tavern
232 W. 7th St.
(in the Bishop Arts District)
Dallas – 214-943-2677