To call some Yelpers brainless is an understatement.
I’m about to swear off of Yelp. While it’s been a reliable tool for us to use in places like San Francisco, it’s becoming more and more unreliable in our current hometown of Dallas. I’m convinced letting the Dallas consumers determine what’s good or bad is like allowing only Mississippi to choose our next president. I’m not sure they are a good representation of people in the know.
I read an article a few months ago about a new pub named Ten Bells Tavern opening in my favorite Dallas neighborhood Oak Cliff. I finally had a day to go check it out and expected to hear how great it was on Yelp before I headed out. To my chagrin, it’s getting 2.5 stars. I just couldn’t believe it after having read that great interview with the owner describing the place. So I read through the Yelp reviews.
Luckily, it’s not hard to weed out the dumb opinions based on their ridiculous reasoning for giving poor marks to a place. One reviewer gave Ten Bells a glowing review in every aspect but decided to rate it 2 stars because his tab for 2 beers was $12. To be fair, he also explained that he “Bellied up to the bar and ordered a Shiner” so…okay… I’m starting to get the picture. Another Yelper branded it a 1 star pub in part because there are “no windows”… what the fuck?! See what I mean? Well relax. I’m here to give you the unadulterated truth about my experience at Ten Bells and what you can confirmedly expect there.
To say this place was built with love is an understatement.
The owners Meri and Michael put a ton of work into the old building at 232 West 7th Street in the Bishop Arts District. Most people know that Meri adopted the famous guard dog Jack, who was abandoned after a warehouse closed down next to Lee Harvey’s in Dallas. Well, Jack has since passed and Meri was recently quoted as saying “Ten Bells was created in his honor and we hope to make Jack’s legacy one of love and kindness for animals in need.” Not only is much of the décor an homage to Jack, but Ten Bells’ opening day included a doggy pool party and doggy wash charity event to benefit Animal Rescue of Texas. Needless to say, Ten Bells is extremely dog friendly and patrons are encouraged to bring photos of their own canine best friends to be displayed right alongside Jack.
Even though Ten Bells has only been open about a month, the interior looks amazing and complete and the staff is absolutely top notch.
First off, the impressive interior is dark… exactly how a pub of this sort should be. The colors, textures and lighting all make for an extremely cozy, relaxing atmosphere just as Meri intended. There’s a perfect balance of shiny new elements added to the genuine vintage building making it seem old and new at the same time. We were there on a Saturday, just before lunch. The place is pretty small inside (making for great conversation – another plus in my opinion) although we had the place to ourselves. We sat at the bar and were greeted by one of the best barkeeps in Dallas, Del.
To define Del as nice would be an understatement.
Del was born to tend bar. He absolutely made our experience at Ten Bells perfect. *NOTE* I wrote an entire paragraph where I gushed over Del and what a nice, friendly, helpful guy he is but I deleted it because it started to look like a love letter. Listen, if Del is working, go sit at the bar and I guarantee you will leave feeling better to have met him. He’s the kind of guy who would have a match lit for you before you ever put the cigarette in your mouth, smile and let you keep the whole book.
Thanks to Del we were able to obtain quite a bit of information about Ten Bells while we enjoyed brunch and beers. We first ordered a Boddingtons and Dogfish Head 90. Del then explained how they’ve only been open a short while and there are still quite a few kinks being worked out. The beer selection is solid now, including favorites like Maredsous 10. There are 7 taps, a few to be designated as rotators soon. I’m guessing that with owner Meri naming her daughter Porter, the beers will always be well selected. We’re hoping Peticolas makes an appearance soon. The menus are somewhat light and temporary but there are many wonderful dishes on the horizon including more British food like bangers and mash. We ordered and enjoyed a wonderful, not yet on the menu Frittata from chef Carlos. Sausage, turkey, ham, bacon, white cheddar and crisp veggies filled this quiche like omelet in a cute little square skillet. It was very good indeed. Later we were introduced to the chef and what had so far been an amazing afternoon would only soar off the charts from there.
To call Chef Carlos passionate would be an understatement.
Chef Carlos has worked at a lot of area bars and restaurants including Bolsa, The Cedars Social, Dude Sweet Chocolate and many more. He greeted us with a smile and seemed like he couldn’t wait to tell us all about the things happening in his kitchen. He basically has free reign and a blank canvas so he’s very excited. You should know there are no freezers in Ten Bells. All ingredients are fresh, including the seafood constantly being brought in from Louisiana. Carlos is collaborating with Lockhart Smokehouse on making a brisket omelet featuring their famous beef. He also roasts his own prime rib for the succulent prime rib sandwich. If you’re adventurous like me, you can also try his pickled eggs from the big glass jars behind the bar. I didn’t try the sweet beet and onion, but I did indulge in the jalapeño, curry and black pepper ones that were out of this world! While talking with the chef we also learned about his best seller, the fish cakes. They’re such a hot item, he literally only had two left. He mentioned he was thinking of making a new dish using the cakes. We said, “We’ll take it!” He rushed to the kitchen and shortly there after delivered his masterpiece.
To call this delicious is a vast understatement.
Two fishcakes consisting of smoked salmon, poached salmon, flounder and crab. Crispy on the outside, hot and moist inside. Top them with 2 jumbo poached eggs from an organic farm just outside of Austin. Top that with an orange and peppercorn reduction sauce. Top that with hollandaise and then sprinkle the whole thing with more crab. The perfectly balanced dish all just melts in your mouth like butter. We paid $9.00. Shut the fuck up!
To call our experience wonderful is the understatement of the century.
We finished our time at the bar off with more great conversation with Del and co owner Michael over a delicious Maredsous.
I can’t guarantee everyone will have the great experience we had at Ten Bells Tavern. Some might be upset the menu isn’t ready. Others may be upset they don’t sell Bud Light or chicken fingers. However, I can guarantee you will have a great experience anywhere you go if you possess one simple characteristic – appreciation. If you can appreciate how much hard work goes into getting a business off the ground, if you appreciate that the owners are putting everything they have into making it a success, then you will not only be a better person but also be able to enjoy all of the wonderful little things that make up the big picture. Ten Bells Tavern is my kind of place. I will be there often.
Oh yeah, one last thing… if you’re the kind of person who goes to a British pub and orders a Shiner, PLEASE stay out of my bar.
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