Restaurant Week – Bolla at the Stoneleigh

by David Donalson

Hidden just south of the Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas is the beautiful, historic Stoneleigh Hotel. With a facade dating back to the 1920s and a modern interior, this is a perfect little spot to drop in for a drink after work or a romantic weekend getaway. Settled in the corner of the first floor of the hotel is Bolla, a 3 year-old restaurant I had never heard of until I saw their menu on Restaurant Week. Time to go see what Bolla was all about.

The menu included Bandera quail, Poblano Caesar salad and mango chile crème brulee to show off the Southwestern roots of Chef Cesar Gallegos to accompany his new American cuisine Bolla espouses. My first real critique though was the wine pairings for the dishes. For ten dollars more, there was a Pinot Gris I had never heard of and a Beaujolais Villages. No worries, I would just settle in with a handpicked bottle of Au Bon Climat.

The 2009 Au Bon Climat is a Santa Barbara Pinot Noir that resembled a Pommard from Burgundy. At 13.5% alcohol, it had fresh red and bing cherry, raspberry and strawberry fruit with warm spices, vanilla and strong tea and cola notes, especially on the finish. This would be a great pairing for the snapper and quail dishes to come.

Speaking of food, it is time to get our mouths watering. Since there were two of us, it was an easy decision to try everything offered on the menus. Our starter courses were a roasted Poblano Caesar salad and a braised pork belly wedge salad. The winner here was the Poblano Caesar, with a creaminess of the dressing and avocado spiked by the sweet heat of Poblano pairing off with a wonderful crab cocktail full of horseradish and smooth like a gazpacho. It was a wonderful balance and I ended up stealing more than a few bites of my wife’s plate.

The pork belly salad was good, especially the blue cheese and tomatoes but lacked the complexity of the Caesar. Still a good bite but on to the Central Market course.

Lobster Mac n Cheese can be done in so many different ways we were really looking forward to Bolla’s interpretation. At Bolla, they decided to fry their combination of Orzo pasta with white cheddar, sitting in a white cheddar sauce. I liked the use of Orzo pasta instead of the typical elbow as it provided a good texture but the true star was the sauce sitting under the fried mac. We were using bread to soak up the last little bit after the bites were gone.

For the entrees, I had the Bandera quail and my wife had the red snapper. The tortilla crust on the snapper did not overwhelm the flakey snapper but the key was the orange. The orange provided that acidic cut to the greens and polenta that could have weighed down the fish. Overall, a solid dish but not as good as the quail.

Lord do I love the Texas peaches that came with the quail. Those sweet, beautiful peaches helped accentuate the slight gaminess of the quail and the herbaceous gnocchi with the wilted chard and bring the whole dish to another level. I can still taste this dish.

Dessert time! When I saw my cheesecake three ways, I was a bit worried about the size of the bites, as they were the size of a chocolate truffle. Let me tell you, the flavor did not match the size and I don’t know if I could have finished a full piece of any one of the bites. The chocolate was super rich and reminded me of a dark chocolate fudge with a hint of that tartness from the cheese. The white chocolate was done like an “Oreo”, flavored with cookie crumble. The best though was the raspberry swirl with the tart and sweet balanced across the palate.

The last dessert was the mango chile crème brulee that turned out to be a tropical trio. Aside the brulee was a papaya sorbet and a coconut cream cake with pina colada icing. The brulee had that sweet heat from the mango and the chile balanced from the creamy custard but the true star on the plate was the papaya sorbet, a sweet, light sorbet that brought a cool end to the meal.

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Filed under David Donalson, fun with food, Restaurant Week, therapy, Wine

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