by Steven Doyle
Chef Andrew Bell has been with Bolsa for just over a year, and more recently took over the iconic Oak Cliff kitchen as executive chef. It wasn’t until just a few weeks ago that Bell re-engineered the menu to be largely his. The menu reads exciting, and translates extremely well to the plate. We went in last night to check out the new menu, and was blown away with the many changes. Bell has settled well into the Bolsa kitchen and says, “ I took the time to acclimate myself with the kitchen and the staff of the restaurant and patiently waited for spring ingredients to show up. We will continue to find the best ingredients from local farmers, treat them with respect and cook them for the customers that know and love Bolsa.”
Andrew Bell began his career in the restaurant industry during high school and since then has worked in some of the most respected kitchens in both Dallas and Austin, making his cuisine decidedly Texan. From Wink and Uchi in Austin, to Parigi, Citizen, Mercury, Nosh Euro Bistro, Aurora and most recently The Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, Bell says, “I have been waiting for an opportunity such as this for a long time and have tremendous respect for the restaurant, the partners, the staff and the philosophy they stand for as well as working with the local farmers– I feel at home here at Bolsa.”
From the tastes of the new menu it is obvious that Bell has captured the spirit and history of Bolsa, and plays well within this striking version of farm-to-table mentality that has been a proven asset for Bolsa.
Chilled Texas Shrimp, jicama-radish salad, cucumber mint sauce
Look for some pretty delicious starters such as thew Caprino Royale croquettes. We fell in love first with Caprino’s extra smooth and tangy goat cheese that is produced in Waco at a dinner many years ago at Bolsa. Since then, Bolsa has kept the cheese on in one capacity or another.
An interesting addition is also the fresh garbanzo beans treated with an organic olive oil and sea salt. This is the perfect bar food, with its strikingly perfect saltiness. It takes a few of the beans to get the hang of extracting the bean’s flesh from the pod, but once you are in motion it becomes quite addictive. You will want to share a bowl of the beans with a group of friends, or perhaps keep them all to yourself.
Roasted Garbanzo Beans
A few of the flatbreads have remained the same. The Twig and Branch is a house favorite, using the Caprino chevre, arugula and roasted grapes, but the regulars might want to expand onto something a bit more updated such as the Veggie which is made with eggplant, zucchini and roasted peppers. The eggplant is spread onto the flatbread much like babaganoush, the roasted eggplant dip. It is bright and inventive A must for vegetarians and big meat eaters alike.
Speaking of big meat eaters, there are a few new items that you will be thrilled with, such as Duroc Tomahawk served with Thumbelina carrots, garbanzos, beet tops and mustard seed. Think very large pork chop with the bone. And the bone is laced with a very meaty strip, so it could get very caveman-like at the table. Do not fret, the servers take it upon themselves to slice the meat table side upon request. Same with the bone-in tenderloin. Take in the smoked fingerling potatoes (they are precious), roasted mushrooms and largish grilled spring onions surrounding a giant mound of perfectly roasted beef. It is enough to share, and this might actually be a great idea for parties of two or four, so you might sample more of what Bell is offering. The slicing service provided by the waitstaff makes this an easy option.
Diamond H Ranch Quail
Duroc Tomahawk Chop
Let’s talk quail for a moment. Some may find quail difficult, but if prepared properly, quail can be quite easy. The quail at Bolsa contains few bones, basically the legs (delicious bites) and the wings (easily sliced around). The rest is all good eating, and this quail is packed with a sweet surprise. You have no doubt had the elotes convaso made fresh off the cob across the street at El Si Hay. This quail seems to be an homage to the man that faces down Bolsa each night, as the quail is stuffed with elotes (corn) and queso fresco. What a fun dish, and s easy to eat. This night the quail was prepared with a honey chile glaze and slices of chayote. You can order the quail as a single bird, or a double.
A fantastic vegetarian option is the baby artichoke with goat cheese gnocchi. These are ever-so-tender gnocchi that are laid aside beautifully roasted baby artichokes, with heirloom tomatoes, spinach and a tomato mint sauce. The dish is extremely satisfying, but the gnocchi are definitely on the pillowy side.
Artichoke and Gnocchi
Fresh Catch and Fiddleheads
For seafood fans, there is one fantastic option called the Sea2Table Catch. This dish will change depending on what is available with Bolsa’s new seafood vendor that provides a list of fresh catch that is shipped overnight from the dock. Last week the fish was skate, and last night it was tile. Currently, the fish is laden with a generous mound of fiddlehead ferns, fresh wax beans, rhubarb. The accompanied veggies will change soon as fiddlehead season dwindles. You will love these beautiful little curls that do resemble the head of a fiddle, but taste more like asparagus and very young spinach. We will mourn the end of this season, and have been pleased to find them on many menus in te DFW area. This fish dish is crave approved, to be sure.
Housemade desserts are abundant, and not to be avoided. We spot Caprino Royale again, this time as a cheesecake served with grilled pineapple. The sorbet trio is also very light and very yummy. A pro tip would guide you to the cheese board to finish your repast.
Excited, we will most likely be back to shotgun a few of the menu items we happened to miss, and also see the progression of what Chef Bell has o offer. This is one menu that is in a constant state of flux, depending on what is fresh and available to the bright chef. Did we use the word “inventive” a few times. There is a good reason here.