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Making Dallas Even Better

Chef Andrew Bell at Bolsa. (Photography by Kevin Marple)

Restaurant Review: Bolsa

It is hard to believe it has only been six long-table years since Bolsa opened. The Bishop Arts District was a grungy area with For Lease signs in most of the windows. Chris Zielke and Christopher Jeffers left their bartending gigs (Zielke was fired) at Hotel ZaZa and “took” Dragonfly chef Graham Dodds with them. They hired Plan B Group’s (Alexander Urrunago, Royce Ring) to restore the old Settles Garage at the corner of Davis and N. Llewellyn. Dodds preached the farm-to-table life he lived. He kept bees and invented the flat bread heard around the town: Twig and Branch. Once they rolled up the metal doors, the crowds descended not only for the food but for the drinks. I mean hand-crafted cocktails. The menu was full of “local,” “organic,” and “farm-raised” ingredients. It seems like only last week I was swatting the flies out of my food. (Remember those hanging plastic bags filled with water?)

Oh, Bolsa you sparked a revolution and for that I am grateful. Your kitchen has been graced by the presence of some talented chefs. Today, it is Andrew Bell (Aurora, Nosh Euro Bistro). He is doing a fine job of carrying the philosophical flame of Bolsa. His chilled venison tartare with a hint of Worcestershire and a creamy quail egg is a brilliant starter. Croquettes of chorizo, goat cheese, and leeks served with a garlic aioli and a subtle dose of rosemary are also worthy. A half quail glazed with a touch of honey and served with elote gives the term “Tex-Mex” new meaning. I’m sure he made love to the pan-roasted tilefish before he topped it with fiddlehead ferns and a light rhubarb purée. The fish was glowing. Our faces blushed from the rush of cracked black pepper buried in a cookie that adorned a luscious lemon panna cotta surrounded with strawberry-rhubarb sauce. So sublime and beautiful. Why do you hire a server who treated me like a Bolsa antigua? Yes, I am over 50, but you don’t have to ignore my table while you hang with the thirty-somethings from the hood. You don’t have to hand me the check before you take my dessert order. You never know when one of those old bags at your table turns out to be a restaurant critic. And writes about your performance. I’m. Just. Saying. 

  • rvponders

    Makes no sense. If I was a waiter, I’d spend more time with the 50-somethings who are more likely to have money and tip well than the 30-somethings that are more likely to have loads of debt. Plus there is no excuse for snottiness and rudeness in the service industry, I don’t care who you are – at the end of the day, you are still trying to get me to part with money out of my pocket, and why should I give it to you if you are making me feel bad about myself?

  • Tinamarie

    What % of tip did you leave him?

  • Greg Brown

    Bolsa’s service can be charitably described as “detached.” There is also “disinterested,” “aloof” and “indifferent” if one wants to be less charitable and more accurate. I have found their cocktails to be excellent, their food good, but the service is the reasaon I don’t come back. I just never feel welcome there.

  • UpTn DallasSocial

    Ageism at its’ finest. As a senior I see it everywhere.They ASSUME you’ll leave a decent tip, because that’s the way you were raised, so they stiff your service and play to a more desirable, fresh-faced, demographic. I like to surprise them when they open the folder!

  • cavlkhalsv

    grumpy old ladies gon’ grumpy old lady. I’m. Just. Saying.

  • rvponders

    Well I’m 30 and I still think it’s not cool…

  • Corky Luxembourg

    This is a little off topic but there’s a quasi-literary trend esp in blogs that has to stop. It’s the period used for pausing to add emphasis. It’s pretentious and makes.me.wan.na.barf.

  • Hansel2525

    ‘Made love’ to the fish? Stop trying so hard to be poetic. It just sounds silly. And what does the guy getting fired from a place have to do with anything this article is talking about? Classless.

  • bill

    This seems to be more about a person dealing with old age than a restaurant review. And “making love to the food” is not a compliment. This review is a FAIL.

  • SueB

    We stopped going when they closed for lunch and opened the little Bolsa market up the street. Just not up to Bolsa’s standards, we thought.

    I agree the food is inspired and very good, but I always felt I was annoying the wait staff when asking for a water refill or dessert menu. We used to go about once a month, but haven’t even been there this year.

  • The fake Wylie H

    Did you say anything to the management or decide the poor service would make a nice coda to your review?

  • Julie Clemens

    I think the writer has a valid point – poor service is poor service. It may well be that she did mention it to management, but I do agree that she should have, if she didn’t.
    Just noting it at the end of the review accomplishes nothing; saying something to management lets them know who screwed up, and how.

  • Philip Scott

    While we’ve always been pleased with the food on our visits to Bolsa, I have to agree the service has been spotty at times. But it’s not just at Bolsa; there is generally bad and untrained service all over Dallas. Wait staff has to remember that their customers are paying the restaurant good money and should be treated accordingly.
    I’ve often thought that someone should open a school for the training of the front staff. Dallas handles the behind the scenes food business better than most. It’s the front of the house that generally needs some etiquette.

  • dallas foodie

    My friends and I have boycotted Bolsa, the new chef sadly just doesn’t have it . The new menu taste horrible and I really miss the old place that I used to love so much …..