In the past year since first opening, I’ve read many favorable reviews of Ten Bells Tavern, but I’ve only just now got around to going. While I spend a lot of time in the Bishops Arts District (mainly dining at Hattie’s, or Odd Fellows…okay, okay, Lockhart Smokehouse, Dude Sweet Chocolate and Emporium Pies, too. There! *sigh* it’s just now that I made my way over to the small corrugated tin building that’s home to Ten Bells Tavern. My reason for going this weekend was to satisfy a craving for fish n’ chips, of which I’ve read many favorable reviews about Ten Bells version of this British Pub favorite.
The fish and chips, which I gather is their signature dish, is made with flounder and thus gave the fish a lighter, more delicate flavor and fine texture, which is what you would expect with the use of flounder (duh!). The batter held quite nicely to the fish (a feat rarely achieved among their fish n’ chip competition). And while I admire they’ve broke from tradition with the use of flounder, I’m not sure it’s as successful as the Atlantic hake version I’ve tried at The Meddlesome Moth or other versions like I’ve had at Local or The Old Monk (circa 6 years ago). My biggest complaint would have to be with the grease. Yeah, I know, it’s fish n’ chips and it’s supposed to be greasy, but this was especially greasy and seemed to stay with me the rest of the day. The chips? Hand cut, but more in line with frites than the wedge-shape “chip” most commonly found with this dish. Not bad! Just not what I would expect. Generally speaking, this was a creative departure from the traditional use of cod, that was mostly a success minus the grease!
For the beer selection, a lot of places around town that are making the effort to provide more locally brewed beers of which Ten Bells offers a number of local selections in what I would gather to be rotators. This day I tried Scruffy’s Smoked Alt by the Cedar Creek Brewery from nearby Seven Points, Texas. From their website (Cedar Creek Brewery) the closest thing to a description I could find reads…”Gather ‘round all ye young ‘uns, all ye boozers and freaks, let me tell you the story of one Scruffy McGee. T’was an alt-brewin’ fella, a real sun of a gun, but he whips up the finest alts under the sun. Smoked to perfection, a real powerful blend. S’what made his name a Cedar Creek legend. But drink this in scruples, ye lads and ye lasses, or, like Scruffy, you’ll fall down drunk, right on your asses.” My take…a smokey Fat Tire, if you’re into that sort of thing. Overall the beer selection at Ten Bells seemed a little weak for the average snob (I did see Maredsous and Hoegaarden available in bottles!) but the ambiance of this quiet, low-key joint might be enough to lure me back. Maybe next time I’ll try the ramen, which is apparently only available at midnight on Saturdays. - St. Bernardus
Ten Bells Tavern
232 W 7th St
Dallas, TX 75208