If it's one thing Dallasites feel strongly about, it's food. With more restaurants per capita than any other metropolitan area, it has become an incubator for fresh ideas and dishes. Bolsa falls in line with some of the best restaurants in the city, including an ever-changing menu, fantastic cocktails, and some of the freshest ingredients you'll find dining out. Bolsa's new chef, Joel Harrington, came back to Dallas in January after two years at the Red Rooster in New York. Working closely with several local farmers, including Windy Hill farm, Harrington creates dishes focused on seasonal ingredients and multi-cultural inspirations. Harrington describes his creations as, "stories on a plate."
Earlier last week, I had the pleasure of visiting Bolsa and enjoying a meal a will have dreams about for at least the next year. The atmosphere here is always casual and unpretentious, the people friendly and open, and the food a truly unique experience. They periodically host multi-course events including one-off dishes and unexpected features, such as the upcoming Botanist Dinner this Thursday, featuring Cynthia Mulcahy's Garden. For more information on the 4-course meal, click here.
From the very first dish, I knew this would be a dining experience like nothing else. The Yellowtail Tuna with spicy chili pop-rocks, melons, cucumbers, and avocado was a refreshing take on a fish appetizer. The tuna was extremely fresh, the chili-pop rocks created an unexpected texture which was only complimented by the Texas melons. A fantastic dish to start with, it's a light mixture of sweet and savory with a variety of textures. When you got to Bolsa, this dish is a must-have.
Calypsos Garden, Peruvian Botanist
The "Garden Salad" features several pickled vegetables on top of minced hazelnuts marinated in bourbon and minus 8 vinaigrette. Beautifully presented with fresh, edible flowers, this dish pairs well with Calypsos Garden or the Peruvian Botanist. Being from Russia, I am used to expertly pickled vegetables, and this dish invoked warm memories of my grandparent's country house. The bourbon hazelnut soil adds a different texture to the vegetables, with a gentle taste that does not overpower.
Calypsos Garden is made up of fords gin, gran classico, celery, basil, and orange blossom flower. It's savory and tangy, and the gin complements the vegetables beautifully.
Chicken Liver Macaron
Yes, you are looking at the Chicken Liver Macaron, both savory and creamy. Served with apple puree and hog hack marmalade, this dish is a French classic with an unsuspecting twist. The taste of the liver with the black pepper egg-whites are complemented by the semi-sweetness of the purée. The hog hack marmalade is great just by itself, with small pieces of cooked hog surrounded by a smoky jam. Each aspect of this dish is exceptional separately, but together they make for a must-have dish. Usually served three macarons to a dish, you just might fight over the last one with your dining partner.
Half-serving of Black and Yellow
I never thought a dish whose name was inspired by a rap song could taste this good. It features Golden Trout caught in the Gulf, Yukon Golds, black lentils, yellow beet purée, and golden raisin chutney. The yellow beet purée is a new pairing to the trout, the taste brings a hint of smokiness and sweetness to the fish. This combination is mirrored with the black lentils and raisin chutney. The fish was cooked expertly, I suggest trying it without any lemon, just with the yellow beet or with the smoked black sauce.
The Goat Croquette sources many of its ingredients from Windy Hill farm, several of which Harrington works on personally with the farmers to choose and grow. Harrington's passion for locally sourced produce can be further explored in Notes From The Kitchen: A Journey Inside Culinary Obsession. The goat is prepared with stewed hominy, which is dried corn soaked in a mineral lime bath. The pickled vegetables and watermelon rind on top of the dish are the same as the same vegetables below the dish, although they are stewed. The sauces include Guajilo yogurt, made from kind of chili pepper widely used in Mexico, and huitlacoche, made from Mexican corn truffle. Harrington's inspiration for these sauces came straight from a few of the cooks in Bolsa's kitchen; both ingredients are widely used in certain regions of Mexico. Each plate is a story, and this combines Harrington's past and present.
Chicken Fried Soft Shell Crab
The Chicken Fried Soft Shell Crab is a southern take on a classic; juicy, crunchy, and full of flavorful spices. It sits on top of loosely reinterpreted ratatouille, including local squash, smoky eggplant, and tomato jam. The smoky eggplant was especially nostalgic for me; the taste is reminiscent of a popular Russian eggplant dish, but somehow Harrington made it even better. This is a lovely appetizer or entrée, and it pairs well with the slightly bitter and spirit-forward Ms.Donohue.
Ms.Donohue, pictured above, features cherry infused dripping springs gin, campari, carpano antica, and orange oils.
Just when you think you're out...they pull you back in with an assortment of desserts. The far left dish is made up of Texas peach, blackberry crisp, and topped with mesquite flower crunchy noodles, which taste just like semi-sweet chocolate. Next is the chocolate mousse with local citrus salad, Texas olive oil, and sea salt. The richness of the mousse is balanced with the acidity of the citrus and the slight bite of the sea salt. The triple layer carrot cake with cream cheese icing had a good texture and is creamy without being overly fatty. Last but not least, the goat cheese icing brownie with almond brittle and sea salt caramel ice cream is much better than it sounds. The addition of the goat cheese icing isn't too sweet or too overpowering of a taste, as goat cheese often is. Instead, the semi-sweet ice cream contrasts with the warm, rich brownie.
Have you ever spent a warm, not hot, day at the arboretum? The freshness of the air and the intoxicating aromas of the flowers can be compared to drinking the Lucille, pictured above. Made with cinco vodka, giffard pamplemousse rose, texas strawberry shrub, grapefruit bitters, and bubbles, this is the perfect summer drink. It's fruity, fragrant, and light without being too sweet, a difficult balance to achieve. Served beautifully with flowers, its crispness is suited best to have by itself, or with dessert.
The Shepherd is made for those that love experiencing unique and earthy cocktails. It features mount gay extra old, arugula, goat's milk yogurt syrup, and lime. Earthy without being overly creamy or strong, The Shepherd is certainly a delicacy.
The Slick Rick is tangy yet refreshing, featuring cointreau, campari, watermelon, and lime. They are then mixed together and placed in a syphon in order to carbonate the whole cocktail.
For more information about Bolsa, click HERE.
Check out Bolsa's instagram for weekly happy hours and special events @bolsa_dallas