Thursday, January 17, 2013
Restaurant review: Bolsa Chef Jeff Harris succeeds in both creativity and taste
There are plenty of dishes for vegheads as well.
OAK CLIFF My writer-author-mentor-friend from Houston, John DeMers, came to Dallas for two full days of radio interviews and tastings with many different chefs. One of my favorites was meeting Bolsa’s executive chef Jeff Harris. During the interview, his demeanor was that of a wholesome, down-to-earth guy with his heart fully into making Bolsa work. He began by sharing a bit of his cheffing background, as well as what it was like living life on a farm. Harris grew up in East Texas. Both sets of his grandparents had farms and were also amazing cooks.
Harris didn’t work in a restaurant until he was 26 years old. It wasn’t until after graduating from college that he realized life behind a desk was a total bummer. Rather than settle wearing a suit, he finally enrolled at The Institute of Culinary Education in New York City.
Harris stepped in after Graham Dodds departed to start a new gig at Central 214. Bolsa is exactly what Dodds and Harris aspired to make it — chef driven and farm-to-table. Harris explained the importance of supporting the neighborhood, as well as the neighborhood supporting Bolsa and Bolsa Mercado. The ingredients make the menu, which changes often. They work with local farmers to ensure it’s the best. Another big deal to Bolsa is making the prices affordable for everyone to enjoy several times a week. In order to make this place a neighborhood hangout, farm to table somehow has to be inexpensive. While some dishes are more expensive than others, there are many options within even the tightest budget.
We started with the Bruschetta Tasting of roasted pepper with feta, apple butter with pecans, and smoked salmon. I didn’t try the Country Pâté because I was a little frightened. Ingredients used in its creation include broken arrow wild boar, citrus mustard, and a salad with house pickled vegetables. Good news: John seemed to enjoy it. Other starters include a cheese flight, fried Lockhart quail legs, pork belly, and P.E.I. mussels with country ham broth, horseradish, soffrito, chorizo, and parsley.
The Bolsa Margherita flatbread is topped with fresh mozzarella, basil, and smoked tomatoes. We managed to clean the plate. Another flatbread suitable for almost veggie people is the Twig & Branch topped with wild arugula, Caprino chevre, and roasted grapes.
The Windy Meadows Farm chicken thigh arrived atop roasted Brussels sprouts and turnips. I have no idea what this tasted like because I don’t eat chicken. John, on the other hand, made facial expressions that would lead all witnesses to believe this dish is clearly a chicken win.
I’m a total spaz when it comes to risotto. I wasn’t sure how red beets were going to work out as an ingredient, but there’s no doubt about it now. Other ingredients include roasted mushrooms, parsnips, Swiss chard stems, Pecorino, and Dallas Mozzarella Company crème fraiche. This risotto is one of my favorites in Dallas. I would come back for this dish forever. Harris said it’s important to always have an option for the non-carnivore population. Please and thanks.
The Mexican Chocolate Pudding arrived with a house made graham cracker and a roasted vanilla marshmallow on top. A perfect ending to an interesting sit down with executive chef Jeff Harris. We should all be thankful he hung up his suit and grabbed a chef coat. I’m a fan of his philosophy and will continue to visit this Bishop Arts District gem.
Pegasus News Content partner - Almost Veggie
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