Bolsa's Jeff Harris Talks About Craft's Closing (and Cooking Vegetarian)
With the closing of Craft Dallas looming on the horizon, I was interested to see what Colicchio protege and former Craft chef de cuisine Jeff Harris (now the man in charge at Bolsa) had to say about the New York-based restaurant's Dallas departure. Read his thoughts on the closing below, along with details on the intimate weekly dinners he's doing at Bolsa Mercado.
So Craft Dallas is supposedly closed as of the beginning of this month. It was supposed to close; I heard it got pushed to August 31st now.
Why do you think it wasn't ultimately successful here? Is it the market, the location? It's a combination of a lot of things, I mean if you really look at the entire area down there it did not turn out like what they hoped it was gonna be, and I think right now it's like we gotta step back and rethink, retool this whole thing.
Yeah, it [Victory Park] has kind of been a big expensive failure. It really has been. And it actually saddens me a lot because I worked for Craft for so long, and I really believe in it. And not to sound bad, but I don't know if a lot of people really got it or got what we were doing there. It was maybe a little misunderstood. You know the style of food we did at Craft, it was all about technique and really simple so you had to be able to appreciate the quality of the plates. You had to be able to look at it and know that it took a lot of work. And I think the economy for one thing -- I mean it's not cheap and a lot of places aren't doing great right now.
So I hear they're replacing it with a Jean Georges gastro pub. Yeah, that's the word on the street.
Good things are being written about the weekly dinners you're doing over at Bolsa Mercado, what's the story on that? It's been a lot of fun, it's called Meet & Eat and it's at the long communal table we have over there with twenty people. It's gone over really well 'cause there's just a really cool vibe in the room, everybody's talking. We do a five-course dinner, I write a different menu every week. Seventy five bucks includes wine and beer pairings, tax and gratuity, all that. I've been able to be a little more creative and push boundaries a little bit. You know here [at Bolsa] we do a lot of volume and the kitchen is tiny so we definitely have restrictions on what we can do. Over there we've been doing some fun stuff, maybe four or five ingredients on a plate, really well-balanced. We've had some really good feedback. We did a vegetarian dinner over there last week, we're gonna start doing that the last Friday of every month. There was a great turnout for that, I think just because so much of the time they're overlooked, they get basically sides on a plate and that's it, not like an actual thought out, well-composed dish.
I think it says a lot about a chef if you can make a delicious plate of vegetables without falling back on a tasty hunk of meat. I was telling them last week, it's 105 degrees outside, who really wants a big slab of braised meat? I love to eat vegetarian, to be honest with you. Still love my meat, but I don't need it three times a day. I don't think anybody does.
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