Good to Go is a column where our food writers explore Dallas' restaurant scene through takeout orders, delivery boxes and reheated leftovers.
Ten Bells Tavern gets its name from a pub in England that opened in 1666, called The Ten Bells. It’s self-described on its website as “not just any East End Boozer.”
The same could be said for its much younger "sister" tavern (not officially related) across the pond. Whereas Ten Bells Tavern in the Bishop Arts District has always been known as a place to get a proper pint, the from-scratch kitchen (we've swooned over their wings, burgers and brunch) has made it a culinary staple, not just any Bishop Arts boozer.
When Dallas County issued its shelter-in-place ordinance in March, owner Meri Dahlke was vacationing in England and got stuck there for a couple weeks, which she didn’t totally mind. Once back in late March, the tavern was trying to make takeout work, but it was complicated.
“We actually did takeout for a bit and had to stop because we were losing money on it,” Dahlke says. “We started up again a few weeks later and are still doing it. Takeout is not the solution to keeping afloat for us. We do about 10% of our normal business through that. People like the social aspect of Ten Bells Tavern, the patio, the cats, the staff. Without that, I think folks have a lot of other options like just eating in or ordering from other places, and we can’t survive on that.”
For better or worse, they've stuck to takeout since early May and can now welcome guests back to their large, outdoor patio. Brunch is offered on the weekends and an abbreviated menu, which includes all their classics, is available for dine-in and takeout Wednesday through Friday.
Their fish and chips, a pub staple, are anchored with two tender pieces of flounder swaddled in a thick crust that is not even a bit oily. The house-made tartar sauce has true backup-singer star power; the ratio of relish to mayonnaise renders it super chunky. A squeeze of lemon over the fish and everything in the paper boat adds a brightness to each bite. A shake or seven of malt vinegar would have been perfect, the one drawback of getting fish and chips to go.
Even so, the meal is a delight.
The 8-ounce burger has layers of lettuce, tomato and purple onion adding just enough crunch to the juicy burger and bun. It's topped with a thick slab of melted cheddar cheese and mayonnaise.
The seasoned fries are crispy and need nothing added to them.
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It’s ill-advised to eat these meals in a car. You should definitely wait until you get home where you can spread your elbows out at a table with a stack of napkins nearby.
When I picked up my order, which took less than two minutes, the patio was partially full, with diners spaced out and enjoying pints with their pub fare. On the patio, a Great Dane with melt-your-heart eyes was right at home while his humans finished their beers.
Dahlke says they’re modifying their menu, so check their Facebook page for updates. And the next time you get a hankering for fish and chips, which is hopefully now, and a trip across the pond isn't in the cards, head over Ten Bells Tavern.
Ten Bells Tavern, 232 West 7th St., (Bishop Arts District). Open for dine-in and takeout 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and for brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.