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Ten Bells Proves When Creating Menus Smaller Is Often Better

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Menu size makes a difference, but unlike other matters where bigger is better (wallets), smaller is preferred when it comes to designing a restaurant's offering. The first thing I noticed when I checked out Ten Bells Tavern during my first visit was that I didn't have to think a lot when choosing my meal.

There were plenty of variety, from grilled chicken to fatty burgers to fish and chips, but the menu was surprisingly clean and clutter free, offering around 12 dishes in entirety. (An additional menu supplements weekend brunch services.) Compare that with the menu of nearby Bar 303, which offers more than 40 dishes, and you'll start to see a problem with chefs who try to take on too much. Not only is it a little confusing to customers, it's taxing on the kitchen and the food suffers too.

When I interviewed Carlos Mancera for this week's review, he told me he wanted to keep the menu small not just because his kitchen was tight, but also because it allows him to focus on execution. The results are one of Dallas' better bar food offerings and an Oak Cliff Tavern that despite a quirky layout and an uninspired outdoor space, will likely give other bars in the area a run for their money.

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