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Critics Weigh In on El Bolero, Oak, CBD Provisions

Two of Apheleia's restaurants get reviewed this week.

El Bolero.
El Bolero.
Kyla Davidson

Scott Reitz went to El Bolero: The critic's feelings on Apheleia's newest Design District venture are summed up in the headline — "great service, great decor, just OK food." The requisite chips and salsa are "very good," and the dining room is "impressive," with the bonus of a sound-absorbing ceiling that keeps the noise level down. Ceviches, including a red snapper and avocado version, are "excellent," but other dishes don't measure up: "tough and oily" flautas, "gummy" elotes, and a steak Reitz likens to shoe leather. Tacos al pastor from a legit trompo are excellent, however. [Dallas Observer]

Teresa Gubbins checked out Oak: Apheleia's "ragged and resilient" Design District restaurant has seen its fair share of chefs, and these days none other than John Tesar is overseeing the menu, with long-time Tesar follower Ross Demers serving as chef de cuisine. Tesar's menu includes some dishes diners will recognize from Spoon, including Shanghai chili lobster. Menu standouts include Peking duck breast with roasted green grapes, a Korean-themed pork tenderloin dish, and pork belly with head-on prawns. "The dessert program is executed with [Knife pastry chef David] Collier’s prototypical scientific twists." [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]

Leslie Brenner reviewed CBD Provisions: The restaurant inside downtown's Joule Hotel "has exciting new energy" thanks to new chef Richard Blankenship, who's "turning out some of the most vibrant, original, engaging and delicious plates in town." New dishes include "a suave smoked-carrot dip" with housemade crackers, black garlic-spiked beef tartare, an unusual-sounding jar of oil-cured peas served with toasts, and "big, toothsome house-made rigatoni" with lamb shoulder, peas, and green garlic. Don't worry — CBD classics like the Cuban sandwich and the much-Instagrammed pig's head remain. Breakfast service is less successful, but don't skip dessert, particularly a pecan cake with apricot ice cream that's "one of the most inspired desserts [Brenner's] had in months." [Dallas Morning News]

ELSEWHERE: TMBBQ ate at Big Daddy's Ribs & BBQ in Little Elm; tried La Blue Casa in Arlington; City of Ate tried a waffle burger in Deep Ellum and drank a Dr Pepper Old Fashioned at The Mansion; Fort Worth Weekly went to Del Frisco's Grille and boldly braved the new Cheesecake Factory downtown.