Wine bars are a thing in Dallas right now, but there's a special one that just opened near Bishop Arts. Called Blind Bishop, it's a new concept from a noted name in Dallas' wine world, open at 310 Sunset Ave., where it's serving often-rare wines by the glass and bottle, along with a chef-created menu of shareable plates.
Blind Bishop is first a tasting room that hosts wine events, seminars, and classes, but is also open to public as a wine bar/restaurant on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 6:30-9:30 pm.
They offer 25 wines by-the-glass and more than 100 half and full-bottles, curated by owner and wine director Dilek Caner, an advanced sommelier who was born in Istanbul, who has worked at Restaurant Alain Ducasse, as a writer at Wine & Spirits magazine, and who holds the rare certification as a master of wine.
Caner has been a wine educator for more than a decade, but longed to be back on the floor, chatting about wine with wine drinkers and students of wine.
"I've been looking for a space to do this since 2014," she says. "I have a background as a sommelier and loved it. To be able to make a wine list and bring those wines to the foreground is something I wanted to do again."
And being the owner gives her a certain luxury.
"When you're the wine director for a restaurant, you're directed by the owners' need to make a profit," she says. "Education is still my main business. Opening a small place like this will allow it to grow slowly and not have profits determine which wines I'll bring in. I may offer wines that are not yet loved by the masses but I can sell it because I can make decisions about whether I need to make a profit on it. That's a freedom I wanted to have."
That means bottles like a 2007 Brut Champagne by Philipponnat, or a 2019 Mencia a red Bierzo from Spain by Raul Perez — wines you don't ordinarily find at restaurants or even wine bars.
"One aspect that makes this a little different from most wine bars is that I am not looking to have 'cheap' or 'expensive'," she says. "What I am looking for is good value for what they are. So that could be a $500 bottle but it's a good value for what it is."
Her by-the-glass list offers 3-ounce pours, some for as low as $5, with the idea being that you can try a variety of wines you couldn't otherwise access.
True to their name, they also offer a blind tasting flight, which you can try alone or with a group, to try and identify each wine. "If you are studying for a wine certification, exam or competition, there is no better way to practice," Caner says.
Her location is a cute little building a block off Jefferson Boulevard, right around the corner from the Texas Theatre that was at one point an AA meeting point but had been vacant for some years.
She's given the space a "contemporary industrial" style, with concrete floors and open ceilings all the way to the rafters.
"I wanted it to be a simple environment that's not going to tire people with a lot of color, and keep the emphasis on the wine," she says.
Determined to make her food offering match the quality of the wines, Caner installed a full kitchen, and consulted with a chef to create a menu, which is updated every two weeks; the current menu is here.
Dishes such as burrata with charred broccoli, rigatoni with mussels & chorizo, and duck breast with summer squash & snow peas can be ordered a la carte, or you can do a full tasting menu with four courses. Whether you order one dish or the full tasting, there are always recommended wines for pairing.
"I wasn't looking for the food to just be an accompaniment — I wanted it to be on par with the wines we serve," she says. "Our strength is in pairing wines and opening wines people might not be familiar with."