First, in the Notes field you still can press Ctrl/Cmd and pop up text formatting controls bubble. It’s not ideal, e.g. you still have to shift-enter and then fix formatting to bullet list, but I’m saying it’s still there just in case you missed it.
Third, you can make yourself a button to expand the Notes field in the big cell mode and put that button above the Notes field. That’s still a button to click, but at least not a small one in the bottom. You’d have to OpenWindow() with a URL that’s specific to that column’s modal and substitute row ID with the one of the current row.