Viva La France
The Bistro on the Brandywine returns to culinary tradition.
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Bonz is a gamble that will pay off for Harrington.
This is a meat and potatoes town,” Ryan Cunningham, executive chef of Bonz Restaurant & Lounge, tells diners as he makes the rounds.
Which explains why Bonz, a spud’s throw from the slot machines at Harrington Raceway & Casino, offers all the steakhouse favorites. Yet Cunningham, who worked at the wildly inventive Nage in Rehoboth Beach, stretches the steakhouse concept.
Consider coq au vin with grapes, pancetta, pearl onions and a mascarpone polenta. Take potato-crusted salmon with a dose of black truffle and splash of mustard-tarragon emulsion.
A nicely charred 22-ounce cowboy steak, a bone-in rib-eye, was the best thing I tasted. Rich juices streamed onto the plate, and the brawny flavor could stand up to the same offering at any urban steakhouse.
Thick grilled lamb chops, dusted with a five-spice marinade, were just as satisfying. The accompaniments, however, turned global fusion into global confusion. Why muddle the dish with mint chimichurri, cucumber raita and a mountain of mashed plaintains?
There was so much smoked cheddar cheese on the oysters Casino that I couldn’t find the oyster—or the roasted tomato and smoked bacon, for that matter.
They say women should take off one accessory before walking out the door. The same is true of some of Bonz’s dishes. The cheese worked much better when paired with creamy polenta studded with pancetta, which was the perfect pillow for the blackened scallops. The blueberry syrup, though, was too sweet.
When I read “potato-encrusted salmon” on the menu, I picture fish enveloped in sliced potatoes. I got a wonderfully cooked salmon obscured by a blanket of mashed potatoes.
Maybe we had meat on our minds, but chocolate bread pudding resembled a quivering meatloaf. Much more attractive was the peach semifreddo, a semi-frozen dessert made with white chocolate crème Anglaise and brûléed peaches.
The modestly sized wine list features mostly California selections. There wasn’t a Barbaresco, Barbera or Barolo to be had. Like the wine list, service could improve. Our server told us to keep our knives between courses. Dishes scattered with food rested too long on the table.
Bonz has a lot to offer. Ingredients are top shelf, portions are generous and the steaks are done well. But make no bones about it, a little restraint would go a long way. —Pam George
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