We have followed Chef Philip Speer’s career since he was a rising pastry chef at Jean-Luc’s Bistro and Starlite, followed by his successful career as part of the Uchi family. Now, his long-awaited endeavor is open, and we are pleased to report it was well worth the wait.
The concept mingles the vibe and aesthetics of an American diner with the laid-back elegance of a Parisian bistro, and as odd as that may sound, the team manages to pull it off impeccably, from the large windows facing Burnet Road to the stainless steel bar countertop, booths upholstered in red, brass-accented cafe tables, and a very open kitchen that screams transparency. The music selection, which ranged from Bowie to X on our visit, adds a cheerful yet unobtrusive soundtrack.
Partnering with Speer in the endeavor is Sean McCusker of New Orleans' Sylvain, who brought along beverage director Darrin Ylisto to create Bonhomie’s simple but thoughtful beverage list. The list will change and grow as the eatery matures and finds its niche among visitors, but for now, expect a handful of red, white, rosé, and sparkling selections — all available by the glass and bottle — as well as a few beers and cocktails. Notable ingredients are the house-made grenadine and mild but flavorful ginger beer.
The food is, as expected, outrageously creative and delicious. The description of the Tunisian carrot salad was enticing enough, but the dish surpassed expectations with slow-roasted carrots nestled among chicories, carrot greens, and rainbow carrot ribbons over thick yogurt spiced with Raz El Hanout. The salmon crudo, glistening alongside cantaloupe cubes and blood orange supremes, melts in the mouth, and the burger, a double patty topped with creamy cheese nestled in the most incredible bun, has spoiled us forever. Please get the onion rings on the side.
Bonhomie’s signature dishes, however, are the pommes rostis, generous nests of the best hash browns we’ve ever had — crunchy outside, soft on the inside, and topped with a variety of ingredient combinations. We loved the take on the German classic kartoffelpuffer, served with house-made apple sauce and crème fraiche, and look forward to indulging on one topped with caviar.
Don’t forget that this is Philip Speer’s joint, so save room for dessert. The apple tartine is the perfect balancing act, pinning the most buttery of crusts topped with paper-thin apple slices with parsnip ice cream and a savory crumble. And if you think you’ve had chocolate cake, you haven't until you try this one. Served with scoops of milk sorbet to counteract the richness, this cake is the embodiment of all things chocolate, and we’d be hard-pressed to say we’ve ever had better.
Speer’s resolution, resilience, talent, and hard work have paid off big time. Welcome to the neighborhood, notre petit ami.