Dining Out: Bon Savor
Over the years, several restaurateurs have tried to make a go of it at the corner of Centre and Pond streets in Jamaica Plain. None of their various coffee shops and restaurants succeeded, which was odd, given the prime location. Now its current, extremely ambitious occupants are hoping to reverse the corner’s curse. The duo behind Bon Savor, who opened it as a French bistro in late 2005 and relaunched it as a Colombian spot in 2008, are banking on a new chef—one with bigtime Boston experience—for a third and, with any luck, final reinvention. And they might well make it work.
I should admit that I have a vested interest: I live a very pleasant walk away. And I’ve long had a mostly unrequited love of Latin American cuisine, thus far satisfied only by the homey Venezuelan restaurant Orinoco, which has locations in Brookline and the South End. Bon Savor’s owners, Colombia-raised Ibonne Zabala and her Russian husband, Oleg Konovalov, have long had the homey part down. And by bringing on chef Marco Suarez, formerly head of the brasserie-style kitchen at Eastern Standard and a cook with Argentinean and Italian roots, they’re aiming to refine the food, too.
Despite the well-intentioned overhaul, though, the restaurant hangs on to an awkward contradiction. With its cozy space and subdued lighting, Bon Savor has a grownup, date-restaurant feel, and yet the menu standby has always been, oddly, crêpes—both when it was a French spot and when Suarez’s predecessor, Colombian chef Alba Iris Aranda, added a Latin touch. (Konovalov’s grandmother was famous for her crêpes, and the restaurant uses her recipe.) When Suarez came on in August, he initially worked with the menu he inherited, meaning the crêpes stayed—and they’ll be on the new fall/winter menu as well.
Though they don’t have much to do with Suarez’s ambitious new plans, I have to say I really liked the two crêpe dishes that have remained: the Bon Savor crêpe with mushrooms, bacon, and corn ($15), bound with a few dabs of béchamel and served on a creamy avocado mousse, and the dessert crêpe ($6), which makes a great meal-ender. I knew something special was in store when I walked to the restroom—straight past the stoves, along the cooking line—and saw a pan stacked high with freshly made crêpes. You just don’t find that in local restaurants, which generally take them out of a plastic pack, tortilla-style.