Second Bite: Bon Savor

RC_BonsavorboxFor a chef coming on board at an existing restaurant, injecting one’s personal style into a restaurant while still keeping the heart of the operation can be a tricky business. But by maintaining the South American-French fusion concept while adding a few twists (like a raw bar) to J.P. favorite Bon Savor, it seems that Marco Suarez, formerly executive chef at Eastern Standard, might have done the near impossible.

On my first visit to the tiny bistro this past winter, when Alba Aranda ran the kitchen, I was impressed by the warm, flavorful dishes. With Suarez at the helm, there are still sweet and savory crepes, ceviche, and a superlative Steak Argentina topped with piquant chimichurri. The departures come in that aforementioned raw bar, and in perhaps a more-refined vision when it comes to the French side of the menu.

The summer coq au vin, for example, a preparation of tender chicken thigh with favas, peas, and lardons, is highlighted by a supremely rich, savory red wine sauce. Other French options on the menu include mussels Provencal, a salad of frisee and lardons with poached egg, and the coquillettes au trois fromage, essentially a French mac ‘n’ cheese made with gouda, gruyere, and gorgonzola cheese. Also decadent: the veggie papa rellenas. Stuffed with melted gouda, tomatoes, and cilantro and highlighted by a bright sauce , they’re a perfectly fried comfort-food treat.

But it’s still fusion. A firm, flaky piece of red snapper comes served atop creamy coconut quinoa, and that Steak Argentina now comes alongside hearts of palm and a cast-iron dish of potato gratin. As for the crepes, this time we went for a dessert version, filled with house-made dulce de leche. The milk-caramel sauce was spot on, though the crepe could’ve been a bit warmer.

While the service throughout the meal was warm, it was a little touch-and-go. We took it as an indicators that the restaurant wasn’t quite prepared (as our waiter explained, the owners were away on this particular Saturday) for the packed house. New chef and all, it seems that Bon Savor is on the right track.