5 Things You Must Order at the Bonneville

By Megan Giller  |  February 11, 2014

You may have walked right by the Bonneville and not even known it. The upscale New American restaurant is located in a popular area, downtown on Cesar Chavez, but for some reason (ahem, the landlord’s refusal to let them move the sign or trim the trees), it’s not as visible as, say, III Forks next door. But that hasn't prevented the New American restaurant from celebrating its one-year anniversary last month.

"New American" is one of those terms that's thrown all over the place. What does it mean here? “We take classic dishes and reconcept them slightly,” says Jennifer Costello, co-chef and co-owner with her husband, Chris Hurley. “You might find something Asian-inspired or Italian or Middle Eastern, but it will have a more approachable feel to it.” Costello and Hurley are the first to admit that they have been criticized for “not doing anything outrageous” and not making food in the Texas style. “At first people said the food needs to be spicier and we need to have barbecue or Tex-Mex,” Hurley told us. “But now they’re starting to embrace what we do.”

The Bostonians have also embraced what Austinites like. “They are very adventurous,” Costello said. “We’ve learned that you can push the envelope further than we might normally with the style of food that we do. They also love all things pickled.” On that note, this week you’ll find a new salad at the restaurant: pickled endive and beet. Plus they’re also launching a bar menu, with “noshy bites” like a Cuban sandwich, fried artichokes with a caper-lemon aioli, short rib nachos, dan dan noodles and hopefully a lamb pastrami sandwich. Here are five new dishes and cocktails you must try.

  • Seared Duck Breast

    Hurley said, “It started as a clichéd duck a l’orange, which turned into a more Asian style with the five-spice powder. Then we put orange blossom honey on it, so it’s kind of that duck a l’orange with an Asian spin.” The dish comes with a wild rice cake and roasted Japanese salad turnips.

  • Simple Green Salad

    “Everyone gets mixed greens. They’re your standard salad point of entry,” Costello said. “But how do you make them interesting?” The chef team took out some of the greens and added herbs like tarragon, parley and mint. They top the greens with a Champagne vinaigrette and crispy parsnip chips.

  • Seared Scallops

    This dish isn’t that new, but it’s one of the menu highlights nonetheless. “The balance on that dish has to be exactly right or it goes from fabulous to meh,” Costello said. And what’s the most important part of that balance? The bitter flavor in the Ruby grapefruit sauce. “Bitter is often overlooked as a component of balance,” she said.

  • Grilled Strip Steak

    The chefs decided on a classic 12-ounce Angus New York strip steak for the colder weather. But instead of the classic “potato starch bomb” on the side, as Hurley called it, he wanted to highlight the beautiful heirloom tomatoes from Farm to Table. The heirloom tomato panade comes with onions, herbs, cheese and stock, and the steak is drizzled with spicy harissa butter.

  • Vamanos Barrel-Aged Cocktail

    The Bonneville said they wanted the tequila drink to taste like a Mexican tamarind candy. They aged 512 Tequila in the barrels from their previous cocktail, the Double Parked Side Car, for a month. The drink combines the aged tequila with housemade tamarind syrup, fresh-squeezed orange juice and orange bitters. The chipotle salt on the rim of the glass is lagniappe.