Ah, it feels good to have Bonita in the hood. We have been anxiously awaiting its opening, so it makes sense that Mike, me and fellow CHBers Lesterhead and Hey Mama would eat there as soon as they would have us (Lesterhead's friend Marina was also in attendance). Since I don't want to judge the food or service on opening night (or perhaps until the smell of fresh paint disappears) I'm really only going to comment on the decor/difference between Bonita I and II. Two words: full bar. Co-owner Mark Firth, who was tending bar, filled us in on why Bonita I doesn't have a full liquor license: midway through building, they noticed a church next door. So, only beer and wine for them, but they stuck the grill behind the bar, and made the cooks the main attraction. We'll miss watching our carnitas sizzling on the griddle before us, but the full menu of tequillas (there must be at least 20) is a sweet consolation. The house margarita was smooth and frothy, and mike's harbanero-infused sauza tequilla had a great kick. Now, I guess we'll just have to wait until they open a second Diner and Marlow + Sons. Apparently they love this hood. The feeling is mutual.
Lesterhead's Review + Photos:
Clintoncentric is right -- you can still smell the fresh paint inside, and the joint is already packed! Welcome to the 'hood.
Jay was not able to join us, so I'll do my best to do a BrooklynJay-style review.
First: I reeallly like the inside. Love the subway tiles and the mosaics. It was a lot smaller than I'd hoped though, but I suppose it's better for them to have a packed house than a lot of empty tables.
I had one gripe straightaway. I requested a table for five to three different employees, and then ended up at a table for a MAX of four. The Clintoncentric team was stuck at the bar until I weasled my way into two small tables pushed together near the back bench seating, with (barely) enough room for all of us. Thankfully, my crankiness was soothed as I already had a tasty margherita in-hand.
I've (lesterhead) actually been the only one at CHB who knows everyone else, so hey mama and Clintoncentric met one another in person for the first time last night!
Of course, we started with the guac and chips. (duh) My first taste was a little disappointing, but once I dug deeper, I could taste the fresh cilantro and citrus - tasty! Still, I think Los Pollitos has one up on the overall superiority of the guacamole.
We all ordered something different, so we could taste and compare.
All of the food took awhile to come out, but mine took really long. Like 20 minutes or so after everyone else received their dinners.
Plus, I tasted some of Marina's chicken enchilada and one of Mike's pork tacos while I waited. Both fresh and delicious. The side order of plantains was crusted in garlic (yum), but also seemed a tad dry. A little sauce might have done wonders.
The waitress swung by to let us know all the food would be 30% off due to the kinks of opening night. Points regained after the severe delay of my dinner for acknowledging the problem early on.
I had the fish tacos, which were soooo worth the wait. The fried fish was piping hot, and the sauce, whatever it was, was the perfect compliment. Plus, it was LOADED with fresh cilantro, my most-favorite herb ever. I seem to remembering having ordered this at the Wmsbg location, but I don't remember them being THIS GOOD.
We ordered one of each of the three desserts: rice pudding, tres leches and flan.
My personal favorite was the rice pudding, but I don't think the table shared my opinion. The problem with having all three desserts was the competing flavors. I happened to try the rice pudding first, which was cinnamon-y and mild, but it did taste kind of funny after preceding with a bite of the supersweet tres leches.
Yes, there were some major-ish service glitches, but the staff seemed to be all over it, and making sure they were attentive to at least most of the diners. Plus, for opening night, the place was packed. The food is superfresh, and it was a great night in the hood with good friends. Plus, the clientele was really mixed -- families, young people, old people. I have confidence that they'll iron out the kinks.
hey mama adds....
i thought about ordering a margarita too, but went with the sangria instead (am just creeping back into the world of alcohol after 3 years of pregnancy/breastfeeding, and not sure if i'm ready for tequila yet....). it was good, not outstanding. i thought the guac was excellent, really fresh and light with just the right amount of heat. and the plantains, though definitely dry, were delicious—they could even be saved by just putting a lime on the plate to squeeze on top....
i went with the chiles rellenos, which were stuffed with mild cheese and sat in a pool of tomato broth with some big chunks of potato in it. it all come together really well, letting the heat of the chiles be present but not overwhelming. yum.
oh and the three homemade salsas were great: the chipotle was smoky and rich, the tomatillo was fruity and tangy, and the supposedly "really hot" green chile wasn't mouth-searing but hot enough and with good flavor.
my favorite dessert was also the rice pudding, though it was tough to appreciate the subtlety of it after the sweeeeet tres leches cake. the flan was....eh. just eh.
i also loved the look of the space: the mosaics, the park-bench-esque banquettes, the subway tiles. just lovely. they were smart to keep the decor so simple in the small space. i also dug that they were able to create three distinct seating areas (four if you count the bar) in the small space.
can't wait to go back for a harbenero margarita when i'm back up to full speed...