Restaurant Review: Bonifacio
Fans of Downtown’s Red Velvet Cafe now have an opportunity to expand their loyalties to a new near-Grandview eatery that’s operated by the same team. Bonifacio has made its Columbus debut, showcasing Filipino foods. The building is a standalone, with a packed parking lot indicating a warm reception for the establishment. Inside, it’s all big windows, tile floors and woodsy walls with a bar in the center and casual table-tops on the perimeter.
The menu is brief enough to be a quick study. Even when the offerings aren’t terribly familiar, they’re well described.
In the appetizer (“bar food”) department, The BBQ Chicken Skewers ($6) are a respectable starting point. Six dollars buys lean chicken chunks, grilled with a familiar sweet and savory soy-based marinade. It’s executed in classic form, so the offering is reliably agreeable from just about any angle.
But then, move on to something more exotic: Asado Siobo ($8). That presents sliders offering a savory, briny mix of pork belly and julienned veggies wrapped in a steamed bun. It’s equal parts interesting and substantial thanks to the fantastically tender steamed bun element.
In entrees there’s Pancit Bihon ($10). An order offers a nest of skinny, seasoned rice noodles with sausage and a hacked mixture of vegetables that include carrots, cabbage and snow peas. A retrospective look at the menu indicated the mix would have some chicken too: that seemed to be MIA. Maybe next time.
The absolute favorite thing so far is the unlikely combination of Spaghetti and Fried Chicken ($12). The two pieces of fried chicken provide a good foundation, they taste like old-fashioned fried poultry, just fried without the thick layer of breading and crunchies. Outshining that chicken, however, is the spaghetti. It’s super-soft and topped with a sweet bolognese with clots of ground meat and teeny slices of sausage. The tender noodles might offend the hardcore al dente crowd, so this dish is not for them. For the rest of us, the amount of homey comfort and happiness available in those soft, sweet noodles is immeasurable.
At the opposite end of the love spectrum is the Kare Kare ($12). The ingredients are quality: lean chunks of roasted beef (oxtail), string beans artfully tied in knots, with slices of eggplant, and sautéed baby bok choy. It wants salt, though… or sugar, or something to jazz up the gravy that ties it all together. The menu describes it as peanut sauce, and perhaps it needs more peanut. The gravy itself has no detectable flavor, and buries any joy that might otherwise be found in the stew.
The new joint appears to already have a loyal following and a big brunch fan club with some cool weekend options that include french toast accented with guava cream cheese, smoked milkfish and spam. There’s some fun cocktails too, including a forty-dollar number that’s built for four: the Komunidad is a heady mix of rum, vodka, mango, pineapple and nutmeg.
You can find it at 1577 King Avenue. According to the hours on their website, Bonifacio is closed Mondays, but opens for lunch and dinner Tuesdays through Fridays at 11am. Weekend brunches start at 10am.
For more information, visit www.bonifacio614.com.
All photos by Walker Evans.