Waters, Bonnell’s Coastal Cuisine
Friday 14 Jun 2013
Waters, Bonnell’s Coastal Cuisine is the newest jetty for Ft. Worth native and Beard Chef Jon Bonnell, known for casually touting the finer points of Texas cooking and for his generosity in sharing any and all of his recipes. We baited Bonnell for years to let us design his next restaurant. Being from Ft. Worth myself, I wanted to highlight Bonnell’s particular sense of downhome refined dining, his regard for the Gulf and to have folks feel good and easy in that ol’ Texas way.
The 7700 sq ft restaurant is sited in a new urban development and is an infill conversion from a former restaurant. We didn’t have the budget to remove the old awning steel, so we added a rusty shark fin. It’s pretty much fun and play with the concept of water and all what swims in the sea.
Enter via octopus door handles. Colours are white, kelp and grey with classic tile and green copper, materials that can age. The bar is relaxed with fish scale chairs and a chesterfield sofa. Look for alligator jaws and a kraken bar. We used heavy steel to support a twenty foot hydro-jet tank of whitewater. We added a library ladder that Chef climbs to charity raffle wines like Sea Smoke, which I had the good fortune to win. Over the bar is a 600 pound oyster shell fixture. The Bonnell team recycled and weathered the shells personally and we dragged bag after bag back to Los Angeles to our builders.
Pass by 3200 wine bottles to enter fine dining. The restaurant offers four sustainably sourced fish and twelve oyster varietals daily, which Chef can place directly on a stone and drain raw bar. The room holds a thirty foot mobile made of 750 tin and copper fishies, lures and sinkers. We had that built in our studio and rowed back to Texas with it. It’s an homage to Chef’s spiritual pursuit of fishing and we did adjust the height for the cowboy hat factor in Texas.
Banquette seating and tables are done in linens. Servers wear oyster coloured serving jackets embroidered with the Waters logo. And the Waters logo floats around on wine glasses and glass vestibule, designed to beat that Texas heat. It’s all in the spirit of fun, light and dark, shallow and deep, honoring the chefs and the guests and all the people who swim through Waters.