421 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC | Directions 2751635.910444 -79.062234
Quiet, understated, and underwhelming – The menu selection holds great promise, but the food just did not deliver. We wanted it to be wonderful, but the second courses fell flat- from rudimentary presentation to unexciting/bland flavors....the duck was perfectly cooked, but without any subtle or defining features. The foie gras... slightly goopy. The lamb fared a bit better, but for a $40 entree, one expected much more. No desire to return, which is unfortunate.... and sadly, I would not recommend. For an excellent experience (albeit, out of the region), I never hesitate to recommend White Barn Inn.
Best Meal I Have Ever Had – My husband and I ate here for our anniversary. Staff was so accommodating and considerate of our special evening. Could not ask for anything more....the bill was hand written so elegantly...we still have it. Absolutely love this place. Although it is pricey, it is absolutely worth it!! No regrets on the money we spent.
Sublime Dining worth finding... – It's been a couple of weeks since my wife and I had the pleasure of dining at Bonne Soiree, but as I've found myself describing elements of the meal numerous times recently, it seemed to be time to project these thoughts into cyberspace.
We took advantage of one of the occasional Sundays that the restaurant is open and went in for an early dinner. We were greeted by the Owner/Mgr, Tina, who was amazingly gracious and accommodating from the time we made our reservation until the time that we departed. She is truly blessed with the gift of hospitality, and her staff follow her example admirably.
The meal began with a country paté and some of their lovely homemade bread, along with a glass of champagne. It took a great deal of faith for a self described wine geek such as myself to allow Tina to pair wines with each course of our dinner, but as we sipped the champagne, my wife remarked, "You did the right thing, honey...This is delicious." She was right.
Next came a little amusé bouche of soft scrambled eggs infused with black truffle, accompanied by shaved truffle and perfect little baton of toast. I would drive across the state just for a spoonful of that goodness. Suffice it to say that my bouche was very amused.
The appetizers were equally impressive, with my wife selecting the goat cheese tart, which sat atop the fluffiest homemade filo dough I've ever tasted (this is sure to be a painstaking process in the kitchen), and fresh NC bay scallops for myself. Throughout, we were treated to tastes of a variety of terrific wines, including a pairing that blew me away: Alsacian Gewurtztraminer with Caesar salad, our shared mid-course (yes, we were hungry).
The entrées were nothing short of spectacular. We chose a duo of poultry: chicken for my wife and duck for myself. Chef Chip wasn't done with the truffles yet: He sliced them thin and put them under the skin of the chicken before roasting, and made a rich creamy pasta in a gratin dish that was smothered in truffles and cheese. My duck was world class: it featured five quenelles of pureed root vegetables and even one of prune (!?!), each of which enhanced the duck in different way. My plate had both the breast AND the leg quarter, which was prepared something like a confit, and a little bit like good ole' southern bbq. A true delight with a lovely glass of grenache. And considering the amount and quality of food on our plates, the prices are reasonable. You might think you are saving a few bucks eating at the Lantern (love ya, Lantern!), but don't fool yourself...
By this time we were completely full, but couldn't resist sharing a dessert, since we noticed that Chip's amazing filo pastry was available in a sweet setting.
The bottom line is that if you enjoy dining as a activity unto itself (ie not just the process by which you refuel), you'll find a natural kinship with Tina and Chip and their whole staff.
Chic intimate dining – My husband and I chose this for my (gasp!) 50th birthday! Our table was ready only 5 minutes after the reservation time but we were offered a glass of champagne for that five minute wait which I thought was very considerate. For the appetizer, we had the composed salad and the goats cheese souffle. The salad was sublime - very fine, fresh ingredients, a simple vinaigrette sauce. The souffle was delicious as well. For the main dish, I had the filet mignon and my husband had the lamb. Both meats were cooked to the correct level of doneness and of very good quality. However, they were lukewarm and not as hot as they should have been. The filet had the butter sauce (maitre ?) that is traditionally served with filet mignon. However, perhaps because the beef was not warm enough, the butter was in a disk rather than melted over the top of the filet. We were too stuffed for dessert but did enjoy the cappaccino at the end of the meal.
The service was slow with the cappacino.
Our overall impression was the atmosphere was elegant, the food excellent but the service lagged at times. The calibre of the food was equal to what we have had at Saint Jacques in Raleigh but the service was not. However, it is a relatively new establishment and we certainly intend to dine there again.
Best restaurant we've ever eaten at; it's amazing! – My husband and I decided to try Bonne Soiree for our Valentine's dinner after reading about the restaurant in Bon Apetit. The food and service were beyond exceptional. For an appetizer, I had an amazing leek and mushroom tart with homemade puff pastry as the base, drizzled with a balsamic vinegar reduction. My husband ordered a veal terrine. Both were absolutely delicious but the tart was probably the best appetizer I've ever eaten. When it came time for the main course, the food just blew us away. My husband usually doesn't eat duck, but decided to try it and it was by far the BEST meal he's ever had. The duck ($28) literally melted in your mouth and was paired an amazing leek-filled side dish. I had quail ($29) stuffed with foie gras served on a bed of vegetables--everything was cooked and seasoned to absolute perfection and I can't stop raving about how amazing the food is at Bonne Soiree. Our desserts were also excellent--creme brulee and a chocolate hazelnut torte topped with chocolate ganache. The service was also excellent...the staff was very attentive and professional and eager to answer your questions and make recommendations. This is by far the best restaurant we've ever eaten at...it is just up at the top on its own level...a level beyond even Magnolia grill. HIGHLY recommended!!
Disappointing – Completely disappointing - TERRIBLE service!
We went on a weekend night for a celebratory dinner and all they did was rush up through dinner. "You must order now!" we were instructed rudely by a bald fat guy who wasn't even our waiter. Glasses and plates were grabbed from us whether they were empty or not. The waiter continuously interrupted the conversation instead of waiting patiently by the table for an appropriate place to break in. Then, at the end of the meal, when we wanted the check so we could leave this awful place, they took 15 minutes to bring it! What a disasterous waste of $300.
Don't expect great things from Bonne Soiree. It does not live up to its press.
Rivaling the top... – We had a great anniversary dinner at Bonne Soiree. The service was impeccable - friendly and engaged, but professional. We asked for a dish that might be standard but that people would say is better than they usually have. They suggested the Caesar Salad, and it was striking. We followed it with the best lamb I've ever had at a restaurant, served over mixed root vegetables and spinach gnochi. The mixture was superb. We finished it up with creme brulee (for me) and a Pavlova (for my wife). Both were excellent. And the wine for the evening (a Cuilleron 2004 St Joseph) was a perfect complement to the lamb. Our only complaint was the noise level - (copying Magnolia???) - otherwise it was just about a perfect evening. But do make a reservation, and far in advance. It's worth it. Highly recommended.
Culinary Paradise – As true "foodies", we are always on the lookout for exquisite cuisine. But since we are only a year in the Triangle, we have had a hard time finding more than average cuisine on our plate. Tonight, we have been blown away! From the caramalized onion and gruyere tart to the sweetbreads for the first course; the risotto for the intermezzo, and the King Mackerel (which I had--with just a hint of cinnamon that made my tastebuds swoon) to the Duck (which my husband had and as a duck lover, was blown away by all of the combinations of ingredients)--the cuisine was uncomparable to any restaurant we have experienced in the Triangle, and beyond. To add to the perfection of the culinary mind, which I understand belongs to Chip, we selected the journey of the wine tasting to pair with each course. Tina personally visited our table and presented each carefully selected wine with passion and knowledge, both equally appreciated. We are left awed, and consumed by the dining experience we have had tonight. Stil, two hours later, we are talking about it, shaking our head, and saying "That was phenomenal".
Fantastic ambience and food – After seeing the reviews and Best lists, we thought that we had better try this place, and we weren't disappointed. The restaurant is small, which lends to it's charm, and has very friendly but professional wait staff. We started with lobster ravioli, which was probably the best I've had, and followed up with braised shoulder of lamb, which could not have tasted any better. Make reservations soon, with seating for only 30, it's bound to become very difficult to get in on popular nights.
Great good, disappointing atmostphere – We expected greatness from this restaurant after reading all of the glowing reviews, especially that of Greg Cox. The food was fantastic- I had duck, my husband had the oxtail- both wonderful. Wine recommendation was great, dessert was lovely. However, the service and the atmosphere were definitely not what we expected. First off, the room was bright and loud. Tables were not super close together, but it was still far from a romantic setting. The service really threw us. We had at least three different people wait on us, and none knew what the others were doing. We were asked twice for our dinner orders, and twice for our dessert orders. The descriptions the waiter gave for the desserts were incorrect. I had to ask for my water to be refilled, something that is definitly a no-no at an upscale establishment. We have eaten at most of the "great" restaurants in this area, and while Bonne Soirre's food was on the money, the atmosphere and service were not up to the hype.
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