2017-05-18 / Cuisine

We have a hunch you’ll like Bonita Brunch

CUISINE REVIEW

When you open the menu at Bonita Brunch, the numbers are overwhelming: 25 omelets, six eggs benedicts, five burritos, six skillets and more. And that’s just the breakfast menu. The lunch list is equally staggering: 14 salads, 13 wraps and stuffed pitas, eight sandwiches, 15 burgers and melts and — well, you get the idea.

Owner Joe Vushaj is accustomed to big numbers. He came to the U.S. from Albania with nine brothers and sisters. The extended family eventually established themselves in the restaurant business in Michigan before some of the clan moved to Southwest Florida, where one of the brothers opened House of Omelets in Cape Coral.

Joe Vushaj launched Bonita Brunch with two daughters last November in the Bonefish Grill plaza in Bonita Springs — though you have to drive around to the back to find it. It’s worth the effort, as well as some temporary inconvenience due to a construction project at the plaza. We sampled just a minute fraction of the all-encompassing menu, but are eager to return and try more.


Bonita Brunch puts a modern spin on diner décor. Bonita Brunch puts a modern spin on diner décor. Our food clearly was made to order with fresh, quality ingredients and served in generous portions. Service is efficient and exceedingly warm — you may even get a waitress who takes “hands-on service” literally. The modernized diner atmosphere is appealing and on trend — shades, perhaps, of the rebranded First Watch’s farmhouse-chic?

The tile floor looks deceptively like aged wooden planks, which complements the neutral gray-tan-black color scheme and contrasts the sleek black vinyl booths. The busy kitchen sits behind a tomato-red wall framed by a homey striped valance and bookended by clusters of prefab decorations expressing generic aphorisms such as “live, love, eat” and “believe in the magic.” A beautiful, fresh red rose adorned our table.


Crabby Benedict features crab cakes topped with eggs, spinach, tomato and hollandaise. Crabby Benedict features crab cakes topped with eggs, spinach, tomato and hollandaise. Our waitress touted the specials, which included surprises like flambéed saganaki cheese and lamb chops with eggs and toast. As if there aren’t already enough choices when both breakfast and lunch items are served at noon.

We had originally set out to sample a bit of each menu, but our party included two people who rarely eat in the morning and one who could eat “breakfast food” for each meal of the day. So, we all wanted breakfast. Lunch will have to wait for another visit.

The trendier offerings include avocado toast topped with fried eggs and feta, chicken with waffles drizzled with maple syrup and honey mustard, and fanciful waffle/pancake/French toast flavors such as Reese’s peanut butter cup, S’More and Elvis (peanut butter and banana drizzled with chocolate). A picture on the restaurant’s Facebook page shows the gluttonous Sampler Skillet, a mix of corned beef, pastrami, peppers, cheese, eggs and home fries blanketed with sausage gravy.


Corned beef hash with two eggs and toast is one of the more traditional breakfast dishes. Corned beef hash with two eggs and toast is one of the more traditional breakfast dishes. None of us was up to that cardiac challenge, but we managed to finish three very different dishes, washed down with glasses of fresh-brewed iced tea ($2.55) and Diet Coke ($2.55).

From the eggs benedict choices, I selected the Crabby Benedict ($12.75) — two crab cakes topped with tomato, spinach sautéed with garlic, two poached eggs and hollandaise and a dusting of Old Bay. At this price, you can hardly expect pure jumbo lump crabmeat; even though they were padded out with stuffing-like fillers, they still had good crab flavor and an appealingly crisp crust. The eggs were incredibly soft and silky, and the scratch-made hollandaise was not overly rich or over-applied. Each element of the dish was present in just the right proportion.


You can concoct your own waffle creation with toppings such as Nutella and pecans at Bonita Brunch. You can concoct your own waffle creation with toppings such as Nutella and pecans at Bonita Brunch. The corned beef hash ($9), in contrast, was more one-dimensional. The meat was very finely chopped — too finely chopped for our taste. If there were potatoes or onions or any other ingredients mixed in, they were so miniscule that we couldn’t taste them. We would have preferred a chunkier texture for the salty, crusty meat, and a little more complexity in flavor. The over-easy eggs were perfectly cooked, and the wheat toast was fine. Regardless of the criticisms, my guest cleaned his plate.

For those who prefer to a sweeter breakfast treat, there are plate-sized waffles ($8) with your choice of toppings from basic banana to cinnamon roll with a cream cheese glaze. The waffle itself was light and crispy, with a hint of vanilla. My guest opted for Nutella ($1.50) and pecan (50 cents) toppings, and they were amply applied, along with a dusting of powdered sugar. Two slices of good, chewy bacon were added on the side, which cost an extra $2.50.

Whether you start your day or take your lunch break at Bonita Brunch, I have a hunch you will find more than one item to satisfy your hunger. ¦

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