In the constellation of Fort Worth's celebrity chefs, Jon Bonnell doesn't have the boisterous, megawatt personality of someone like Grady Spears -- the cowboy cuisine pioneer who seems like he was born to be a guest on Good Morning America. Nor is Bonnell's empire as expansive as, say, that of Tim Love, the chef-owner of The Woodshed Smokehouse and Lonesome Dove, who seems to open a new venture every third week.
Instead, Bonnell -- the owner of Bonnell's Fine Texas Cuisine, which opened in 2001 -- is more of the journeyman star of the Fort Worth dining scene: The chef who got famous by virtue of being terrific, year in, year out.
Now Bonnell's star is about to shine even brighter. Last Saturday, the chef opened, Waters, the newest eatery in the ever-expanding West 7th development in the Fort Worth Cultural District. At the opening night party, Bonnell showed off the new digs to a few hundred friends, foodies and media folks.
Bonnell is best known for game and heartier fare: If you haven't tried his Pepper-Crusted Buffalo Tenderloin, you're culinary life experience is not complete. With Waters, though, he turns his attention to seafood, albeit with a quintessential Texas twist: Among the menu items we sampled on Saturday night were fried and BBQ oysters; an impossibly buttery and tender red snapper; and (my personal favorite) yellowfin tacos (Bonnell pairs the tuna with a spicy wasabi-lime creme fraiche and a wonderfully crunchy tortilla).
Seafood-phobes need not despair: There are also more traditional Bonnell creations, like the bone-in ribeye and chicken fried rabbit loin, on offer.
Located in the space previously occupied by Bailey’s Prime Plus, Waters carries the seafood theme into the interior design: In the front lounge area, there’s an eye-popping, bar-length chandelier constructed from oyster shells. The main dining room also features a raw bar -- a nice alternative for those looking for a more casual eating experience.