The Swiss owner of BonCafé, Patrick Nicod, claims his delightful little eatery is a bit of a sideline. However, there is nothing offhand about the thought that has gone into this French-style light-cuisine bistro in the new Plaza Natura, on the old road between Escazú and Santa Ana, west of San José. Nicod, an architect by profession, spent two years with his Tica partner, Erika Marín, sourcing fair-trade, organic produce and defining a tempting array of dishes before launching in September 2011.
With seating for 20, casual tables are spread over the stone-tiled terrace. Above, transparent roofing offers protection from the rainy season and a contrast to the bright café interior. The relaxed atmosphere encourages guests to peruse the daily paper or do some high-speed Wi-Fi browsing.
The menu includes European breakfasts such as filled omelets with baked mini-potatoes and toasted baguettes, or a selection of waffles and of course French toast. Crepes and waffles, both savory and sweet, salads, sandwiches and soup with emphasis on fresh vegetables and fruits are just right for a light lunch, dinner or takeout meal.
As we debated our brunch orders over rich, tasty coffee, our waiter brought chilled glasses of water and individual dark chocolates – a nice touch. The extensive beverage choices ranged from juices to teas to chocolate drinks and coffee, hot or frappé. The coffee featured largely organic beans grown by the Café Historia 1492 cooperative.
The special of the day was eggs Benedict (₡5,220/$10.40), which turned out to be a whopping plateful of perfectly poached eggs with smoked salmon under a tangy lemony hollandaise sauce, served with tiny baked potatoes, seared eggplant and zucchini with a salad garnish. The waffle forestière (₡4,390/$8.80) was also generous in size and laden with mushroom, bacon and onions with a cream wine sauce. My companion deemed the waffle to be a tad heavy but much better than most. My crepe Versailles (₡4,400/$8.80) was beautifully light, filled with smoked salmon, capers and red onion with a cream cheese mayonnaise and dill pesto. That was more than enough, but we couldn’t resist another board special of mango and strawberry filled crepe with chocolate sauce and whipped cream (₡4,400/$8.80). Delicious!
BonCafé bakes its bread on the premises using home-cultivated yeast that Nicod says is far healthier than the industrial type. Sandwiches can be made with croissant, ciabatta or baguette, and a refrigerated showcase displays some rainbow-hued macaroons, all using natural food coloring, and other desserts that will need a return visit. BonCafé sells bags of Café Historia 1492 coffee (₡3,500-4,500/$7-$9) and chocolates (₡3,800/$7.60 per 120 grams) to take home.
Location: Plaza Natura commercial center, 1 km west of La Paco, on the old road between Escazú and Santa Ana.
Hours: 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Tuesday-Friday; 8 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday-Sunday