Bonterra’s next chapter

Cuisine

January 1, 2023



After 20 years in Dilworth, the restaurant and wine bar reopens at Phillips Place.

by Kathleen Purvis  |  photographs by Peter Taylor

In a converted 1915 church building, Bonterra spent 20 years at the heart of fine dining in Dilworth, the place to go for a reliably classy date night or a glass of well-chosen wine at the bar.

Welcome to the new Bonterra. Now billing itself as a “coffee/café/cocktails/wine bar,” it’s an airy and contemporary dining room in SouthPark’s Phillips Place, with an atmosphere that’s more California chic with Tuscan touches than the old choir lofts and balconies of the old Bonterra. 

Oh, there are touches of the old place if you look closely. The dramatic 1658 painting “Lot and His Two Daughters,” which loomed over the bar at the original Bonterra, is still there, in a less obvious spot: Now it’s tucked into a smaller dining space on the side of the main room. 

The wine bar is just as comfortable for hanging out with a charcuterie plate and well-curated wine list by the bottle or glass. And co-owner J.D. Duncan still makes his presence known, keeping watch over it all. 

Remember the popular fried lobster tail, served as an upcharge to plates at the old Bonterra? It’s still there, hiding on the starters list as fried lobster bites, served with an aioli made from Asheville’s Lusty Monk mustard and a sweet/salty honey soy sauce. 

Menus at lunch and dinner aren’t long, but they’re focused: Lots of salads (SouthPark people do love their big salads), and entrees that touch down between the land (chicken and linguine and a long list of open-faced sandwiches at lunch, pork shanks and steaks at dinner) and the sea (salmon or shrimp at lunch, salmon or sea bass at dinner). 

Since the wine bar takes up a big chunk of the space, it’s fitting that the most interesting part of the menu is starters, aka small plates. Braised pork belly is crispy as promised, although the plate suffers from a clash between crisp diced apple dressed with a sharp vinegar and a much more successful pool of sweet balsamic glaze. The daily foie gras offering changes with the seasons. On a recent visit, it featured smoked lion’s mane mushroom meaty enough to masquerade as a short rib and a sprinkling of pistachios over a nicely crisped slice of liver indulgence. For $25 and $10 for a glass of prosecco, it’s a plate for a day when you have something to celebrate. There’s a daily caviar service too, if you’re itching to drop $100 to $150. 

The décor: comfortable leather chairs, clean arches between the rooms and eye-catching wire chandeliers that look like bespoke crab traps. The kitchen is now on view under one of the arches, if you like a little floor show with your wine. 

No, it’s not the old church building, which will soon be home to Leluia Hall, Jamie Brown and Jeff Tonidandel’s (Supperland, Haberdish) forthcoming venture. But you don’t have to climb all those steps to the old choir loft, either. 

Bonterra is open for dinner nightly, lunch Monday-Friday, and weekend brunch on Saturday and Sunday.

This article was updated Jan. 30, 2023 to reflect revised operating hours.

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