After fifteen years of writing, kvetching, opining, broadcasting, chattering about and photographing what and where we eat here at the beach, few things surprise me. But from time to time there is an exception, and one of those exceptions continues to be Bon Appétit restaurant in … wait for it … Seaford, De. Nothing against the quaint burg of Seaford, of course, but it’s simply not a place where one would immediately expect to find such a well-run fine-dining French eatery. From the moment we arrived to the moment co-owner Karen Pedemonte handed us our coats, everything was perfectly executed.
Karen and her husband met on the job at a restaurant in New York. Chino started as a dishwasher and Karen was a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. The couple purchased Bon Appétit in 1991, and though the theme is decidedly French, Chef Chino blends German, Incan, Chinese, Japanese and Swiss influences into his cuisine. He works only with the assistance of his sous chef, and if he isn’t able to work, the restaurant closes down. A guarantee of consistency if there ever was one.
Karen’s bailiwick is front of house, and she’s all about the details. From the fresh flowers to the crisp napkins to keeping water glasses and bread baskets filled, she works seamlessly alongside her seasoned waitstaff. And wait ‘til you see the vintage French prints and pin-ups that gently decorate this understated bistro.
Bon Appétit1/13 Veal with artichokes and cheese2/13 Bon Appétit3/13 Bon Appétit4/13 the empenada special5/13 Bon Appétit6/13 Bon Appétit7/13 Bon Appétit8/13 Bon Appétit9/13 Bon Appétit10/13 Bon Appétit11/13 Bon Appétit12/13 Bon Appétit13/13
On our first visit, we knew things were going to be interesting when our professional, but very funny server Maggie delivered carved butter flowers to the table. And it just got better from there. On our most recent visit in mid-2021, we started with the French onion soup, salads and the sausage-stuffed mushrooms. However, if the artichoke crostini (a choice engraved in stone after we perused the online menu) is on the menu, get that too! Artichoke hearts are perched on toasted French bread and enrobed in warm Parmesan cheese sauce. One of our dining companions treated herself to the poached mussels in white wine with shallots, garlic and cream. Bracingly spicy with a gentle creaminess. I will remind you that Chino loves sourcing local ingredients, so the menu will changes with the seasons. So use this only as a guide! Weekly menus are posted on their FACEBOOK PAGE.
On a previous visit, the chicken empanadas appetizer reminded us that it’s not all francophilic there at 312 High Street in Seaford. But rather than the traditional fried version, Bon Appétit’s are encased in an impossibly flaky puff pastry. After the salad course, our entrees included a perfectly-grilled-to-temperature Black Angus New York strip slathered with roasted garlic butter; veal scaloppini sautéed in lemon butter laced with capers, and crispy, slow-roasted duckling topped with warm cherries. All three were top notch and something I would expect in any big-city eatery. On the most recent visit, one of my favorite foodies got the duck (there was no doubt), and I had the veal with mortadella and provolone cheese. Think veal parm, but with a French accent featuring a savory brown sauce. Another star of the show that night was the baked salmon with a sesame & poppy seed crust. The textural variations were like a carnival in your mouth.
As an aside, if you find yourself looking at the menu and “warm peach cake” if printed thereon, order it! It's as a politely small portion, but absolutely delicious. See the pic in the gallery.
Considering that the Pedemontes have been operating Bon Appétit for over 30 years, they must be doing something right. And it’s no mystery what that something is: tireless dedication, skill, patience and an uncanny focus on customer service. And it keeps guests coming back year after year. It goes without saying that reservations are a must. (Of course I had to say it anyway.) By the way, ALWAYS call for reservations!
Check out their hours and dinner menus HERE, then call 302-629-3700. It’s well worth the drive.