In a massive culinary coup for the Central Coast, one of the world’s most sought-after celebrity chefs has launched a restaurant in Gosford.
British-born Australian chef Sean Connolly is spearheading the kitchen at The Bon Pavilion, which opened in the heart of Gosford’s CBD in April to a flurry of epicurean excitement.
Built at the base of millionaire John ‘Singo’ Singleton’s latest development – Bonython Tower, it’s Connolly’s first Central Coast venue, with the chef also putting his name to the revamped Bells at Killcare restaurant.
Despite being called in at the last minute, Connolly said he didn’t hesitate to take part in what he believed would be a game-changer for Gosford.
“Opening a restaurant in Gosford has been one of the most exciting builds I have ever been involved with,” Connolly said.
“I’ve always been a fan of the Central Coast – it’s a beautiful part of the world.”
If you haven’t had the chance to dine at one of his other establishments, The Morrison Bar in Sydney, The Balcony Bar in Byron, or even his pop up at The Box in Ettalong, you might recognise Connolly from guest judging spots on My Kitchen Rules.
More of a quiet achiever compared to his compatriots, Connolly’s best known for his simple, classic style, which lets the food speak for itself.
It’s an ethos that he’s brought with him to The Bon Pavilion kitchen.
Whether it’s the silky ribbons of Serrano ham served with a smattering of pickles or a simple heirloom tomato salad sprinkled with fluffy Persian feta, each dish celebrates fresh flavours and quality produce.
“It’s not easy cooking food simply. I’ve taken the approach that the less you do to food, the better it tastes. There is a huge amount of thought that goes into ‘simple’. It takes courage as a chef not to overwork food or add extra garnish,” Connolly said.
Boasting several venues within its giant open-plan, pavilion-like space, The Bon Pavilion is so much more than a bar and restaurant, it’s a food and drink mecca.
At the centre of it all is Bonfire, a family-friendly contemporary steakhouse complete with an American Montague Broiler.
The broiler is Connolly’s pride and joy and the source of some of Bonfire’s most succulent dishes: grain-fed scotch fillet, half a kilo of rib-eye on the bone, pasture fed eye fillet and monstrous lamb Tomahawk chops which are sure to bring out the inner caveman.
Where Chiswick is famous for its slow-roasted lamb shoulder and Rockpool is best known for its aged steaks, The Bon Pavilion has a 1.2 kilogram dry aged T-bone that is set to be the talk of the town. It’s a carnivore’s dream and can be shared around quite a few hungry mouths.
The whole menu is full of pleasant surprises from the Vegemite butter served with La Tartine sourdough to the delicious Saltimbocca prawns and what are sure to become the most ‘grammed desserts on the Coast – Connolly’s ‘dropped softies’ and a divine lemon meringue donut.
It’s all enjoyed in the comfortable embrace of a leather booth and washed down with a top drop from the extensive wine list.
A DJ with wicked taste ensures the giant space never feels empty.
Elsewhere in the Pavilion there is a European-style café stocked with charcuterie, sweets and pastries, a cocktail and tapas bar specialising in craft beers and whisky, and a private dining room for special occasions.
Featuring Moroccan baked eggs and an Alaskan crab omelette, breakfast has become one of the most popular meals of the day with the cafe abuzz in the AM, especially on weekends.
The Bon bottomless brunch includes an Aperol Spritz or Espresso Martini on arrival, then bottomless Mimosas accompanied by a set food menu.
The space is tied together with a ‘burnt Australia’ palette and a grand sweeping staircase that leads to the rest of the 13-storey tower.
A beautiful wall-length mural by artist Lisa King has fast become the face of the venue.
There are also some sweet touches in the detail such as the florals found throughout, Connolly’s way of adding a feminine touch to the masculine space, and the cutlery tins which had another life as Cocolux copper candles.
Bonython Tower is the latest move by Singleton to revitalise Gosford and see the Coast reach its potential.
“The Central Coast is such a beautiful place, it deserves a beautiful building which is what Bonython Tower has become. Hopefully now more people will see the Central Coast’s true potential and follow with other exciting projects,” Singleton said.
In a final touch of class, the whole operation is presided over by Brian and Karina Barry, who also run luxe Coastie institutions’ Bells at Killcare and Pretty Beach House.
When first discussing the project, Singleton said he expected The Bon Pavilion would have the same impact on Gosford as Bells had on Killcare.
While its full impact remains to be seen, one thing is for certain – Singleton and Connolly have officially put Gosford on the foodie map.
The Bon Pavilion is open every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 7am during the week and 8am on the weekend, until late.
Originally published in Coastal Lifestyle – check out the full magazine here