Photography: Jody Horton/courtesy Gibbs Smith

Dive into “Fort Worth Fancy” cuisine with this Gulf Coast-inspired dish perfect for a Friday fish dinner.

Jon Bonnell is renowned for his “Fort Worth Fancy” — fine dining with a kick of Cowtown’s friendly, casual demeanor. At his first restaurant, Bonnell’s Fine Texas Cuisine, the chef-owner elevated familiar Lone Star favorites, serving venison as peppercorn-dressed carpaccio and fire-roasting chiles rellenos stuffed with Texas cheeses. But at Waters Bonnell’s Coastal Cuisine, the chef takes the high road to the sea, the bay, and the river.

Wild Texas oysters get a pecan-grilled touch. Crawfish are snuggled in crispy spring rolls. Texas Gulf shrimp recline on a bed of avocado, mint, and baby lettuce. Just-caught Idaho rainbow trout, clothed in soft tortilla crumbs and floating on pools of tomato sauce, are served with avocados, carrots, fingerling potatoes, and cauliflower. For Bonnell, it’s all about what’s fresh — with an added Texas flair.

“I’ve always loved to fish, everything from freshwater mountain streams to saltwater flats,” he says, “but my passion for interesting and pristine ingredients inspired me to open Waters.”

Soon you will be able to experience Waters anew when the restaurant’s new location on Fort Worth’s Sundance Square opens April 10. In the meantime, dive into this recipe from the chef’s Waters Fine Coastal Cuisine (Gibbs Smith, 2014) and original printed in our May/June 2014 issue.

Almond-Crusted Speckled Trout With Brown Butter

This is my favorite take on a classic trout amandine. Speckled trout are the most popular sport fish for those fishing the bays of the Texas coast. Summertime is generally the best season to fish for specks, but they are around all year long. The flesh is mild and flaky, yet strong enough to hold up to many different types of cooking preparations. —Jon Bonnell

(Serves 2)

2 6- to 8-ounce fillets of speckled trout
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup sliced almonds, roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

Season the trout fillets lightly with sea salt and pepper on both sides and pat dry with paper towels. Dust lightly in flour to coat, shaking off any excess.

Add ½ tablespoon butter and olive oil to a large nonstick pan and gently heat together just until the butter begins to froth and bubble. Lay the trout fillets in the pan carefully and cook over medium heat until they are cooked through, roughly 2 minutes per side; remove to warm dinner plates.

Add remaining butter to the pan and cook on high until the butter starts to brown, and then add in the almonds and toss to coat. Cook until the almonds are slightly brown, being careful not to let them burn. Add the lemon juice and parsley, and quickly pour the butter over the trout.


Edited and excerpted with permission from Jon Bonnell’s Waters Fine Coastal Cuisine by Jon Bonnell (Gibbs Smith, 2014). To purchase the cookbook visit the publisher’s website or Amazon.com.

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