First Look: Bowood by Niche Brings Thoughtful Daytime Fare to the CWE


click to enlarge Bowood by Niche is now open, serving breakfast and lunch in the Central West End. - PHUONG BUI
PHUONG BUI
Bowood by Niche is now open, serving breakfast and lunch in the Central West End.

When chef and restauranteur Gerard Craft was dreaming up his vision for Bowood by Niche (4605 Olive Street, 314-545-6868), he had one guiding principle: He wanted the restaurant to feel like a warm hug. Now, the brunch cafe located at Bowood Farms in the Central West End is welcoming guests with open arms after celebrating its grand opening on November 4th.

Bowood by Niche replaces Bowood Farms' longtime restaurant, Cafe Osage, in name and menu, but not in spirit. Craft and his team, led by executive chef Dakota Williams, designed Bowood by Niche to be a welcoming daytime gathering place for the neighborhood and have embraced the natural bounty of their surroundings with an approachable, farm-to-table style menu.

"Cafe Osage was such a loved breakfast spot, that we felt like it would be silly of us not to reopen with that same aspect and cultivate this as the neighborhood spot we want it to be," says Williams. "We don't want to be pretentious, and we don't want to scare anyone away. We want to welcome people back in this space with open arms and make people feel at home, because that is how we feel here."

click to enlarge Bowood by Niche sits amongst the lush bounty of the Bowood Farms nursery. - PHUONG BUI
PHUONG BUI
Bowood by Niche sits amongst the lush bounty of the Bowood Farms nursery.

For Williams, the restaurant's affiliation with Bowood Farms in Clarksville, as well as the on-site nursery and herb garden, has been a major source of inspiration. He describes using fresh ingredients, sometimes picked just before they get on the plate, as a chef's dream, and his dishes use as much locally sourced products as he can manage. He is also cognizant of making Bowood by Niche accessible to all dietary preferences, including vegetarians. That philosophy, married with his knack for creating comforting, nostalgic dishes, is what he believes makes Bowood such an inviting place.

Williams points to a few different dishes that evoke the spirit of the new Bowood by Niche. Baked oatmeal, one of his favorite offerings, expands on the classic dish by using farro, barley and quinoa in addition to oats. The multigrain mix is topped with a vegan granola crust, then baked in a Le Creuset and topped with jammed fruit, toasted almonds, sugar and butter.

He is also excited about the honey bun, which is a nod to the long car trips of his youth. However, unlike the gas station versions he loved as a kid, this one is housemade with a delicate sugar glaze. His egg sandwich also draws inspiration from both the former Sardella (where he served as sous chef), as well as a bit of childhood nostalgia: the McGriddle from McDonald's. His version uses a housemade English muffin, steamed egg, red pepper jelly, hot sauce aioli, pepper jack cheese, arugula and bacon for a more sophisticated, but no less comforting, sandwich.

click to enlarge Eggs Benedict. - PHUONG BUI
PHUONG BUI
Eggs Benedict.

Lunchtime offerings include a burger, which features dry-aged beef from BEAST Butcher & Block, topped with caramelized onion aioli, pickled shallots and Marcoot Farms Tipsy Cheddar cheese. Williams also recommends the little gem salad because it shows how even a simple dish can be extraordinary when it entails fresh ingredients like vegan avocado green goddess dressing, toasted pistachios, cured egg yolks and fresh herbs.

Williams is impressed with the restaurant's drink offerings, and has been excited about the collaboration between the bar and the kitchen. Drinks employ homemade tonics, and there are plans for the bar staff to begin making their own bitters with herbs from the restaurant's rooftop garden. He also recommends the coffee drinks, which include a vanilla latte he insists is the best he's ever tried — though he admits enjoying it in such a beautiful environment makes it extra special.

"I don't know of a better place for a chef than at Bowood," Williams says. "It's this beautiful building, kitchen and dining room — the atmosphere and team and being surrounded by plants makes it so nice here. Sometimes I go up to the herb garden, have my coffee and decompress before the day while watching the sun rise. I think it's the most beautiful spot in the city."

Bowood by Niche is open Thursday through Monday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Scroll through for more photos of Bowood by Niche.

click to enlarge Pastry chef Suji Grant makes a variety of baked goods, including the seasonal pop tart. - PHUONG BUI
PHUONG BUI
Pastry chef Suji Grant makes a variety of baked goods, including the seasonal pop tart.

click to enlarge Like its predecessor, Bowood by Niche aims to be a neighborhood gathering spot. - PHUONG BUI
PHUONG BUI
Like its predecessor, Bowood by Niche aims to be a neighborhood gathering spot.

click to enlarge The baked oatmeal. - PHUONG BUI
PHUONG BUI
The baked oatmeal.

click to enlarge The honey bun. - PHUONG BUI
PHUONG BUI
The honey bun.

click to enlarge The little gem salad, made with avocado green goddess dressing. - PHUONG BUI
PHUONG BUI
The little gem salad, made with avocado green goddess dressing.

click to enlarge The granola parfait with coconut yogurt. - PHUONG BUI
PHUONG BUI
The granola parfait with coconut yogurt.

click to enlarge Avocado toast. - PHUONG BUI
PHUONG BUI
Avocado toast.

click to enlarge Eggs Benedict features prosciutto and brown butter hollandaise. - PHUONG BUI
PHUONG BUI
Eggs Benedict features prosciutto and brown butter hollandaise.

click to enlarge Bowood by Niche is now open in the Central West End. - PHUONG BUI
PHUONG BUI
Bowood by Niche is now open in the Central West End.

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Cheryl Baehr

Cheryl Baehr is the restaurant critic for the Riverfront Times and an international woman of mystery. Follow her on the socials at @cherylabaehr
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