Chef Forough Vakili fuses her Persian roots with French cooking at all-day cafe, market, and wine bar Le Bon Nosh, opening November 17 at the Irby complex in Buckhead.
Vakili sees Le Bon Nosh as a “community-minded destination”, where people pop in for coffee and a fresh-baked scone or fruit tart from the bakery before heading to work or relax with shakshuka and Belgian waffles in the morning or a jambon-beurre sandwich and squash caponata tartine during lunch in the cafe. Look for natural wines and local beers served later in the day, with dinner and the opening of a petite wine bar planned for December.
Vakili, who came to the U.S. from Iran as a teenager, attended culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris after graduating from Georgia Tech with a degree in chemical engineering. Her culinary training from Le Cordon Bleu later led to a job working for a Michelin-starred restaurant in France, before Vakili returned to Atlanta to work as a culinary consultant for Porsche.
Most of the menu for Le Bon Nosh leans French or French influenced, Vakili says, a style of cooking she enjoys at home with her family and is reminiscent of that special time in her life living in Paris while training at the esteemed French cooking school. Her go-to bites in France were tartines and sweet and savory galettes, both featured prominently on the menu for Le Bon Nosh. But, the familial foods of her youth and Vakili’s Persian heritage are never far from her mind.
“We will be cooking with a lot of fresh herbs, which is something that I grew up learning,” Vakili says. “For example, you will see tarragon incorporated into several dishes where you wouldn’t normally expect it. There is also a cardamom cake, which is a cake that I grew up eating, and a nod to my mom.”
Look for Le Bon Nosh to expand into dinner service later in December and for the menu to include more a la carte dishes and entrees, many infused with Persian flavors and ingredients. An intimate, natural wine bar offering small plates should also open by year’s end.
Vakili says she’s dedicated to using as many in-season and locally grown ingredients and meats from Georgia farms as possible.
The design for Le Bon Nosh evokes the simple, sophisticated coolness for which Paris is known. Designed by LA-based studio Commune, people enter through the market, a light-filled space set off by floor-to-ceiling windows and a large handwoven rug on the floor. Just beyond the front doors, a counter offers fresh-baked pastries, breads, and prepared foods, along with coffee and tea throughout the day. An open kitchen is flanked by communal tables.
Chandeliers in the dining room and wine bar bring Le Bon Nosh from day to night, punctuated with design touches channeling Paris and the French coast through tones of pale blues, dusty pinks, and muted reds and teal plaster and floral patterns on the walls. Vakili ties in her Persian roots through saffron-colored velvet drapes, pops of bold prints, and more handwoven rugs scattered about the floors, with a staircase in the dining room leading to a private dining area on the mezzanine. The space includes a constellation of light fixtures with star signs for Vakili’s two children.
In keeping with her community-driven vision for Le Bon Nosh, Vakili will launch a program from the market-cafe next year focused on addressing issues of food insecurity in Atlanta, starting with helping to feed the city’s school-aged children and their families.
“After having children, the idea of kids not having food was just unacceptable to me. I decided that Le Bon Nosh will be a for-profit company with a large nonprofit mission,” Vakili tells Eater of the initiative. “Initially, we will be partnering with KIPP schools and provide their multiple campuses with take-home meals for students.”
The goal is to provide 600 meals to students of the schools, along with their siblings still at home. Vakili hopes to continue expanding the nonprofit arm of Le Bon Nosh to other charitable endeavors surrounding food insecurity in Atlanta.
Le Bon Nosh is currently open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., on the ground floor of the Irby on the corner of Irby Avenue and Paces Ferry. Expect dinner to begin and the wine bar to open in December.
Take a look at the opening menu:
Cafe and market open Monday - Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Dinner hours and wine bar forthcoming.
Public transit information: Accessible via MARTA bus route 110. Busses leave Buckhead MARTA rail station every 10 to 15 minutes.
65 Irby Avenue, Atlanta. lebonnosh.com.