At center stage are pecan wood-roasted skewers with meats ranging from surf and turf ($25) and bacon-wrapped scallops ($20) to the more humble – but still as succulent – pork loin ($17). The list of sides (one free with entrée) is extensive, and all ranged from decent to “oh yeah!,” but cast-iron corn bread with blue cheese grits was off the charts with its sweet-savory complexity. Creamed spinach, deviled egg potato salad, Creole dirty rice and house-mashed potatoes with truffle and parmesan were strong contenders, too.
Not in the mood for a big meal? Bonfire has superb appetizers and salads, especially during happy hour, which ranks among the best in town. I’m smitten with the grilled artichoke ($7) and potato pancakes ($8; $5 happy hour) served with scallions, bacon, silky cheese fondue and house-made ranch. For even lighter fare, try the smoky, tangy chopped salad ($8; $5 happy hour) or punchy Campari tomato salad ($8) with skewered cherry tomatoes and Maytag blue cheese.
Deviled eggs ($8; $5 happy hour) with Tabasco and smoked sea salt were spicy and sassy one time but ho-hum another. On that note, goat cheese-stuffed jalapeño poppers ($8) ranged from mild to “call the medics” – and that was on the same plate.
Sandwiches were forgettable. Mediterranean-style pork loin ($11) got a boost from olives and garlic aioli, but the Philly short rib ($12) was dry and dull.
Desserts are straightforward. Ice cream sandwiches ($4) with gooey house-baked cookies and Sweet Republic ice cream are oh-my-God good, and peach cobbler ($6) with butterscotch ice cream is pure bliss.
The kitchen occasionally slips, with overcooked meats, over-salted dishes or wrong ingredients, but complaints are remedied quickly. Service is friendly and eager, though not entirely informative – employees couldn’t yet answer basic questions about food sources or bar offerings.
Décor is puzzling, too, with rustic wood walls, iridescent modern chairs and a campy 12-foot video wall of flames. But don’t think too hard: Just kick back and bask in the warmth of belly-pleasing Bonfire goodness.
Bonfire Grill & Bar
Address: 7210 E. Second St., Scottsdale
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday; closed Monday and Tuesday
Highlights: Grilled artichoke ($7), potato pancakes ($8; $5 happy hour), chopped salad ($8; $5 happy hour), skewered Campari tomato salad ($8),
surf-and-turf skewer ($25), bacon-wrapped scallops skewer ($20), pork loin skewer ($17), ice cream sandwich ($4), peach cobbler ($6)
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