Bonfire Grill is a recent addition to the restaurants in Tomball, Texas. Located on Main Street, Bonfire Grill occupies the shell of a 1940s gas station and is nearby the public access area where events like the Annual Tomball German Festival are held.
Previously home to Patsy's Restaurant, the old service station turned restaurant, sports an authentic Wood Fired Pizza Oven imported from Milan. While they do offer pizza, the menu at Bonfire Grill has a wide variety of lunch and dinner options. Their single page, printed menu is enhanced by various chalkboards and other media with special menu items and adult beverage listings.
On this Friday night visit, we were joined by our friends, a couple from the Tomball area. Here's what they had to say about the atmosphere:
"Our first impression of Bonfire Grill was that the interior was well done - it's intimate, but not overly crowded, and the decor is fun. I liked the lighting and the open kitchen concept. One negative - the giant mirror directly across from the toilet is... unflattering. I get it - you want your guests to be able to get a full-view look at themselves before they head back out to their dining mates - but in the meantime, there are just some things that don't need to be scrutinized."
While there were only two servers on Friday night duty, they were more than capable of handling all the tables. Our server, "Francesca" (not her real name) was friendly and attentive to her half of the seating area... yes, she was covering half of the restaurant all by herself. Okay, so four of the six tables were two-tops but our table was directly next to another four top! ;-) In all seriousness, Kelsey did a great job and was a joy to have as our server.
From our guests: "A note about our service; I honestly don't know what our server's name was, because she decided that we all needed new names, and she became "Francesca." So I extend my compliments to Francesca, for taking care of our rather silly table with grace and humor. "Margaret" and "Floyd" appreciated it."The Bonfire Grill Menu
Our current understanding of the (various) menu(s) at Bonfire Grill is the items will be changing from time to time, and the half dozen or so chalkboards all testify in their ease of modification. We love restaurants with Chef-driven menus, and being pleasantly surprised with unusual dishes. Presumably the big sellers will enjoy more opportunity while mixing in new items and of course, daily specials.
Macaroni and Cheese, it's not just for kids (anymore), especially when you add some jalapeño sausage to it. Made with Vermont Cheddar and Cavatappi, the noodles were just as I like them, thick and tender, while the cheese sauce was a little on the thin side, the overall flavor was good.
Our guests' take: "Food-wise, I have to admit to being a little disappointed. It's not the restaurant's fault; on the contrary, the problem is that turning up on a Friday during Lent when your friends have ordered the sausage on their mac & cheese is an exercise in torture. The sausage looked delicious, and the mac & cheese definitely was. The cheese flavor is more mild than I generally prefer, owing to what I'm guessing is the use of only Vermont cheddar, but it was creamy, and the cavatappi was cooked beautifully."
Having seen numerous posts about the Crab Cakes, of course we had to try them, a single serving of two cakes isn't nearly enough for four people to enjoy.
"The weakest part of my meal was probably the crab cakes, but it really is a matter of degrees - not everything could be the best thing I ate that night. If anything, they were the slightest bit too dry, with smaller bits of crab, rather than the big chunks I like to see. Even so, the seasoning was spot on (so many places overdo it on the spices, but here the crab flavor shone through). The remoulade had just a bit of heat to it, a perfect complement to the sweetness of the crab."
"For our entrées, I had the She Crab Soup, and my husband had the Mahi & Shrimp. My soup was "Charleston style," which is new to me - so I don't think I can say whether they nailed it. I can, however, say that the flavor was fantastic, likely owing to a generous amount of butter and heavy cream. It's safe to say that my diet was not impressed, but I definitely was. The Mahi was dense, and well-cooked, and the crab sauce and avocado suited the flavors well. We were both really impressed with the pepper jack potatoes. How could you NOT be?"
"We like beer with our dinner, and the selection was good, if not extensive (we didn't ask about bottles, so I'm not sure what that line-up was like). I believe they had five or six taps, mostly craft (and we give them props for that). We each ordered a Southern Star Conspiracy Theory, which unfortunately ran out after the first was poured. Our waitress brought a Lone Pint Neighbor of the Beast as a suggestion. It's not our favorite, but my husband ended up ordering two, so I'm guessing he didn't mind too much. I finished with a Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale. After that, I don't think I needed any more anyway."
We opted to split a Meat Lovers Pizza, allowing for testing the wood-fire oven as well as leaving room for dessert. While a more American-tasting pizza than authentic Italian, the Meat Lovers Pizza is definitely not what get from Pizza Hut. Served with pork belly, jalapeño sausage, and smoked chicken, the sausage skin resulted in a little chewy factor, detracting from the overall enjoyment of the pizza. As mentioned earlier, this is not Pizza Hut covered in six different meats; it does however, come with red and green peppers, red onion, a variety of fresh herbs and cheeses - all resulting in an authentic, home made flavor. The wood-fired oven did leave a bit of a burn on some of the outer edges of the pizza crust, and the crust itself, while thin, was not so thin as to be "floppy" or fall apart, even under all those toppings.
The pineapple cake was obviously fresh-baked; tender and delicious, a great blend of flavors; yellow cake, pineapple, a light cream frosting, and caramel sauce. It was moist and tasty, and Kelsey's (sorry, "Francesca's") favorite.
Their take: "The cake was delicious - moist, and not overly sweet. It was a refreshing change from the standard chocolate bombs that load up most menus (those things were there, of course, but it was nice to see something else for once)."
To say that we all enjoyed the pineapple cake, would be an understatement. It was almost fencing with forks, our metal cutlery was clashing and tines were nearly bent in the struggle for the last bite, scraped from the edges of the plate.The Bottom Line
Having approximately 16, two-top tables, enough for about three dozen simultaneous diners, there is another dozen or so stools at the counter where you can watch the cooks in the open style kitchen; one could even sit and deeply peer into the brick pizza oven, if you so desire. Four of those stools are directly in front of the bar where unique drink options abound. The small-ish waiting area features a table where hot sauce options thrive along with a few chairs should there be a seating list when you arrive. The Bonfire Grill, while certainly able to feed the whole family, isn't exactly kid friendly. The menu fare is generally outside of "standard kid fare" and a little on the pricey side for them to decide against it after only a quick look once it arrives. All of our plates arrived steaming hot (except for the pineapple cake of course) and with the exception of a couple of pizza slices which came home, we all enjoyed our meals and will return again. And on a side-note - happy birthday, "Francesca," from "Esmeralda" & "Bulldog," and "Margaret" & "Floyd."
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