When we heard of Todd English's latest venture, we had to go in and see what all the commotion was about. English's claims to fame, as we all know, are his prized possessions - Figs and Olives - which are so good they have made their way out of Boston. (Olives can be seen at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas).
Located in the former Café Rouge space at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, Bonfire looks inside exactly like its name projects. The red room with red ceilings, high back chairs and booths, candlelit tables had a dark, relaxed atmosphere.
When we arrived, the hostess suggested we have a drink at the bar until our table was ready. We sat at the bar and watched the chefs in the open-air kitchen cut slabs of beef and grill up prime rib. About 10 minutes later, we were told our table was ready. We were seated with a taqueria menu that included all sorts of unusual mixed drinks. I chose the machismo-politan ($8) with cachaea, cointreau, cranberry juice and lime. Other drinks that looks appealing were the Chilean surprise ($8), pisco, fresh squeezed orange juice and grenadine and the pisco sour ($8), the classic cocktail of Chile - pisco, sour mix and a sugared rim.
After waiting nearly 25 minutes, our server finally arrived to take our drink order. We quickly placed an order of lamb tacos in before our server disappeared. In the meantime, we had to request someone bring us over some bread that was being served to our neighboring tables.
The food here was tremendous. The lamb tacos ($8) were combined with braised eggplant, cucumber cool spinach and salsa. The tuna tartar tacos ($12) were delicious - served with jalapeno mayonnaise and pico de gallo. The charred skirt steak tacos ($8) were tender and juicy.
There were some unusual offerings like grilled octopus skewers ($10) and crab and black bean salad ($12). The light menu offering is just a tasting of English's main menu to come.
Our server was focused more on our parties and was sparsely available throughout the evening. If the food hadn't been so good, we surely would have notified the manager.
The main appetizer menu offered everything from pan seared crab cake ($13), hand chopped beef tartar ($11.50) and Seoul-style short ribs ($12). We ordered the spiced lobster flan ($14), a small sampling of lobster in a garlic sherry sauce.
The main reason to come to Bonfire is to sample the classic cuts. From a 22 ounce cowboy cut sirloin ($34) to a 32 ounce porterhouse ($48), the menu offers organic cuts like a triple lamb rack ($32) and Niman ranch honeymoon steak ($23). My husband ordered the 22 ounce jumbo prime rib ($26), a gigantic, juicy cut topped with horseradish crema. Under the "plates" selection, I chose the Route 44 pheasant saltimbocca ($26), a delightfully generous portion. Other plates included the haunch of venison ($29.50), drunken duck ($28), and jerked cabritta (young goat) ($20). The side orders of garlic smashed red bliss potatoes (46) and sautéed exotic mushrooms and onions ($8) were heavenly. The food here was wonderful but the service needs some improving.
For reservations or more information, call 617-426-2000.
At The Boston Park Plaza Hotel
64 Arlington Street
Boston, MA 02116
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Kellie K. Speed is
a freelance travel writer and restaurant reviewer. Her features have been
published in various publications including The Boston Globe, Cahners’
Industrial Distribution and Graphic Arts Monthly magazines and Reno Air
Kellie has reviewed numerous first-class hotels and
travel destinations, including Hawaii, California, Arizona, Bermuda and
Mexico, to name a few. She has also traveled internationally to Ireland,
England, France, Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic. Next year, she is
planning a trip to Tahiti.
Since she is from Massachusetts, she will be providing
reviews of local restaurants for Travel-Watch.
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