Restaurant Reviews April-May 2019 Bonfire Bistro

Bonfire Bistro

Neighbourhood: River Heights
Address: 1433 Corydon Ave
Phone: 204-487-4440
Entrées: $16-$36

There is something so cheerful about each dish served at Bonfire Bistro. A warm, welcoming atmosphere mixed with the fiery aroma of an oak-fired oven lures hungry crowds from across the neighbourhood to the restaurant’s hearth. But it is head chef Shaun Ursell’s bright flavour combinations and emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients that shines through in every bite, turning visitors into regulars.

An eclectic mix of ambient music softly mixes with lively conversation and clattering knives as diners sit back and relax. The intoxicating whiff of charcoal-kissed pizza leaves every table hoping the next one pulled from the roaring flames is theirs. Fashioned with fun ingredient pairings that masterfully contrast sweetness, salt, and spice, the ever-popular pies are consistently a hit. Crisp, thinly sliced pears and juicy figs complement the salinity of prosciutto and sharpness of melted blue cheese. Fresh green arugula is scattered on top and drizzled with sticky aged balsamic.

Crafted with local Nature’s Farm noodles, a long list of inventive pasta dishes thrill carb-ivores. Piping hot fire-baked mac ‘n cheese—upgraded with a smoky four cheese blend, spinach, tomato and spicy cubes of capicollo—has some serious kick. A punchy paprika béchamel sauce balances the heat, while herbed bread crumbs add texture. Mediterranean flavours envelope mouthfuls of fire-roasted chicken, caramelized onion and tangy sundried tomatoes tossed with velvety fettuccine. An herby sauce of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme amp up a straightforward pasta.

It’s rare for a salmon dish to have as much intrigue as the organic king salmon here, served with a rich and buttery orange saffron beurre blanc atop a fluffy floor of herbed rice and quinoa. The large fillet is perfectly pan-fried and topped with a zesty ginger tomato jam which melds beautifully with the citrus notes. Red wine-braised New Zealand lamb shank is fall-off-the-bone tender and rich, brightened by a smooth preserved lemon parmesan risotto. The tart pickled apple, au jus and goat cheese that dress the juicy lamb are clever out-of-the-box additions.

Be sure to steal a glance at the list of freshly baked and churned desserts featured on the chalk menu. The mainstay, baked crumble, is a standout: soft apples and crisp pears mingle with cinnamon-scented oat streusel, generously topped with scoops of house-made vanilla ice cream and thick caramel.

Bonfire Bistro is open Mon-Thu 11 am-2:30 pm and 5 pm-10 pm; Fri-Sat 11 am-2:30 pm and 4:30 pm-10:30 pm;  Sun 4:30 pm-9:30 pm.

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