It’s Friday night in downtown Tomball and BonFire Grill is hopping. It’s only 6 p.m. and the wait to obtain a table in the small limited-seating venue is already 45 minutes. The kitchen is hustling to get orders out as quickly as possible as the warm glow of the wood-fire oven flickers gently in the background.
Painted a neutral color with just a small BF logo on the front, BonFire Grill is easy to pass up. The restaurant is located at the corner of West Main and South Pine in the former location of Patsy’s Grill. Previously a service station and repair shop in the 1940s, the restaurant retains the recognizable garage bay doors and gas pump portico.
The decor inside is rustic and charming and offer diners the choice of bar seating or table tops for two or four guests. There is a small alcove to the right of the entrance for guests to wait, but a formal waiting area does not exist at the moment. The open kitchen provides diners full transparency when it comes to their meal preparation as well as a great view of the beautiful wood-burning oven. The oven was imported from Italy by the previous owners, and BonFire puts it to good use with gourmet pizzas and flatbreads.
The menu at BonFire is farm to table and changes every few weeks. There are shareable starters, soups, salads, pizzas, flatbreads, entrées and daily specials. For starters, we sampled the oven-fired meatballs ($8) and the Smokey Blue wedge salad ($9). The tender meatballs are made with ground brisket, short rib and chuck and served with a sangria reduction and focaccia. The sangria sauce is so decadent that you will be tempted to drink what’s left in the bowl. The wedge salad was topped with tomatoes, crispy pork belly and chunks of rich, creamy blue cheese dressing. Topping it with steak for an extra $5 would make this a very satisfying meal.
For our entrées, we chose the green chile chicken and bacon flatbread ($9) and the crab cake and jambalaya ($21). The flatbread had a wonderful cracker-crisp crust and was served on a giant slab of wood. The smoky chicken was a great pairing with the poblano peppers, but the tomato sauce added an unusual contrast in flavor. The jambalaya was spicy and sprinkled with jumbo shrimp and slices of andouille sausage. The crab cake served on top had a nice sear and was filled with chunks of lump crab.
To wet your whistle, BonFire has a rotating selection of craft beer, wine and barrel-aged spirits. The infusions for that evening were cherry-orange whiskey, spiced wood rum, mango-habanero tequila and coffee-bean-washed whiskey. The infusions are served on the rocks or mixed into one of several cocktails. The featured cocktail was a very well-constructed Berry Bramble ($12) made with whiskey, berry liqueur, lime and ginger beer.
Not many places in Tomball proper are open past 6 p.m. on weekdays, much less until 12 a.m. on the weekends. BonFire Grill has caused quite a stir in the community and people are excited to pay it a visit. However, it's evident that, as such a small place, BonFire is experiencing growing pains as it adjusts to the huge demand. I hope the community will bear with the restaurant as it strives to set the culinary scene in Tomball on fire.
425 West Main Street, Tomball, 281-844-7559
Hours: Tuesday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 12 a.m., Saturday 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. Closed Sunday and Monday