Bonfire @ The Starling, Damansara Uptown

December 30, 2016

The place is lit: A restaurant that plays with fire without burning its patrons, this family-run venue fans the flames of cooking with integrity & imagination, harnessing the heat of wood & charcoal ovens to grill its steaks, bake its watermelons, char its corn & roast its potatoes.

Steal in before sundown & start your Bonfire experience with a couple of hyper-creative cocktails at the restaurant's lounge, BonVivant, the reincarnation of Damansara Uptown's Lou Shang Bar: Head potions mistress Demitria remains a blazing star, with standout signatures like Heart Of Tiffin (RM32; a luscious, lip-smacking riff on kuih seri muka, with coconut milk & pandan foam echoing the familiar flavours of the local layered dessert, spiked with seven-year-aged rum, soursop & lime juice) & Demi Cinta Laksa (RM45; a now-notorious, cheeky reconfiguration of asam laksa into a tipple, with jelly strands in a complex chilled brew of dry gin, tamarind water, torch ginger flowers, ginger juice, lime juice & pineapple puree).

With Bill Withers & Louis Armstrong crooning from the speakers, move on to fish & chicken: The red snapper (RM58) is a heat-seeking missile of flavour, packed with nuance in each heady bite of its flesh, firmly on the right side of tenderness. The spring chicken (RM42) may taste less explosive in comparison but is still a paragon of succulence. Couple up with some drinks: Bonfire offers top-flight pairing recommendations of cocktails & wine - a vivacious Chateau Fondarzac complements seafood.

Red meat, represent: Braised Wagyu beef cheeks with fried egg, pumpkin puree, crispy shallots, broccolini & mushroom pudding (RM42) are the stuff that brilliant brunches are made of, moreish to the max, even if we're convinced that gelatinous meat would yield greater carnal pleasure than the smooth, firm cut served here. The smoked lamb tenderloin meanwhile makes for a harmonious marriage with a crisp kerabu-inspired salad (RM25), with clean, pure flavours taking precedence.

What's a bonfire without marshmallows? Finish with the flourish of baby-food-soft marshmallows with cocoa soil, chocolate shortbread & gingerbread, blanketed in vanilla anglaise, ignited at the table (RM26), with the all-fired-up theme persisting to a more-sweet-than-bitter end of burnt milk panna cotta with a Nutella cigar, red berry coulis & pink guava puree (RM19); match those with a frangelico-based Chocolate Butterbeer for your nightcap (RM40). Service is wonderfully warm & proficient; while some of its execution could benefit from either more forcefully intense flavours or smokier feel-the-burn subtleties to make them indelibly memorable, Bonfire nonetheless has sufficient potential to become one of The Starling mall's sterling eateries.

Bonfire Restaurant & Bar
G-032, Ground Floor, The Starling Mall, Jalan SS21/37, Damansara Utama, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Tel: 018-919-8226

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