Jam and banana sandwiches, escalators and tourists, families and Christmas – some things in life really make us stop and think, can this really work? Bearing in mind its location, background and offering – Bonfire London is undoubtedly one of these things. So on the same night as Benedict Cumberbatch made his stage debut as Hamlet in the very same building, I paid Bonfire a visit to decipher this hidden gem for myself.
Located on the first floor of the iconic Barbican Centre – one of London’s most prominent cultural hubs – Bonfire is a casual-but-cool burger hangout and the brainchild of the guys behind the UK’s premier Champagne bar group, Searcys. Not that you’d guess that when entering though; the restaurant’s focus is good food and good vibes in a comfortable setting, with zero pretension. Expect wooden tables, bold reds and brown paper menus to complement the hearty culinary offering at Bonfire. Whether or not you like the Barbican Centre’s architectural design is of course completely subjective, but if you are interested, the entire right side of the space looks out on the Barbican’s courtyard and surrounds, also promising some quality people watching ops if your date is boring you.
The Food and Drink
Burgers, spit roast chicken, and salads – accompanied by a mouth-watering range of sides; Bonfire’s menu is refreshingly easy to navigate. I opted for the Spicy Pig (6oz burger, BBQ pulled pork, green chillies and stick BBQ sauce: £7.95), with a side of Dirty Fries (fries with sticky blue cheese and bacon bits: £3.95) and a Salted Caramel Shake (£4.95) to ensure a third trimester food baby afterwards. The food was no fuss, but completely delicious. The burger was bold, tasty and big, but welcomingly not sloppy in the slightest (a common slip up for so many other burger restaurants of this ilk). The food is full of flavour, well prepared, and best of all, reasonably priced. As well as a restaurant, Bonfire also has a bar offering, serving up a range of bespoke cocktails, wines and bottled beers. If you opt for a cocktail, big reco goes to the ‘Cocchiflower’ (gin, cocchi, chartreuse, elderflower and ginger ale: £5:95); just writing about it makes me crave another, and it’s only 9:30am.
As aforementioned, I visited Bonfire on Cumberbatch’s big night, so the Barbican was buzzing with press and those with tickets to the show. Bonfire however - though relatively full - was fronting chatty and chilled vibes for the duration of our stay. The space they have lends itself well to this type of atmosphere and you can tell it attracts a crowd as diverse as the Barbican Centre itself. The staff are lovely too, which definitely helps. Ordering is done via a simple slip and the food is fast to your table (and politely delivered). A big plus in my mind.
A relaxed, fresh concept in the heart of one of London’s most forward-thinking hubs, there’s no question that Bonfire works. It’s simple, chilled and promises expertly tasty food and drink. What’s not to like?