Within the Kempinski Hotel and Residences Palm Jumeirah you’ll find the tiny outdoor restaurant Bonfire, located on a patch of private beach.
It’s a romantic and atmospheric setting. You’ll see and smell the charcoal grills at work, which is where pretty much every main course on the menu is prepared. The space is laid out with dining tables inside intimate tented cabanas, with majlis-style cushions on the floor in front of a little bonfire. The restaurant is set right at the brink of the sea shore against glittering views of the Palm. What makes this venue a little less romantic, however, is the fact that it is dominated by holidaying groups with small children building forts out of those cushion blocks.
Making a reservation over the phone was a hair-raising experience, and among other difficulties, staff insisted that only an 8.30pm sitting would be possible – despite, that is, having free tables when we arrived early at 8pm. Still, once seated and inside the restaurant, the service experience was efficient and pleasant.
The menu consists of a light and summery collection of internationally inspired starters, with plenty of salads, plus pretty much anything barbecued as a main course – from lobster to Portobello mushrooms. Prices here are steep. Just a salad set us back Dhs100, and the rest of the pricing continued in a similar vein.
That Dhs100 salad of Thai-style duck was a good dish, with sweet and smokey, thick chunks of meaty, tender duck breast and crunchy shreds of sharp green mango and papaya.
The burrata was also good, served with plenty of fresh tomato and spinach leaves, but also pretty pricey at Dhs90. From the barbecue, the Thai-style chicken thighs were something of a comparative bargain. At Dhs85 it was one of the cheapest plates on the menu, and the meat was juicy, tender, nicely charred, while the marinade was syrupy and sticky, with a little soft chilli heat. The prawns were gigantic little beasts – fat, firm and meaty – but they did lack in flavour. The asparagus, however, was extremely good. Plump and creamy in texture, clear and distinct in sweet, fresh flavour.
Overall, Bonfire is a pleasant dining experience, but with high prices to match.
The bill (for two) 1x duck salad Dhs100 1x burrata Dhs90 1x Thai chicken thighs Dhs85 1x prawns Dhs270 1x asparagus Dhs65 1x potato wedges Dhs30 2x juice Dhs60 1x large water Dhs29 Total (excluding service) Dhs729