Chef Matt Carter built his reputation with French cuisine at Scottsdale's Zinc Bistro, and he's expanded his repertoire to contemporary Mexican food at The Mission. For awhile, he even had his own Asian fusion spot, the now-defunct Nine 05, in Downtown Phoenix.
Obviously the guy has a knack for foreign flavors, but what would he cook if he were making an all-American menu?
The answer is at new Bonfire Grill & Bar, which opens tonight in the Old Town space that was longtime home to Furio. Although Carter isn't a co-owner of the particular spot, he consulted on it and created its menu of wood-fired cuisine.
Carter says he was influenced by different regions of the country, as well as home-grown Arizona flavors. There's Creole flair (jumbo prawns with andouille sausage; grilled shrimp po' boy), a bit of BBQ (chipotle BBQ shortribs), an upscale take on a Philly cheesesteak, made with braised shortrib, and Tennessee grits with Vermont white cheddar.
As much as the main dishes look mouthwatering, the side dishes are just as intriguing. I've never seen a menu with half a dozen different kinds of mashed potatoes -- have you? (There's roast garlic buttermilk, smoked truffle and parmesan, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt, and more.) Other options include deviled egg potato salad, charred onion bread pudding with white cheddar gratin, and sweet potatoes with burnt marshmallow.
For dessert, S'Mores make perfect sense. There's also, pie, peach cobbler, and bread pudding.
And since Bonfire is in the heart of Old Town's nightlife district, expect live music and DJs, plus late-night hours (they expect to stay open until 2 a.m., if it all works out).
Bonfire is at 7210 E. Second St. in Scottsdale. Currently, business hours are from 4 p.m. to close, daily, but lunch service will be added in the next couple of weeks. Call 480-945-6600 for details.