Bonfire Lounge
2821 SE Stark, 232-3704

Romance is in the air this week, but what if you're not considered to be the "romantic" type? As it turns out, everybody is romantic, so you just need to figure out what kind of "romantic" you are. Do you dress up in well-tailored clothes, and come to the door bearing chocolates and stuffed animals? Or do you wear clunky shoes, a Misfits t-shirt with the arms ripped off, and show up at the door with a carton of Parliaments? If you count yourself among the former, there's all sorts of fancy-pants dining establishments suited to your needs. We're not interested in helping you. We're interested in helping the latter contingent who wants desperately to love--but does not know how.

It is in our considered opinion that a person of this variety should escort their loved one to the new restaurant/lounge, Bonfire--a setting well-suited for down-on-your-luck romance. Blood-red walls and candles adorn this low-lit establishment, lending the slight impression of goth-iness--but without the depressing aftertaste. And though it is definitely more "lounge" than "restaurant," Bonfire offers a brief but extremely satisfying selection of foods on the cheap.

Vegetarians and meat-lovers walk hand in hand on this menu, which features options for both. The Portabella mushroom burger offers a juicy marinated counterpart to the Bonfire Burger, which we've got to say (thanks largely to a nicely cooked patty and chipotle mayonnaise) is the best sandwich of its type we've had in this burger-deprived town. The gyros (Portabella or Beef) are equally attractive, heaped with Tzatziki, tomatoes, onions, and feta. All the previous dishes come with fries (which act like they've never seen a dirty vat of oil before) and a Mesculine mix salad with an excellent sherry vinaigrette dressing.

And while the Pasta Primavera could use some help (managing to be initially bland, then overpowering), this surprisingly inexpensive and compact menu of low-class fare is and created by people who actually know something about high-class cooking. Plus, they have a lot of booze and you can smoke cigarettes. Now if that ain't love, I don't know what is.