Bonfire Country Bar - Portland, ME

Flexing his rippling thighs, the Bro Ranger peered out the foggy window of his upscale apartment. Below, bundled forms humped their puffy, stumbling bodies across the snow swept ground of the Portland Peninsula. The Bro Ranger pulled amply on his Black and Mild and blew a smoke ring shaped like a dick.

            Behind him, Totino burst through the door. Swart, stump-like and always smiling, Totino ran up the to Bro Ranger and slapped his bro behind.

            “Ranger,” Totino said, winding up for another ass slap. “There’s a nerd posse afoot. They’re on the hunt for women.”

            The Bro Ranger nodded gravely and put his Black and Mild out on the heel of his boot. With practiced finesse, the bro ranger produced a mask from his pocket and slipped it over his product-soaked hair.

            “Then we best get moving,” said the Bro Ranger. Totino slapped the Bro Ranger’s ass again. The Bro Ranger slapped Totino’s in response; a crisp, stinging crack of heterosexual fondness. And then they rode.


The bar was packed full of hot bodies, eager to rub crotch. The floor was slick with spilled drinks and unconscionably loud country music punished the air. It was heaven.

            Nestled betwixt a heaving thicket of cleavage and neatly buttoned oxford shirts, the nerd group stood out unmistakably.

            “Obviously,” said the lead nerd, a tall drink of water sporting a pocket protector holding not one but two Texas Instruments Calculators. “A dichotomy of variegated forms is essential to homeostasis.” The lady he held hostage with his nerd-speak had the rapt gaze of hypnosis. Meanwhile, her diving cleavage was being viciously ogled by the nerd’s whole posse: a greasy, neck-bearded cohort who constantly rubbed their sweaty hands on their cargo pants and stank of pencil shavings and Mountain Dew.

            “Naturally,” said a new nerd, slipping obsequiously into the group. This new nerd was humongous. His chest swelled against the confines of his Yu-Gi-Oh t-shirt. Pens and pencils bristled from the pockets of his pleated, pressed khakis.

            “But have you considered,” said the new nerd, strongly shoving his taped glasses up his chiseled nose, “the ineluctable modality of the visible?”

            The lead nerd of the nerd posse sputtered, unsure of how to counter such a dense verbal salvo.

            “Indubitably,” said the lead nerd, limply proffering his feeble hand. “I’m Marvin Gervin. And you are?” The new nerd, eyes alight with grim joy, gripped Marvin’s outstretched hand.

            “My name,” said the new nerd, grinning a dogtooth grin. “Is the Bro Ranger.” With a flourish the Bro Ranger ripped off his disguise, masterfully replacing the broken glasses with his signature black mask. His t-shirt clove down the middle, revealing a half-buttoned Henley, the Bro Ranger’s chest protruding from the top like two baby’s heads bent in mutual contemplation.

            The nerd group recoiled, hissing. Young, recently graduated women turned and swooned; the humidity in the bar rose considerably.

            “Ma’am,” said the Bro Ranger, reaching out a hand to the oppressed lady. “Run back to your friends, I’ll take care of these nerds.”

            Before she could act, Marvin made his move. Using his lubricating palm sweat to his advantage, he slipped from the Bro Ranger’s grasp and clamped onto the damsel. Cackling, he tugged her toward the door.

            “Not so fast,” said Totino, barring Marvin Gervin’s path.

            “Ha!” said Marvin, smiling at Totino’s dwarfish bod. “You reckon me ensnared?!” Marvin pulled a calculator from his pocket and chucked it at the floor. Smashing upon the beer-soaked linoleum, it exploded in a ghastly cloud of skin flakes and dandruff, now liberated from its keyboard. The Bro Ranger and Totino coughed, covering their eyes against the putrid necrotic cloud.

            “Adieu, Bro Ranger!” shrieked Marvin from somewhere in the mist. The nerd group, stationary until now, scattered, evading the Bro Ranger and Totino’s clutching hands.

Once the skin cloud had cleared enough to see, the Bro Ranger’s eyes met Totino’s.

            “That bastard has to pay,” the Bro Ranger gagged.

            “You got that right kemosabe,” said Totino. With toned aplomb, the Bro Ranger shrugged on his cutoff jean jacket and stormed for the door; Totino followed in his wake.

            “No,” said the Bro Ranger, turning to Totino. “I’ll handle this one alone.”

            “But—“ began Totino.

            “No buts,” cooed the Bro Ranger to his unflappable comrade. “This nerd is mine.”

            And so the Bro Ranger strode out to track the nerd posse solo, leaving Totino in the bar to drink and score some ‘tang.


            The street was barren except for a dusting of snow, piled in nooks and corners. The Bro Ranger walked boldly through the frost. His eyes scanned the cobblestone street for signs of nerdliness.

            In the snow that hugged the ground, footprints of all shapes and sizes formed an enigmatic collage. Of course, the Bro Ranger was no amateur at tracking. In the chaotic mosaic of footprints, he began to discern a pattern. Wending from the door of the bar down the street was a limping gait, the tread of a no-doubt orthotic shoe accompanied by a shuffling high heel. No way two treads like that should be linked. Puffing away at his newly lit Black and Mild, the Bro Ranger stalked his prey.

            The steps wended throughout the Old Port, unsure of where to stop. Marvin was nervous, he wanted this encounter to end favorably and had been unsure where to take a lady. The Bro Ranger laughed, discerning Marvin’s weak-ass game in his tottering steps.

            The trail ended at a small, wooden door, one the Bro Ranger had never noticed before. There was no name or number on the outside of the building. No matter, thought the Bro Ranger. He brushed the snow from his cutoff jean jacket, hiked up his pants and stepped inside.

            As his eyes adjusted to the low, old-timey light of the bar, the Bro Ranger’s grin slipped from his chiseled face.

            Alpha nerds. Everywhere.

            The Bro Ranger gazed out over a bespoke speakeasy-style cocktail bar: poindexter Valhalla. It was a sea of whimsically square spectacles, ethically sourced wool sweaters, and flowing beards. Slowly, carefully, the Bro Ranger inched to the bar. He had to act carefully.

            “Welcome,” said the Bartender, a paunch-bellied, rosy-cheeked, over-enthusiastic eunuch. “Here’s a menu, buddy.”

            The Bro Ranger took the menu — parchment paper clipped to a slab of bark — with distaste.

            “I’ll take whatever you think is best…” said the Bro Ranger, casually.

            “Okey Dokey!” said the Bartender, capering away to a tap lined with homosexual microbrews. The Bro Ranger turned his attention to more pressing matters: rescuing the damsel. He scanned the bar to no avail: it was a veritable sea of nerds! Hipsters, geeks, and urkels nerded out in hushed voices, respectfully praising the various potions upon which they sipped.

            A tap on the back caused the Bro Ranger to jump. Turning, the Bro Ranger beheld Marvin’s ovoid, sweating face. Over Marvin’s shoulder, a young man sporting a waxed mustache and selvedge jeans manacled the damsel in conversation.

            “You let her go,” the Bro Ranger snarled.

            “Let her go?” said Marvin, eyes glinting with poindextrous glee. “She’s just being… enlightened.”

            The Bro Ranger stood up, knocking the mid-century modern stool upon which he sat back into the bar. The resulting thwack turned all heads to the, now fully erect, Bro Ranger, staring down at Marvin’s quivering, emaciated frame.

            “Now, just wait a second,” puled Marvin, snot dripping from his rat nose. “You can’t just strike me. Not now!” Marvin nodded toward the recently engaged throng of righteously indignant nerd ladies and nerd boys, surrounding the Bro Ranger completely. The Bro Ranger had derailed their curated trains of thought — they fumed with milquetoast smarty rage.

            “Oh can’t I…” said the Bro Ranger, cocking his mallet of a fist.

            “But what about your drink?” Marvin asked.

            “My drink?” said the Bro Ranger.

            “Here you are,” said the Bartender, a hyena’s cackle in his voice. The Bro Ranger looked back and recoiled.  The drink was foamy and pink, presented in a dainty fluted glass. Clutching his hairless pecs, the Bro Ranger felt an embarrassed paralysis creep over him.

            “You like it?” chuckled Marvin. “I had him make it especially for you.”

            Marvin’s laughter spread like a prairie fire in July. Nerdmen, Geekwomen, young children — nerdkins sporting bow-ties and loafers, sipping homemade soda — all of them laughed at the Bro Ranger. No bro could withstand this level of embarrassment. The Bro Ranger’s testicles sucked deep into his abdomen. Tears of humiliation watered the torn denim of his lapels. Truly this was his end. The Bro Ranger felt the testosterone jettison from his body. His skin turned cold and he braced himself for the death of his social life as he knew it.

But hark! A wooping yip interrupted the Bro Ranger’s demise. Bursting through the doorway, Totino came to the rescue.

            “Aiaiaiaiaia,” Totino shrieked, delivering the crude justice of a kick to Marvin’s impotent, math-loving groin.

            “Come on, Bro Ranger!” said Totino. “That drink isn’t for you! It’s for pussies!”

            Upon hearing his wing man’s spell-breaking incantation, the Bro Ranger’s paralysis broke. He staggered to his feet as nerds pounced at Totino from all sides, screeching with bookish indignance. Totino’s foot met with hilarious amounts of nerd junk as he kicked his way through a flowing torrent of would-be Big Bang Theory cast members with 0% fighting experience.

            Immobility overcome, did the Bro Ranger dash immediately for the door? No! He was far more masculine than that!

            Barreling through a wall of wailing nerds, the Bro Ranger hooked an alpha fist around the damsel’s arm.

            “Let’s get out of here,” he said. The Damsel looked from the mustachioed nerd to the Bro Ranger’s face, indecision clear on her brow. This nerd’s mind-witchcraft was strong. Luckily, the Bro Ranger knew how to break his nerd spell.

            “This dick’s mustache is fucked,” explained the Bro Ranger. Understanding crept into her eyes. Little by little, the burgeoning knowledge of the Bro Ranger’s ineffable sweetness lit her brow.

            Without warning, she bared her teeth in anger. Her eyes slit and the Bro Ranger stepped back, letting go of her arm. The mark of the bitch glowed powerfully on her face. She had been unalterably brainwashed by this nerdish mob.

            “Eww,” she said, looking the Bro Ranger up and down. “You’re an asshole.”

            “Whatever ho,” said the Bro Ranger. “You’re busted anyway.” With this last judgment dutifully passed, the Bro Ranger swiftly departed.

            Not far behind Totino — middle fingers proffered to the roiling queef-sniffing masses — backed out of the shitty stupid joint. As the door shut behind him, only the lamentations of nut-hurt pencil-necks could be heard. And like that, the Bro Ranger and Totino were gone.


            Back inside, the Bartender rose from his hiding spot behind the counter. “Who was that dick?” he asked to nobody in particular.

            Marvin, doubled over on a hand-planed mahogany coffee table, mustered breath enough to respond. “That,” he wheezed. “Was the Bro Ranger.”


            Somewhere in the Old Port, a ghost-white pickup truck roared to life. In it sat the Bro Ranger and Totino, Black and Milds crankin’ hot in their grinning mouths. Rolling down the window, the Bro Ranger bayed lugubriously to the breeze, “Hi-yo Silverado! Away!” And with that, they disappeared into the New England night leaving only a belch of thick diesel exhaust in their wake.          



2.5 Stars

I came for dinner during the “Bacon Happy Hour.” This is a time when bacon is brought to you as a bar appetizer, free of charge. This wasn’t terrible, since the quality of the bacon was pretty solid. I then ordered Jalpeno (sic) Poppers — also solid: they were halved jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped with bacon. Yes, I ate a lot of bacon. The burger, however, was uninspired at best. Under-seasoned, cooked medium with lettuce, tomato, onions and lettuce. What it lacked in taste it overcompensated for in size: two meat patties between an oversized bun branded on the top with the signature bonfire B. Yes, they’d burned a B into the top of the burger bun. That’s dedication to branding. Add two beers to that meal and I ended up with the next part of my review.


Everything is Bigger in Texas

$$1/2. My meal capped out at $35 with a nice tip. That’s a little steep considering. This is no gourmet burger. Also, the poppers, while tasty, were not restaurant tasty. They were “your cousin makes food that’s pretty solid and you pretend it’s the most amazing thing ever” good. It was a $20 meal at most.


Ring of Fire

Actual saddles for seats. Exposed wood that smells of spilled beer. A bartending staff whose looks are homogenous in a very superficial way. Flat screen TVs on every vertical surface. Country music underpinning every single thought. A literal serve-your-own-beer wall: a gimmick, beer is still measured by how much you pour, so you’re basically just absolving the bartender of any involvement in your DUI. I will concede, someone spent a lot of time on the details of this bar. Heck, they serve every beer with a camouflage, Bonfire-branded koozie that you’re supposed to take home. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the amount of thought that went into outfitting Bonfire; it’s simply that I don’t like the content of the actual thoughts.


Wrapped Up

Very nice service. The waitress was attentive and kind. In fact, all the waitresses/bartenders at Bonfire seemed quite adept at their job of humoring any heterosexual male with enthusiastic conversation. It’s nice in the way that perfunctory kindness can only be. Well done. Good job.



Overall I had two different experiences in my two times at Bonfire. Time One, as we shall now refer to it, was an awful introduction. It was 11:30 PM on a Saturday evening. The place was packed with recently graduated skirt chasers and plenty of newly graduated skirts willing to oblige. I had to jockey for a place to stand. The country music being played that night was so loud it can still be heard somewhere in space. It sucked. Time Two involved me enjoying a casual burger at 6:00 PM on a Tuesday while watching fifty-year-old men hit on bartenders their daughter’s age. Country music still permeated the air — hell, country music videos shined on nearly ¾ of the TVs in there — but the atmosphere was palpably less bro. The food was not nearly as much an afterthought as I expected it to be. That being said, it was still not good enough for me to ever really want to come back. There are just too many fantastic bar grub joints in Portland with much less cloying atmospheres. Eat there if you love yourself some country-themed, gimmick-stuffed ambience. Don’t eat there if you’re pretty much anyone else.


Bonfire Country Bar

37 Wharf Street, Portland, ME, United States

Phone:     +1.877.653.7678