25 March 2007

Fire Rock Grill

Fire Rock Grill opened at the site of one of my favorite bars of all time, Last Chance Saloon, which folded several years ago: understand this was a real tragedy, because it was one of the last semi-gritty pub-type spots complete with pool, fabulously greasy and delicious bar food, and a beer list that would take months to work through. Sideshow threw me a surprise party there for my twenty first. There's history. So imagine the surprise (or maybe you can't, as I haven't got a before photo -- the surprise party was, to no one's surprise, a rather blurry night) when we walked in to find something a little more reserved, complete with a wine rack and a series of fishtanks in the middle of the restaurant. We had our choice of tables at 6:30 on a Saturday, but I have a feeling their busy hour comes a bit later.

A review I read from The Baltimore Sun gave it rough treatment. We went anyway.

We started off the evening with a round of drinks from a diverse list of draft beers that featured the traditional (Bud and Miller) alongside with some favorites (New Castle and Widmer Hef, which is pictured below), and a diverse list of bottled brews. This made Sideshow, who's resumed his interest in brewing, relatively happy and he jumped at the chance to try a Belgian-style ale. To go with the beers, we got gorgonzola fries.

These fries were fabulous: not even the questionable presentation of any object smothered in an odd, slightly off white cream sauce could deter enjoyment. Crispy and crunchy, the cheese sauce was light and flavored with minced shallot and some bright green parsley. These are the grownup version of cheesefries, what I was really missing all those nights of ordering in Danny's at college (click on the link at your own peril). They never stood a chance, though really the order should have been split between four people. We were glad the waitress forgot to bring the bread.

Then came the entrees. Sideshow's fish and chips were crispy and delicious, and the chips (there was an option of cut fries or potato chips) were light and packed a huge crunch. The most striking thing about them was a garlic butter type sauce that gave them huge flavor. Not at all overpowering to someone who loves garlic! I had a special, a filet of rockfish seared to crispy but still flaky and tender, put over what looked like a polenta cake molded with mushrooms, basil, roasted corn, and sundried tomatoes. Slices of colorful bell peper and leaves of wilted basil swam in a tangy, buttery lemon sauce that went really well with the fish. The only think I would have done differently is actually roasted the corn to give it some color -- it looked kinda like those mashed up kernels you see oozing in the slime that is canned cream corn, sans slime. But overall it was very enjoyable.

The food was delicious, though the fish and chips were a bit on the pricey side. I'm not sure if we'll be going back any time soon, but it was a nice, different dining out experience for us...