Firebirds Wood Fired Grill is a chain restaurant that specializes in flame grilled entrees and a variety of sides. They have a smaller menu than most chain restaurants and that is completely fine with me. A smaller menu means they can concentrate on their offerings to tempt any taste bud. From the moment you walk into this restaurant you get a sense of calm elegance.
The doors to the front are large and looming but once you step inside you are transported to a dim lighted extremely popular bar area. Once you sort through the crowd to wait your turn to be seated, (of course you can make a reservation) you can see the elegant bar with bartenders busy at their craft. On the bar sits a really unique lighting feature. There sits a huge jar filled with pineapple rings in a brick layers’ pattern forming a ring all the way around the giant vessel. On top sits a full pineapple and a bright yellow liquid suspending for the previous mentioned pineapple rings. A soft glow of light is coming from under this giant feature creating a very strangely elegant lighting fixture. Your nose will start to tingle as the scent of meat cooking over a fire wafts into your nostrils. There isn’t anything in the world like the smell of a ribeye rendering its flavorful fat over a flame. The wait seems endless even though it has only been five minutes.
Once your table is ready and you are called forward by the hostess that seems a tad overworked or maybe just indifferent the real adventure begins. You walk past this large wall that separates the bar area from the restaurant seating area and the extremely elegant décor and open kitchen area set your senses on fire. If you’re lucky enough to be seated near the kitchen you can hear and smell the bustle of the kitchen environment as they make the orders pouring in. You can even see the flames leaping up in the fire pit and watch them lay the many meat selections to cook. When you can motivate your eyes to leave the tantalizing kitchen scene you glance around a notice the lighted wall of wine bottles. What a neat way to light the giant wall that separates the bar and restaurant area. The soft illumination that carries itself through the red and white wines is almost magical.
Now let’s talk food! The best part of any review. I have eaten at Firebirds a few times at the Austin Landings location. The food is consistently good, with a few bad apples thrown in there. The New York Strip is an excellent choice for those that want a hearty steak with less fat. It is flame grilled to perfection, never once has it been over cooked. However, once expects a New York strip to be less fatty than a ribeye. The way a strip is normally cut makes it a leaner piece of steak for those who dislike the gristle texture of fat. I received the fattiest New York strip I have ever seen! I was very upset by this because it shows very poor craftsmanship by the person butchering the meat. At Firebirds I was told that they cut their own meat at the beginning of everyday. Knowing this I was rightfully appalled at the fatter than any ribeye (a ribeye is a notoriously fatty cut of steak) mangled steak in front of me. The manager came over and had the same reaction I did. I very much appreciated the fact that the manager jumped into action. He apologized and had them put on a well cut New York Strip steak for me. He also came back and surprised us with a $20.00 gift card to encourage us to come back. At this point we did not realize that my entire meal had been taken off the bill.
On a side note I wanted to just say never ever be afraid to say something when you have a sub-par meal presented to you at a restaurant. You are paying to eat there and your meal should meet your expectations. As long as you approach the subject with grace and understanding that mistakes happen more likely than not the management will be on your side. If the management is not and you were tactful and kind when you approached the subject, then run! That place isn’t worth your time or money! Now back to food.
The sides offered at Firebirds are excellent, you can have real mashed potatoes (I say real because that is a big deal in my family, no boxed potatoes here!!!). The have mixed veggies that are to die for. I don’t normally talk a whole lot about veggies but these are good! They are seasonal but in the summer you can get a mix of carrots, broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash, and shallot slices all mixed in a light butter and seasoning. One praise I have about the veggies that they are not cooked to death! One thing I dislike is a veggie cooked to mush! Disgusting! The veggies Firebird serves are cooked but still have a nice crisp bite to them. Very pleasant accompaniment to steak or salmon. While we are on the subject of veggies let’s talk mushrooms. I can’t say enough praise about the port soaked baby mushrooms. Now I may be biased because I love a good port. That acidic heady somewhat sweet taste of port makes me all warm inside. These mushrooms capture that taste of the port along with the earthy bliss that is a mushroom, a match made in heaven. Moving on to other entrees now.
The fillet with blue cheese and the port mushrooms is almost near a perfect dish. The balance of flavors rolls across your tongue creating a harmony of savory perfection. Comfort food to the max. One negative about this dish is about the presentation being so clunky! There is a way to present food in an aesthetically pleasing way, taking the time to do so is essential. Throwing the blue cheese sauce on top of a perfectly cooked fillet then piling on the port mushrooms just looks unappealing. (Honestly blue cheese is never going to look fabulous it is the nature of the ingredient.) There are ways though to make this dish look more elegant therefor elevating it to perfection not just consistently good.
The wood fire grilled salmon is also a standout entrée at this restaurant. This salmon dish very delicious when the salmon is cooked well. It is advertised as having a key lime butter with the dish, however this is not the case. The key lime butter is used to baste the salmon not served with the salmon. However, you can ask for the butter on the side and they will gladly accommodate you. I actually recommend doing this, as with just being basted with the key lime butter doesn’t translate into taste in the final dish. The salmon itself is delicious it gets a crisp exterior when cooked over the fire that makes it have this crunchy bite at first. Once you get past the crunch the fish is so buttery and flaky is just melts in your mouth. This dish is served with those delectable veggies and another side of your choosing. I would recommend this dish highly.
All in all, this restaurant will offer you a romantic elegant environment with consistently good food. A great Friday night date night location. There are some flaws but this is going to be anywhere. It is surprising to me the lack of flaws in this restaurant due to the fact that it is a chain restaurant. I don’t have anything against chain restaurant but normally they just offer ok food that is massed produced. Firebirds is a welcomed breath of fresh air.