The feel of a restaurant is more than just the menu: it’s a collage of décor, attitude and environment. The Firefly Grille has a great feel. The Green Hills restaurant is just down the street from the Mall at Green Hills, and yet the eclectic interior makes it seem a world away from corporate polish. Mardi gras collides with tea room for a decorating scheme that covers several cozy rooms. There’s classic R and B pumping out on the stereo. The original artwork and twinkling lights make for a comfortable and lively surrounding. The staff picks up that vibe with a smile, some chat, and efficient service.
Executive Chef Kristen Gregory keeps her menu focused and simple. You won’t find a rambling five pager at the Firefly Grille. The dinner and lunch menus are a little more than a page and straight to the point. While that may leave some tastes unfulfilled, the dishes cover a range of seafood, chicken, beef and salads. At a recent lunch we found 10 items, including the Firefly burger, which comes topped with white cheddar. There’s also a simple grilled chicken and a couple of sandwiches. Sides this day included fries, asparagus, chili and several salads. Dinner ramps things up a bit with filet medallions, roasted chicken with a molasses glaze, and roasted turnip mashed potatoes. Specials included fried oysters, crab cakes and lobster tempura. The truffle macaroni and cheese is quite talked about and something we’ll have to try on a return trip.
The focus seems to be for good reason. It’s clear that the chef is concerned, first and foremost, with using fresh, high quality ingredients. The fall arugula salad is a pile of bright greens mixed with pine nuts, cherries, fried goat cheese, and pancetta crisps. It’s nothing terribly inventive, but that’s not the point: it has crisp, clean flavors and the cider-balsamic vinaigrette adds just the right touch of sweet and sour. The pancetta crisps are the only miss on the plate. They proved to be oily and rather chewy. The pancetta seems to be first rate, but there was no crisp to be found.
A roast beef sandwich doesn’t sound like much. When the grilled Tuscan bread has a nice char to it, and the roast beef is tender and full of flavor, the humble sandwich is elevated. Every ingredient stands on its own, whether it be the rosemary olive oil, a little bite of perhaps vinegar on the arugula, or the creaminess of the Swiss cheese. Even a simple side salad is presented with finesse. The tomatoes and cucumbers are elevated by a tangy, creamy green olive dressing. Fries say a lot about a casual restaurant. The Firefly fries are thin, crispy and seem to have the skin left on for a bolder flavor.
Veggie Eater: The fun, funky interior sets the tone for the menu. Arugula is by far my favorite green. Feeling a bit sloth like after Thanksgiving, I opted for the fall arugula salad, as described above. It was a generous portion of arugula: lots of pine nuts; a couple of fried goat cheese rounds topped the salad, providing a creamy, comforting effect. My two minor complaints were that the dried cherries all wound up at the bottom of the salad (it took a bit of work to rescue them) and I felt like the balsamic-cider vinegar was a bit heavy on the oil and light on the cider. I was stuffed and content, however, upon leaving.