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Dining with Draz: Firebirds Wood Fired Grill

By Lori Draz

Last month, we wrapped up all those elegant holiday affairs, so this month we kicked off the new year with a lovely classic night out – a movie and dinner at Firebirds Wood Fired Grill. For starters, Firebirds is much larger than you would expect. It is tastefully decorated in soothing putty and cement-shaded floors and stones, with wood beams and cozy seating. The lighting and acoustics are well-balanced. There was even a party a table away, and the noise never drifted. If you enter from the parking lot, you will be in the boldly colored, illuminated FIREBAR – easy to see why it’s such a popular dining section.     

Firebirds has a nice and reasonably priced wine selection with a California influence, available by the glass or bottle. Their colorful cocktails are well-made and not overly strong, so you can still make shopping or the movies. 

We began with three really tasty appetizers. The Philly Cheesesteak Egg Rolls were awesome. They are two big eggrolls, with crispy skins, sliced diagonally and stuffed with all the good stuff in a perfect cheesesteak. The Thai chili and mustard sauce gave them an extra boost. Our next choice, simply labeled Burrata, was superior. It’s lovely to look at, and the balsamic syrup and smoky hot honey dressing had such a strong, sweet punch that I wish it was bottled. Poured over spring greens with a liberal assortment of colorful grape tomatoes and ciabatta toast, it showcases the burrata like a full moon. Our third appetizer was a rarely seen favorite, the Bacon Deviled Eggs. These are six overstuffed egg halves, adorned with a piece of maple candied bacon. Who doesn’t love deviled eggs? You will love the appetizers so much you’ll want to make a meal of them.  

Now for the entrées. Diner one had a special, the Parmesan Crusted Mahi, served over loaded ember corn and asparagus. It was seasoned just right and large enough for lunch the next day. You can order the zingy fire roasted southwestern ember corn as a side too. She added potatoes au gratin, which were the perfect mix of firm, yet tender potatoes and ooey gooey cheesiness.

Diner two also had a special, the Tomahawk Prime Pork Chop topped with red wine poached diced apples, served alongside green chile mac and cheese, and dressed with a cognac crème sauce. It’s a big, bold plate full of well-combined flavors that he really enjoyed. The mac and cheese got high marks, as did the diced apples. 

Diner three had the Wood-Grilled Salmon with a key lime butter and fresh sautéed vegetables. She loved the crispy and moist fish and remarked that the big portion made a most satisfying dish. 

Firebirds is known for steaks, so I had to try a juicy, slow-roasted 14-ounce prime rib which I paired with a loaded baked potato. Their steaks are aged 21 days, and this meal was simple, straightforward and delicious, with a salty crust and horseradish sauce. We added the port mushrooms. It’s a big portion of whole juicy mushrooms for the table – an excellent addition indeed.  

We chose two desserts. The tart, sweet Five-Layer Lemon Cake, with a thin, creamy ribbon of frosting and fresh blueberries in blueberry sauce delivered a pucker. Our second was a special, Bananas Foster Bread Pudding. This showy offering comes with vanilla ice cream and spiced pecans swimming in a pool of caramel sauce and sliced bananas. The appearance of this dessert kind of overpromised as the banana slices had a confusing, stiff texture. I think I might choose a different offering like the warm carrot cake with a salted caramel sauce. 

Firebirds has Happy Hour Monday through Friday 4 to 7 pm and brunch on Saturday and Sunday starting at 11 am. They also have a kids menu and a robust lunch menu, including a Perfect Pair combo of soup or salad with a sandwich or pasta from a selected menu for only $14.95. On Mondays, they offer half-price wine by the glass or the bottle. They are also one of a few restaurants that offer cook-at-home dinners. My friend tried the standing rib roast for Christmas and said the directions were easy and the meal was so perfect that they’re doing it again on Valentine’s Day. The entrance is outside the mall.  

Cost – Low to moderate 

What we liked – The fun cocktail menu and the surprisingly well-stocked wine list, the friendly energy, the convenient location, the salads and appetizers and the prepare-at-home meals

We give it 4 and three quarter Js. 

Firebirds Wood Fired Grill is located at the Monmouth Mall. 732-676-1901. They’re open Monday through Thursday 11 am to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday 11 am to 11 pm and Sunday from 11 am to 9 pm.

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