Firebirds Wood Fired Grill
If you happen to be passing by the intersection of 96th and Meridian and get a whiff of a delectable, smoky aroma reminiscent of camp fires and s’mores, turn your car around and follow your nose to Firebirds Wood Fired Grill.
Whether you’re dressed to the nines on your way to the theatre on a Saturday night, on a quick lunch break, or too tired to cook dinner on a Tuesday, Firebirds has you covered. Carmel has needed a place like this for a long time, and the natives are flocking in. Don’t be surprised to find the nearly 250-seat restaurant on a wait most days of the week, and consider utilizing their online reservation system before you head over there.
The décor is a mix of rustic lodge and big city chic. The wow factor starts when you walk in the door, with a stunning rainbow wall of liquor bottles that cascades down over the large bar. There’s a roaring fireplace in the lounge area, and the dining room is mostly cozy booths with a view of the open kitchen.
Firebirds is in it to win it. Yes, it’s a chain, but it’s a small one. There are less than fifty nationwide and they are closely monitored by corporate chefs and partners, headquartered in Charlotte, NC. The local team is hardworking and dedicated; servers are extremely personable, well trained and knowledgeable.
And the food is simply delicious. Ingredients are fresh, steaks are hand-cut, plates are beautifully presented and most everything is made from scratch (with the exception of the delicious desserts, which are custom-created for them at their corporate kitchen.)
Your experience won’t be complete if you don’t start out with the Lobster Spinach Queso—a giant serving of creamy, cheesy dip studded with lobster and served with tortilla chips for dipping. Deviled Eggs are another treat—a sassy juxtaposition of sweet and spicy with candied bacon, horseradish and jalapeno. There’s also a great offering of daily soups; the Vegetarian Black Bean, currently offered on Fridays, is fantastic. If you’re looking for something less than a full meal, there are starter and entrée-sized salads and a nice selection of burgers and sandwiches.
But the super-stars on the menu are the Entrées and the Firebirds Specialties. Entrées are served with a choice of a Loaded Baked Potato, Parmesan Mashed Potatoes or Seasoned Steak Fries, but the real joy here is that Tater Tots (yes, I said Tater Tots!) are including in the Sides list. If you’re feeling a bit more virtuous, lovely Spiced Pecan Green Beans are also an option. The Pecan Encrusted Trout is fantastic—crunchy and complemented by a piquant pineapple salsa and a crisp, fresh cabbage slaw. The Sesame Encrusted Salmon is a winner too, served with a tangy ginger mustard aioli.
If it’s steak you’re craving, there are plenty to choose from, and they’re steakhouse quality without the steakhouse prices. The nine-ounce Blue Cheese Filet, bacon-wrapped and served with port-sautéed mushrooms, is a steal at $28.99. There’s a straightforward 14-ounce Ribeye for $26.99 or a Sirloin served “au-poivre” for only $22.99. And then there’s the Prime Rib. Available only after 4 p.m. daily, it’s crusted with fresh herbs and pepper and slow roasted all day. A 12-ounce portion is only $24.50.
Desserts are plenty for two or more to share. The Carrot Cake has a yummy salted caramel frosting and the Crème Brulee Cheesecake is highly addictive. “Big Daddy” Chocolate Cake, Key Lime Pie and a Warm Chocolate Brownie round out the offerings.
If you happen to be gluten-free, you’ll be delighted to find that there is a separate menu printed just for you with loads of great choices. If your kids are foodies whose sophisticated tastes spurn the ubiquitous chicken fingers and quesadillas, you’ll be happy to discover a very well thought-out Kid’s Menu. For under $9.00, your little gourmands can enjoy Filet Medallions, Grilled Chicken Breast, a Half Rack of Ribs or Grilled Mahi, complete with a side dish and a beverage.
Definitely make an effort to hit the bar Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., when their Bar Bites menu is available at discounted prices. There are daily drink specials, including half-priced wine on Mondays and $5.00 Black Diamond pineapple martinis on Tuesdays and Fridays. The outdoor patio is a nice combination of lounges, dining and tall cocktail tables, and is open whenever weather permits.
Firebirds Wood Fired Grill
9611 N. Meridian Street