After a day of shopping and bracing against the cold on a blustery day, a seat by the fireplace at Firebirds Wood Fired Grill is respite for the soul and soles. Two friends and their 12-year-old daughters joined me for dinner one evening to catch up with one another’s lives and fill our bellies with some delicious comfort food.
Firebirds is like a trip to and taste of Aspen, and the stone columns, exposed wood beams and two-way stone fireplace are reminiscent of a Colorado ski lodge. Dark-wood tables and booths with iron-and-wood accents help set the scene. The atmosphere is warm and inviting.
On more temperate evenings, dining on the patio is an option, as the outdoor fireplace adds warmth and a festive touch.
The five of us slipped into a cozy booth, with the aroma of hand-cut steaks cooking on the grill in the open-air kitchen rousing our appetites. We ordered iced tea and soft drinks, but Firebirds has a full bar, serving beer, wine and cocktails. Our server promptly delivered our drinks and a loaf of fresh-from-the-oven bread while we looked over the extensive menu.
From the list of eight starters, we opted to share the Lobster Spinach Queso with tri-colored Tostitos and the Ranch Rings with roasted garlic Ranch dressing. The girls devoured the onion rings, while my friends and I nearly licked the dip bowl clean.
For dinner, my friend Dawn chose the Grilled Tenderloin Salad with blue cheese crumbles and a tangy balsamic vinaigrette dressing, and her daughter, Summer, enjoyed the Buffalo Meatloaf with sautéed mushroom gravy and Parmesan mashed potatoes. My friend Teresa said her Aspen Sirloin (12 ounces of center-cut Certified Angus Beef) was melt-in-your-mouth good. Her daughter, Maddie, got right to work on the finger-lickin’ Baby Back Ribs. I thoroughly enjoyed the Firebirds Chicken Pasta with Chili Asiago cream sauce, applewood-smoked bacon, green onions and tomatoes.
The menu also includes chicken, salmon and trout dishes. Lighter fare, if you aren’t as hungry as we were, includes burgers (a full 10 ounces before cooking) and sandwiches.
The dessert menu at Firebirds is decadent, so either skip the appetizers or plan on taking something home for later. I’ve tasted nearly all of them at various times, but my friends and I were too full to stuff in another bite. Two favorites are the Crème Brulee Cheesecake and the Rocky Mountain Peanut Butter Pie. The five-layer Big Daddy Chocolate Cake, served with vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce, is quite an indulgence and almost always shared.
The Chow Down
Dollar deal: Appetizers $4.45-$12.95; Salads $6.75-$14.95; Dinner items $9.95-$36.95; Kids’ menu items $4.95-7.75; Desserts $6.95
Noise level: Moderately loud, due to open-air kitchen
Décor/Atmosphere: Reminiscent of a ski lodge; warm and inviting
Kiddie Fare: Chicken fingers with honey mustard; grilled chicken breast; kids’ sirloin grilled cheese sandwich and cheeseburger. Seven choices of sides, including a small salad, carrot chips with Ranch dip and fresh fruit. Desserts include an ice cream sundae ($2.59) and IBC Root Beer float ($2.95)
Anything Healthy: A variety of salads for the adults
Bathrooms: Clean; diaper-changing stations for both moms and dads
High Chairs/Booster seats: Yes
Got Milk/Juice: Yes
Anything Healthy for Kids: Carrot chips with ranch dip, side salads and fruit salad available as kids’ side items
Address: 6801 Norhtlake Mall Drive, Charlotte; additional locations; SouthPark at 3920 Sharon Road, 704-366-3655; and Ballantyne at 7716 Rea Road at StoneCrest Shopping Center, 704-752-7979
Web site: www.firebirdsrockymountaingrill.com
Clean Plate Score: 4 (out of 5)
Lee McCracken is associate editor of EMKmagazine.