Saturday, January 3, 2015
Firehouse Restaurant Fires Up Tasty Pizza
Another new place we explored with my cousins last week was Firehouse Restaurant, as it came highly recommended by friends Moses and Sonya. The concept for this restaurant is really cool, as it's a refurbished firehouse that dates back to the early 1900's, inspired by the 20th century Italian Renaissance. Pretty busy on a Sunday evening, we were glad we had reservations, as we situated ourselves in its cozy dining room.
As charming from the outside as on the inside, Firehouse Restaurant has the concept of comfortable and rustic down pat. The rusty red exterior looks the part of firehouse while the inside features beautiful wooden beam work, an impressive wood fired oven and classic wooden furniture. I noticed lots of homey touches such as old cookbooks, rustic flowers, and simple candles that further set the scene.
We scored a great, semi-private table towards the front of the restaurant that offered a perfect nook for us to settle into. The large windows located throughout the restaurant also offered a nice view of the wintery scene outside.
Fitting with the atmosphere, the menu also consists of rustic, homestyle food you'd love eat on any given day. They stress the right buzzwords of course, such as local and seasonal, but my personal piece-de-resistance on the menu was their wood-fired pizza.
Appetizers - Ordering a few small plates, we ended up with the fried cauliflower, the fried, stuffed olives and the roasted beets. Out of these, the beets were the best, as they were uncomplicated, perfectly tender and dressed with roasted hazelnuts and some greenery for a touch of earthy freshness.
Pizza - We couldn't walk out of here without trying the pizza and immediately gravitated to the pie with house-made fennel sausage, onions and fresh mozzarella. I absolutely loved its blistery crust and all the savory toppings, the slightly smoky cheese being my favorite. My only constructive criticism of the pizza is that aside from the crust, the rest of the pie was uber thin and so much so that it flopped over as you picked it up. This made for a messy experience, but still a delicious one.
Meatballs - Also drawn to this classic dish of Italian meatballs with tomato and rosemary braised kale, it looked better than it tasted. Not to say I didn't like it because I did (especially all that hearty sauce), my only issue is that the dish was very heavy handed with salt - something I'm noticing a lot in Portland lately.
Cod - The cod was definitely on the lighter side and I liked its flaky texture. Dressed with a mixture of braised garbanzo beans, beautiful romanesco and fresh herbs, it was great for soaking up all that flavorful sauce, especially with the leftover bread from the aforementioned meatballs.
Service and Cost:
While we appreciated our waitresses' honest and straightforward manner, I'd overall characterize the service as slow. It started just fine but apparently got held up somewhere between the appetizers and the main course. The drinks, however kept on coming which was good.
Costs are on the moderate side for Portland with appetizers ranging between $5-$8, the pizzas at $13-$15 while the mains are $16.50-$19.
Firehouse Restaurant - 711 NE Dekum Street, Portland OR 97211