UPDATE: Please see our second visit's entry here: http://floeatsindy.blogspot.com/2008/09/fireside-update.html
We went to opening night at the new south side brew house one week ago. With the chaos of an opening night, expectations were low...and to be honest, we were pleasantly surprised.
Our wait was long, but not ridiculous, maybe an hour. We were happy to see a view of the hustling and bustling going on in the kitchen through a large picture window as you enter. Unfortunately, there are no seating areas for waiting inside. Perhaps people are expected to wait at the bar, but that leaves little option for families.
After being seated, it was obvious from the surrounding patrons that there were some serious problems in the kitchen... running out of fries, overcooked meats, and poor communication between table and kitchen. There were a lot of groans over the very lengthy wait times. Our harried waitress was visibly frustrated at the lack of food coming out of the kitchen. So, as mentioned before...it's opening night, what do you expect, people?!
At seating, we were presented with a beer list and the not so strategically planned food menu. The beer list was very reminiscent of another great south side brew house, Shallo's, but we had some confusion, or rather, disagreement with the classification of brews. Since when is an amber ale a lager? Otherwise, a decent selection, although we were secretly hoping for an in-house brewery.
FLO's first point of frustration was the food menu. Okay, first everything looked delicious from the 24 hour buttermilk bathed catfish to the fireside chili. You can tell there is a real chef in the kitchen. This is not your average pub grub. Now, the menu...WTF?! It is a one pager front and back that goes from appetizer to dessert to kid's menu to entrees, then flip over...for burgers, steaks and then lunch? It was very hard to understand where one section ended and another began...headers were either missing or not differentiated from the text and font sizes somehow eluded them. For a venue that put so much thought into their design and entree choices, the menu literally looked thrown together in the last second.
So, finally, the food. The appetizer was suppose to be a take on loaded fries, but ended up being loaded chips due to a run on the dish. A table next to us was obnoxiously referring to how much a fry looked like a potato chip. While substitutions are fine, the kitchen and waitstaff should warn the patrons before the food arrives. Otherwise they were tasty, and received the Ozzy seal of approval!
Fred had the buttermilk catfish with slaw and fries. An upscale fish and chips that truly showcased what this place is about. The marinade was easily distinguishable in each bite and the slaw, although a very minute portion, was a happy compliment. Libby had their version of chicken marsala and risotto. It was well cooked, well seasoned and a delight after the wait. Ozzy was pleasantly surprised to enjoy the mac and cheese, a penne pasta with a super creaminess that he could not get enough of!
We ended our evening with a berry layered shortcake, that sadly, was still frozen when it got to the table. While Ozzy didn't seem to mind, Fred was nonplussed. Libby was just unhappy that they had run out of their only chocolate dessert selection. We left vowing to return in a month's time when things would hopefully be in order and that damn menu fixed.
Price-$$-$$$, depending on your beer taste and quantity
Atmosphere-***, well thought out and pleasant
Service-**, opening night, but our waitress was workin' it
Fred -an A-, I can see the catfish becoming not only a staple of the menu, but a signature item.
Libby - a B, I enjoyed the experience in general, but you can't give an A on opening night unless it was outstanding...sorry, Honey. :)
Ozzy -total A+, never before has he eaten all three courses in any establishment!
Return visit one week later yielded no wait and the same waitress! Unfortunately, the slightly re-worked menu was still lacking and they removed that wonderful chicken marsala! Fred found that his rubbed chicken with berry sauce overcooked and bland. Libby happily enjoyed the buttermilk catfish that she had eyed last time! Ozzy again, still approved of the mac 'n cheese, even though it was undercooked. Service was outstanding. After a suggestion that the waitress warn the kitchen that the chicken was dry and overcooked, the dish was immediately comped! Unexpected and very professional. There was also a $5 off coupon for our next visit to boot...heck yes!
FLO expects big things from Fireside....in a month or two! :)