Sunday, May 8, 2011

Fire by the Monon

Another new restaurant has hit the scene in Broadripple -- Fire by the Monon. It bills itself as an upscale American grill with an emphasis on grilled local foods, local beer taps, and more heart-healthy choices. We walked the Monon from around the Biscuits vicinity and found Fire in a familiar area behind La Piedad. A red building greeted us and so did plenty of friendly smiles when we arrived.

Upon entering, to our right was a quiet looking bar area. To the left, another bar was visible...was there family seating available? Yes. In between the two bars there was a room with space for 5 cramped tables. To our dismay, almost half of it was taken up by a very loud 8-top of drunken 30-40 somethings whooping it up about weddings or bachelorette parties or whatever. Not a good start. We know what would help this! Beer! We needed to know what was on tap and get the kids some chow.

Chow was simple. Salads, a few entrees, some pizzas, burgers and sandwiches. The server informed us it was their soft opening menu, so things would change up soon. We went with a cheese pizza for Ozzy and pepperoni for Stella. Fred was into The Lake(grilled trout sandwich) and Libby the gouda-bacon burger. Both with sweet potato fries and shredded pickle(shreddies) on the side. Although after a couple of salads went by, we wondered if that was the way to go. They looked like something different and very fresh!

The beer selection was impressive, including locals Upland, Flat 12, Oaken Barrel, Barley Island and Sun King. Oh, how about an Upland Wheat for Libby and a Flat 12 American Wit for Fred? Sure! Fairly quickly, the beers arrived and Libby was sad to see the foggy beer in her glass. Now Upland Wheat should be cloudy, but not look (and taste) like dishwater. Whether the beginning or end of the keg, this was not acceptable. One taste and it was obvious this should not have gone out to the table. Our waitress, who seemed to have expected this, quickly swooped in and offered to exchange it for a Sun King. Ah. Much better. But it made us wonder aloud, why did it get served if they knew it was questionable?! The rabble continued.

This noise problem was not just us nor was it relenting. The table was getting the stink-eye from other diners as well. We have to ask, wasn't there room for 8 grown women to sit in one of your two bar areas? Ozzy decided he couldn't take it anymore and declared it was too loud, covered his ears, and asked to go home. Fred tried to tend the issue with some napkin made earplugs. On the way to the bathroom to insert them, he was stopped by another server who apologized and informed him that acoustic panels had been ordered. Another table arrived, and they were also informed of the noise reduction plan. We ended up scooting our table about a foot to help accommodate the small space for another table and that seemed to slightly help Ozzy's agony. Although Libby started to get feedback static from the jubilant noise behind her. Even Stella's occasional wails were muffled in comparison. Really?!

Before too long the food came. Yay! Ozzy was overjoyed and started to dig in as did Stella. Fred and Libby quickly snapped a shot of each sandwich and sunk in.

The burger was really good. Well cooked, nice seasoning and a very satisfying bite. The buns on both sandwiches were a wonderful toasted wheat. Teddy's, this is how you do a wheat bun right! The sweet potato fries were very familiar. Definitely from a bag. Not bad, just not special. The "shreddies" although only pickles were really fresh and the accompanying remoulade was a nice touch. Fred's trout sandwich was just that. A grilled piece of trout with lettuce and tomato along with the same remoulade. Not bad, just not special.

The kids' pizzas were fine. Ozzy ate his aggressively and Stella tried to eat a full slice new-york-fold style. While mom & dad were unimpressed with the crust, Fire does know what kids want in a pie.

When the check came, we were more than ready to go. It's a sad thing that the environment actually played a bigger part than the food or even the service in our experience. Yes, it was a soft opening, but how long should a soft opening go on? We know this "soft opening" had been going on for at least a week by this point, as other bloggers had already written about it. It is still hard to decide whether we care to go back and give it another try. Family seating should be just that. A group of adults out to have a good time shouldn't be taking up half the dining area when there are two bar areas available. Belly up to one of the bars. We would if we could. :)

Wrap Up
Price-$$, Your standard sit-down burger prices.
Atmosphere-*, Loud and nondescript. How do you make an old building have zero character? Maybe there is some in the bar areas...
Service-*, Friendly & they were obviously trying. But there were multiple mistakes made. Not just in seating that group, but our server knew the beer was bad. She hovered until Libby took her first taste and immediately offered to replace it. If you know it's bad, DON'T SERVE IT!

Fred-C , The food was "Not Bad. Just not special." That about sums it up. Maybe if they get their "stuff" together, I'll give it another go. But I won't be hurrying back any time soon. Also, if you want to stand out for your food, don't have your standard side dish come out of a bag. Whatever happened to (from Fire's website) "our first step includes working with local producers and suppliers to bring their best products to your table."
Libby-C+, The burger was very tasty. But this was the first time I truly understood how much impact atmosphere would have on my meal. It was very difficult to enjoy anything about it when my son was covering his ears in distress and all I kept thinking was "how did the hostess screw up seating this badly?!" The bars were almost empty!
Ozzy- D, He has never complained about noise before. Even at Chuck-E-Cheese. This would have been an F had it not been for the clean-plate-club pizza.
Estelle-B , After 5 ear infections in the last 6 months, Stella is almost half-deaf according to the docs. So she enjoyed her meal immensely! ;)

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