Cold weather, warm burning fires and the holiday season looming upon us might combine to make this time of the year a perfect dining experience at the new Fire Rock Grill and Bar.
"The idea and impression of the 'Fire Rock' begins the moment you enter our doors," said General Manager Michael Grosso. "Warm wood and natural colors combine with cool, modern metal accents to create a comfortable, clean atmosphere."
It's a perfect description. Fire Rock has that calming feel about it and coupled with the menu--Grosso describes the offerings as "Contemporary Comfort Food"--this new place in town will surely be a haven during the winter months. The thought and development of the meals was a process in itself.
Fred Auletta is the "Operating Principal," rather the owner of Fire Rock. What he has done is develop a menu from classic dishes by updating them or putting a contemporary twist on them. The menu was months in planning right in the kitchen of Fire Rock.
"A 'better than mom made' mentality is the basis for our menu," Grosso said.
Other restaurants have said that they do the same--homecooked meals--but Grosso said, "Our menu's items are different from other restaurants because they are made from scratch right in our kitchen. From our sauces, gravies and salad dressings to our carved turkey breast, meat loaf and hand-cut rib eyes, everything is made fresh on-site."
My friend and I were eager to see if the food tasted like momma used to make, so we surveyed the menu to see what came close to those foods.
Actually, we found a variety of possibilities: Beef Stroganoff pasta ($11.99), Freddie's Spaghetti ($9.99), Fire Roasted London Broil ($12.99), Hand Breaded Chicken Fried Chicken ($10.99), Upside Down Turkey Potpie ($11.99) and Grandma's Grilled Meatloaf ($12.99).
We selected the potpie and the meatloaf, but we started with a few drinks.
On the beer list, we looked for a few of the local Oklahoma brews, such as Marshall Brewing Company or even Choc, but found none. We were slightly disappointed.
My friend decided upon a Stella Artois, and I went with a Frosty Mountain Margarita, which was a frozen and frothy light blue Margarita with a hint of orange liquor. Stella is a refreshing lager, but the margarita was airy.
"We believe in Southern Hospitality and practice it by showing graciousness, kindness and warmth to each and every guest," Grosso said.
We experienced this first hand. Our server was great: friendly, attentive and seemed genuinely interested in serving us well.
She brought a complimentary basket of fresh fried potato chips, which came with their signature roasted garlic ranch sauce. These were slightly warm and very crisp--a great item to munch on.
Appetizers are in the "Spark the Fire," section of the menu, and we began with the chili cheese fries ($5.99).
These fries were a reasonably-sized serving. They were thick cut fries smothered with homemade, slow-simmered hearty chili and topped with cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream on the side. The chili was the best part of these fries. My friend said it was the kind of chili you'd like to eat on its own--no canned chili taste here!
Interestingly enough, we did not see chili as a side item on the menu. It seemed it was made for a specific purpose and not to be a focal point. (I would enjoy coming back to Fire Rock just for a big bowl of it, though.)
Our server said some of the favorites among customers include the Fire Roasted London Broil, Fire Grilled Chicken Pasta, Hand Breaded Chicken Fried Chicken, Grandma's Grilled Meatloaf and Pagoda Salad.
As mentioned previously, we decided to go with the Meat Loaf and the Turkey Potpie. Grosso described Fire Rock's comfort food as "personalized and brought to the next level." He said, "we know that if you try our Grandma's Grilled Meatloaf or one of our Upside Down Turkey Pot Pies, you'll taste the time and effort that we have put into crafting each dish." And we did.
My friend's meat loaf was a contemporary twist on a classic. This homemade meat loaf was a thick slice of round meat, layered with garlic mashed potatoes and smothered in rich tomato beef gravy. This was a tall piece of work on the plate! My friend commented that it was "good ol' fashioned meatloaf."
The meat was dense, he said, which was a good thing in his estimation. Each side was charred over fire to give both crispness to the sides and a grilled taste, which was a special touch to this dish. The potatoes were red tomatoes, creamy and rich. The tomato sauce gravy added a nice complement to the entire dish. For his side dish (which came with the meal), he chose the glazed baby carrots ($1.99 apart from the meal), which were ever so slightly sweetened with the taste of maple syrup.
My Upside Down Turkey Potpie was a good choice. Another twist on this classic meal, this Potpie was an oven roasted thinly sliced turkey breast mixed with fresh sweet peas, sliced baby carrots and chopped red onions simmered in their homemade gravy and then served over fresh baked cornbread dressing (pressed into a flat, round disk). For a potpie lover like me, this was fantastic.
Just like the homemade version, the gravy's slightly thick texture was of the perfect consistency to support all the ingredients; the veggies were firm and the cornbread below was a perfect support. The overall taste was a blending of turkey gravy with fresh veggies, turkey and fresh cornbread.
For my side, I selected Homemade Squash Casserole. Very well cooked squash was smashed to a creamy smooth texture then topped with light and crispy breadcrumbs. This was an old-fashioned favorite dish.
Desserts at Fire Rock, Grosso said, were created by Auletta, and "are meant to be a grown up version of some childhood favorites." The names give that away: Fire Rock S'Mores, PB&J Explosion and Banana Overload (all $4.99).
I had the PB&J Explosion, which Grosso described as a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich. It is a homemade peanut butter cake that is served on a bed of fresh peanut butter mousse, topped with vanilla ice cream and a Concord grape sauce. The cake and mousse were very good--not too sweet, but enough taste to conjure up the PB&J flavors from childhood.
Fire Rock has a Sunday brunch from 10am-2pm, which includes pound cake French toast, sweet potato pancakes and a chef's specialty egg and entrée dish. It's all-you-can-eat for $12.99 for adults and $6.99 for children. They also do catering for special events.
"Because we create all of our dishes from scratch with only the freshest ingredients, we are able to make fantastic food that is reasonably priced," Grosso said. "One of the most rewarding aspects of this operation is hearing our guests say, 'This tastes home-made.' Well, that's because it is," Grosso said.
"We have captured the taste of a home-cooked meal and take great pride in our food and the way in which we serve it, and we can't wait for you to walk through our doors to become part of our family.
"Welcome Home to Fire Rock."
Fire Rock Grill & Bar
7020 S. Memorial
What Fire Rock offers is a menu full of classic comfort food dishes like mamma used to make but adding an update or contemporary twist to them: Upside Down Turkey Potpie, Grandma's Grilled Meatloaf, Fire Roasted London Broil and Hand Breaded Chicken Fried Chicken.
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