The Charlotte North Carolina based Firebirds Wood Fired Grill will open it’s 36th eatery at Austin Landing this coming week.The 6,764-square-foot restaurant will seat 255 guests and feature an exhibition kitchen, indoor stone fireplace and outdoor patio. Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, Firebirds will feature a large variety of bold selections prepared in-house, including hand-cut steaks, fresh seafood, chicken and ribs — all seared over local hickory, oak or pecan wood.
I was lucky enough to make it to one of the practice dining meals Thursday night and I must say as someone who spent years opening up bars and restaurants, this one was incredibly smooth and well run. The fourteen year old chain gets high marks for bringing their southern charm to Dayton. From the hostess, who sat us, our server who was eager to show off his knowledge of the house favorites, to the managers who came by our table, all were polite and personable, and not that forced, I have to visit your table, ask a question I really don’t want to hear your answer to and dash, that has become the norm for so many restaurants.
I started my night with the house specialty cocktail, the Double Black Diamond Martini® -fresh pineapple infused for 21 days with Svedka All Natural Citron Vodka and garnished with a sweet pineapple slice, that was suggested by our server. We also took his recommendation and began our meal with the Lobster Spinach Queso Dip, and it was indeed a winner, with large chunks of sweet lobster meat in a warm, cheesy sauce.
Sometime during appetizer the VP of Marketing, Stephen Loftis stopped by our table and greeted my by name (a great sign of an organization that takes the time to make a note of the local media). Mr Loftis shared a brief history of the company, including the owners love of Aspen as the inspiration for the “lodge” feeling to the eatery, pointed out the signature wine wall built in each unit, including Firebirds private reserve Sonoma Chardonnay and Napa Red Blend. He was in town briefly, having just opened a Firebirds in Virginia the day before and shared that he’ll be back in town in a few weeks, to make sure that the store gets off to a good start and gets to know the community by getting involved with local events. Loftis told us about a local family he was looking forward to meeting that were local ambassadors to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, a program Firebirds supports in the fight against childhood cancer. Each time a guest purchases a Fresh Squeezed Lemonade, Firebirds donates $1 back to the organization. Loftis shared Firebirds will be opening another location in Mason and hinted that if things go well that a second Dayton location might very well happen.
Skipping the four signature salads on the menu, we went straight to the meat! My dinner partner ordered the Slow Roasted 16 oz Prime Rib, priced at $26.30 (a 12 oz portion is also available at $23.30) which came out a perfect medium with house made au jus, a creamy horseradish sauce with just the right amount of kick and a loaded baked potato. I went for a medium rare Bacon Wrapped Filet – which came out with a warm red center and Grilled Shrimp with a side of the Southwest Au Gratin Potatoes (which are addicting and I’ll be ordering often) for $30.29. We both agreed it was a lot of food, but we also felt an obligation to eat every bite, or at least that was our excuse to eat every tasty piece of food on our plate.
While we ate we met General Manager Jeff Meyer, who shared a copy of the kids’ menu with healthy items approved by the National Restaurant Association Kids LiveWell program. “Firebirds provides the full spectrum, customized dining experience for every guest, including a rather substantial gluten free menu. We look forward to bringing the Firebirds experience to Miamisburg.”
For dessert we were tempted by the Key Lime Pie, I was intrigued by the Big Daddy Chocolate Cake, but again took our servers suggestion and shared a piece of the Creme Brulee Cheesecake, priced at $7.50. Not only was it beautifully plated, but it was the perfect finale to share for a meal that proved that the combination of Firebirds’ warm ambiance, personable service and delicious flavor provides a dining experience guaranteed to bring guests back.
While the restaurant does not have a private dining room, they do have areas that can accommodate large groups. A party of 25 could would fit at the banquet under the wall of wine and the patio also offers a spacious area for a group, weather permitting. Firebirds will also do catering and you can call in a take out order. You can make reservations online or
I’m looking forward to enjoying happy hour in the Firebar with drink specials and bar bites from 4-6:30pm Monday through Friday with Mondays featuring half-priced glasses of wine and select bottles until 9pm. Perhaps our only critique of the eatery was the selection of beers, we were hoping for a better selection of craft beers, but were encouraged by the Warped Wing Self Starter on tap. Management shared that each location has some input on their beer selections, so hopefully they will feature more of the Miami Valley’s local beers soon. We registered for Firebirds’ E-Club and look forward to receiving exclusive offers, promotions and a birthday gift card, as promised by our server.
My first visit made it easy to see why Firebirds Wood Fired Grill was named one of ten 2014 ‘Breakout Brands’ by Nation’s Restaurant News and received a 2014 Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor. For more information you can visit firebirdsrestaurants.com, like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @FirebirdsGrill.