Thursday, November 19, 2009

Woodfire Grill - A Review

Matt and I give the Woodfire Grill a solid A. The restaurant has a very laid back vibe and does not have a trendy feel or really any wow-factor in the decor. The wow-factor comes from the solid service and great food. Upon arrival, we checked in with the hostess who told us they'd be seating the 8:00pm reservations shortly and to feel free to have a drink at the bar while we waited. The restaurant has a great bar area, as far as size, with a lot of high-top table seating. Very shortly after we sat, a bar waiter appeared to take our drink order. Just as we got our drinks, our table was ready so they transferred our tab over. First impressions as far as service are key, and the front of house understands how to deal with the customer and make you feel welcome.

You walk right by the open kitchen with a wood burning oven to the dining area, and I was beyond pleasantly surprised (okay, let's be real, I was downright giddy) to be seated at a table RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE KITCHEN. I mean, I could have reached up and slapped high five with Chef Gillespie. Since Matt and I are (obviously) really into food and cooking, it was quite a treat to be able to watch the kitchen work.

Now, I want to get back to the service. It was truly impeccable. I'm really not sure what they could have done better. Each person who visited our table, whether our server, food runner, or busser, was warm and professional. Our waiter was fantastic, but I really enjoyed our food runner, because he was the one who explained the dishes to me. I decided to order the chef's tasting, which is a blind tasting... meaning I have no idea what I'm getting. I will try just about anything, so this was a great option. Plus, Matt ordered off the menu, so we were able to get some things we knew we both wanted to try.

Shortly after we placed our order, the food runner brought us an amuse bouche of deconstructed Waldorf salad over a blue cheese aioli. After that little bite, I knew we were in for something good. The sweetness of the apple and tanginess of the aioli were perfect together. Matt ordered veal sweetbreads for his first course, and they were unreal. I've only had sweetbreads one other time, and Woodfire's sweetbreads ran circles around the ones we had in California. They were served with their natural juice over a potato emulsion, roasted chanterelle mushrooms and an herb salad. My first course was a pan seared diver scallop served over sauteed lima beans with lamb jus and pureed black olive olive oil. You have to be a pretty bad chef to do a scallop wrong, so I wasn't surprised that it was absolutely delicious. For the main course, Matt got the wood grilled Sonoma artisan duck breast over smoked collards with braised pistachios and candied garlic. I am not a huge duck fan, but OHMYGOSH! It was divine. Ohhhhhh, sooooooooo goooooooooood. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. My main course was grilled quail with pears, turnips and apples. (I have the luxury of having the menu in front of me for Matt's dishes, but my descriptions are from memory or little notes I took since they were off-menu items). I don't think I would have ever ordered quail in my lifetime (though I would definitely try someone else's), so I am so glad I got to try something new. The quail was a light meat bird with a slightly gamey flavor and the juices from the apple, pear and turnip side really complimented it well. I probably won't order quail again, but not because I didn't like it, there are just other things I like more. Oh, and I almost forgot... in between the first and main course, the chef sent me an oyster from the coast of Washington (some sort of sustainable oyster) over a fennel pepper jelly in the shell and sitting on a mound of rock salt and cloves. Oysters are one of my favorite indulgences, so that was quite a treat and it was so tasty and fresh. Matt didn't order dessert, so we shared mine, which was a banana layer cake with banana BACON buttercream and fried banana ice cream with a garnish of banana chips. That's right, I said there was BACON in the buttercream. Matt said he couldn't taste it, but I most definitely tasted the saltiness and smokiness and it really cut through the sweetness of the cake, ice cream and frosting.

As I'm sure you can tell, we really enjoyed our evening and are saving our pennies for our next trip. Even though we brought our own wine, we still spent a pretty penny but it was well worth it. I definitely recommend Woodfire Grill for a wonderful dining experience.

Sorry these pictures stink... we took them using Matt's iPhone without the flash.

scallop appetizer


quail (after I'd already started eating and forgot to take a picture... I really shouldn't even include this but at least you can see what quail looks like if you haven't had it before)

banana cake

P.S. Holler! Chef Gillespie won the elimination challenge last night on Top Chef and won $30,000!!!!! and a chance to compete to represent the US in Bocuse d'Or. Crazy!


Jessi said...

sounds amazing! We'll have to add it to our list!!

Kristin said...

You brought you own wine..I'm confused :)

Kristin said...

Yes. :) You can bring wine to most restaurants but they'll charge a corking fee usually ranging from $15-$25. We had a nice bottle of wine that would have cost somewhere between $60-$80 in a restaurant, so we were better off bringing that and paying $20 than buying something comparable.

AEOT said...

You're right- I AM JEALOUS!!!!!!!!! The food sounds awesome! I'll try to convince B that we need to come down next fall on a weekend when the gators play a wimpy game, and yes, you can babysit!!!

Kristin said...

Ok got it..thanks for explaining..can you tell I don't drink wine :)