After closing their doors for a few months, Firefly – known for their support of local farmers reflective in their changing seasonal menus – re-oped this Fall advertising a remodeled interior.
Upon entry, this purposefully dimly lit restaurant greats you with a giant tree (yes, it’s still shockingly there post-remodel), and it’s cute in a citchy-country-harvest type way, which works with the cuisine actually. The bar has been extended and widened, and the bartenders make good drinks (a proper and frothy gin fizz with fresh egg whites, a very balanced Negroni, and seasonal punch were ordered). As we finished our drinks, we flagged down the hostess, went to the other side of the giant tree, and sat down.
Wine was ordered, water was poured, and then virtually not refiled during the entire meal. Why? Because they were in dark tinted cloudy glasses. There is a reason water glasses are typically clear; so you can see when the water level is low. This is a general point that can be easily overcome.
I was excited to order a variety of different small plates. My previous experiences at Firefly were all positive; so I avoided the burger which has always been good, love the chicken liver toast but passed for something new. We ordered many new small plates we had never had before. The overall conclusion was oversalted and underwhelmed (with the exception of a few dishes). I hope it was an off night for some dishes, and others just need to be revised, ingredients changed, and served differently.
We began with chicken matzoh ball soup and it was great. The broth was perfectly seasoned, warm, and very comforting on a very cold DC evening. Someone at my table proclaimed it’s the best they’ve ever had in DC and they always get it here. Off to a positive start.
Paired with the soup, the wedge salad came nicely prepared with a large chunk of Great Hill blue cheese on the side, and incorporated into the dressing. It’s really hard to mess up a wedge salad – and Firefly did not. This was good, not great, but good. Lettuce was crisp, the bacon was thick cut and in crumbles, the tomatoes were ripe, and again, the block of blue cheese (lower right in the picture) was very nice.
Next we order a trio of deviled eggs advertised with smoked paprika, caper powder, and garlic chips. Being from the South, I am a huge fan of deviled eggs (love the ones at PJ Clarke’s here in DC). However these left me not only disappointed, but virtually ruined my palate for the remainder of the meal. Truth be told, we should have left after these. The egg and various ingredients were blended into a paste and piped back onto the egg white halve. I honestly can’t tell you what it tasted like, but the consistency was nice. I can’t tell you because the fried garlic chip on top, that was still rare on the inside, completely burned my palate. Red wine, water, and bread, after about 10 minutes helped take about 5% of the edge off. It was honestly one of the strongest and most offensive single bites I had ever put in my mouth. Sans the garlic chip, they might have been edible. They were not in current form.
After that we ordered chicken fried oysters with a “po’ boy sauce.” They were phenomenal. The fry was perfect and the oyster was crispy and crunchy on the outside and hot and fresh on the inside. These were great.
Redemption was insight, so close, and all faded as the last two dishes arrived. We order a seasonal side of roasted root vegetables. Some were overcooked to the point of barely holding their shape, others were on the very al dente side, but they were all so salty they verged on being inedible.
Last came the grilled red wine poached octopus served with sliced avocado, olive aioli, on a bed of roasted olive gremolata. First, I assumed a grilled octopus dish would be served hot as it did not say chilled on the menu – it was not. Either it was pre-grilled (which is just ashame), or was meant to be served chilled but not specified on the menu (which is an oversight at best). The octopus did have a good flavor and sear, and would have been great hot. However the gremolata was totally inedible due to salt content. I understand olives are salty, and when you roast them it brings out the salty, briny flavor, but copious and unnecessary amounts of salt were also added to that mixture. You simply couldn’t eat it. The avocado was ripe and all of it was immediately consumed after one bite of the gremolata.
As place that supports local farms and farmers, I like supporting Firefly. I love their burgers, chicken liver toast, and now their fried oysters. Oversalting happens, and sometimes menus need work – hopefully it was simply a heavy hand at the time and is not consistent with their every-day service. I’d like to file this under “a bad night” as this is a place I always bring guests and enjoy coming myself. The staff has always been friendly, knowledgeable, and non-pretentious, and I certainly plan to return.
Oh, but ditch the cloudy, non-clear water glasses – my parched, oversalted, dehydrated palate thanks you.
Where: Firefly. 1310 New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036. Website.