Sustainable food with simple ingredients. A short menu with options ranging from Bison Meatballs to an Atlantic Polluck soaked in a chickpea-tomato broth. Quiet and comfortable atmosphere. All of this and more is what one can expect when dining at Fire Food and Drink at Shaker Square.
In the past few years, many restaurants and stores have come and gone through the Shaker Square area yet one of them has been around as far as I can remember. That would be Fire. Owned by Douglas Katz, Fire aims to use the most sustainable ingredients featuring high quality meats and fish with seasonal produce coming from local farmers. The interior has intimate lighting with modern furnishings to give the restaurant an upscale feel without being too fancy at the same time. The great thing about Fire is that their menu varies seasonally and with that, they also offer patio seating in the summer.
Fire has been known for their brunch on the weekends but I had never been to dinner there until last night. I was meeting up with family and as I glanced over the menu, I noticed the Wild King Salmon entree ($34) with heirloom tomatoes, italian romano beans and mint pesto along with the Summer Vegan ($19) entree which was stuffed bulghur zucchini with smokey cashews. I knew I would have a hard time deciding because of the delicious seafood options offered but when there is a vegan option present, I have a hard time resisting it. While my family ordered cocktails and beers, I waited impatiently for our waiter to take our order. It seemed like a lifetime went by before we actually put our orders in which would be my only complaint of the night. Glancing over the menu for a good half hour while being hungry to begin with was not the best combination.
As our waiter finally asked for our orders, he recommended the appetizer of Cantaloupe and Plum Gazpacho ($8). I was immediately interested. After experiencing the wonderful cashew lentil soup at Douglas Katz’ Katz Club Diner two weeks ago, I knew his soup at Fire would most likely be just as wonderful. I guessed right. The soup was my appetizer and a perfect one at that. It was topped with thai basil, blueberry relish and pistachio. My favorite part of it was the small blueberry bits garnished on top resembling a piece of artwork. As a gazpacho, it was cool, refreshing and light. Thankfully I was chatting with my cousins in between bites so I could savor it for longer.
As I noshed my way through this pool of fruity goodness, my brother ordered the Crispy Chicken Livers ($14 for a small portion, $20 for large) with sautéed spinach, house made bacon and dried cherry compote. My brother ordered the small and said he had such a difficult time eating it quickly due to how rich and flavorful it was. Too good to eat in a minute or two.
The best part of Fire’s food is the quality they deliver to each plate they carefully prepare. Although the portions might seem small at first, the large flavor each dish contains reminds you of what eating out really should mean. Actually enjoying your meal and tasting, rather than just scarfing it down and not noticing what it consists of.
While we finished up our appetizers, I couldn’t stop thinking about how excited I was for the entree. Granted once again I was starving but after such a pleasing appetizer, I knew the main course had to beat it out of the park. I kept glancing over at the chefs preparing the meals for the tables around us. They would delicately place sprinkles of this and that onto plates that looked out of this world. I wish I could have just gone up to snap pictures of it all because with the careful precision they were using, I knew each course had to look Food and Wine magazine-worthy.
Before I knew it, servers were bringing over our food. I spotted my Summer Vegan dish and at first thought it was a plate of sushi rolls stuffed with veggies. I was a bit hesitant of how the meal was going to turn out due to the size. It seemed so small that it would not fulfill me. To my surprise, as I tried to slowly taste each bite filled with bulghur and the creamy yellow sauce, my stomach was jumping for joy. The zucchini was extremely tender when I sliced it and the mizuna (leafy greens) in the middle was perfectly coated in the sauce. The crushed up cashews on top of the mizuna were unbelievable. If I could recreate that dish, turn it into a large salad and multiply it’s size by maybe 5, life would be awesome. Without a doubt this course deserved five stars. Or maybe five hundred?
While the other members of my family nommed on the Wild King Salmon ($34) and Tandoor Painted Hills Sirloin ($22 for a 4oz and $31 for an 8oz) with a pepper-corn succotash, I was able to snap a photo of my brother’s entree: the Crispy Duck Confit ($22 for a small, $34 for a large) with an herb spaetzle and Killbuck Valley mushrooms. He ordered the smaller portion but admitted there was more meat than he expected. It was tender and paired perfectly with the large clump of sautéed spinach resting on top. As he ripped the meat off the bone, I could see how moist it was which I’m sure made the flavor that much more intense.
When the dessert list was offered to us, everyone at the table passed and despite the delectable options listed such as a magical Fire Split ($9) with a fudge brownie and salted caramel ice cream, we all were too pleased and content from our appetizers and main courses. Our waiter took away the dessert menus and moments later, he came back with a small dish of homemade oatmeal cookies. For free. Now if that’s not quality hospitality I am not sure what is.
In my opinion, Fire is what truly holds together the community around Shaker Square. No matter when I come by the area, morning or night, I can always count on seeing numerous groups of people gathering around for a great meal here. Whether its inside enjoying a nice brunch, outside on the patio chatting over wine and dinner or at the small lit up bar inside, you’re sure to find someone happy to be there.
I highly recommend coming in for dinner but if brunch is more your style, they serve it every Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 2pm. The menu for brunch includes the basics like housemade granola with seasonal fruit ($7) or a breakfast pizza ($13) with local eggs, yukon gold home fries and farmer’s cheese. But I’m sure most people will tell you to opt for the famous lemon soufflé pancakes ($13).
Despite the numerous choices available, there really is no way you can make a wrong decision when dining at Fire Food and Drink.
Fire Food and Drink is located at 13220 Shaker Square, Cleveland, Ohio 44120
Closed on Mondays, Open Tuesday through Thursday from 5pm to 10pm for dinner and Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 2pm for brunch and 5pm to 10pm for dinner.