Firefly Bistro: The good, and the bizarre
Went to dinner at Firefly Bistro in South Pasadena last night. I've been there several times for brunch, but never for dinner. There were four of us, and we got a reservation last-minute, so off we went.
About a second after we sat down, the waitress came out and told us some bad news: They were all out of the steak, pork shank, and lamb. Keep in mind this is 8 p.m. on a Saturday night...how is this possible? Basically that removed all of the red meat options from the menu. Luckily for them, there were other things on the menu more appealing to us, so we stayed. However, I think there is no excuse for a restaurant to run out of all their meat options on a usually busy night.
We all split the beet and goat cheese Napoleon. Thin, circular discs of red beets sandwiched by creamy, tangy goat cheese. Candied walnuts added a nice crunch and sweetness. We really enjoyed this. We got a basket of sourdough french bread, which went well with this combo.
For dinner, I had the rainbow trout with a turnip puree and tempura fennel. It was excellent. The fish was perfectly cooked and seasoned, and the turnip puree was buttery and rich. I wasn't crazy about the tempura fennel, mainly because the pieces were too big and slightly undercooked. My friend had the lemon chicken with feta-arugula orzo, roasted peppers and an olive tapenade. The chicken was juicy on the inside, crisp on the outside. Another friend had the pecan coated catfish over sweet potato pecan hash - another excellent fish dish. I don't usually like catfish, but this was an exception. Flakey and light, the nutty crust gave the catfish balance. Finally, the fourth friend had the shrimp and grits with tasso ham, mushrooms and tarragon. Great flavors all around. The grits had a hint of tabasco, and the shrimp got a nice salty bite from the ham.
We were very pleased with our orders. But, there was a big distraction all night (this is the bizarre part): Our table was warped, with all four corners leaning down toward the floor. We noticed all of the tables were like this. We almost lost a bottle of wine when it slid off (luckily the waitress caught it), and two glasses of water. We had to put all of our wine glasses and waters and wine bottle in the middle of the table, plus hold our plates up with one hand in fear that our entrees would go crashing onto the floor. We understood from the waitress that this was no intentional design, but rather an effect of time. Still, this is a huge problem and I think the restaurant needs to step up and buy some new tables.
We finished with two desserts: The apple wontons, and the lemon pudding cake. I think I recall their old pastry chef (who was a wonder) got fired a while back and I don't think they've found anyone yet. The apple wontons were simply apples chunks folded into a wonton skin and deep fried and served with a few sauces. Fine, but nothing compared to the desserts they use to offer. The lemon pudding cake was very good, tart and light and fluffy, but the presentation left a lot to be desired. I miss the beautiful desserts they used to have.
All in all it was a good culinary experience, but they need to get their act together in a couple of other areas. I hope they do, because the space is great and the food is spot-on.
the tables sloping?! oh my! I visited about 5 months ago, didn't have a problem with the table (it was a 2-top), but wasn't impressed with the food. It was 'fine' - just nothing to write home about.
And - re: the pastry chef -- my understanding was that it was the owner's daughter.