A Wildfire at Perimeter Mall
Wildfire has been open a couple of months now, and it appears to have generated a strong amount of interest. Being a Wednesday night, I was shocked at the line of people waiting to be seated. Thank God we had a reservation, or we may have been SOL. But here is something I don’t understand. The place knows they are popular. They also know that in most cases they are making a first impression. Then you better have enough bartenders to handle folks while they wait for a table. There were only two bartenders, and one was primarily focused on making drinks for the dining room, leaving one overwhelmed soul to take care of a packed bar. Needless to say, having a drink while we waited for our table was a complete chore. So, again, my advice to you, make a reservation….especially if you go on a weekend.
The dining room atmosphere is an open set up, with lots of wood and stone. You definitely get the feeling that this not a place for the faint of stomach. And while the noise level can be quite high, but there is a certain energy that I found appealing. The service is decent, but one sin they committed was they brought the entrees before clearing the appetizer plates. You expect this at Outback, but when you spend $30 for a steak, I don’t want to be rushed.
For starters, we split an order of sweet & sour calamari, and an order of shrimp stuffed with crabmeat. The calamari was awesome! Many times, calamari can be mistaken for rubber bands. This calamari was extremely tender, and the sweet and sour glaze was a unique touch. I can’t speak as glowingly of the shrimp and crabmeat dish, however. The four medium-sized shrimp sat in a 1/4” puddle of oil with crabmeat more in the puddle than stuffed in the shrimp. I am not exactly sure how you would stuff shrimp that small anyway.
Then, it was on to the steaks. Wildfire offers the standard selection of cuts- several filet mignons, NY strips, ribeyes, etc. I was in the mood for a filet after having one completely overcooked at Ruth’s Chris last weekend. I added the blue cheese dressing and I need to stop doing that, as only Chops has done it well lately. The blue cheese topping at Wildfire sat on the meat like a pancake. The consistency was hard and grainy, and was too thick. I wound up scraping most of it off. The meat, however, was cooked to perfection and was very tender. Not qualms about that at all.
The main upside for Wildfire is value. For an upscale steakhouse (remember, this isn’t Long Horn), you get a very good steak, at prices about 20% less than others in that category (my filet was a decent size and $28). Furthermore, you get a choice of side with your entrée, so they don’t get you with a ton of a la carte add-ons. The quality of meat is right up there with the big boys as well. The sides options aren’t great, but hell, that’s not why I go to a Steakhouse. And the service can be a little refined. But these are all nits. If you are in the mood for a good steak, but don’t want to shell out $80-100 per person to do it, Wildfire is a strong choice.
Steakhead Recommends: Yes