In November 2011 by a lopsided 60/40 margin, the voters of Moorestown, NJ chose to allow liquor sales in the township for the first time since 1915.
The vote was approved with a clear stipulation: Liquor sales must be limited to full service restaurants at the Moorestown Mall on heavily-traveled Route 38, well beyond the center of town and its picture-perfect Main Street.
A few weeks ago the first of these restaurants (Osteria) opened and we were happy to review it here. Now, the second Moorestown Mall full service eatery (Firebirds) has opened.
Firebirds, as the name suggests features zesty, wood-fired dishes prepared in a flaming kitchen. This new restaurant (which fronts Route 38) has a woodsy, clubby feel to it but with snazzy, up-to-the-minute touches that show off its welcoming bar with backlit booze piled high and its wine wall boasting an admirable variety of choices.
The two parts of the spacious dining room both have views of the glassed-in kitchen and during preview days the atmosphere was loud and convivial.
During our visit we enjoyed wine, a pomegranate vodka martini and two dishes that we selected from the restaurant's list of specialties: the wood grilled salmon with parmesan mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables and the American kobe meatloaf with portabella mushroom sauce, parmesan mashed potatoes and spiced pecan green beans. We ordered our meatloaf well done because we always like our meat thoroughly cooked. We also ordered the sauce on the side because we hate it when the entree is smothered in any kind of sauce. After all, the real proof of the dish is in the meat or fish or poultry itself -- not in the sauce or other enhancements.
We were a bit concerned about a kobe meatloaf. We needn't have been.
We received our meatloaf exactly as ordered, and here's what we liked about it: It was surprisingly zingy; it had just enough of a kick to it. It wasn't dry (as we suspected kobe beef might be). And it wasn't too thick. It was sliced relatively thin and was savory. The green beans were firm and the mashed potatoes were appropriately spiked. The salmon was also fresh and tasty but not over-seasoned. And it was cooked well done as well -- exactly as it was ordered.
The service was friendly, efficient and accommodating. We were repeatedly asked if everything was to our liking and it was clear that the entire staff at Firebirds is trained to go out of their way to please. The manager, the servers, the greeters, the bartenders -- all pitch in to produce a spirit of amity.
Firebirds is part of a chain that is now in 12 states from Arizona, through parts of the south and midwest and as far north as New Jersey. Lunch and dinner are served at prices that are competitive with (if not a bit below) that of similar eateries such as Redstone or Iron Hill Brewery.
Below are the photos of our choices exactly as served plus some interior shots of the restaurant.
All photos copyright 2013 by Dan Cirucci.