Arkansas angler and fishing expert Billy Murray shares his extensive knowledge of the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas
The Fire Fall Grill and Bar has the potential to become a very popular restaurant in North Little Rock. A person can get a lot of food, most of it pretty good, at a not outrageous price. It manages to be kind of down-home and kind of upscale at the same time. But it just opened and is still working through some hitches, none of them serious enough to keep us from wanting to go back.
The menu is wide-ranging -– seafood, steaks, burgers (one reviewer is determined to have a chili cheeseburger on her next visit), pasta, soups and salads –- with a number of selections in each category. When we asked the waitress what the house specialties were, she said they were still being determined, but she volunteered an endorsement of the seafood and the pork chops. We came close to following her recommendation.
The pecan-encrusted salmon was generous and tasty, if perhaps a little sweet for some tastes. The Fire Fall Rice that came with it was a spicy mix that included black beans, green chili and cumin. The addition of a little of the garlic butter that accompanied the rolls made it just about perfect.
The other party considers himself something of a connoisseur of chicken-fried steak, and when he saw it on the menu he had to have it. Now this is a dish that can be very good, even if Yankees sneer at it. It can also be bad –- give the Yankees some credit –- and quite often is. Many places in this part of the country offer chicken-fried steak. Few do it well.
Fire Fall’s version easily passed a couple of the reviewer’s tests. It was a healthy-sized piece of meat and not gristly, unlike the small and stringy patty hiding inside a huge amount of batter that passes for chicken-fried steak some places. But there was one problem with this steak, and to the reviewer it was a big problem. He’s firm in his conviction that chicken-fried steak comes with cream gravy. This was covered with brown gravy — “peppercorn gravy,” according to the menu, and not unpleasant, but brown gravy nonetheless. If you’re going to put brown gravy on a chicken-fried steak, you might as well call it a veal cutlet. We ate it all, though. The wedge fries were on the mealy side.
We split an order of cheese-drenched, crab-stuffed mushrooms for an appetizer. Toothsome, but we sometimes think restaurants go overboard on the cheese. Salads with entrees are extra here. The Fire Fall salad was fresh and crunchy, thanks to tortilla strips; we preferred it to the Caesar. The rolls were hot and fresh, and the garlic butter made them even better.
Did we mention hitches? We had to wait a long time for our drinks, and when our scotch and water finally arrived, we concluded that the bartender must have applied the scotch with an eyedropper. No problems with the wine list, though. More seriously, when the food began to come out of the kitchen, it all came out more or less simultaneously — appetizer, salad, entree. But as we said, the place had only been open for a few days, and our waitress was clearly doing her best.
We passed on dessert, although we marked down the peanut butter pie for our next visit. This place seems a good bet to be upgraded.
According to an employee, the Fire Fall name comes from a certain waterfall, pictured in the lobby, that takes on a fiery appearance when struck by sunlight in a certain way. She also said that Fire Fall is owned by the same company that owns Dixie Cafe.
Fire Fall Grill & Bar
2513 McCain Boulevard
North Little Rock
The most expensive thing on the menu is a 9-ounce filet at $23.95. Most entrees are in the $9 to $10 range.
11 a.m.–10 p.m. Monday through Thursday. 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Beginning Dec. 4, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Sunday.
A relaxed sort of place, maybe a trifle noisy when it’s full, but not excessively so. Credit cards accepted. Full bar.
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