Friday, May 15, 2009

Review:The Firehouse Bar & Grill N’awlins Eatery, Gilroy, CA

A new restaurant opened in the downtown area of Gilroy. It’s called The Firehouse Bar & Grill N’awlins Eatery. They have occupied the recently failed Happy Dog Pizza Co in the newly remodeled firehouse on Fifth & Monterey Road.

The new occupants have done a decent job spiffying up the place but there seems to be a cold cafeteria feel to it. There are some Mardi Gras masks and beads scattered throughout the dining room but I didn’t get the N’awlins feel when we entered the restaurant.

The service was Ok, although we were the only couple in the place. Drinks were served immediately and a basket of piping hot cornbread and butter was brought to the table, a nice touch, my expectations were raised.

We ordered the “Bucket Brigade” appetizer described as two crab cakes, four chicken wings and a generous portion of calamari $18. Unfortunately, it took a half hour before it arrived at the table. I guess it’s a good thing we weren’t waiting on an actual bucket brigade as the house would have surely burned to the ground before they got there! When the plate finally arrived at the table we were a bit put off by the presentation. On one side there was a giant mound of sprouts with a hole bored in the center, a green onion that had been flared open was standing straight up like some kind of vegetable geyser in suspended animation; a silly attempt at a garnish as it was not pretty nor was it edible. The crab cakes were the size of silver dollars and were loaded up with green and red diced bell pepper; in fact the only element I could taste in the crab cake was bell pepper. The chicken wings were fine with a BBQ style sauce, I didn’t get any N’awlins flavors but they were OK. The calamari was tragic. A calamari steak was sliced into thick strips, dredged in corn meal and deep fried to the consistency of crispy coated rubber bands. It took a lot of the Cajun mayo sauce to make these edible.

Being a huge fan of Cajun/Creole cooking and more specifically Gumbo, I ordered the Chicken Gumbo Soup; “Classic N’awlins soup with okra, Andouille sausage, and chicken” $6 for the bowl. Now I know a bit about Gumbo, I make a fine Gumbo myself, in fact on a trip to New Orleans I attended a class at the Louisiana School of Cooking to learn to make the classic Cajun dishes, Gumbo being one of those. What I was served was NOT Gumbo! It was loaded with carrots and crushed tomatoes and was completely absent of any flavor. It was based on a vegetable broth and seemed completely devoid of any roux. The only thing worse than this Gumbo fraud was the giant pile of overcooked rice dumped in the center.

My dining companion ordered the Bourbon Street Ribeye with Peppercorn Sauce; “10 Oz ribeye with a green peppercorn Bourbon Sauce served with sautéed vegetable and red potato mash” $22. The steak was ordered medium rare and I guess if you averaged out the doneness; raw on one end and well done on the other, that is sort of what she got. The sauce was bland and the steak, beside being under and overcooked at the same time was lacking of any seasoning and tasted of radiant char-broiler fumes, I suppose the veg and mash were Ok, but who could tell anymore?

Against my advice my dining companion ordered dessert; the Crème Brulee $6. It seems the perfect finale to a ridiculous meal. This was actually so bad the server offered to take it off the ticket. The top of the brulee was so thick with caramelized sugar on one side you could barely break through it by hammering the surface with the spoon, the other side had spots with no sugar topping and as a result were actually charred black by the torch. To make matters worse once you jack hammered your way through the caramel crust you were confronted with a tasty, yet runny custard. Anyone got a straw?

As much as I wanted to love this place I am hard pressed to find anything other than the friendly staff that would even bring me back for a second try. The food is not good and the atmosphere is nowhere near N’awlins. If it’s Cajun/Creole food you crave, I’m afraid you won’t find any in Gilroy.

The Firehouse Bar & Grill
N’awlins Eatery
55 5th Street,
Gilroy, CA 95020

Phone: (408) 847-2765
Fax: (408) 847-2619

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