On all my previous trips to Orlando, the bulk of my time was spent at Disney, and so there was a certain reputation that was burned into my mind. I hadn’t had great meals, there were no beaches, I couldn’t figure out why anyone wanted to go there. But all of those trips were before I started being more active in seeking out places to go and things to do in cities where I found myself. So, on this trip, I took the time to do a little research and found out about an area called Restaurant Row. It’s about a quarter mile or so strip where you can easily find 50+ restaurants ranging from casual to fine dining. I decided that this was going to be my destination for the couple nights I was eating out. And the first place I picked was a top 5 Urbanspoon talk of the town, City Fire American Oven.
When you walk into City Fire, it definitely has that contemporary vibe to it. It’s not too fancy with linens and e
verything, but isn’t at all divey. It is simply decorated with a bar in the back showing a variety of games, and the kitchen with the giant oven is to the left. We took a seat in the dining area, ordered a glass of wine, and started flipping through the menu. Apparently the catch at City Fire is that the oven is the only cooking “method”, so everything is in essence baked, broiled or braised.
One of the nice things about City Fire is that our server, Stephen, was incredibly knowledgable and helpful; definitely a foodie. He knew the chefs and the restaurants of the area and helped us navigate the menu at City Fire. For an appetizer we ended up going with the Lobster BLT stoneflat; one of the most popular items. Then for the entree, without hesitation, he recommended the pork shank over the chicken lasagna. We also had a conversation about how he is a salmon purist and tended to stay away from any salmon preparation that had anything on top of it. I did feel the need to ask him what he really thought of Atlantic salmon being a purist and all. Especially since Copper River is in season in the Northwest. Finally I threw in an order of French Onion Soup because I’m always on the lookout for a good French Onion Soup. One of my favorites when done correctly.
It didn’t take too long for the lobster stoneflat to make it’s way out. The stoneflat is like a flat bread pizza that I dove into as soon as it hit the table. It was a nice little appetizer. The crust was nice and crispy like a good cracker, the lobster was delicious, and the white truffle aoili was just a wonderful touch…in moderation. There were a few bites where the white truffle overwhelmed everything else. I also missed the bacon in most bites, so it ended up being a Lobster LT, emphasis on the L. I think a little less lettuce, a little more tomato, and a little more bacon wold have made it phenomenal instead of just really good.
The French Onion soup conversely was fantastic! Arguably the best French Onion soup that I’ve ever had. The broth was so rich and flavorful, with delicious caramelized onions. The cheese, which often can get overwhelming or rubbery, stayed perfectly melty (if that’s a word) and was a great accompaniment to the rest of the dish. I could have just had a huge bowl of it and been completely happy.
But there was still pork to come! It was a slow roasted loin that was served with a pomegranate glaze and a pineapple salsa. It was pull of the bone, fork tender; no knife required. And it was very flavorful with the pomegranate BBQ sauce adding a nice little sweetness to the whole dish. When I would get a bit of some of the salsa, there was a little heat from the peppers that I really enjoyed. But again, it was a dish that was really good, but came up a little short. For one, the pork was actually a little dry. If I got a bite without very much BBQ sauce it was definitely noticeable. And I felt the salsa should have been much better if it was more finely diced. Then I could get a little bit with each bite instead of having large chunks of pineapple by themselves.
When the option for dessert came, I ended up passing for another glass of wine. Stephen and I ended up chatting for a little bit about different restaurants that are on our lists, and the experiences that he has had with different chefs in the Orlando area. It was definitely a great dining experience, though there were a few things that I think would have made it better. But, I would absolutely recommend checking it out and trying some of the variety of things on the menu. And I liked that it wasn’t one of the upscale chains like Fleming’s or Ruth’s Chris. It was definitely a unique, enjoyable place.