Wednesday, March 31, 2010


*Team post by Angela and Mark.
Due to fate, magic, or some other unknown force, there are a handful of restaurants in the District at which we've attempted to eat multiple times, but something always comes up, e.g., one of us gets sick, friends make last minute plans to hang out, we get sucked into the vortex that is watching (or rewatching, on my part) episodes of The Wire...We finally made it to one of these places this weekend, Firefly, located adjacent to the Hotel Madera on New Hampshire Avenue, just off Dupont Circle.   Normally, Mark and I are pretty much on the same page about a place, but in this instance, we had very differing opinions, particularly about the decor (he didn't like it, I did).  That being said, I think it was a fun place for a bigger party (we had 6, with my out-of-town guests), the service was friendly and efficient, and the food (with just a couple of missteps) was tasty and well-executed.  And I always appreciate a restaurant that commits to using products from local farms and farmers.  I wouldn't mind visiting this cozy restaurant for a laid-back dinner in the future.

Click below to see what we ate!

Mark's thoughts on the decor:
The decor seems to suggest that they ran out of money halfway through the job.  The main dining area boasts a floor-to-ceiling 'firefly tree' hung with lights and lanterns and the walls are lined with birch.  The  'intimate' and 'rustic' dining room is highlighted by a faux-plastic stone wall with all the authenticity you might find eating in a Parisian cafe... in Epcot center.

When we were led into the 'lounge' area the decor was far more half-assed.  Rather than having built a wall, the rooms were separated by essentially what appeared to be a large shower curtain.  A large coat rack hung from the wall directly over our table, indicating that perhaps one of the two didn't belong; the table or the coat rack. In college, I spent a year in a makeshift room in an attic which was no more than a small, grubby space partitioned off by a shower curtain.  Thankfully, Firefly didn't share Collegiate Mark's culinary taste (Easy Mac and fake mashed potatoes anyone?) as well.

When our server soon arrived and warmly greeted us, his accent was thick, but he was enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the menu.  He told us about the evening's features and nicely highlighted some dishes for the table (though I always scratch my chin when the server highlights the three most expensive entrees on the menu).  When he left, we were all salivating over which options to try.

Angela's thoughts on the decor and food:
I really liked the atmosphere at Firefly.  I actually thought it did feel intimate, and had kind of the perfect atmosphere for a neighborhood joint.  For me, it felt comfortable, unpretentious, and whimsical, qualities I thought were also reflected in the dishes.  I even liked the firefly tree.*

I started with the salt-roasted baby beets, with Maryland goat cheese, Sicilian pistachios, micro arugula, and fig vinegar, and was very pleased with it.  The beets were really tender, with a much more subtle saltiness than I would have expected from something "salt-roasted."  The pistachios lent a nice textural contrast, and the arugula, dressed lightly with the sweet and sharp fig vinegar added brightness and needed acidity. 

Salt-Roasted Baby Beets

Mark ordered the deviled eggs, with smoked paprika, dried capers, and garlic chips.  He liked their ambition, adding unexpected flavors and textures to the classic dish, but thought there could've been many better directions to go instead of the paprika; combined with the garlic chip, he said he couldn't help but envision BBQ Pringles with every bite.

Deviled Eggs

There were many other dishes ordered by the table, but I didn't feel like making others wait to eat while I snapped photos of their food.  One offering that I will mention (because I loved it so much and would come back for the sole purpose of ordering it again) is the crawfish and sunchoke dip, served with a crusty baguette.  I'm not sure if the creaminess came from actual cream or from pureeing the sunchokes, but whatever it was, it was velvety rich.  And nestled in that creamy goodness were chunks of perfectly cooked crawfish, plump, juicy and flavorful (sorry about the photo - the light from the firefly tree did not quite make it over to the table). 

Crawfish and Sunchoke Dip

I ordered the pan roasted halibut with green garbanzo bean puree, fiddlehead ferns, turnips, and fingerling potatotes.  The plating and colors were just gorgeous, the halibut was perfectly cooked (flaky, yet firm) and seasoned, and the puree was lusciously smooth and flavorful.  Unfortunately, the turnips and potatoes were really undercooked - I needed a knife to cut into them!  Some of my guests, having ordered the same dish, must have felt the same way.  At the end of the meal, I glanced across the table to see a few plates completely polished clean except for the untouched, rock-hard potatoes.
Pan-Roasted Halibut

Mark ordered the mini pot roast, with Yukon gold potatoes, braised baby carrots, and roasted shallot jus.  He enjoyed the hearty dish, as the meat was really tender.  What was surprising was how much he loved the carrots - usually he's not a big carrot fan, but the braising had left the vegetable with soft and buttery texture.

Mini Pot Roast

I'll hand it back over to Mark for the dessert. 

Chocolate peanut butter sandwich?  It sounds almost impossible to mess up, but such was the case.  Texture just might be the most important component of a dessert to me.  I love when you can mix gooey and crisp and crunchy into one dish.  The potential was certainly there for this layered dessert to touch upon each of those textures, but unfortunately the peanut butter ice cream and chocolate sandwich both had the same nondescript, frozen taste.  It seemed like it had been sitting in a freezer long enough to meld into one icy, unappetizing square.  Such a shame to sully the good names of Peanut Butter and Chocolate.  

Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich

Bad ending aside, we left Firefly stuffed and content.  Luckily, the service and overall quality of the food proved a lot more genuine than the (debatably) tacky interiors.

*Zombies (or ogres or demons or bad witches) would never attack you in a place with a [potentially] magic firefly tree.  You'd still have to look out for pirates or ninjas, though.


  1. i love firefly and the one bad thing that happened there, when they made us wait 15 minutes despite a reservation, they gave us all free proseca before we sat down.

  2. Hm. That's not good. BUT they recognized that it was a problem and they made an effort to make up for it. I really liked the staff there - they seem really committed to making it a cozy and comfortable dining experience.