If you're a meat eater, you're going to love Black Fire. Or if you're gluten-intolerant. There was a bit of a mix-up at the start of the night when the waitstaff confused me for a gluten-intolerant person who had rung ahead. They reassured me that 80% of the menu is gluten-free. Good to know for my gluten-intolerant friends and great to see restaurants taking dietary requirements seriously.
Located next to "Pita Pit" in the Habitat Building (around the corner from Bentspoke Brewery). this Mediterranean restaurant has only been open in Braddon for a couple of weeks.
On this particular night, my friend and I were seated in the corner with a mouthwatering view of the firepit cooking suckling pig. The smoky aromas from the firepit played with my senses the whole evening.
The interior decor is an interesting mix of brick walls, wood panelling, and beautifully rustic chandeliers. Trendy blue lighting was a feature that was slightly at odds with the elegance of the other design elements but did not detract from the overall experience.
Immediately, I liked the look and feel of the menu. It was printed on recycled paper and had a matte finish laminate. I probably place much more importance on a menu than a regular person does. The interior decor gives customers the first impression, but it's the substance of the restaurant - the food selection, that will determine whether or not people want to stay for the meal. The menu lists the meals available, providing an insight into the personality of the restaurant, and if done well, will entice people to come back and try the other dishes (and tell people about it). This menu did exactly that.
We started with drinks. My dining partner was very happy with a Spanish wine and I ordered a cocktail, which was delightful. I completely forgot what it was called, but fresh strawberry and lime flavours featured noticeably.
Feeling hungry, my friend and I decided to order two entrees and two mains. In hindsight, this was a horribly ambitious decision.
All dishes can be shared (which we did) and we started off with the Grilled haloumi cheese with roasted tomatoes, baby beets and mixed leaf ($12). You don't make friends with salad. But I reckon you could with this salad. The flavours matched perfectly and the haloumi portions were generous. The surprise highlight of the dish was the fresh figs, their sweetness balancing out the saltiness of the haloumi.
Our second entree was the slow roasted berkshire pork belly, served with balsamic red rose rhubarb and apple zabliogne ($16). Preferring sweeter or salty flavours with my pork belly, I thought the balsamic and apple flavours were a bit too sour for my liking. However, others may very well like the acidity to cut through the richness of the meat.
To both our amazement, by the time the mains came around, we were almost (but not quite) full!
We would soon find out that the mains were also generously portioned. Mains ranged from $27 to $42 per person and that included a choice of a side and a sauce.
The Wagyu ossobuco slow braised in vegetables and red wine ($26) looked way too good to pass up. The meat was so tender and flavoursome.
We couldn't go past the Wagyu skirt steak with slow roasted marbled 7+ 250gm ($28) either.
We chose a side of roasted jerusalem artichokes with herbs and pimiento romesco ($9) and the most interesting sauce I've seen yet - horseradish creme fraiche! The sauce did not pretend to be something it wasn't. The horseradish component was unabashedly prominent, which was absolutely fantastic.
The other sauces also sounded amazing - Roquefort cream cognac; scented apple and manzanilla; and romesco chilli and almond.
There were other main dishes I wanted to try as well. Namely the 8-hour slow-roasted lamb, 8-hour slow-roasted suckling pig (organic farm certified, free range) and the Arroz caldoso of king prawns, saffron, pimiento, nora chilli and basil (which apparently is like a paella).
After the mains were taken away, despite feeling like I didn't need to eat for the next week, we couldn't resist checking out the dessert menu. (Desserts occupy my dedicated dessert stomach, anyway).
At $12-$13, the desserts were very reasonably priced. So we decided to share the lighter-sounding dessert of Orange and rhubarb semifreddo with chocolate florentine wafer with salted caramel ($12). The beautifully-flavoured semifreddo was the perfect creamy (and yet light) consistency.
The big hearty meals are great for a family gathering or a large group of friend, particularly as you can then order a whole roasted lamb or pig! Ladies, if you have a man in your life (partner, brother, father, friend, etc) and he likes meat - definitely bring him here! He will thank you for it. Trust me.
Much care had been put into everything - from the table mats to the design of the plates, everything was well thought out. There wasn't much room on the table for water jugs or bottles but our water glasses were continually topped up. Wait staff were very friendly, no hipster attitude and were knowledgeable about the dishes on the menu. Despite all the tables being occupied on the night we went, I could still easily hear the conversation I was having with my dining partner - a huge plus!
Have you been to Black Fire? What did you think?
The Low-Down on Black Fire Cuisine: Mediterranean What to order: Grilled haloumi salad, Wagyu osso bucco, Wagyu skirt steak, Semifreddo dessert (and pretty much anything else) Best for: Family gatherings, group of friends (including hungry boys), date night, meat lovers, gluten-intolerant people.
Phone: 02 6230 5921 Address: 45/38 Mort Street, Braddon, ACT 2612 Open: Monday to Sunday 7am to 11:30pm