On Tuesday night, I had the absolute pleasure of visiting Coal Fired Bistro and Wine Bar on Pelham Road to sample a taste of their new menu under new (as of last Octoberish) chef Gerard Cribbin. I met the chef at the Bacon Bros holiday party and he was incredibly nice to invite me to Coal Fired to see what he had done with the menu. I brought my Greenville Small Plate Crawl partner and fellow food blogger, Laura, along for the evening. You can visit her blog at www.CarolinaEpicurean.com.
Isn’t it funny I would start the post off with an empty table? I would just like to say that Coal Fired Bistro can set an elegant table! The atmosphere is very old school, dress up steak house, very mafia-esk. We were surrounded by men in jackets having business dinners. The red rose at the center of every table smelled heavenly and popped against the white tables and black draped windows. This is definitely a place to celebrate, but not so highbrow that that special occasion couldn’t just be that you are alive and happy and ready for a good meal.
We started with drinks. I ordered the Smoked Chocolate Martini (vodka, Dewars, Frangelico, Godiva milk chocolate, with chocolate drizzle) and Laura ordered the Mimi’s Pumpkin Martini (spiced pumpkin liqueur, Kahlua, vodka and cream). They were both incredible and dangerously delicious. Mine reminded me of a grown up version of the mudslides I drank in college.
Food began arriving. Here are some of my favorites: Our first course was a light and flaky calamari with a side of caprese salad. Sometimes when you order calamari out, it is heavily breaded, tough, soggy, and/or greasy. This was presentation was perfectly delicate. The marinara was very nice, too. It added a hint of freshness with a kick. There was also a fried lemon slice, and whether ornamental or edible, I tried some and it was delicious too! Fried citrus. Who knew?
(paired with a Rombauer Chardonnay)
There was a serious helping of lobster in the Linguine Cardinale (with rose lobster sauce and spinach). And the flavor? Think Lobster Bisque and POW! Some bites were a little salty, but there was no hiding the lobster in this dish and that tickled us to no end. Laura and I both have lost count of the times we’ve ordered lobster dishes and couldn’t event taste the lobster. Not the case here.
The Scallops in sherry cream sauce with mushroom risotto was rich and savory. Delicious. The scallops were perfectly cooked and so silky smooth. We covered each bite in the creamy sauce.
(paired with a Cristom Eileen Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir)
Sometimes a dish hits you just rite. By this time we were both stuffed, but I asked for a small bite of the Veal Saltimbocca, just a little taste. I’m so glad I did. It was eye rolling awesome and I inhaled mine before Laura finished taking pictures of her plate. I seriously wanted to sop up this gravy with my bread, but I had reached my bread quota.
I am a dessert fan. I think someone should invent something dessert like that starts off dinner. (No, our martinis don’t count.) A sweet amuse-bouche to celebrate the beginning of the meal. Every meal should start with cake. This, for instance, would be perfect – a sliver of the house made tiramisu. You’d think I would have stopped here, but no, I also ordered the Pistachio cheesecake. I couldn’t resist. The girl beside us had some and it looked so very good, like something that shouldn’t be missed.
Chef came out for a chat when we were sipping on our coffee and wrapping up dinner. He came to Coal Fired via the Cliffs at Keowee Falls, but prior to that was the head chef at Gerard’s, a popular restaurant in Greer, SC until it closed in 2008. He was in negotiations to reopen Gerard’s at La Bastide before the Cliff’s hit a bit of financial trouble.
Restructuring landed him at one of their other communities, until Eric Bergelson snagged him for the head chef position at Coal Fired, a position once held by Chef Anthony Gray of Bacon Bros, another one of Bergelson’s restaurants (just a little info there for you). Chef Gerard was again, super welcoming and we lavished him with praise for a fantastic meal.
We were about to head out the door when we struck up a conversation about wine with Coal Fired employee, Jacob Ford. He was super excited about all things wine and is in fact on a serious path to reach Master Sommelier status. I discussed my amazement with the Enomatic machines (which remind me of cow milking stations), and how dangerous it would be to set me free on them. He just had to give us a sip and handed us one ounce pours of a white 2011 Barons de Rothschild Bordeaux. He said it was the perfect wine to end the night. Fresh and crisp, like a bite of apple. (I think he was right.) They have an amazing wine selection, and come to find out, you can purchase and take any of them home with you that you desire. What an incredible night of food and wine!
“Every bottle of wine has a feeling. Every bottle of wine has a past. Every bottle of wine has a memory.” (A quote from Jacob.)