With a tag line like “Green Hills’ Friendliest and Funkiest
Little Neighborhood Joint” I suppose that I should have had my expectations well tempered for what was to come. A “joint” in this sense almost always means that the food outpaces the ambience.
I was not quite prepared for the inside of Firefly to look like a kitsch bomb went off in my Aunt Mabel’s junk closet. The inside of the restaurant is festooned with license plates, Hatch Show prints and Christmas lights strewn carelessly next to neon beer signs.
Sitting down at the table (complete with pre-filled, red plastic Pizza Hut style water glasses) had me strongly considering making a break for the front door.
Of course, reading down the handwritten seasonal menu calmed me down a bit and reminded me of all the recommendations I had received to try Firefly. The menu included some really interesting things like a spicy, cold watermelon dish and artisan cheeses.
My wife and I had narrowed the starter down to the cheese plate or the stuffed olives. As is usually my practice when racked with food indecision I threw myself at the server’s mercy. “Oh, the olives definitely. I don’t even like olives and these are awesome!”
High praise indeed. We allowed her to choose the olives for us!
While I was not expecting them to be fried, I cannot say I was disappointed. They were meaty green olives, stuffed with a spicy italian sausage, coated in coarse bread crumbs and quick fried. The accoutrements were a grilled Halloumi cheese, peppery arugula and a rustic tomato fonduta.
The cheese was grilled and had a dry, mild saltiness that blended well with the spicy, briny olives. The fonduta was a sort of tomato and red pepper relish that had a really nice blend of sweet and just a touch of spice to leave a little bit of burn on your lips. The appetizer was a perfect size to share and was an excellent beginning to the meal.
After some additional dithering we settled on the lamb and the pork loin for dinner.
My wife’s pork loin was crusted with peanuts and served on roasted potatoes covered with dark, rich asian greens. These were cooked with enough bacon to make your triglycerides climb to the top of the chart. The pork was sweet and juicy and the peanuts added a delightful crunch. The greens tasted like they had been on the stove for days and were rich and redolent. They had been ladled onto the potatoes at the last minute to keep their crunch intact.
I had opted for the Greek marinated lamb. It had been cut from the chop and sliced and splayed so I had to do almost no work. To keep with the Mediterranean theme it was served with pistachio cous cous, roasted eggplant and cherry tomatoes, a greek lemon yogurt sauce and pita points. The lamb was flavorful and nicely cooked and the eggplant with the tomatoes was one of the best sides I have had in a very long time. The lemon yogurt sauce made a wonderful acidic balance to the richness of the lamb.
My only small complaint was that the cous cous, although tasty, was served cold. I would have preferred it to be hot.
Neither my wife or I left a scrap of food on our plates…always a good sign!
I do have to take just a moment to compliment the service. Our waitress was delightfully self-deprecating. She asked us if we had been to Firefly before and when we demurred she dead panned, “Oh and here you are stuck with me…poor things. You will probably never come back!”
She was excellent and attentive and even seemed to make eye rolling charming as she apologized for our food being a bit slow. It was worth the wait and she made the process move along pleasantly.
Our waitress pushed the cakes (coconut and chocolate caramel) but we diverged from her direction and went with the plum crumble to close the meal.
It was rustic and simple with rolled oats and tart plums that were not overly sweetened. This made them mix with the ice cream even more effectively. I love the mix of hot and cold, sweet and tart and soft and crunchy in this kind of dessert. It was paired with wonderful coffee in huge cups that still managed to keep the coffee hot until the very last sip.
A word of caution about Firefly. The food is excellent but the surroundings are a bit madcap and it can get pretty loud inside. At the busiest point of the evening it had built to a dull roar. Strangely, it did not detract from our conversation and my wife and I actually felt like we could talk without being eavesdropped on by those next to us. Given the close quarters this was a good thing!
Chef Kristen Gregory has put together a really interesting and eclectic restaurant in the building that used to hold Sylvan Park in Green Hills. Long on kitsch and strong on flavor she has scored a funky fresh hit at the bend in Bandywood. High on my list for a night out unless you are looking for something private and quiet!
Reservations are recommended.
2201 Bandywood Drive
Nashville, Tennessee 37215