This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Park City • Campfires are synonymous with the American West, providing warmth and an open flame for cooking.
So with a name like Firewood, it's no surprise that the specialty at this new fine-dining addition to Main Street is cooking over fire.
A custom-designed grill at the center of the restaurant gives guests a front-row seat to the flames and the five cooking stations that use cedar, cherry, maple and other hardwoods to enhance food flavors. A menu, heavy on meat, fish and fowl, give ample variety to the fire-focused menu alongside heirloom and regional ingredients that rotate seasonally.
Chef and owner John Murcko, who opened this restaurant in the space formerly occupied by Cisero's, draws from that history along with his 2 ½ decades of experience cooking in the West.
"Open-flame cooking is a passion of mine and I have enjoyed sharing this unique dining style with my family around the holidays for many years," Murcko says about the primary concept of the restaurant.
Enveloped in space hewn with reclaimed bricks and timbers, guests begin each meal with an amuse-bouche. One evening a savory roasted acorn squash bite with goat cheese was presented while another dinner highlighted an earthy mushroom composition.
My visits to Firewood concluded just before the restaurant closed for spring break. The restaurant launches its new spring menu on Friday, May 26, when it reopens for the summer season.
Sharable starters could easily form a meal, with heavier offering like the succulent apricot-wood grilled duck confit ($17) over a parsnip purée and accented with preserved apricot. The ember-roasted cauliflower salad ($13) dressed with a kicky shishito pepper vinaigrette and fresh arugula provided enough vegetables for four adults.
On the lighter side, grilled oysters ($19) topped with spinach and wood-roasted bacon were a right-sized rich bite while the fire-braised seasonal wild mushrooms ($17) gave us a glimpse of what the grill fire could really produce. Braised wood beech, royal trumpets and chanterelle mushrooms were served with grilled slices of crusty, buttery bread and sprinkled with a generous portion of grated parmesan cheese that was warm and slightly melted by the time it reached our table.
Main entrées highlight land and sea creations. From the water, grilled diver sea scallops ($37) were paired with cauliflower, sunchoke and broccolini. And while each individual item was well-preparedfrom the meaty scallops to the tender vegetablesthe flavors didn't marry well and overwhelmed the delicate mollusks. In contrast, the arctic char ($36) dish was spot on when the perfect forkful of grilled fish, fire-roasted clam, bacon and touch of fennel was enjoyed.
The meat lovers at our table were also happily satiated with the fork-tender pork short rib ($34) laid out over warm polenta and topped with a tangy dried stone-fruit chutney and tricolored heirloom carrots in addition to the rack of lamb ($44) served with cipollini onions for a hint of sweetness countered by a fresh red chimichurri.
Chicken ($35), New York steak ($37), salmon ($36) and duck ($37) round out the carnivorous options while a grilled ratatouille ($29) gave vegetarians a bountiful selection of squash, mushroom, eggplant, red pepper and artichokes.
Firewood's dessert menu is just as impressive and fire-influenced as the rest of the meal. A wood-roasted apple ($13) with Slide Ridge honeycomb and almond gelato warmed us on a snowy evening while a memorable plate of sweet-potato mini doughnuts ($12) start with wood-smoked sweet potato as the base and finish with a High West Campfire butterscotch sauce for dipping. Finally, each table is presented with individually wrapped creamy caramels to enjoy on the ride home.
The only inconsistency was service, which swung from excellent to laughable. One evening fresh bread was delivered to the table with our drinks. On our second visit, there wasn't any bread, several dishes were sent into the kitchen wrong and our server wasn't available during most of our dinner as he was overly attentive to a friend at a nearby table.
Even with those missteps, Firewood is a dependable, flavor-forward choice on Park City's Main Street, offering a menu of tight, fire-focused dishes that make its high-end American cuisine worthy of the price.
Heather L. King also writes for http://www.slclunches.com and can be found on social media @slclunches
Food • HHHhj
Mood • HHH
Service • HHH
Noise • bb
Chef and owner John Murcko masters open-flame cooking at his latest Park City restaurant, with smoked, grilled, braised and burnt elements reflecting the best of seasonal American ingredients.
Location • 306 Main St., Park City; 435-252-9900
Online • firewoodonmain.com
Hours • Open Sunday-Thursday, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 5:30 to 10 p.m.
Children's menu • No
Prices • $$-$$$
Liquor • Yes
Corkage • $20
Reservations • Yes
Takeout • No
Wheelchair access • Yes
Outdoor dining • No
On-site parking • Street parking
Credit cards • All major