Friday, November 5, 2010

Firefly Bistro: Burgers, Beer & Blues

(Note: Firefly Bistro is a dark restaurant with only minimal, romantic lighting. I won't ever use the flash in a restaurant where it will disturb other diners, which it most definitely would have here. So the pictures aren't great, but I hope they're good enough.)

I've written before that, while I prefer the Victory Park farmers market on Saturday mornings for the variety of produce, I love the South Pasadena farmers market, especially in the summertime. It feels like a celebration of summer, as synonymous with the season as the sound of Vin Scully's voice or hot dogs hissing on the grill. I still go to the market in the other months, but it's not as much fun; the vendors leave earlier, sometimes there's a chill in the air.

But the last couple days, though we are into November, have felt anything but autumnal. Wednesday was 97 degrees, yesterday was 96. I could think of few better ways to introduce Elizabeth's mom to our life in the San Gabriel Valley than the farmers market. And, since my parents wanted to come, too, we formulated a plan to eat dinner at Firefly.

I've written of Firefly twice before: a brunch two years ago, and another Thursday evening "Burgers, Beer and Blues" dinner we attended last year. The food isn't the best in town - their menu items often overreach - but I have been there a half-dozen times and never once had anything less than a very enjoyable time. (It's one of those beautiful, friendly places that everyone seems to want to like. I don't know anyone who raves about the food at Firefly, but I know plenty of people who rave about the place. Elizabeth says, only half-jokingly, that she would like to live in the restaurant.) And on Thursday evenings, when Barry Brenner performs the blues and there are beer and burger specials, it's one of the best places to be.

This night's burger special was the "Blackened Burger," with barbecue onions, pickled tomatoes, and basil aioli. That sounded good to me. My dad ordered that burger as well, and the three ladies ordered burgers with gruyere cheese, my mom and Elizabeth adding avocado as well.

There were two beers on special: Downtown Brown and Boont Amber. Both of those are acceptable, but neither thrilled me. The waiter then mentioned that the Downtown Brown was out and was being replaced by Turbodog - one of my favorite beers in the country. I immediately ordered one. Elizabeth and my mom both ordered red sangrias; Elizabeth's mom order a Blue Star wheat beer. (My dad said he would drink water with an annoyed grunt that I have come to understand means he can't drink beer on weeknights like he used to.)

The food took about twenty minutes to come out, though I would gladly have waited twice that time. Sitting in the tented dining room, drinking a cold beer and listening to some acoustic blues was just fine by me.

I took a couple pictures of my burger, cut it in half and took some more. The burger was cooked the perfect medium-rare that I'd requested. And, as always happens at Firefly, everyone else's burgers were cooked the same. Three people requested their burgers medium and one well-done, and they were all medium-rare. This was about the sixth time I have had burgers with a group at Firefly, and every single time this has occurred. At least I'm always happy.

But, even with the burgers cooked incorrectly for four of the five people at the table, nobody complained, because the meat is high quality and the toppings are delicious. I loved the burger, not just the beef but the smooth aioli and the tangy onions. This wasn't the best burger I've ever had at Firefly - that would be a Philly Cheesesteak Burger I ate there at the beginning of the year - but it was probably the second-best.

Earlier in the day Elizabeth emailed me that she'd looked at the menu and wanted to try the deep fried blueberry pie. Nobody else wanted dessert and she wasn't going to get it, but my parents insisted she did. She loved it. She even gave me a taste of the vanilla ice cream and I thought it was great, exactly how I want ice cream to taste.

I don't know if I will ever visit Firefly for dinner on a night other than Thursday. My guess is no. But I know I will certainly be back again for burgers and beer.


Anonymous said...

the place looks and sounds beautiful. nice post, PP.

Fritos and Foie Gras said...

a medium rare burger is one of the best things to eat on the face of the planet. that one looks gorgeous!

Nosh Gnostic said...

What a cool idea - burgers, beer and blues.
The burger looked good enough; better than the Fatburger I was eating probably at the same time!
I must try that beer as well. With a name like Turbodog...

JustinM said...

If you like Guinness, you'll like Turbodog. You can come by for one this afternoon if you want...

Anonymous said...

Burger. Medium Rare.

Is there any other way to order a burger?

Banana Wonder said...

your pic makes it look like it was one of the best burgers ever. super many, bloody burger. too bad it wasn't exactly what you wanted but hurray for good meat!