- July 21, 2016
The welcoming new chef-inspired American bistro TR Fire Grill opened its doors in Winter Park in late 2015, and the 5,600-square-foot restaurant is igniting Winter Park’s food scene. Romacorp is the parent company of Tony Roma’s, and TR Fire Grill is Romacorp’s newest restaurant concept, originally launched in 2013 with a menu created by the amazingly talented Chef Bob Gallagher. Romacorp tested the TR Fire Grill concept on Semoran Boulevard near the airport, and that restaurant, used to refine the concept and train employees, has been relocated to the new location as part of the Ravaudage development at Lee Road and U.S. Highway 17-92 in Winter Park.
“We’re letting the freshness and quality of our ingredients take center stage for flavor that’s humble, yet impressive,” says Chef Bob. “We spent two years perfecting this concept. We’re passionate about the food we’re creating and we believe our guests will taste that passion, along with our attention to detail in every meal we craft. We want our guests to be able to use the restaurant any way they want. You can come for a fresh, seasonally-driven dining experience, or if you want a beer and a snack or a cocktail or two with a little something to eat our open floor plan welcomes everyone – from guests celebrating an event to the guy stopping by for a beer on his way home from work.”
The main space is open – with only one empty table on the Tuesday night we dined there. It’s an open-kitchen concept, offering guests a view of the preparation each dish receives from the culinary team. And while all bars are ‘open’ in concept, the bar at TR Fire Grill feels somehow more open and more approachable as it is directly across the dining area from the open kitchen, perfectly counter-balancing the design of the room.
The bar experience is amped up to deliver an artisanal beverage experience, offering craft beers, wines, and hand-crafted cocktails. As in many restaurants, the cocktails have fun names and list the ingredients in the menu, but somehow they manage to add enough seduction to their presentation that my dining partner, who normally only shares wine with me at dinner, ordered the Wood Aged Margarita, which was so tasty and special that we kept sharing it. Many of their liquors are aged in oak barrels or infused with fruit and spices at the bar. American craft beers and wines from the west coast complete the beverage experience.
TR Fire Grill is located at 1035 N. Orlando Ave. in the Ravaudage development. Open Monday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.; and Sunday from 2 to 9:30 p.m. Call 407-708-3600 or visit trfiregrill.com
The word “appetizer” never appears on the menu. At TR Fire Grill, you choose from “Snacks” or “Table Shares,” and you taste the glories of Chef Bob’s hand-made in-house condiments and sauces with each one. We started with the Bacon & Eggs – in part because of the name, but Oh boy, did we love those jalapeno-flavored deviled eggs served over a nest of pickled onions and creatively ‘dusted’ with crumbled BBQ potato chips. Served beside a generous slice of mustard-glazed bacon, we immediately recognized the time and attention to detail for which Chef Bob is known, put into this humble offering. Crumbled BBQ potato chips – who thinks like that? Answer: Chef Bob.
An even bigger winner is the Prime Rib Egg Rolls, a double-order of which will be dinner for me in the future. Those little taste sensations are the way that I want my prime rib from now on. Real, smoked Prime Rib is diced and stuffed into the most perfectly fried egg roll ever, and the meat is joined with pickled onions and vegetables, melted cheddar and served with a horseradish dipping sauce. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Ahi tuna freak that I am, we shared the Hawaiian Ahi Tuna offering. Their tuna is flown in twice a week – never frozen. What comes to the table is a plate with two stacks of gloriously healthy thick slices of tuna, each on its own wonton tostada, piled on another slice of tuna on its tostada – and then again – all of it complemented with grilled pineapple salsa. Those stacks were little altars to the worship of Ahi tuna, and I worshipped with every glorious bite. (You gotta try this.)
Perhaps the best example of Chef Bob’s amazing mix of tastes is the Salmon & Zoodles, from the main plates menu. My salmon was served to taste over zucchini noodles (zoodles – get it?), little taste exploding drop peppers, apple, and feta cheese with a – get ready – pistachio romesco sauce. You’ll join me in the Chef Bob Fan Club when I explain that romesco sauces are usually made with almonds. Substitute pistachio and ba-da-bing – more taste.
Even that taste revelation was outdone by the wow factor of a new concept in quality pork. From Compart Family Farms, the Dry Aged Duroc Pork Chop brings a new level of tenderness and flavor to pork, and while it is 96-percent lean, the Duroc pork is more heavily marbled and dry aged – creating a juicier, more flavorful pork chop. Sauce that baby with Chef Bob’s Fireball Whiskey sauce, serve it beside mashed potatoes and a truly ingenious pile of grilled veggies, and you have a winner. I promise you have never tasted such a wonderful pork chop.
Admittedly we were full, but our rule is that if the restaurant offers a dessert worth the calories, we will share one. TR Fire Grill rose to the challenge with its Grilled Pound Cake with Blueberry Compote. Amazing. My dining partner called it “the world’s best ice cream sandwich,” as it consists of two large slices of pound cake above and below two huge scoops of vanilla ice cream with the whole dessert swimming in blueberry compote.
I’ve often said that the whole reason for dining out is to enjoy new taste sensations. TR Fire Grill – by way of the inventive creations of Chef Bob – offers that to us with every bite. I am more than happy to give TR Fire Grill my highest recommendation. Good taste made me do it, and what tastes good is why you should try this wonderful addition to the Winter Park dining scene.