Looking for something new, we headed to Sugar Grove to try Fireside Grille.
Inside, we discovered an appealingly designed space with overtones of a roomy lodge, from the vaulted plank ceiling to plentiful stonework. Adding to the sense of space is a glass dividing wall between the dining room and bar, with its multiple televisions, high-top tables and 16 beers on tap, many of them craft selections with mix-and-match flights available.
We were seated near the stone fireplace in the main dining room and perused an extensive menu that catered to everything from sandwiches to ribs, pasta, steaks and seafood.
My dining companion almost went for the broasted pork chop, something unfamiliar, but opted for the 10-ounce hand-packed ground sirloin burger. He lavished it with grilled onion, blue cheese and bacon cooked to that hard-to-achieve perfect precipice of crisp. The flavorful burger was charbroiled to preference and served with a tangy minced homemade coleslaw, and hot, crispy fries.
I contemplated the fire-grilled chicken or a tasty sounding chicken walnut salad until I heard the second special following tournedos of beef atop linguine. It was grouper served Mediterranean style, with shrimp, spinach, kalamata olives, artichoke, feta and tomato.
It was perfection, beautifully presented seafood smothered in a collection of some of my favorite edibles – all served in one. Perfect for the indecisive diner.
The grouper was well prepared and appropriately firm and meaty. It was elevated further by the plentiful addition of succulent, large shrimp, tender artichoke and olives with their briny nod to the sea. The dish was nicely enhanced with a well-seasoned broth to complement the whole.
Generous portions were the order of the night – from the fries and oversized burger to my decadent side dish, hearty garlic smashed potatoes.
We had started the meal by sharing a warm loaf of bread served on a cutting board with whipped butter, and my opening dinner salad with house-made honey mustard vinaigrette, leaving us too full for dessert.
Nevertheless, we couldn't resist perusing the sweets menu, with its "colossal" carrot cake to chocolate mousse cake. My choice would have been the key lime pie with blood orange sorbet.
The lunch menu is served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Gluten-free items helpfully are indicated on the menu, and we noticed an expansive room for private parties is available. We arrived for early dinner on a Saturday night, and the busy restaurant's sound level never hampered our conversation. Our helpful server was pampering without being intrusive.
Fireside Grille's diverse array of tempting fare will prompt a return visit to try something entirely new.
• The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at the Record Newspapers. The diner’s identity is not revealed to restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a restaurant and then reports on the experience. The Mystery Diner is not intended to be a restaurant critic but does highlight the parts of a dining experience that he/she can recommend.
If you go
What: Fireside Grille
Where: 49 Sugar Lane, off Route 47, in Sugar Grove
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
More info: thefiresidegrillesugargrove.com or 630-466-4557