Friday, 16 October 2009

Firehouse, Ringwood

Hard to believe that it’s only been around since 2007. And if there were real flames at this Ringwood diner, the local smiles would surely be taken away from their dials. But thankfully, it’s all metaphorical smoke because this place is really firing. No longer do the folk of the outer south-east have to make the trek to say Glenny or Hawthorn for fantastic food or a chilled place to drink, it’s all there at the Firehouse.

Set in a converted brick fire station, the place will charm your pants off, so wear a belt. Up the polished wooden stairs with original railings is Embar, with plenty of long and short leather couches and a fire place for a bit of a tipple. Downstairs the glass garage door allows plenty of natural light through to the open dining area where presumably the red engines once docked ready for action.

The menu’s designed to fill any sized appetite void and the tapas or mezze and a la carte choices provide plenty of choices that will make you want to push your stomach limits a bit further. Warning, if a dish sounds rich, it probably is.

Lunchtime brings generous chunks of lamb shoulder that are slowly baked reducing the meat to a tender state, whole caramelised shallots, melted feta over sautéed spinach, a spoonful of creamy rosemary rouille and grilled Turkish is rustically arranged in a terracotta dish that screams bloody good Winter comfort food. Same goes for that roasted duck ragu with sage, polenta and mushrooms, a trofie twisted strands of pasta with smallish chicken and pork meatballs in a mild tomato sauce is something a bit lighter. Crunchy roasted spuds with whole roasted garlic cloves and a melted smokey crème fraiche is a must have side.

Come night time, crunchy chicken ribs that look a bit like Wicked Wings are dipped into a creamy peppernata that makes for a tasty smaller dish. Beef is relinquished with ease from the rib that’s braised in a tasty sage gravy, a mint jelly an interesting play on the classic roast condiment. Better to limit the number of smalls to save room for larger plates of a braised pork cheek in a red pepper & oregano ragu, a multi-cheese pillowy soft homemade gnocchi with scallops and crispy pancetta or layers of lamb shoulder and eggplant in a very modern moussaka that comes with an interesting spicy green harissa and ginger marmalade that changes everything.

Desserts sound more than tempting, a deep dish American style apple pie is served simply with anglaise cream, the short crust pastry beautifully crumbly with the fruit stewed to a state that’s more tender than firm. Lovely, but not as exciting as the triangles of lavouche (kind of like a thicker pastry biscuit) dusted with cinnamon is the tool used to scoop up velvety gooey hazelnut mousse.

Firehouse, the place Ringers deserves. I bet the local foodie’s frowns are now firmly upside down. Folks from the inner south east, make the trek out.

4 / 5 yums!
Where? 253-257 Maroondah Hwy, Ringwood, VIC
What? Lunch around $18, Dinner Small plates around $10, Large around $28

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