The first time I was offered chicken and waffles I politely declined. Silly me. Hey, was 10 years ago – what did I know (though truthfully, I still don’t know much…).
Soon I wised up and realized this combination was pure genious. And like many of you, discovered Phil the Fire and was quickly smitten. But Phil went away for the better part of a decade – that is, until he recently reopened and is looking to make a comeback on the east side.
We went recently on behalf of Metromix. Here’s part of my review, or you can read the full thing here.
Sadly, restaurants often fail. One common fault is lack of awareness, attention and repetitive business. When Phil The Fire closed roughly seven years ago, it wasn’t a result of any of these factors, but rather some poor financial mishandlings and bad business deals. So when word spread that this well-liked restaurant was about to resurface in Beachwood inside the Fairfield Inn, Clevelanders’ mouths collectively watered for some of those locally-famous chicken and waffles.
Food: Fans of previous locations will surely recognize many of the extensive menu’s offerings, dubbed comfort food for the soul. Pages of Southern favorites, all reasonably priced and generously sized, are ready to comfort you, especially this time of the year. But it’s one dish in particular that is the most sought-after: chicken and waffles.
Complete with an 11-step guide to enjoying, this dish ($11-$20 depending on whether you order a breast to a half chicken) conjures up smiles from anyone that has tried it. While not necessarily a dish that would win any plating points on Iron Chef, this dish is just that: chicken served alongside a waffle, a thick, cinnamon-spiced Belgium waffle to be exact. And the chicken is fried to perfection (or grilled—but at this point, just go for it; you can also opt for fish and waffles), served with cinnamon butter and housemade syrup. This is their signature dish and for good reason. This is the ultimate combination of sweet and savory and one that will turn skeptics into devotees. It’s a must-try dish and worth the trip regardless of location.
Unfortunately, other options fell short of expectations. Aside from the oversized signature cornbread muffin and aforementioned waffles, other dishes did not impress. The three cheese mac and cheese ($7 when ordered alone) was served cold, which really affected the taste and texture; the collard greens ($6 when ordered alone) were over salted leaving them inedible and the half pound of butterfly shrimp ($18) also suffered from overseasoning (note: two sides accompany most dinners). An order of the signature fried green tomatoes appetizer with fried corn was a nicely spiced dished with a touch of heat that was one of the better items we tried, though unfortunately, it was also served cold and came out after our dinners.
Décor: The resurrected restaurant resides in a former Houlihan’s and much of the layout stayed the same: oversized booths make up the bulk of the space overlooking a partially-open kitchen with plenty of rich woods, warm lighting and brick to reinforce the “fire” theme.
Service: As probably deciphered from the food review, service can be painfully slow, forgetfully and not in sync with the kitchen. A near 25-minute wait before we were greeted by a server (albeit a super friendly and apologetic server), appetizers came post dinner and most dishes were served at the wrong temp.
Bottom line: While the restaurant undoubtedly has kinks to work out, their signature draw of chicken and waffles has (luckily) remained unchanged and still as good as we remember—maybe even a bit better.