Fireside Bistro is saved by its location on one of Norwood’s busiest streets, Grant Avenue, which lends a bustling air of being in the mix to a relatively run-of-the-mill grill house. Vegetarians will have few options to work with here since it’s like a suburban shisa nyama with a chef. Noteworthy starters include the snails. Although small, they are practically drowned in a rich garlic and parsley sauce – perfect for mopping up with any carbohydrate. For the carb-conscious, try the flavourful and light beef bresaola with rocket, Parmesan, capers, spring and red onions and raw mushrooms. At this point, vegetarians can choose between grilled haloumi cheese served with a sweet cranberry jelly or grilled polenta topped with grilled mushrooms and baby marrow drizzled in balsamic and olive oil dressing. Mains consist of a range of meaty cuts such as sirloin, rump, T-bone or fillet. The rule goes that you should order to the theme of the restaurant’s claim to fame, so you’ll be less disappointed if you steer clear of the seafood options – the Falklands calamari, although promising a punchy combination of garlic and chilli, is quite bland. Stick to the tried and trusted meat classics: T-bone, rump, fillet or sirloin in a lemon, peri peri or chimichurri sauce, served with sliced roasted potatoes and a mix of broccoli, cauliflower and peppers.
Guests could opt for the lamb cutlets in a white wine, mustard and cream sauce and shanks in a homey, moreish tomato and onion gravy. For vegetarians the option of a vegetarian platter with artichokes, halloumi cheese, a variety of mushrooms and roasted potatoes is available.
The wine list is short and sweet but slightly overpriced for what is on offer.
Be sure to sit front and centre or you might be forgotten by the friendly, well-meaning waitrons.
As you enter, you’re met almost head-on with a roaring fire from the kitchen’s open-flame grill. On a winter’s night, it’s a welcome relief from the cold and it adds much-needed warmth throughout the restaurant. In Summer, the covered, roadside veranda is sure to be most welcome for people watching.
If you’re not in the mood to eat out, you’re welcome to order what you like to go. On Sundays, they do lamb on the spit which we’re told sells out at lightening speed, so you might want to pop in earlier than usual.
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Sometimes life demands a good, old-fashioned braai. Timing and preparation are generally essential to get a fire going: prepare your perfect cut of meat, then hope and pray that a Joburg thunderstorm does not surprise you.
But not at Fireside Bistro... The brainchild of Terence Klaff, this unique concept has the grilling done for you by the owner on an open-wood fire. A true grand experience of a braai without watery eyes or the risk of rain.
Start with the boerewors with cumin and chili flakes, or the queen prawns with peri-peri or lemon butter, all cooked on the grill. Never-fail options of chicken livers or calamari with garlic and tomato salsa are perfect for something a bit lighter.
But the real heroes here are the superb meat selections prepared in front of you on the grill. With options of deboned chicken with peri-peri (my favourite), chimichurri rump steak, ostrich steak and lamb cutlets, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
All options are served with the most heavenly roast potatoes, vegetables or side salad. If you’re not a big red-meat eater, the seared tuna steaks marinated in soy and oregano, or whole baked trout from the wood-fired oven will definitely satisfy your palate.
Save some space for the marvellous desserts. A must-try is the treat of profiteroles covered with salted caramel and chocolate and filled with vanilla cream. They also offer tubs of Pete’s Super Natural, a truly superb homemade ice cream. Make sure you try the Vietnamese coffee or double Valrhona chocolate flavours.
A small list of well-priced South African wines includes some of my favourites, like the Springfield Whole Berry Cabernet Sauvignon and the Les Coteaux Merlot. Local beers are also available.
The food takes time to prepare as it is grilled to order, so sit back and enjoy your starters. The service is efficient and friendly, and when the owner gets a chance, he’ll pop out from behind the grill to welcome you.
Expect a cosy restaurant flowing on to covered pavement seating suitable for summer. The wood-fired grill takes centre stage in the restaurant, with guests enticed by the chargrilled aromas while watching Terence avidly attend to his coals.
Try out the Sunday special lamb on the spit. Terence slaves for hours, religiously basting the lamb in lemon and herb to produce a perfect lamb cackling and tender meat. Don’t be shy to ask for more if you manage to complete the generous portion.