Across from the old brick Lincoln Elementary School in Port Angeles, in what was once a pioneer family’s home, is a culinary theater. The banner above the stage reads “Dream, Eat. Laugh.” The floor show is the wood-fired oven filled with applewood.
And the comfortable booths in the living room give the hungry audience a visual taste of what’s to come.
Perhaps the plot will reveal how to grill the perfect steak? For this hungry guest at least, there’s nothing like being served!
Prior to owning The Wildfire Grill, Denny Negus was the chef at The Bushwhacker Restaurant. In December 2008, right in the middle of the bridge closure, Denny and his wife, Lori, became the new owners of the Wildfire Grill, which originally had opened in 2006.
On this drizzly Saturday night, the place was bustling; there wasn’t a space left in the front parking lot.
Ducking in from the wet weather, we quickly passed the steel giraffe greeter in the front yard and flew through the old foyer that today is a pleasant place to share a glass of wine, an appetizer or a meal.
Greg and I arrived with visiting family in tow and met friends there to make an even dozen. Our “private” dining room must have been a bedroom back in 1917. Warmed by the fireplace, we got down to the menu.
With so many in our party, I realized I would have the chance to recreate that famous scene from “The Miracle Worker” — this time with a bit more focus on table manners.
The steak eaters among us were happily indulged with 8-ounce filet mignon (my choice) or hand-rubbed 12-ounce rib eye — generously “donated” by Angus beef. The steak was charred, moist and tasty and made all the more enjoyable by the hefty award-worthy steak knives, the kind Natty Bumppo might have carried.
All entrees arrived with Yukon roasted-garlic “smashed” potatoes and fire-roasted asparagus and peppers. All of this was placed artfully on a one-of-a-kind plate (also on the table: one-of-a-kind glasses, salad plates and dessert dishes hand-crafted by the potter-in-residence who lives upstairs).Offered this evening was a side dish of caramelized onions and/or gorgonzola cheese — an interesting addition to the beef.
For pasta lovers, there was roasted garlic linguine covered in creamy garlic Alfredo sauce mixed with fire-roasted vegetables and topped with fresh hand-grated Parmesan cheese with chicken added ($17). Very rich, very sinful; my kind of splurge.
Left for next time was the Pan-Seared Pork Tenderloin and the Cedar Planked Seafood platter piled with large tiger prawns, sea scallops, wild salmon, clams and Alaskan halibut — all fire-roasted with a buttered white wine sauce.
I tried the Seafood Cakes and liked ’em: a Northwest blend of shrimp, scallops, salmon and halibut cooked in the wood-fired oven, finished with a lemon dill caper butter sauce and served with creamy house risotto and fire-roasted veggies.
Salads were made with fresh, crisp ingredients. Many at the table enjoyed the Caesar with homemade dressing. I relished the House Side Salad with mixed greens and shaved carrots marinated in balsamic, drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette ($4).
For the table, there was flatbread that went great with our salads. But we couldn’t pass up Cajun flatbread sprinkled with a satisfying combination of Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, roasted garlic and Denny’s Cajun Spice seasoning, fire-roasted and served with Wildfire’s homemade ranch dressing ($8).
Wildfire also offers wood-fired pizzas made with their own dough recipe. Any pizza lover should find one they like. Try the BBQ chicken pizza with homemade spicy BBQ sauce, caramelized onions and gourmet cheese blend. The meat lovers’ pizza boasts Andouille sausage, pepperoni and salami topped with gourmet cheeses. And the Alfredo Mediterranean pizza is covered with roasted garlic cream sauce, marinated sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, baby spinach and capers.
Most dishes without meat have a meat option.
(Note to self: next time we have out-of-town guests, keep in mind they can’t store leftovers — translation: we get to keep ’em all!)
The Wildfire Grill serves wine by the glass or bottle and four draft beers. Friends liked the Pinot Grigio and White Zin, and Greg enjoyed a cold glass of Newcastle Brown Ale.
Desserts brought out that “Miracle Worker” scenario. I just had to try each one; the white chocolate cheesecake with drizzled caramel on graham cracker crust (oohhhh), the Kahlua mousse (aahhh), and Greg’s favorite — peanut butter pie with Oreo crust (heavenly).
In the summertime there’s outside dining on the patio — which on this night glowed from a fire pit with flames burning on a sparkling sea of shattered glass shards.
For Sequimites, it’s a little bit of a drive. But wouldn’t you go an extra mile (or so) for a good steak? Sure you would!
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