This was our first visit to Woodfire on N Mount Juliet Road and it was to celebrate the birthday of my better half accompanied by the brother-in-law and the Kid. This restaurant has only been open for around 6 weeks and the few reviews read so far suggests a mixed service. Most people rave about the quality of the food while also complaining about consistency or lack thereof in the service and waiting times.
I came here fully expecting that. A new restaurant always has an initial period where the new management and servers need to work through the technicalities of the service. Nobody can be exactly sure of the staffing levels needed, or be expected to immediately remember and implement 100% of company policies or to basically not make any mistakes in the first few months of operations. So I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt from the start.
The interior is decadent woodwork and muted earthly colors and has a real “old world” feel to it. The lobby area is set in front of exposed stonework and the effect works well.
The bar area looks inviting and there’s a great selection of top end liquors to choose from at surprisingly reasonable prices.
Our server was friendly and welcoming and explained the concept and talked a little about the food. It was clear that she hadn’t fully learned the menu yet and a couple of items needed clarification from someone else, and the complimentary zucchini bread was forgotten and we had to request it.
The zucchini bread was outstanding, genuinely one of the best I’ve ever taken and the whole table devoured it and asked for more.
For the appetizers we ordered the Harvest Sample – a selection of cured meats and local cheeses served with the zucchini bread and thin slices of sourdough bread, and the Frog’s Legs – breaded and fried. Both went down very well and the portion sizes were enough that it satisfied all four of us.
For entrees we got a hamburger for the Kid (she wasn’t feeling adventurous), the prime rib special for the Boss, medium rare, a huge double pork chop, and the Chocolate BBQ ribs that were technically an appetizer but the portion was large enough for an entree.
The prime rib was perfectly cooked and we all agreed it was so tender it compared with a premium fillet. The pork was also exceptionally well cooked and was moist and tender. The Chocolate ribs were a little hit and miss – the ribs themselves were very tender and slipped right off the bone but I felt the cocoa flavor was a little off in some areas where it hadn’t seared fully and the taste combination did not work well for me.
While we ate and talked, we remarked on the noise level of the dining room – the ambient noise was distinctly too loud and perhaps they should consider some noise reducing measures, it really was noticeable that we had to raise our voices to converse properly.
Throughout the meal the service was friendly, professional and a little slow but not too bad. Drink orders took a bit longer than I would normally expect but the restaurant was full and the servers had only been there for 6 weeks so they are still learning. It was forgiven.
When it came time for the desserts we tried two, even though we were all so full that we took a fair amount of the entrees home in a box…
We ordered the berry cheesecake and the Key Lime Pie, both made fresh in house. The Key Lime pie was great – rich, luxurious, tart and delicious – we all agreed on that. The cheesecake, to me and the Boss, was way too heavy on the cheese and sour cream and didn’t balance the berries at all. But the Kid and the brother-in law loved it so who’s to say?
The bill was large but we expected this and, honestly, even though the dollar amount was a little high, I feel we got value for the money. The overall experience was enjoyable, the food was decadent and well prepared with quality ingredients and the service, although patchy, was well-intentioned and professional.
We will definitely be back.