4 ways Firebirds Wood-Fired Grill differentiates its menu

Head chef Steve Sturm shares how he and his team set the restaurant apart in the polished-casual space.
Firebirds steak with compound butter
Photo courtesy of Firebirds Wood-Fired Grill

The focal point of Firebirds Wood-Fired Grill is its namesake wood-fired grill, placed front and center in every one of the chain’s 55 locations. Cooking steaks, seafood, chicken and vegetables on the grill infuses them with smoky flavor and a characteristic char.

“We begin and end menu development with the wood-fired grill,” said Steve Sturm, executive chef and VP of food and beverage for Firebirds, on RB's Menu Feed podcast

The grill is a differentiator, for sure. But the many ways his teams maximize that cooking technique and add other special touches to the dining experience also set Firebirds apart in the polished-casual space. Take a look inside the kitchen, bar and dining room to see how.

Butchering in house

Sturm is the head of culinary, but there’s a chef and two sous chefs on staff at all the locations. That’s more than 150 skilled culinarians who, by the way, also know how to butcher meat. “We butcher 100% of our beef in-house, which provides better quality and consistency,” said Sturm.

Things taste better charred

“We add a charred or blistered component to every dish, and sometimes, more than one,” he said. A recent example is a wood-grilled steak that was topped with a compound butter blended with charred shallots and merlot wine “for a big flavor punch.”

Even cocktails and mocktails get the charred treatment. The team developed a charred pineapple puree as a key ingredient in a seasonal margarita and an agua fresca. The margarita is then brought to the table with smoke wafting out of the glass to enhance the experience.

Giving the bar equal play

The bar is a draw at Firebirds, both in its decor and selection of cocktails, Sturm said. So he’s launching a new bar food menu in mid-September that will include items like chimichurri New York strip skewers over crispy potatoes and meatballs ground in-house from quality beef. The small plates and shareables, combined with the flexible bar seating, are designed to attract younger customers and entice bar patrons to return to dine in the restaurant. 

Double Diamond Martini

Interaction sells

One of Firebirds’ signature cocktails—the Double Diamond Martini—is shaken and poured tableside and guests prohibit Sturm from taking it off the menu. With post-pandemic guests seeking more experiential dining, he intends to expand interactive tableside presentations. “We’re working on some unique, interactive presentations with the goal of delivering an experience,” said Sturm.

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