The Best Place to Be: Fireside by Kettle

7 months ago

fireside by kettle - grilled halibut


CAN FIRESIDE BY KETTLE LIVE UP TO ITS OLDER SISTER’S DESERVEDLY STELLAR REPUTATION? When Kettle opened its first branch in 2013, foodies fell hard for their buttermilk fried chicken, among other comfort food offerings. More than a year later, Kettle is still as—if not more—popular, with the restaurant drawing a crowd even during off hours.

So why open a spinoff restaurant? For one thing, the food is different. “If you compare our menu with Kettle’s, there’s almost nothing identical. Like with our buttermilk fried chicken, there’s some resemblance, but it’s not the same,” says owner Bambi Meer. True to its name, Fireside serves mostly grilled dishes. Save for the chicken, all of the mains are grilled over charcoal and a mix of applewood and hickory wood chips. Since the group behind Fireside also owns the popular Subic restaurant Meat Plus, expect nothing less than top of the line meat.

Carnivores will go crazy for the Fireside Steak Salad, with medium rare US top blade steak fanned across a plate, with a mound of grilled romaine lettuce drizzled with balsamic vinegar topped with fried shoestring onions and zucchini. The Grilled Chop House, on the other hand, is made of various greens, zucchini, cauliflower, chicken, bell peppers, feta cheese, hardboiled egg, corn, and pineapple; the salad is tossed in tangy lemon honey dressing. Each component is lightly grilled, their different flavors and textures coming together to create the perfect mouthful each time. For those who don’t think salads can be filling or interesting, this dish will change your mind. Those looking for something lighter can try the Asian Shrimp Salad. Expect plump and juicy shrimps, greens, toasted peanuts, and silky rice noodles tossed in bright and punchy lime-fish dressing.

fireside by kettle - steak salad

For the mains, you cannot go wrong in ordering the steaks. If you’re looking for Kettle’s famous buttermilk fried chicken, it’s not here—but Fireside offers something just as good! The Buttermilk Fried Chicken Fingers is a playful riff on Kettle’s star dish, except that the chicken is sliced into thin strips, and that the breading is crunchier thanks to the addition of pounded Ritz crackers. There’s also a whisper of heat to the breading from chipotle powder. Instead of honey-glazed muffins, the chicken is served with fried cornbread donut holes. Another must-order main is the Sweet, Spicy, and Salty Wings which is Fireside’s take on Andy Ricker’s famous Pok Pok wings that had all of New York lining up outside his restaurant. Think Vietnamese-style chicken wings that are far more complex than your usual sweet and spicy wings. Spicy is the dominant flavor, but it’s tempered by the sweetness of the sticky sugar crust and the savory-salty flavor of fish sauce.

fireside by kettle - honey and gravy

Craving seafood? According to Chef Chiloy Santos, the Grilled Halibut is Fireside’s “healthiest” (quotation marks his!) dish. The halibut, grilled to a light char, is moist, juicy, and flaky; the tender fish contrasts beautifully against the accompanying crisp vegetables and chewy quinoa. The bacon vinaigrette provides a hit of tangy and smoky flavors.

fireside by kettle - sweet, spicy, and salty wings

No good comfort food restaurant skimps on desserts, and Fireside spoils diners with options ranging from Homemade S’mores to Fireside Homemade Doughnuts. The s’mores comes with homemade graham crackers and toasted marshmallows, and a jar of warm and gooey chocolate topped with Maltesers balls. The donuts, on the other hand, are larger than life versions of the panaderia staple. It comes with three sauces (caramel, dark chocolate, and mixed berries) that you can play around with. Chef Chiloy reveals that some diners get playful, poking holes into the donut and filling them with sauce. It’s the perfect dessert for kids of all ages.

“People will ask me, do you have a kid’s menu? And I tell them—the whole menu is a kid’s menu,” Bambi laughs. In a way, it’s true—Fireside doesn’t take itself too seriously, and we love them for it. Fireside serves good, unpretentious food in hefty portions. It’s food meant to be enjoyed and shared. Bambi talks about the driving concept behind the restaurant: “The whole goal here is to enjoy good food, good company, and form good memories.”


Words by Janelle Año

Photographed by Zac Moran


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