If the buzz of diners spilling from Firefly’s wrought iron tables onto Grosvenor and Young Streets doesn’t beckon you in, or the cosy booths made for couples to canoodle fails to tempt, at least let the man with the dapper ‘tache suggest a cocktail or vino to get you started.
Dom, Firefly’s sommelier, will wax lyrical about this bar’s beverage offering, which includes close to a hundred bottles of Pinot Noir, each one lining the sandstone wall and complete with a handwritten tasting note just waiting to be read. Feeling adventurous? Pick one by random and try not to be seduced by tasting notes that read like a Martha Stewart recipe: cinnamon, sour cherry and anise.
Pinots are apparently the most expressive of the wine family in showcasing the origin of their grape. Think of New Zealand, green hills, crisp lakes and quirky wildlife, and it’s not surprising that a glass of the impressive Otago house red — Rockburn Devil’s Staircase Pinot Noir ($15/glass) — is full and fruity, utterly drinkable, and invigorating as a dip in the Tasman. Get the picture?
If Pinots aren’t your thing, don’t despair. There are whites and reds by the glass, craft beers and ciders, and cocktails in tumblers and pitchers to keep even the thirstiest lad or lady happy. The Joker and the Thief ($18), a Frosty Fruit in a glass, offers a sweet medley of passionfruit and vodka with hints of liquorice and fresh mint to remind you this is a grown-up drink after all.
Firefly’s menu — divided into nibbles, plates to share, banquets to share, and gourmet pizza slabs — begs you to bring friends when you drop in. But don’t be fooled, the portions are also perfect for dining solo or a deux.
You’ll find typical small-bar fare, with staples like salt and pepper calamari ($19) and Peking duck pancakes ($24), but for something different start with the zucchini fries and aioli ($15). Lightly battered and za’atar spiced to perfection, every herby fry gives way to an unexpectedly juicy veggie centre. Move onto the grilled haloumi ($14), the salty, chewy haloumi creates the perfect foil for hunks of fresh, sweet watermelon and zingy mint, whilst toasted almonds add a textural kick.
In terms of heartier meals there’s slow-cooked crispy pork belly ($19) and braised beef cheeks ($25). The pork belly arrives in two generous portions, dolloped with tangy, tart sauerkraut, a nice offset to the salty pork, and spoonfuls of sweet, caramel-like pear chutney. The beef cheeks are like a cosy winter’s night in a bowl — comforting, wine-laced and tender. Served on a delicate leek and cauliflower puree, they’ll have you calling Dom over to recommend another drop.
If it’s the L’Unico Montepulciano ($12.50/glass) he suggests, a central Italian stunner, you won’t be disappointed. Full-bodied and plum-like, it’s the perfect wine to lead you deep into the Firefly night.