Dari has blazed a trail to the Melbourne suburb of Windsor, to check out the latest red-hot offering from the Commune Group – Firebird
There’s a new fire burning in Windsor, and its worth checking out. This red-hot number’s name is Firebird and is the latest Vietnamese joint to hit the streets of the grungy, uber-hip end of High Street. Joining the Commune Group of famous, predominately Asian ventures (Hanoi Hannah, Tokyo Tina and Neptune), Firebird takes its name from its wood-fire grill – boasting almost every dish gets a blistering hit from their BBQ or charcoal grill. Drinks too get a blaze – including their signature potently punchy Burnt Paloma with blanco tequila, grapefruit juice and swirls of charred grapefruit – a mix to get the senses ignited.
The inside is spacious enough to seat over 100, but compact enough to create atmosphere without feeling lost. Converted from an old furniture warehouse, it has intentionally retained that style interior of unfinished walls and high ceilings, but zhoozhed up with wooden floorboards, multi-coloured checked tables and an open kitchen. Vibrant movies on the wall, music so loud you forget if you’re in a restaurant or a nightclub, and a dark lighting scheme ensure they’ve nailed the alluring mood before you’ve even glanced at a menu.
When you do, its pleasantly surprising. Start with a traditional grilled banh mi – a fluffy Vietnamese sanga with smoky eggplant relish, and move to a beef carpaccio – the thinly sliced raw beef takes on fresh aromatic flavours including fresh sawtooth (a fancy name for long coriander) on a crisp black sesame rice cracker. Oodles of noodles tightly ring around this city’s plumpest juiciest spin off of a rice paper roll – an oogly wiggly white wrap jammed with mushroom pate and hot mint. French-sounding ‘duck l’orange’ may be the Euro influence sitting in Vietnam, as this slow-roasted ‘firebird’ definitely speaks Asian, with its five-spice anise-y aromas, grilled citrus and, as the menu describes, ‘excellent’ sauce (and not just says so, it actually is so!). You could go dessert, but with a DJ blaring, cocktails rattling and fire blazing – it’s likely you’ll move to more vino from their concise but aptly sufficient list. (And if you’re not up for the hard stuff, a house-made passiona from their ‘G-rated’ list does the job.)
Bottom Line: Firebird is seriously smoking. And we don’t just mean the food.