Review: Red Fire Grille

31 May 2016

I left LA on a busy Tuesday morning for Dallas, catching up on sleep during the flight. The weather in Texas has been real bad for awhile now, though I thought the worst of it was confined to the southern area around Houston. However, I had just read that a flash flood in the town of Palestine, just into East Texas about 90 minutes out of Dallas, caused the tragic death of 6 people just a few weeks earlier. Why mention this? Because I had earlier planned to stop in Palestine for the night.

The weather held up for the most part for the afternoon when I rolled into town. Unfortunately, when I walked into my hotel all I saw and heard were fans and pumps…another flood? No, broken pipe. Oops. But the hotel, the La Quinta Inn, did an amazing job with their friendly staff in making the short stay an excellent one.

For dinner I went to the Red Fire Grille. I’ve read some good things about this place and it draws a lot of out-of-towners from Dallas and further afield, so I was looking forward to a nice evening. It’s located at the historic Redlands Inn in the straight-out-of-the-postcard main street in downtown.

I relaxed and enjoyed a cocktail as I looked over the menu. Some interesting things, so I ordered and relaxed with the cocktail. Just as I finished it the food appeared — perfect timing.

1-fried oysters

First up was the fried Texas oysters. Interesting plating that made me chuckle for a second. Breaded well, not bad for a snack at all. All went well with a Texas (!!) rosé, may I add. Then we segued into the sweet corn soup.

2-corn chowder

To be honest it wasn’t as good as I hoped, the corn didn’t come out as well as I thought. It lacked that wonderful corn feel to it, especially when they are sweet and in season. Bit of a miss. In any case, the rosé was still going good before the main dish arrived.

3-chicken fried quail

Chicken fried rabbit, how East Texas can it get, right? I will certainly not post this on my Instagram as half the accounts I seem to follow these days are cute bunny rabbits! I’m sorry, I can compartmentalise! In any case, back to the food… It was not bad, the breading solidly flavoured and fried up well, with the gravy giving it a nice rounding off. Farmed rabbits tend to be on the bland side, so the gravy actually helped this along. But generally solid.

I wasn’t planning a dessert but having ordered a coffee I decided to have one, and this on the menu grabbed my attention — the grilled black pepper pound cake.

4-grilled pound cake

Interesting, almost charred on the exterior where there was a pepper coat. Not what I expected, and unfortunately the pepper crusting was pretty much just ash. But it was a classic pound cake otherwise and they actually apologised for the fresh peaches (menu listed berries) — which I love anyway, so that was excellent.

I love going to these small town restaurants and being surprised. The food here didn’t blow me away, but it was a solid, good dinner with excellent service. Now I doubt any of you will pass through some of these smaller towns, but part of the joy is to experience everything, not just the big cities (with often over-hyped food scenes) or some out-of-the-way place a tyre/tire company tells you it’s worth a detour. Sometimes joy is a humid evening in the middle of rural Texas, drinking a Texas rosé, eating Texas fare.

Red Fire Grille
400 North Queen Street
Palestine, Texas


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