Green means go (but seeing yellow, too)

I had heard good things about Greenfire Bistro in Tipp City. I understood it to be an Asian fusion sort of place—one that combines elements from different culinary traditions. Fusion has been around since the 1970s, and continues to grow in popularity. An example of this would be an item I spied on their menu, […]

A culinary Tipp trip: Greenfire Bistro


Greenfire Bistro’s New England Clam Chowder was a winner.

By Paula Johnson

I had heard good things about Greenfire Bistro in Tipp City. I understood it to be an Asian fusion sort of place—one that combines elements from different culinary traditions. Fusion has been around since the 1970s, and continues to grow in popularity. An example of this would be an item I spied on their menu, Asian Pesto Chicken, in this case grilled chicken, spinach, and bow tie pasta in a sun-dried tomato-ginger-cilantro pesto topped with toasted pine nuts. Basically an Italian-Asian mash up. Greenfire’s menu scope clearly goes beyond Asian, as this appetizer proves: Lamb and Feta Sliders with tzatziki sauce, served on a sweet Hawaiian roll no less. Then there’s Greenfire’s version of Barbecued Baby Back Ribs. They describe their house made twenty ingredient BBQ sauce as “a perfect blend of east and west.” Very few of the offerings seemed adherent to classical preparation, but there were a few including the Cantonese favorite Shrimp in Lobster Sauce.

So is fusion a good thing? Yes, for the most part I think. After all, it’s how new dishes emerge and become standards, usually because immigrant cooks had to adapt to and combine new ingredients and flavors. Sometimes a twist on a standard can be delightful, sometimes not. I judge on a dish-by-dish basis. Sometimes things just don’t work when combined. Since I was surprised by the global scope of Greenfire’s menu from Marsala to Tikka Masala, I needed a moment to take it all in and decide.

Winey Wednesdays
Our server Char started us with a glass of 2012 Darcie Kent Firepit Red Blend ($10.00), explaining that Kent is originally from Centerville (I found no mention of that on the winery’s website unfortunately, but enjoyed the wine’s plum and vanilla notes a lot). There seemed to be quite a nice selection of well priced, interesting wines by the glass, and I noted that on Wednesdays wine is half price. We began with Curried Calamari and Clams, and Shrimp Poppers, both $7.95, plus a cup of New England Clam Chowder ($3.95). The clams and calamari were served with cocktail sauce, which really masked the curry notes. Flash fried in chili oil, the poppers were on the greasy side. The soup however, was a winner, rich and creamy and chock full with cubes of potatoes and clam chunks.

I asked what dishes Greenfire is known for most, and the answer was immediate: Fish. They have a new retail operation adjacent to the restaurant called Lock Fifteen, a market which features a variety of fish and seafood. “A lot of our customers stop there to take fish home after eating here,” Char informed us. So it made sense for PIP (Palate In Progress) and I to both try fish entrees, from the regular menu, Pan-Fried Walleye ($18.75), and the night’s special, Crab Stuffed Turbot with Saffron Chili Cream Sauce ($23.95). The turbot was elegantly presented alongside a mélange of cubed vegetables, something we substituted for the asparagus it’s normally served with. The saffron flavor of the sauce was a nice complement to the mildness of the fish, but overall its texture was a little mushy. Unfortunately we weren’t enamored of the Walleye either, finding the panko crust to be extremely salty and greasy. As PIP, aka the king of salt, pointed out, “If it’s too salty for me, that’s saying something.”

We closed with two desserts which we both found satisfying, Key Lime pie ($4.95) and Chocolate Wontons ($4.75) fried and filled with gooey warm chocolate and served with ice cream. As we finished we agreed there was much to like about Greenfire Bistro, including the cozy, dark dining room, which was filled with patrons who were clearly regulars. Greenfire’s owner circulated throughout greeting every table and stopping to chat with those he knew—most everyone there it seemed. The service we received from Char, and other servers I observed around us, was also noteworthy—friendly and knowledgeable and nicely attentive. Greenfire management should be commended. Good service is a rarity sadly.

Greenlighting Greenfire?
I would very much like to return to try some of the Asian noodles and stir fry I noted on the menu. Despite an excess of grease and salt in some dishes, I have the sense that there’s enough here that’s worth another try. We went expecting to like it, and though disappointed with some of our choices, we are fired up for a return trip to Tipp soon to give Greenfire Bistro another go. I’m hoping then I’ll be able to wholeheartedly give it the green light.

Cuisine: 40 of 50
Value: 24 of 25
Service: 25 of 25
Total Rating: 89

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Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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