Prime rib is delicious at Fireside Restaurant

Restaurant review

Restaurant review

May 11, 2008|By EATON GOODE

The lesson at the Fireside Restaurant is simple. Stick with the specialty of the house and you can't go wrong.

Venture further afield - like, into the land of specials - and you might not be as happy.

My dining companion and I stopped by the Fireside one recent Sunday evening. The restaurant was not crowded - in fact only a couple other tables were occupied - and we were quickly shown to our table by a friendly and helpful wait staff.

The restaurant is at one end of the Plaza Hotel on the ground floor. It overlooks a parking lot and other buildings across the road. It's not a stunning view, but the interior of the restaurant is pleasant.

The main feature, as you would imagine, is a fireplace. It dominates the center of the room. Comfortable tables and chairs are placed throughout the room.


The wait staff is good about separating diners. I hate being crowded on one side of an otherwise not very busy restaurant for the convenience of the wait staff. At Fireside, they take advantage of slower evenings to separate diners throughout the room.

I appreciate information from the person waiting on my table, so I was pleased that the waiter took the time to explain each of the specials after he took our drink orders.

I had a glass of the house chardonnay. It cost $5.50 and can only be described as OK. I didn't feel the need to spit it out, but I won't order it again. I sipped on it throughout the meal.

My dining companion ordered the prime rib, something of a specialty for the Fireside. The restaurant offers a 16-ounce executive cut for $19.95, a 14-ounce house cut for $17.95, or a 12-ounce cut for $14.95.

My companion ordered the house cut and, on the waiter's recommendation, ordered it blackened.

I was intrigued by one of the specials - a seafood pasta - so decided to go in that direction. It had shrimp, scallops and crabmeat and was served with a sauted truffle butter sauce over penne pasta for $17.99.

We ordered the stuffed mushrooms for an appetizer but went to the salad bar while we were waiting for that to be served.

Whether you go to the Fireside Restaurant for lunch or for dinner, the salad bar is worth the trip. It isn't overly large, as salad bars go, but everything you find there is extremely fresh.

There is a choice of Caesar or regular salad, a variety of salad additions - tomatoes, green pepper, hard-boiled eggs, etc. - as well as several different pastas to choose from.

We were munching on our salads when the stuffed mushrooms arrived. We paid $8.95 for this appetizer. There were five mushrooms stuffed with, according to the menu, crabmeat; they were topped with melted Swiss cheese.

Frankly, most of what I tasted was the cheese. The mushrooms were fresh and the dish was hot. But, I could not have told you, for sure, that a main ingredient in those mushrooms was crab. I simply couldn't taste it.

When our entrees arrived, I immediately wished I'd ordered the prime rib. It looked absolutely delicious, with garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus on the side.

My pasta came in a large bowl and some shrimp and scallops were clearly visible. There were also pieces of asparagus and crab.

But the entire dish was dry. The truffle butter sauce added to neither the taste nor the texture of the dish. The seafood and asparagus bits were excellent, but I picked those out rather than eat them with the pasta.

My attention quickly turned to my companion's meal. The prime rib was worth the entire trip. Blackened, rare and extremely tender, this was an excellent piece of beef.

My companion graciously shared several bites with me and it was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I will definitely return to the Fireside just to have that meal myself.

The restaurant also gets high marks for the rolls and butter. A crispy roll with a soft center and real butter is always a treat.

We finished the meal by sharing a gigantic slice of raspberry cheesecake topped with walnuts. I also had a cup of coffee. The cheesecake was decadently rich and an excellent finish to the meal.

In all, the two of us spent $95, including tip, for this trip.

This is a pleasant place to have a nice meal. The service is very good and, while I was disappointed in one of the entrees, the prime rib was excellent.

Fireside Restaurant

3 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Food: 3 stars
Value: 4 stars
Service: 4 stars
Ambience: 3 stars

Address: 1718 Underpass Way, Hagerstown

Hours: Breakfast is served from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and from 7 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Lunch is served 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. daily. Dinner is served from 5 to 9 p.m. daily. Sunday brunch is offered 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Phone: 301-797-2500

Style: American cuisine

Web site:

Range: Appetizers from $3.95 for fried onion rings to scallops with Thai sauce for $9.95. Entrees range from $12.95 for grilled vegetable Napoleon to $32.95 for filet mignon and lobster tail. Soup and salad bar costs $8.95. Burgers and sandwiches are $7.95 to $13.95.

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