- 7611 Ind. 311, Sellersburg, IN, 47172
- (812) 246-5456
- Overall User Rating:
- (2 ratings)
- Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday 8 a.m.-8 p.m. (breakfast is available on Saturday and Sunday only).
- Official Web Site:
So I say to my wife, “If I lived in Sellersburg, I’d think I was pretty lucky to have a restaurant like this.”
Says she, “I’d count myself pretty lucky if we had a restaurant like this in Louisville.”
She’s right about that. Seldom do you find a restaurant that’s equally adept at country and cosmopolitan cookery. But the Fireside Bar and Grill is just such a place.
The milk gravy tastes like my mother-in-law’s. The chicken livers are battered and fried to the point where they’re perfectly creamy and moist. On the other hand, you’ll also find excellent options that cater very smartly to diners with eclectic appetites and a craving for health-conscious dishes. In sum, you might describe the cuisine as Countrypolitan.
The Fireside (lots of folks know it as Neil and Patty’s, after the owners, Neil and Patty Smith) is a spacious, handsomely appointed eatery with a cozy, contemporary feel; multiple dining rooms; a splendid bar; and enough banquet space to host large parties.
Service is fast and friendly. It’s a family affair, and if Patty isn’t tied up in the kitchen, you’ll find her bustling in the dining room, talking to all and sundry in an accent that still sounds like Boston. Daughter Lauren — who over the last few years has upgraded the beverage program, which now has an excellent focus on craft beers — tends to bustle as well.
There’s no denying the quality of the country cooking. White beans with slightly sweetened cornbread ($2.49) were the real stuff, gently infused with the smell and taste of ham. Fried dishes are outstanding, from the tart green tomatoes finished in fine golden crumbs to the exquisitely battered onion rings (try them in an appetizer combo, $6.99, and you can sample other goodies as well).
Finding great chicken livers in these parts is harder than it ought to be — and for some of us, the Fireside livers alone will be worth the drive to Sellersburg ($5.49 in an appetizer portion; $10.99 as an entree with a couple of sides). And anything that comes with that sublime white gravy ought to be on the radar.
Burger lovers will love the generous, sturdily constructed bison burgers, which can be dressed in a seemingly unending wardrobe of garnishes and condiments. If you have trouble making a choice, just ask for the Sellersburger — Swiss cheese, Thousand Island dressing and sauteed onions and mushrooms ($7.99). You’ll be happy you did.
A grilled meatloaf sandwich had the light feel of freshly ground meat — and the alluring scent of Italian herbs ($7.99). But there are plenty of other sandwiches, as well: A Caprese club made with bacon and fresh mozzarella is accompanied by a nice tomato basil soup ($8.99); a burrito is constructed of grilled chicken and smoky chipotle aioli ($6.99).
No matter what sandwich you order, you ought to add an order of gazpacho slaw — which is as good as it sounds (a vividly colored slaw made from the same things you’d put in a classic gazpacho, including red and yellow bell peppers).
But this menu also wins you over with an excellent assortment of fresh, colorful dishes that reflect both cosmopolitan tastes and a mindful focus on offering healthy options. There are plenty of excellent Italian dishes (marinara, Alfredo and the like, $8.99-$11.99), and several dishes that touch on New Orleans-style cookery (ham and shrimp jambalaya served over Weisenberger grits, $12.99).
There are some excellent dinner salads, including a spring berry salad (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, toasted almonds, crumbled feta cheese and a finely balanced balsamic vinaigrette, $7.99) that’s good on its own but becomes even more fetching when topped with chunks of perfectly grilled chicken (an additional $2.50).
One entree finds nicely grilled chicken bedded down with crisp-tender steamed broccoli, toasted almonds and long-grain and wild rice (moisten it with a dash of soy sauce and a few squeezes of lemon juice and you have a flavorful, guilt-free meal, $8.99). Another entree — a 4-ounce portion of grilled salmon, some black beans and a scoop of lightly sauteed spinach — is pretty much the perfect example of how to make a meal that’s satisfying, interesting and light ($8.99).
Even the more luxurious meals — like a thick slab of pork loin marinated in dark beer, molasses and garlic, then finished with a rub of sage and garlic — show a light touch ($11.99).
And here’s the thing: If you order from the light side of the menu, you’ll have no compunctions about the desserts, which come from New Albany’s Sweet Stuff Bakery (www. sweetstuffbakery.com; 812-948-2507). And if the Fireside offers you a slice of Orange Dream cake — a three-layer masterpiece that’s reminiscent of soft-serve orange sherbet — you ought not turn it down.
You can email freelance restaurant critic Marty Rosen at email@example.com.