The Firebird Diner pays tribute to the classic American eatery of the nineteen fifties; delivering a timeless dining experience with Chef Michael Mina’s interpretation of the all-American diner featuring refined versions of classic dishes found in diners across America. Plush booths, tables, chrome light fixtures, neon signage and a signature diner-style counter on monochrome flooring sets the stage for an authentic experience – a jukebox is the showstopper of the main dining room. It definitely looks and feels like a diner, no question, but it has a heavy layer of shine that’s less all-American diner and more Dubai glamorous.
There are a handful of dishes you would expect to find in a diner; including grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken wings and an “All American” burger. The Main Lobster Rolls was well executed – this dish is comprised of sweet shredded lobster with celery and Chesapeake mayonnaise’ on a warm buttered brioche. Albeit a small portion, it was delicious and well done.
The second shared starter was the Brooklyn Cheese Balls – fried mozzarella in a beefy tomato sauce with burrata – which can be described as a cheesier version of bolognese sauce. The fried mozzarella was light and crispy and is well accompanied by the beef sauce, however, in my opinion the cherry tomatoes were excessive.
Main courses are particularly carnivorous, with the Classic Firebird burger topped with Cheddar cheese and onion marmalade. The beef patty was juicy and cooked well, the bun was generously buttered and soft and the duck fat fries were crispy and tasty.
The Southern Style Fried Chicken was less thrilling. The chicken, though battered and fried to a nice crisp, was under-seasoned, flavorless and underwhelming. Simply put, I was disappointed.
Finally, can one visit a diner without splitting a sundae (or eating it entirely oneself)? Not me. The ingredients in the Banana Foster sundae married well together – served with cinnamon ice cream, mini Elvis toast, crushed Linzer cookies and caramelized bananas in a rich toffee sauce – which makes up for the flawed mains. The berry-covered New York Cheesecake was just as refreshing, garnished with rose meringue.
All together, Michael Mina has curated a menu at Firebird Diner worth talking about. However, the price of the bill doesn’t match the execution. Whilst I applaud the chef for taking a risk, I am unsure Firebird Diner is innovative enough to be considered anything more than expensive diner food – and whether any of this food should be sold under the facade of American diner food is debatable.