First meal here. Had a very interesting evening at Columbia Firehouse last night. I was there with a group of 8-10 girls for a bachelorette party dinner. We were seated and didn't have cocktail menus and then didn't have drink orders for a long time, and had to flag down another waiter to get them taken. Which, ok we are a big group, but obviously celebrating. The cocktail menu looked good I tried the sparkling wine cocktail with macerated strawberries which was very good. I went with wine as it was going to be a long night. They had a good selection of wine with at varying price points. Then we were given a set menu without being told we would have a set menu and not getting to have input on that set menu. That irked me. If you want to give us a set menu- fine- but give the person organizing it a heads up and let them help. We choose the restaurant because of the strength of appetizers and our bachelorette loves their mussels and that wasn't on the set menu. So we asked the server to inquire whether we could have things off the regular menu. The GM came to our table explained they had a small, busy kitchen and that he would allow appetizers off the main menu, but entrees needed to be from the set menu. GM, as a note, perhaps you should tell groups when making a reservation about this policy. And as a note when you build a restaurant the size of Columbia Firehouse, perhaps make sure your kitchen is sizeable enough to handle the seating you put in. This place is huge between upstairs and downstairs, a small kitchen was not smart, but I digress.
So I had wanted mussels as my main course, but I obliged and ordered mussels to start. I had them with tomatoes and capers. The mussels were a good size and fresh, the broth was good, although it was a little too capery. It came with a huge amount of bread, which would have been better plain, instead of with extra garlic and butter, because you are sopping up the juice, you shouldn't need anything else. We also had onion rings, which were good, light batter type, with nice sauces. The real highlight was the cornbread. We had to request bread, but when the cornbread came it was worth the wait. Nice texture, not too sweet, airy, but moist, this was really good cornbread.
Then they brought out starters for people who had starters instead of appetizers, seemed a little odd to me, but ok. Entrees took a really long time to come out, but we bided our time with wine. I had salmon with gnocchi and broccoli rabe for dinner. The salmon was nicely cooked to medium it had nice spices on the skin. It came with a wonderful red wine sauce that sauced the broccoli rabe well. The gnocchi were good. They were light, but not pillowy. They weren't the best gnocchi I have ever had (Palena), but they weren't bad and they went well with the other components.
We had so much food we decided no dessert and headed to some bars for liquid dessert.
The food here was good, very solid. I would like to eat the food again, but the service... The server was really nice, he really tried, maybe he had too many tables, but the service was just slow. And it wasn't his fault that the kitchen took forever (and we stayed on the restricted menu for entrees and it took forever). But it's the type of place someone who really focuses on the whole experience of dining may not be whelmed with. Anyway I might go back to try some appetizers, but I won't be running back, especially with all the other options around. And I just thought the way the whole dinner was handled by management was improper.