7211 166th Ave NE
Redmond WA 98052
Warm Your Palate at Desert Fire
By: Steve G
With a name like desert fire, you'd expect some overwhelming spices and enough heat to burn off your tongue. You won't find much of that here. In actuality, Desert Fire is a restaurant that specializes in Southwestern Tex-Mex cuisine, but unlike other Tex-Mex places, Desert Fire has a unique niche of offering fine dining and an extremely comfortable experience to go along with your Southwest-inspired meals.
The most eye-catching thing you'll see as you're led to your table is the massive fire pit in the center of the room. Wooden beams protrude from the walls and look to support the ceiling, giving the place a cavernous, fire pit look to it. Large stone masks are randomly scattered throughout the walls and the semi earth color tones cap off the decor making it feel like your dining a cave.
The menu is pretty diverse offering up a little of everything. There's a wide variety of salads, sandwiches, seafood, and meat dishes that are sure to pique anyone's fancy. Some of the items, like the Grande Caesar, are just variations of the original dish with a few extra ingredients mixed in, like tortilla strips, to give it that "Southwest" style. It seems a little tacked on, but you have to understand that they are going for a certain type of style with the dishes.
We started with the Sedona Spring Rolls made with crisp flour tortillas wrapped around roasted chicken and vegetables with a Chipotle BBQ dipping sauce. Bryan opted for the Black Range Bison Burger as he can't pass up on a unique meat, while Grant ordered the Santa Fe Stuffed Chicken. I opted for the Red Rock Meatloaf with its jalapeno gravy to see if the gravy can live up to the name of Desert Fire.
The black range bison burger sounded great on paper, but Bryan didn't fancy it much once he tasted it. The patty was very thin and tasted pre-made as opposed to being a true handmade chuck patty. The caramelized onions added a sweet taste to it, but it couldn't completely win him over. The jalapeno cheddar bun had no spicy taste and very little cheddar taste. He felt like it was a misleading description of the food. The seasoned fries also lacked any type of seasoning at all. It left Bryan scratching his head asking, "What gives Desert Fire?"
Grant dished turned out a better performance. Served with a roasted pepper cream sauce and a side of asparagus, pine nuts, cilantro, and pesto, the Santa Fe chicken was quite delicious, but hit a few snags here and there. The roasted red pepper cream was fantastic, especially when mixed in with the rice. Very creamy with a few sharp notes from the cilantro and pesto, it had a great balance of flavor. The potato strings were quite fun to eat with their crispy texture. While all of the sides were great, the chicken itself was lackluster. Stuffed with a good amount of goat cheese, it suffered from being a little overcooked and taste very dry. It's only a few steps away from being a complete dish.
The Red Rock Meatloaf was made of ground beef and chorizo slathered in a jalapeno gravy. The use of chorizo was excellent as it really gave it zesty flavor not often found in meatloaf. The jalapeno gravy was quite potent and I don't recommend people with a low tolerance of spicy food to order this dish: it's very hot. In fact, I'm getting flashbacks just thinking about how hot it was. An impressive dish that's not meant for the weak stomach.
While some of the dishes were a little lackluster, the overall experience was pretty good at Desert Fire. The best thing going for it is its ambiance which was very relaxing and cozy. It isn't a destination point that's worth the trek out to the Redmond area if you're not local, but a decent choice for those looking for southwest food in a very fancy environment.