Featured Post

Ice Cream Chronicles - New Interactive Map

As you may have noticed, a new interactive Google Map containing all the location and links to all my Ice Cream Chronicles posts is now acce...

An Effing(ham) Nice Surprise: Firefly Grill (Effingham, IL)

Unlike the nearby proclaimed World's Largest Cross, Effingham's
still substantial Firefly Grill isn't as easily seen from the freeway
A fairly memorable review I read about this restaurant (I'm paraphrasing a bit here) declared that this restaurant's location was as if an alien spacecraft had stolen a good restaurant from a more renowned dining city to take back to its home planet. When the aliens discovered they had been sighted by Earth-bound authorities, they hastily dropped their cargo, including the restaurant, in the middle of proverbial nowhere USA.

Effingham, Illinois isn't really that small (the last census puts the town at just over 12,000 people) nor is it really in the middle of nowhere, lying at the junction of two Interstate highways and two train lines. Still, to find something like a fancy eatery here like the Firefly Grill within these city limits, which is chock full of chain-style restaurants, is still quite surprising.

Firefly Grill is the brainchild of husband and wife team Niall (a professional chef who has worked with well-known chefs like Bradley Ordgen) and Kristie Campbell, a former equities trader. They were in Effingham for a friend's wedding when they observed that there really wasn't anywhere in town to eat. Within weeks, the idea to establish such a restaurant in town, as crazy an idea as it may have seemed (the closest major metropolitan area to Effingham is St. Louis, roughly one-and-a-half hours away), began to percolate and on Fat Tuesday, 2006, the Firefly Grill officially opened for business.

The first encounter the spouse and I had with this eatery was during the move out for me to Ohio. We had read hints that this eatery did exist, but the directions provided by our hotel staff seemed to put us seemingly on an isolated country road more suited for teenagers trying to escape the clutches of Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees. However, as we drove down the road, the glow from this rather large building emerged almost oasis-like in our sights on what was a cold, misty Midwest December evening.

On that initial visit, we both had been craving pizza and were treated to some fairly tasty pies (of Columbus' pizzas, they remind me of Harvest Pizzeria's creations.) On the start of our recent trip to Colorado, we were due to arrive in Effingham right around lunch, so we were eager to stop by the Firefly Grill for our second visit.

The Firefly Grill's vaguely barn-shaped structure holds lots of indoor and
outdoor seating, a bar area, and family photographs of the proprietors.
Arriving in the daytime and outside of the winter season allowed us to see much more of the Firefly Grill than we did on our first visit. We noticed the presence of outdoor seating both in the front and rear of the property; those who sit in the back can grab a view of a small lake stocked with a variety of fish. The facility has turned out to be a perfect spot for many to host weddings or related receptions (the restaurant can seat over 300 people during the summer.) The restaurant has also gotten accolades for its ecologically-friendly practices, earning an acknowledgement from Bon Appetit magazine in 2008.

While some of the staples we saw lat time were on the menu (the brick oven pizza that we enjoyed last visit was available), the offerings on Firefly Grill's menu rotate with the seasonal offerings in both produce and proteins and cover the gamut of cuisines (offerings included Bhutanese Fried Red Rice, Szechuan Pork Shank and Southern Fried Chicken and Waffles. Throw in the $10 specials menu as well as this day's St. Patrick's Day-oriented dinner option ($55 got you a black Irish lamb stew, corned beef with Brussels Sprouts and buttered heirloom potatoes, and a triple-layer ganache Guinness chocolate cake), choosing which delicious-sounding dish to have was a little bit more a challenge than normal.

Firefly Grill has plenty on the menu, including Fish and Chips and a Corned
Beef Reuben that we ordered as a nod to St. Patrick's Day
While we couldn't do the full dinner due to our travel status, we decided to at least tip a hat to the day's festivities with an order of Fish and Chips ($12) and a Firefly Reuben Sandwich ($14). They made for a satisfying and filling meal which got us nicely through to our dinner destination that night of Kansas City.

From a traveler's perspective, Effingham may always remain that modest-sized freeway town whose culinary offerings are geared to the grab-and-go traveler; however, Firefly Grill has shown that even out here, there is the room for a more upscale concept to thrive.

Firefly Grill
1810 Ave. of Midamerica
Effingham, IL 62401
(217) 342-2002
Facebook     Instagram     Twitter     Website

Firefly Grill on Urbanspoon

No comments:

Post a Comment