Woodfire Grill, Davenport, Iowa
In reality, this post should have been here a while ago, because of what it means to both myself and Amy. This is the place where our relationship really started, because a year ago, the two of us had our first date here. However, it’s taken a year to put it up because at the time, I wasn’t yet blogging, and when the blog started, I wasn’t going to go without her. But with her finally here for our anniversary, it was the perfect time for us to make a return to Woodfire, located just north of the Mississippi River in downtown Davenport.
The main thing that sets Woodfire apart is its ambiance. The tables are candlelit, the walls are adorned with artfully designed wood, the noise is at a soft level that doesn’t come close to overwhelming. Plus, the staff is completely professional. From the moment you step inside, it’s clear that you’re in a classy establishment. It’s not quite on the level of Bern’s, but it’s clearly class all the way.
That you’re able to be in it at all is a matter of handling a couple of fires, literally. Woodfire got its start in 2008, after its building caught fire and the owners of the previous restaurant decided to sell rather than fix it. Three years later, Woodfire itself fell victim to an exhaust fire and had to close its doors. However, it was able to reopen, and it returned as one of the best places to dine in the Quad-Cities.
The main thing that makes it so is its presentation and its commitment to quality. As the name implies, it uses hickory and oak (both excellent-quality wood for cooking and grilling) to achieve great taste, and it only uses high-quality ingredients. Much like Red Mesa, Woodfire treats its dishes as a work of art, with its sides being part of the dish rather than separate from them. Its creativity is hardly limited to its entrees, either, as Amy and I found out with our starters.
I’d already had Woodfire’s soup of the day once before on my first visit, a beer cheese soup that was the perfect mix of creaminess and thickness. This day was different, as Woodfire put out a bacon cheeseburger soup, complete with lettuce and tomato. Honestly, my thought was that it was basically a good chili with lettuce, which is a compliment. Good chili anywhere is not easy to find. Add in Woodfire’s outstanding herbed bread with butter, and you have a fantastic starter. I’m not sure what kind of herbs are in the bread, but they work so well.
However, the soup and the bread, as good as they are, pale in comparison to Amy’s salad. Amy might not put as much research into these things as I do, but she certainly knows a good opportunity when she spots one, which is one of the many things I love about her. Woodfire, living up to its name, offers a grilled Caesar salad, which involves putting the Romaine lettuce on the grill before adding the dressing and Parmesan cheese. Having tried a couple bites myself, this was incredible. The lettuce is crisp and gets an extra flavor from the wood, and the dressing works perfectly. I don’t even like Caesar salad, and I found this thing to be outstanding.
This led into the entrees, where Woodfire again shines. As I’ve said many times before here, Amy and I both love seafood, and grilled seafood is a really rare treat for me, since I don’t have the luxury of living by a bay as she does. Plus, continuing with a theme of ocean creatures I had yet to taste, I had never had swordfish before, and it was something I really wanted to experience. With that in mind, I went with the grilled Key lime swordfish, figuring that since swordfish acts more like a steak than many other fish, this would be outstanding grilled.
It was an excellent guess. The swordfish was incredibly light and flavorful, served on top of a bed of redskin mashed potatoes. With a creamy sauce made from the Key lime juice and some pico de gallo, it was just like a good fish should be with a bit of a southwestern flair. The citrus flavor is a perfect complement with both the potatoes and the fish, and with some grilled broccoli in the equation as well, this is a fulfilling and satisfying meal. Once again, my first experience with something is probably going to be the best I’ll ever have. I’m totally fine with that.
Amy opted for a whiskey-glazed salmon with a Thai hot sauce, sriracha, also served on a bed of redskin potatoes. Once again, I was able to try a small bit, and her meal was simply amazing. The whiskey’s sweetness counteracts with the sriracha, and the heat wasn’t noticeable to me. Even if it was, it would have been perfect for her, as Amy is substantially more tolerant of heat than I am. In addition to her meal, Amy also opted for a glass of white wine, which she said was outstanding.
That’s pretty much the only way to sum up Woodfire, which does a lot and does it all well. When in search of a good meal in the perfect atmosphere, this is one of the best places to go in the Quad-Cities. It took me a while and importing my girlfriend to do it, but I finally found a worthy restaurant in Davenport.
Time to go: Dinner. The atmosphere at Woodfire is perfect for a date, and a visit here is too nice to waste on lunch.
Wait during my visit: None. For some reason, downtown Davenport is absolutely dead on Sunday nights, so Amy and I have never had to wait for a table. This might not always be the case.
Location: Woodfire is at 131 W. Second Street in Davenport, Iowa, the largest of the Quad-Cities.
Parking: A couple spots are right outside the restaurant, and there are several spots available for free elsewhere in the city.
Cost: Substantial. Remember how I said this place is classy? That doesn’t come cheap. Most plates are about $20 before adding sides or appetizers or drinks.
Seating arrangement: Booths and chairs.
Specialty items: Wood-grilled entrees.