There were literally rainbows guiding our way...
Into the lofty dining room at Firewood in Park City: as the sun set, beams of light fragmented through the heavy glass of the restaurant’s historic Main Street entrance and painted shimmery kaleidoscopes onto the massive framed historical photographs of miners and logging camps lining the dining room walls. Merely a trick of light waves and serendipitous cut glass? Perhaps. But like our experiences at Firewood in general, those myriad little details all add up to go along with a singularly magical AF meal.
Award winning chef John Murcko returned to Park City last year as chef/owner to open Firewood on Main following a career running restaurants for the Bill White group, Talisker, and most recently resort fine dining operations in Sun Valley. Truly making it a family affair, Murcko collaborated on the restaurant’s distinctively wood forward mountain-town-made-modern design with his father, the artist Bill Murcko. Formerly housing Cicero’s, the building now incorporates warm touches like the tables Bill and John hand-built from reclaimed wood, the salvaged mining equipment as décor in the downstairs Nickel Bar, and the massive ceiling fans made from ranch windmill blades.
Inspired by cooking exclusively over flame at his family’s remote Escalante cabin through the years, Chef Murcko says of his culinary inspiration for cooking almost exclusively over embers, “It finally hit me: this is what I’ve always loved to do, either at my place at Escalante or in a restaurant kitchen.” He just needed to figure out how to make it scalable for fine dining.
Behold: the open kitchen’s star of the show, a custom Grillworks Infierno fourteen-foot-long grill.
But this ain’t your typical family backyard BBQ. Without a gas flame in sight, the entire cook station centers around the meticulous care and feeding of each of four grill stations maintained at exacting temperatures to prepare the restaurant’s ever-evolving menu. Think satisfying chops, roasts, seared fish and charred and wood-smoked vegetable and fruit elements. And if it’s on the menu, trust us: get the kobe beef tartare with lobster and grilled rye toast points. And the delicate branzini with subtly-smoked potato dauphinoise. Oh, and anything chocolate on the dessert menu. Especially if it comes with charred citrus gelato.
“It’s an incredibly creative learning process," says Murcko.
“It takes about ten days, plus or minus, for a cook to really get how to operate each station,” making the already challenging task of working in a professional kitchen even that much more exacting. Indicative of both Murcko’s star-power reputation in the culinary world and the unique wood-fired environment, emerging chefs have been vying to stage (that’s chef-speak for an internship) at Firewood.
Whether relaxing in the cozy downstairs Nickel Bar with an upscale old fashioned (made with cherry wood smoked demerara sugar), or seated in the Chef’s Library (directly adjacent to the grill for VIP service), Murcko’s attention to detail is thoughtful and authentic. And in true testament to both the culinary concept and overall light touch with design, it never feels gimmicky. For applications both subtle and spectacular, Firewood’s kiss of flame is something pretty special. Each flavor emphasizes fire as more than a technique or element, but an ingredient in and of itself.
If you’ve got the urge to light a fire under your own ass to check out Firewood, hold your torches; Chef Murcko and crew are taking their annual shoulder-season break beginning April 15 to reboot and recharge. We’re COLLECTIVELY cooling our heels until we can check out Murcko’s latest Escalante inspirations for this year’s summer menu starting up May 24th. No doubt, it’ll be lit.
Firewood on Main | 306 Main St., Park City | 435.252.9900