Woodfire Grill in downtown Davenport is one of few fine dining restaurants we have in the Quad Cities. The open and airy restaurant features a diverse menu that includes gourmet pizza, steaks, pasta, seafood, burgers, and classic Midwestern dishes such as glazed pork chops, beef brisket and meat loaf. It's actually pretty damn good.
Woodfire Grill opened in March of 2008 in the former space that housed Centro in the Redstone Building, just below the River Music Experience and Redstone Room in downtown Davenport (see map). Centro had suffered a fire in late 2007 and their owners decided to sell the establishment rather than remodel and reopen. Toby Christianson is the managing partner in The Woodfire Grill and helped open upscale restaurants at various places around the Midwest. Executive chef Blake Schar has a number of years of experience at restaurants in Arizona, Colorado, Chicago and New York.
Just like it's predecessor, Woodfire Grill uses a wood-fired brick oven to cook many of their entrees. The wonderful scent of hickory smoke can be smelled throughout the downtown Davenport area. It's a place where you can walk in with a coat and a tie on, or in a pair of shorts and a polo shirt and feel welcome.
Actually, Cindy and I made the mistake of going to Woodfire Grill only three days after it opened up. We were going to a performance at the Redstone Room and decided to just go have dinner at the new restaurant, not knowing that it had only opened three days prior. We knew we were breaking our rule of not eating at a restaurant for the first three months after opening (to allow all the bugs to be worked out of the system, so to speak), but we thought it had opened a month or so before.
I had the woodfired meatloaf with a sweet barbecue glaze that night and it was very good. But Cindy had ordered a ribeye steak, medium. They brought her out a top sirloin strip. Cindy exclaimed, "This is the most lean ribeye I've ever seen!"
We called the waiter over and I asked him, "Is this the ribeye?"
He said, "Isn't that what the lady ordered?"
I said, "Yeah, she ordered the ribeye, but this looks more like a strip."
He sort of held it up, looked at it and said, "No, I think this is a ribeye."
I had Cindy cut into the meat. It was void of any significant marbling like you find on a ribeye. I said, "That's a strip steak."
The waiter said, "Do you want me to send it back?"
Cindy, knowing we were up against a time deadline to get up to the show, said, "No, I'll just have this."
When we were presented with our bill, I noticed that he had still charged us for the ribeye, which was 8 bucks more expensive. (The strip was 10 oz, the ribeye 18 oz. - Cindy figured that she would cut off a lot of the marbled fat and then get a to-go box for what she didn't eat. And since we were parked just outside the door at Woodfire Grill, she could just set it in the car before we went upstairs.) When the waiter came back, I pointed out that he had charged us for the ribeye. He said, "But that's what she ordered."
I said, "Yes, I know. But you brought out a strip steak and she had that instead."
He then said, "Oh, yes. I remember. So, you want me to adjust the bill?"
I looked at him rather incredulously for even asking the question and I said, "Well, yes! Of course!"
It wasn't much longer when the waiter brought back the adjusted bill. Not long after that, the owner, Toby Christianson, came to our table to introduce himself and to see how everything was. I told him about the mix-up in the steaks and how we had still been initially charged for the ribeye. He apologized profusely and said the staff was going through some "growing pains." He said, "I do hope you give us another chance."
Cindy said, "Oh, we'll be back. We just sort of have a policy of not going to new restaurants for the first three months to allow all the kinks to get out of the system."
Toby sort of stood there for a second and said, "That's a great rule to have. Except if everyone followed it, a lot of restaurants would be out of business before the 90 days were up."
I said, "That's why I let other people be the guinea pigs."
Well, we have been back to Woodfire Grill on a number of occasions since then, including a rather rainy/snowy night in March after my first hip replacement. Cindy and I have been doing "date nights" on Monday night lately and trying to spend some time together out of the house. (God knows we've been spending a lot of time together IN the house after my surgeries.) Actually, I wanted pizza that evening, but Cindy didn't. We compromised and went down to Woodfire Grill so she could get a steak and I could get pizza.
The pizza at Woodfire Grill is an eclectic mix of fresh ingredients, a rather thin and flaky crust and some interesting toppings. While they only have six different pizzas to offer (they don't allow you to mix or match ingredients), all of them are very interesting. The one I like is the andouille sausage and mushrooms. They use large chunks of andouille sausage, cut from the ring, and they add slices of garden fresh mushrooms, topping it with a wonderfully sweet and light marinara sauce and REAL mozzarella cheese, not the processed type you find at most pizza places. It's cooked in the woodfired oven at around 700 degrees for about 12 minutes and the taste is, well, it's great. We don't have a lot of great pizza places in the Quad Cities and I wish Woodfire Grill would offer more toppings, but what they have is very, very good.
This time, Cindy DID order the sirloin strip steak on purpose - medium. It came with a vegetable medley of broccoli, cauliflower, red peppers and corn. Cindy also wanted some wine with dinner and I ordered a bottle of the Mill Creek cabernet. I was still going to have a beer with my pizza - it's the only way to truly eat pizza - but a glass of wine or two was going to be nice on a cold night in March.
It wasn't a busy night at Woodfire Grill, so our waitress was attentive and on top of things. Not long after we opened and poured the wine, our food made it to the table. Cindy was very pleased with her steak, cooked perfectly and had a great taste quality to it. And, of course, my pizza was wonderful, as well. I'd really rather have a good spicy Italian sausage on the pizza, but I really do like the andouille sausage on the Woodfire Grill pizza.
Although the pizzas are 12" in diameter at Woodfire Grill, they're very light and don't bomb your gut like other pizzas can. I've found that on my diet I can easily eat a small pizza that is light and thin in the crust and it doesn't have a lasting effect on my waistline.
Cindy sort of wanted to see the dessert menu, but the girl brought our check out before she even asked if we wanted dessert. I certainly didn't, but Cindy thought she needed something sweet. Cindy said, "She didn't even ask if we wanted coffee after the meal."
I said, "Do you want a coffee?"
She said, "No, but it's just the principle of asking."
Oh, boy. I've turned my wife into a restaurant snob.
The gaffe of not asking if we wanted dessert or coffee, notwithstanding, the meal at Woodfire Grill was very good. With the wine and tip, it was a little expensive - even for date night. But if you get to the Quad Cities and want a fine meal at a reasonable price, it's tough to find a better place than Woodfire Grill. I think they've worked out the kinks in the system by now...