July 2017. Two months ago, we received this email.
Intrigued, I replied with a few questions and suggested that we might be able to dine at Firefly and write a review for the Guide sometime in July. I explained that I would soon have surgery to repair a severed Achilles tendon on my right foot and would not be able to drive or walk for 2 months. The next day Sharon replied:
My right foot had been in a cast causing me to be housebound for the past 6 weeks except for two doctor visits. Ms. Karen had been nursing me and two old sick dogs during this time. We were both ready for a little outing.
It was a Saturday and the monsoon rains had been quite active for more than a week. I asked my wife what would she like to do.
Knowing Karen would have to drive, I thought it a bit strange that she was willing to travel 90 miles round trip for one dining review, but I agreed. I also suggested that Neighbor Roy might also like to get out of his house for a couple hours. He did.
So on a stormy Saturday late morning, we three left the seclusion of our Tucson Mountain homes and headed for beautiful downtown Amado, (population 862).
As I typically do prior to visiting a restaurant for a dining review, I checked the various online review sights to see if we could reasonably expect a good experience. I do this because I don’t like writing negative reviews. If TripAdvisor, Yelp, UrbanSpoon, etc. give an establishment low ratings, we just don’t go there.
Firefly had generally favorable online reviews. The most common complaint was that the place is very noisy. Those who thus complained suggested dining on their patio. So that is where we expected to be seated when we arrived.
View from Firefly patio.
American Style Cuisine?
I also checked out their online lunch menu. It claims that they specialize in “American Style Cuisine”. REALLY? A quick glance at the menu revealed some odd inconsistencies. To wit: Tuscan Quesadilla; Greek Nachos; Cordon Blu Sandwich; Pierogi & Beer Brats; Teryaki Chicken Tacos; Irish Beef Stew. Aside for misspelling “teriyaki”, the Firefly menu seems remarkably international and includes offerings from Italy, Greece, France, Poland, Japan, Mexico, and Ireland.
Firefly is located in a complex of buildings along with the Amado Territorial Inn, aka. Bed and Breakfast, aka. Ranch. There are no directional signs to guide dining adventurers such as us. Neither was it obvious where the handicap entrance was located.
The rain was pouring down and I had to navigate my knee scooter around the back of the building in search of a handicap ramp. Wet but undaunted, we three made our way up to the “quiet” patio deck. Only it wasn’t quiet. A microburst was dumping huge raindrops on the tin roof. It was like being inside a kettledrum. Fortunately, a nice lady cradling some menus was holding the door open and invited us inside.
Margarita at Firefly in Amado
Once inside, the nice lady did not mention her name but said that she would be our server and that we could sit anywhere we want to. A quick glance around revealed that (a) Firefly can easily handle a hundred diners but (b) we would constitute only the third occupied table. (It was early.) We chose a table from which we could look out over the deck to the gardens just beyond. Interior noise would not be an issue this day.
Once comfortably seated with a pleasant view, our waitress took our drink orders. As usual, Ms. Karen ordered a dry white wine, in this case a Pinot Grigio. As usual, Neighbor Roy ordered hot tea, Earl Gray. I ordered a Coach Q, Firefly’s version of a margarita. None proved satisfying.
After some discussion with our server about options, Karen ordered their Chopped Salad; Roy ordered the Salmon Gyro; and I ordered the Fish Fry, Firefly’s rendition of Fish ‘n Chips.
The following are our individual comments.
We wanted to go to Firefly on the recommendation of a waitress there. I felt obliged to try it out, since someone bothered to let us know. We almost went to Agustin Kitchen, as monsoon clouds were looming and, of course, I was driving, due to hubby’s foot surgery several weeks earlier.
I got to talking and took a wrong turn. Bad omen. Then it started pouring rain just as we arrived. I wondered how to get our handicapped person into the restaurant, at least somewhat dry. It was the long way around, but he made it and the rain petered off.
We had read the reviews recommending we sit outside since the interior tended to be noisy. However the cacophony of rain on the tin roof pushed us inside. Thankfully there were only a few tables occupied. It was early on a Saturday. We sat with a view of the gardens out back.
Southwest Chopped Salad at Firefly’s
The menu was brand new, not the one on the website. This was the first day it was being introduced. What I had chosen from the website, a Caesar salad, (love to compare Caesar salads) was usurped by a Southwest Chopped Salad ($10), topped with a delicious “Cowboy Caviar” (marinated corn & beans), also available in the appetizer menu. Wonderfully tangy dressing. Very filling. The wine choices were limited. Mostly California wines. I chose an Italian Pinot Grigio. $9. Not very exciting. Perhaps they can do better with the wine selection.
Roy’s Salmon Gyro at Firefly Restaurant in Amado Arizona.
The interior is one of subtle ambiance. I suggest adding background music appropriate to the setting. The tea is not up to the rest of the menu. Earl Gray is a distinctive tasting tea, which was lacking from the offerings. Most were herbal teas. I suggest they get another supplier.
My lunch was quite tasty. The salmon gyro was well presented, most appealing to the eye. The veggies were grilled expertly. Perhaps fresh baked bread or rolls would have been appropriate.
Dessert was sublime. The blueberry bread pudding with caramel drizzle and vanilla ice cream is intended for 4 people to share. Were I alone I would have finished the whole thing by myself.
The setting is very appealing. One would never think that this is a small town in Arizona. I give Firefly a 3 1/2 saguaros rating. But has the potential to become a 4 with relatively minor fixes.
My Fish Fry was very good. Not the freshest fish I every had, but still quite tasty.
Jim’s Fish Fry at Firefly Restaurant in Amado Arizona.
Unlike so many fish ‘n chips in Tucson, my battered halibut was not at all greasy. The coleslaw was a bit odd. Sweeter than what I am used to. It did not have the familiar tang of white wine vinegar. That said, I ate it all and enjoyed it.
The tartar sauce was a bit bland but that only prompted me to add more lemon than usual. The accompanying French fries were good, but not great. Could have been crispier. But sharing them with Ms. Karen, they disappeared quickly enough.
My margarita was disappointing. Tasted weak or watered down and could not taste the tequila. This was particularly annoying once I remembered that one of the best margaritas in all of Southern Arizona was only a couple of miles down the frontage road at Wisdom’s Café.
Firefly BlueBerry Bread Pudding.
None of the three of us typically order dessert when dining out. But when our server mentioned blueberry bread pudding with caramel drizzle a la mode, the decision was immediate and unanimous. Roy described it as “sublime”. I suppose so. I would have described this pudding as somewhere between splendid and magnificent. “Excellent” doesn’t quite do it justice.
Very seldom does a restaurant owner or manager know we dined at their establishment until a few weeks later when our review is published. Now we made Firefly an exception.
Jim, satisfied diner. Sharon, Firefly server extraordinaire.
Having nearly completed our fine meals, I told our server about the email we received from someone named Sharon. “Is there a Sharon who works here?”
“That’s me!” she exclaimed. “I sent you the email. Oh, thank you for coming.” We told Sharon that we were glad we did.
3001 E. Frontage Rd.
Amado, AZ 85645
Do we recommend Firefly to our friends & family. We do.
On the strength of the entrees, dessert, service, and ambiance, particularly the view past the deck, we rate Firefly a 4-Saguaro … Very Good! What issues we had can be easily mitigated. Perhaps get Roy some Newman’s Own Organic Earl Gray tea. And Ms. Karen some excellent but relatively inexpensive New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc like Kim Crawford or Nobilo. And just replicate Wisdom’s margaritas. There, all fixed!
Firefly is closed Mondays. As of this writing the website has not been updated with the new menu which includes a Sunday Brunch that we will have to check out soon. Firefly is a pleasant getaway from the big city.