Fire on the Beach--a neighborhood bistro/cafe that probably can seat no more than 40--is the epitome of what American food should be. The little kitchen offers fresh, bright menu items that fuse the flavors of America, Asia, Mexico, Italy, and France (with a little twist of Greece for good measure) in a way that is as creative as that of any high-end restaurant or resort. But unlike it's over-priced, impossible-to-get-into big brothers in wealthy the boroughs and trendy neighborhoods around NY and Philadelphia, Fire is an exceedingly reasonable eatery that puts on no airs. The produce is local, the food came out of the kitchen with lightening speed (granted a rainy night had kept the crowds at bay), and the owners clearly care about what they are doing. Was it perfect? Not quite. The atmosphere has a somewhat temporary feel about it. And the watermelon in the watermelon steak appetizer was decidedly overripe, which lent the dish an unpleasant tang. But everything else--the two kinds of mac and cheese, the Buffalo Chicken BLT, the chicken and waffles, and the bowl of exceptional tater tots--was fantastic. There were two or three dinner salads and at least as many flatbread pizzas that are short-listed out for my next visit.
Hopefully Fire, which is in a restaurant space that has turned over at least twice in the last few years, will last; it's a very welcome addition to the monotonous, horribly unhealthy Ocean City food scene. (Pizza, anyone?) Make a reservation (which you'll find on your table on a sticky note) and RUN, don't walk, to check it out.
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