Firehouse Pub & Grill 

Having been married to a firefighter for almost 10 years, I'm a committed fan of all things "firehouse," from those who dwell in them to what goes on in their kitchens. One thing is certain: apart from an emergency dispatch, nothing comes between a firefighter and his next meal.

The key word in firehouse cooking is "enough." Meals must be flavorful enough to suit different palates, varied enough to provide choices, and most important, there must be enough food to satisfy a hungry guy who spends his days spraying water on flames. Meridian's Firehouse Pub & Grill meets that criteria and adds the enhancement of a full bar, including 20 beers on tap, big screen TVs and bright red pool tables.

Hidden behind a Subway, the Firehouse Pub & Grill lurks in a mini-strip mall, its generic exterior decidedly inconspicuous. The firehouse theme was not immediately evident until I raised my eyes to the ceiling and saw several 2-and-a-half-inch hose lines draped across the exposed H-Vac system like streamers. A few fire agency T-shirts hung high on one wall were easy to overlook amongst numerous beer signs. Smack in the middle of the lunch hour, I was surprised to find myself alone at the bar.

The easy-to-navigate menu offers a primal selection of hand-held eats: burgers, sandwiches and wraps, all of which come with fries or tots. Eyebrow cocked, I opted for a fajita chicken salad ($7.50), wondering if this mannish sports pub could do fresh produce with confidence. Within minutes, I was mowing through crisp lettuce covered in shredded cheese, sliced olives, salsa and a generous heap of fajita-seasoned diced chicken. A pair of packaged saltines seemed an odd garnish for a south-of-the-border style salad when tortilla chips were available for nachos, I noted. Also, I would have preferred darker greens in the mostly iceberg salad, but the portion was deceptively large and kept me grazing for three innings of a ball game on the flat screen behind the bar. I welcomed the ninja heat of the chicken that crept up without warning and couldn't be extinguished with ice water. Thank goodness for my frosty pint of Deschutes Mirror Pond Ale ($3.75).

Feeling virtuous for having dined on rabbit fare, I decided to mitigate the excess fiber with an order of 10 wings ($8.75), mostly because I was interested in the long list of sauces with varying levels of heat. The helpful bartender watched me wrestle with indecision (lemon pepper garlic or sweet-and-sour? Hot or "flaming" hot?) for several minutes before suggesting his most popular sell, the garlic Parmesan. The parmesean-crusted wings kicked out a well-calibrated warmth that was assertive enough to warrant a dip in the accompanying bleu cheese dressing, but not so much that it would take a fire hydrant to soothe my tongue.

Whether you're a guy with the appetite of a firefighter, or a girl with an appetite for a firefighter, at Firehouse Pub & Grill, you'll get enough--enough flavor, enough variety and more than enough food.

--Sarah Barber didn't start the fire. It was always burning, since the world's been turning.

Boise Weekly sends two reviewers to every restaurant we review. Read what our other reviewer had to say about Firehouse Pub & Grill.

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