Flame Burns Even Brighter Second Time Around at WhiteFire
by MVBRB - "Burger Guyz" | 123 entries
By Eric Tranovich
It was February 23, 2014. The Ukraine had just named Oleksandr Turchynov as interim president, the closing ceremonies for the XXII Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia were commencing, Peter Fonda was celebrating his 74th birthday, and the BurgerGuyz were settling in for an evening of dining at WhiteFire Grille & Spirits in Canfield, Ohio. We were all impressed by our meals that night, awarding an overall 4 stars to the quiet restaurant. Fast forward four years later and we were contacted by new head chef Brad Miller who wanted us to stop in and try out some of the new concoctions he was working on. I went out on reconnaissance to determine what exactly Brad had up his sleeves.
I remembered our first visit to WhiteFire a few years back and was looking forward to trying them once again. With Brad at the helm now and knowing what he is capable of when he works his magic in the kitchen, I couldn’t wait to sample what he had in store. Brad has been professionally cooking for 15 years, but just recently took up the position at WhiteFire about 4 months ago. He stated that all the beef they use is from the prime trimmings mix of brisket and short rib. As far as seasoning goes, he keeps it simple with just salt and pepper, adding that “a good quality product will speak for itself.”
I dined that evening with my wife and daughter and we were escorted first to a special table Brad had set up for us. However my seven-year-old, being the boss she thinks she is, instead decided we take a quiet booth right next to the fireplace. We began our meal by selecting an appetizer called the “Tavern Tots”. They are made from scratch from shredded potatoes, egg, scallions, and a proprietary blend of seasonings. They are first par baked, then finished in the fryer and topped with a slice of jalapeno pepper. A plate of three tots were brought to us. My wife and I both had a bite and found them to be very tasty with a lot of flavor. My daughter was not as willing to share them however and had no problem cleaning the plate. Soon after Brad brought us out what we had been waiting for: three burgers he handcrafted that I personally fell in love with at first sight.
The first burger, called the Youngstown Pound, consisted of a one-pound burger topped with chicken confit (cooked for eight hours in lard), house made barbecue sauce, spinach, pickled peppers and onions, feta cheese, and onion rings. Burger number two, the Pork Belly Hash, had pork belly bacon, greens, peppers and onions, garlic, oregano, rosemary, and a poached egg with Carbonaro sauce all throughout. The third and final burger, the Rolling Veal, included two types of sauces (Mornay sauce and espagnole brown sauce), fried egg, veal short rib, pickles and tomatoes. Each burger towered over its plate, and Brads assertation that they were all “knife and fork” burgers held one hundred percent true. Add in a side of crispy French fries and we were set to tackle the challenge that laid ahead.
We decided we would try each burger together and started with the Rolling Veal. As we would find with the other two, attempting to cut this mammoth burger without losing any of the toppings proved futile. But we made it work and the flavor explosion each of us experienced was beyond compare. I’ve always felt that rosemary was an underutilized spice and think it did a wonderful job mixing with the other flavors on the burger. I thought the pieces of veal short rib would have no problem standing on their own in a sandwich but am so thankful they got to share the bun with this burger. It was a unique taste that belonged there. Next, we moved onto the Pork Belly Hash. This is the burger my daughter was eyeballing since the moment it came out. Now, I am normally not a fan of eggs on burgers. Due to the runniness, I find that most of the egg ends up oozing down to my plate (or lap if I’m not more careful!). However, with the bacon wrapped poached egg this problem was essentially eliminated. Plus, the flavor was truly complimentary of the rest of the burger. I also now understand why a fast food chain hired the voice of Darth Vader to sell their pork belly sandwich but even the Dark Lord of the Sith is incapable of conveying how much better it is than regular bacon. Lastly, we ponied up to the Youngstown Pound. This is the type of burger one would tell their grandchildren about. Every bite just screamed delicious. Truly a masterpiece and worthy to carry the Youngstown branding. I had never heard of Chicken Confit before this night but am now a better person having it in my life.
Once we were all finished my wife and daughter picked the Youngstown Pound and Pork Belly Hash as their favorites respectively. My choice wasn’t so easy. Like a Pearl Jam song, I was not able to settle on which one I liked best. Even as I write this now, I refuse to commit because each burger tasted so amazing. I had a chance to ask Brad once we were done what he wanted the people of the Mahoning Valley to know about WhiteFire. He said just that they’ve “been around a while but now have a great, new staff. The menu has been revamped and everything is scratch-made again. It’s exciting to have a young staff that is ready to learn.” I was mostly impressed that my daughter, who typically scoffs at hamburgers, not only tried each of them but loved them all. She even told Brad that they should change the name of the restaurant to just, "Really Good Burgers”.
Overall, I have no doubt that Brad and the staff at WhiteFire were able to outdo themselves from what the BurgerGuyz experienced on that chilly February night four years ago. If you go, they are located at 6580 Ironwood Boulevard in Canfield, OH off Route 224. They are open Monday through Saturday from 3:00 PM to 10:00 PM, and on Sundays from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM, with brunch served until 2:00 PM. Some of their highlighted specials are “Smashers & Drafts” every Monday and Thursday from 3:00 PM 6:00 PM and Build Your Own Pasta on Wednesdays from 3:00 PM to 10:00 PM. Bring your appetite and be ready to enjoy some of the best Authentic American Dining available in the area.
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