On our Vegas Vacation, we stayed with my Aunt Linda and Uncle Chris. Not only were they gracious enough to put us up in their fantastic home, but they insisted on taking us out for dinner for my birthday. Who am I to tell them no? They were very excited to share one of their Vegas favorites with this foodie: FIREFLY* Tapas Kitchen & Bar Downtown @ the Plaza.
From their opentable.com listing: Firefly* is a 5 time “Best of Las Vegas” award winner, specializing in “tapas”. We feature an eclectic list of 50 plus tapas, small plates and appetizers meant to be passed and shared or assembled to build your own customized multi-course feast! The menu includes mango ribs, lamb chops, filet sliders, steaks, salads, soups, chicken beef, pork, shrimp and fish dishes. NONE priced over 10 bucks. We are also famous for our house brewed sangrias and flavored mojitos by the glass or pitcher.
I’m sure you know what tapas are, but just in case, I present the Wikipedia definition: Tapas is the name of a wide variety of appetizers, or snacks, in Spanish cuisine… The serving of tapas is designed to encourage conversation because people are not so focused upon eating an entire meal that is set before them.
We arrived on time for a 6:00PM reservation, which the hostesses seemed to have serious issues finding. Considering it was early, there were plenty of booths and tables available, and we were sat immediately.
Aunt Linda & Uncle Chris: aren't they the cutest?
Our server was a peppy twenty-four year old guy (it was his birthday that day, and yet was super excited to be working). He was ready to answer any questions we had. Of course, there was bread to start:
So in the spirit of traditional Spanish tapas cuisine, there was quite the assortment of items ordered:
Stuffed dates [bacon-wrapped, smoked almond, red wine reduction, blue cheese]
Veggie empanada [spinach, mushroom, artichoke, herbed cream cheese in pastry, red pepper aioli]
Thai beef salad [seared beef, thai dressing, romaine, tomato, cucumber, ginger]
Stuffed Peppers [Spanish piquillo red peppers, fresh mozzarella, garlic cream cheese, tomato sauce]
Manchego mac ‘n’ cheese [baked w/baby shells]
Terra y Mare skewers [grilled shrimp, filet mignon, chorizo sausage, salsa verde]
Chicken and chorizo stuffed mushrooms [yum!]
Lamb skewers [marinated leg of lamb, tomato, red wine sauce]
Filet mignon sliders [mini burgers w/Serrano ham, cabrales cheese, caramelized onions]
Crispy duck rolls [cherry hoisin sauce]
Camarones a la diabla [shrimp, spicy chile sauce, grilled bread]
Here’s what I didn’t taste:
The bread: I knew what was on the way and I wanted plenty of room for it.
Chicken and chorizo stuffed mushrooms: A suggestion from Mike at Tasting Las Vegas, Aunt Linda and Uncle Chris enjoyed these. Since they came out in our first round, they didn’t finish them as they were saving room for more goodies.
Filet mignon sliders: I was busy enjoying the empanada at this time, but Hans rocked that mini burger in no time flat. I’m surprised he offered anyone a bite. I don’t even think he noticed the caramelized onions – and he HATES onions! He was lovin’ on this one.
Here’s what I wouldn’t order again:
Stuffed dates: I was excited to order the dates, which were another suggestion from Mike at TLV. I mean, really: how do you go wrong with the combination of bacon and blue cheese? You overcook them, that’s how. It was unfortunate, but the bacon was burned and it completely ruined the datey goodness. I was bummed but turned my attention to one of the other many plates on the table.
Crispy duck rolls: In theory, this should have been another no brainer, but the dish was ruined by the frying oil heavy “roll” wrapper. I was expecting more of an egg roll consistency (thin and crispy). This was much thicker and way over fried. Not my favorite. The cherry hoisin sauce and duck filling saved the dish. I scooped out the filling and enjoyed that portion.
Here’s what I liked:
Manchego mac ‘n’ cheese: Mike at TLV suggested this dish – for obvious reasons. You can’t go wrong with a well balanced mac ‘n’ cheese. I really liked the choices of Manchego and baby pasta shells to mix it up a bit.
Terra y Mare skewers: I saw these and had to order them. Hello, a grilled kabob of shrimp, filet and chorizo? You can’t go wrong with that. The shrimp and chorizo were fine, but somehow, filet was overcooked – a sin, in my opinion. I ended up giving my piece of filet to Hans, whom seemed to not have any issue with it.
Lamb skewers: Surprise, surprise – Hans ordered a lamb dish! Cooked to medium (a bit over for me), these skewers were still yummy with the tomato and red wine marinade. I’m still not sure what was under the kabobs, but I only took one bite of it. One bite was enough. The server said they were capers, but I’m pretty sure they were lentils.
Stuffed Peppers: We (and I think our waiter) forgot that we ordered this. It came out as the last tapas for the evening and I could only manage a bite. I missed the mozzarella, but the piquillos, cream cheese and tomato sauce were an obvious solid combo.
Here’s what I LOVED:
Thai beef salad: Uncle Chris and I were on the same wavelength when we both suggested this salad during our first round of ordering. We all tried a piece of the seared beef, which was a bit on the medium-well side. The Thai dressing and ginger were a great pairing with the meat – they really made the dish. If Firefly offered this as an entrée salad, I’d be ordering every single time.
Camarones a la diabla: Another suggestion from Mike at TLV, he was right one with this one. I could have eaten four servings of these by myself for my meal. Since I ordered it early on, I actually considered ordering a second round. The shrimp dish was nice and spicy, but not at burn your mouth off level. I’m not going to lie: I was secretly happy that my aunt is severely allergic to seafood. More for me!
Veggie empanada: This came out late in our meal, but I’m glad I managed to find the room in my stomach for this one. While Hans rocked that slider, I snagged one empanada for myself and enjoyed the spinach, mushroom, artichoke and cream cheese filling. The empanada was flaky and not over-fried like the duck rolls. The red pepper aioli was a nice addition without over-powering everything on the plate. Another fine tapas selection by Uncle Chris.
…and this chocolate “tres leches” cake:
Alright, it was on the house because we mentioned we were celebrating my birthday. So, really, I just love free bday desserts. Happy Birthday to me!
We were so stuffed from all the other dishes that we only made it through about half of the cake. It was interesting: like taking a chocolate cake and steeping it in one percent milk. Not soggy, but not solid either. The cake was confused, poor thing. The consistency distracted me from its decent flavor. The strawberries helped. It was definitely better that it was free. In all actuality, I wouldn’t be in a rush to order it again.
LONG STORY SHORT: I thought Firefly did a nice job of giving their diners a variety of tapas to try. Overall, we had a great assortment of nicely prepared dishes. Other than our check-in with the hostess, the service staff was polite and helpful. They got bonus points for the celebratory dessert! Aunt Linda and Uncle Chris made a fine selection for my birthday dinner and I’m very grateful for their hospitality! If you are in Vegas, do yourself a favor and head downtown to FIREFLY* Tapas Kitchen & Bar for a nice getaway from the Strip.