Firecreek Restaurant
A diverse, sophisticated menu awaits visitors to this stunning space in Downingtown
by Brian Freedman


A great restaurant space goes a long way, and Chester County’s Firecreek Restaurant and Bar has style to spare.


From the oversized bear sculpture rearing up at the entrance to the barn-meets-airline-hangar space itself—not to mention the patio overlooking the Brandywine River that seems custom made for these unseasonably warm days of the early springtime—Firecreek was built on bones that perfectly split the difference between country comfort and rustic urban chic. And it seems to be pulling guests from all over the area, from younger couples and families to suburban stalwarts and beyond.


The menu reflects this diversity, too, and when the kitchen hits its intended targets, it provides exactly the kind of food you’d want to tuck into at a place like this: unselfconsciously sophisticated, and casual with enough of a twist to keep things interesting. With its generous selection of small plates and nicely curated beers, Firecreek clearly has the customer in mind.


Duck taco, for example, is just right, the confit of the bird tender and moist, and lending just enough of a game-tinged depth to really frame the jalapeno-papaya salsa nicely. Like the best food here, there’s nothing overweening about this preparation, nothing unnecessarily baroque. Creme fraiche and Monterey jack and guacamole round it all out, rendering the entire package—handsomely folded up into a grilled tortilla—both familiar and just new enough to keep each bite exciting.


Fried calamari, so often a throwaway at far too many restaurants—and, at worst, a cheap ploy to get guests to order more beer than they otherwise would have—is here given a respect I wish it received more often. Like with those duck tacos, success here hinges on a smart concept and careful work in the kitchen. Crisp rings and tentacles—though they could have been fried a touch longer to tighten up their crust—were accompanied by a vivid chipotle-lime crema and a remarkably subtle pumpkin seed aioli. What a nice respite from the standard ramekin of watery marinara we’ve all likely grown so tired of.


Other dishes, however, missed the mark. Nothing I tasted was less than generally solid, but prices aren’t inexpensive here, and I’d like to see some preparations more fully realize their potential. Cioppino-style mussels, for example, were underseasoned, despite their arriving in a pool of what the menu describes as “spicy roasted tomato-garlic-basil pepper sauce.” With a rundown of components like that, you expect fireworks—or, at the very least, handheld sparklers. Instead, it was a pleasant serving of mussels and not much more.


Chicken osso bucco was supposed to come with a spicy tamarind glaze, but the telltale piquancy of the tamarind never had a chance to permeate the meat itself. The central ingredient in sea scallops edamame should have been allowed to develop the nutty crust that balances out the sweet succulence of the interior so well. The accompanying succotash, however, was lovely. Portobello mushroom tortelloni arrived just a bit gummy, yet the framing device of artichoke, mushroom, sun-dried tomatoes, peas and more—all amped up with a drizzle of truffle oil and a bit of Gouda—made for a comforting dish on a cool evening.


Firecreek needs to gather up just a few loose ends to fully realize all the potential it possesses. Still, it is an excellent local gathering spot and, like I said, the space itself is stunning—as is the apple-cider doughnut bread pudding, a sweet treat that just may singlehandedly justify ignoring any diet you may be on. It’s smart and almost inappropriately delicious, and embodies all the promise the restaurant has as a whole.


Firecreek Restaurant and Bar

20 E. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown

Phone: 610-269-6000



Brian Freedman is a food and wine writer based in Philadelphia.