A few weeks ago, Fire + Ice in Back Bay, a longtime culinary attraction for tourists and collegians, was going under the knife.
The idea was to take what was mostly spillover space on the first-floor bar—lined as it is with patrons filing in to get to the second floor, where Fire + Ice’s American take on Mongolian BBQ action can be found—and turn the downstairs into more of its own after-work dining destination for people hoofing it around the Back Bay and Berkeley street. The new sibling spot would be deemed underFire. And it was so.
The current incarnation of underFire is marked by the sexy-cocktails-lounge-for-pedestrians vibe, with a sweeping new cocktail menu heavy on the muddled fruits, vegetables, and leafy herbs and spices (see: strawberry basil margaritas with house-made sour mix), ostensibly aimed at attracting the kind of crowds underFire’s elder sibling Fire + Ice has not been known for, at least for quite some time. Which isn’t a bad thing if you’re looking to get loud and laughing with a bunch of college pals (current or past), especially over double-strained cocktails and rounds of chicken and Gorgonzola quesadillas. A round of drinks and food won’t completely break the bank here, either.
In the coming weeks, provided they sort out the ventilation requirements put forth by those who enforce such things, there will be a bit of added retrofitting going on inside the ground-floor operation. The focus will be on the addition of 600-degree lava-stone cooking consoles for the tables, which will be used to essentially finish cooking the slabs of steak, tuna, and veggies served in various dishes. It will be less Korean BBQ, with dishes of raw meat and veggies coming out, but rather items already given a sort of once-over by the actual culinary staff, and then brought out for diners to finish it off in whatever way they see fit, and consume in the same manner.
Aside from that, the current real draw to the new underFire menu, sans lava stone cooking, is the build-your-own burger menu, featuring toppings like braised short ribs and pork belly, as well as a shortlist of five food-truck style inventive tacos. Think: Peruvian-style grilled chicken, braised pork belly and cheddar tacos, diced potato and chorizo tacos, and a braised short rib and chimichurri spice-bomb that even for an old taco czar like myself proved tasty and filling. For slow-cooked pulled pork aficionados, as well as those who enjoy wrapping piles of the stuff up with plenty of queso fresco and onion cilantro lime salsa in a corn wheat tortilla, things are on the up and up for you here as well.
But aficionados of searing your own protein and produce at your table atop hot volcanic rocks will have to wait a little longer. Until then there’s still the song of Fire + Ice happening upstairs.