My expectations for Fire Station One (8131 Georgia, Silver Spring) weren’t high based on all the interwebs sniping about its chainy feel, uninteresting beer list, and appeal to families rather than barflies. We finally visited, and despite all those things being true to some extent, my expectations were nevertheless exceeded.
Seems like they could have done more with the ex-firehouse space; they kept the walls and cool vaulted ceiling, but the rest of the interior is indeed chainy and character-free. They only have five booths, which are extra long six-tops (good idea) but other tables are packed too close together, and overall space seems not optimally used. Despite the high ceiling and crowded dining room, conversation was easy.
Mix of all ages (from almost literally one to ninety-two, as the song says) works fine, barflies still have plentiful drinking space, too much if anything. The bar is long but the beer list is short, I think only five on tap (maybe not including your generic American lagers); we tried the Daily Panic IPA and it was fine, nothing special. It could be worse — they could have fewer than five on tap! — but those of us excited about a brewpub in Silver Spring were hoping for more.
The menu, on the other hand, is long and diverse and based on small sample size, the food is good. I loved the juicy chicken wings — we got “mild” with “Inferno” sauce on the side, but the mild were pretty spicy and inferno wasn’t noticeably hotter. Excellent appetizer. Didn’t get onion “smoke rings” but saw heaping plate go by, looked good.
Our big beefy burger was medium-rare as requested, ideal bun-burger ratio, nicely toasted bun, fresh condiments, decent cheese and bacon, altogether a successful dish, if not quite on the level of BGR or Relic or Yumburger. Merely average fries though. We also tried a pizza and liked the crisp singed crust but thought it lacked flavor — still, not bad for a bar snack.
Judging from the multigenerational feasting throngs, FS1 is successfully filling a niche in SS, and if we lived down there we would probably go more often — but we’re glad we live close to Royal Mile (and soon Limerick Pub) instead. Service was friendly and generally excellent. In wing sauce (or fire?) terms, FS1 is more mild than inferno, but I suppose there’s something to be said for mild. After all, Phil Collins has had a wildly successful career.