Legendary | Worth driving from anywhere
Fire & Spice | Too Much Bacon? (Insert Irony Emoji)
Review by: Michael Stern
The Stunning BLT
I will try to remain calm as I describe Fire & Spice. I promise to limit my use of superlatives and exclamation marks. But it’s not easy. This food thrills — in concept as well as flavor. Consider, for instance, the BLT. Instead of ordinary bacon, they make it with thick-cut applewood-smoked bacon that fairly vibrates with jerk-seasoning zest. Jalapeno peppers spike its mayonnaise. Toast is double-thick Texas style. Oh, and did I mention that the amount of bacon is enough for two or three sandwiches? A couple of times while chomping through it, I actually had the thought there might be too much bacon. (A thought easily dismissed)
Jerk seasoning stars all over the menu. Its fusillade of peppery spices stunningly counterbalance tender, juicy chicken. Likewise, jerk pork offers that velvety-sweet quality of smoke-cooked meat, but a veil of jerk seasoning makes it a mouthful of reveille.
Sandwiches And Sides
Sandwiches dominate the menu. Big ones: Cubans, Reubens, subs, roast beef, and French dip, plus such interesting creations as Korean BBQ cheese steak and Greek lamb cheese steak. My friend, while plowing through his classic Philly cheese steak, declared it “the best cheese steak on this or any other planet.” Moist, booming-flavored shaved beef — a tender joy to chew with its few crisp edges — rises high in the maw of a long torpedo loaf. Choose your cheese (no Whiz, alas) and options of grilled sweet onions, mushrooms, or peppers. I rate it right up with Philadelphia’s finest.
Even if you’re eating a sandwich, I suggest you skip chips and focus on the side dishes that come with hot-meal plates. I can’t remember collard greens so scrumptious: big, weighty leaves that are tender but not mushy glow with vegetable sweetness. Silk-textured, pork-laced baked beans radiate smoke savor. A sharp citrusy twist of not-quite-ripe fried plantains balances their sugar sweetness. Coconut sweetens rice that is dotted with beans. I was so intrigued by macaroni salad with its crunchy bits of pepper and pickle and some other vibrant but elusive flavor that I asked the chef to tell me what was in it. He grinned, silently, the implication being that if he told me, he’d have to kill me.
Mom & Pop Hole-In-The-Wall
A modest storefront just off Broad River Road, Fire & Spice is an earnest, eager-to-please, mom & pop operation. (Mom = Lynette DeMusis; Pop = her husband and chef, Michael George.) It’s as casual as any neighborhood deli. Place your order and pay at the counter where the day’s specialties are posted, then find a seat to which your food is brought.
Do note that the bill of fare changes daily. But rest assured: You always can find a sandwich here with too much bacon. Also note that Fire & Spice opens only from 11-3, and only Tuesday through Friday. Any other time if you are hungry in Irmo (just northwest of Columbia), visit Fusco’s Market.
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