Meat and greet

Head Chef Christian Ward plates an order of the mac 'n' cheese balls.

Head Chef Christian Ward plates an order of the mac 'n' cheese balls.

Photo/Allison Young

For more information, visit

Men Wielding Fire has relocated from its single room restaurant to a newly renovated space four times larger. With a 180-inch projection screen, four 80-inch flatscreens, a video arcade, pool tables, a huge bar, dining area and banquet room, it’s got something for everyone. They even serve breakfast, because why not?

My wife and a friend joined me on a recent Saturday, and the first thing we noticed was the deliciously intense smell of wood smoke that permeates the place. It certainly didn’t hurt our appetites. We were greeted, seated and received drinks with little delay ($5.50 for a 22-ounce local microbrew).

Our friend could eat pizza every day, so a small pepperoni was ordered ($7.49,) while my wife selected the small barbecue combination platter ($24.99). I rounded things out with starters, including fried pickle chips ($5.99), mac 'n' cheese balls ($7.99), tri tip egg rolls ($8.99), and chicken wings ($9.99). The wings are a great deal, since they’re prepared intact. The 10 piece serving is equivalent to 20 pieces of the more common mix of flats and drumettes. The chicken was moist, and the Buffalo sauce had just the right amount of heat.

I should mention those are menu prices, but we apparently hit happy hour without realizing there was one. I didn’t see it mentioned, but was pleasantly surprised to find appetizers discounted $2 each, and my beer was only $4. Sweet!

The pizza was tall and bready at the edge, thin and crispy in the center. The sauce was fairly standard, generously topped with meat and cheese. Tasty. The mac 'n' cheese balls were made with smoked cheddar and bacon, and then fried in tempura beer batter. I enjoyed them more than I should. The egg rolls were a little greasy, but a wrapper stuffed with smoked beef, red pepper, onion, and cheddar cheese is a guilty pleasure. Definitely the biggest hit at our table. Most deep-fried pickles I’ve had are crispier and hold on to the batter better than these, but the high quality pickle made it work. Could use improvement, but not bad.

My wife ordered coleslaw with her barbecue, which I found very fresh (although she thought it a bit bland). However, the house barbecue sauces all suffer from an overabundance of sugar. As my friend noted, “You could pour that stuff on pancakes.” I skipped the sauce and let the meat speak for itself.

The combo plate was a mixed bag. The ribs had plenty of smoke, but were a little dry. Speaking of which, the chicken was unbelievably dry and nearly inedible (it didn’t make it into the doggy bag). The tri-tip, though, was tender and flavorful, and the pulled pork was delicious.

The menu indicates brisket that is slow-roasted for 18 hours then sliced “super thin.” The thick-sliced hunk on this plate was almost entirely fat, likely cut from what’s known as the “point,” with none of the lean meat from the “flat.” When asked, the co-owner said, “Brisket is a fatty meat. Some people ask for extra fat.” A response that equates to, “You just don’t know what you’re eating,” was not the best possible answer, especially when the rest of the service was exemplary.

The “Famous Carrot Cake” ($5.99) lived up to its name, and the deep-fried PBJ was surprisingly good, with a crunchy, battered exterior and hot gooey insides. Having reached maximum density for one meal, we departed with a feeling that once they’ve settled in, MWF might be the first place to make that seemingly doomed Lakeside and Mount Rose location work. There’s a lot more on the menu I’d like to try.