High Street Grill and Fire & Ice (Without the Fire)

It was looking like a cold and disappointing day.

Last Saturday, Lisa and I made a big effort to attend the Fire & Ice Festival in Mount Holly. We knew that the chili cook-off, the Fire portion of the event, was going to be open to the public starting at noon. We also knew that getting the kids in the car, driving them an hour to my parents, getting them settled, then driving 15 more minutes to Mount Holly was going to be a challenge.

Well, by the time we got to Mount Holly, it was already after 1PM. Luckily, we found a parking spot pretty quickly and headed out into the cold. Good thing for the cold, though, because it meant that that Ice portion of the day, the ice sculpture competition, wouldn’t have to battle so much with the elements. So, even though our thoughts were on chili, we walked down High Street to admire the frozen artistry.

As we strolled and looked around, we were also entertained by a local band that was playing in a style that was more New Orleans than South Jersey.

After seeing a few more ice sculptures, we stopped in a art gallery that was offering a few different types of chili for tasting. Lisa sampled their “Midnight mystery” chili, which was nice and meaty but lacked spice, and I had the 3-bean chili, which was very tomato-y.

It was now 1:30, and the real chili cook-off was ending at 2, so we headed on over to the firehouse. When we got there, the place was empty, except for a few folks that were cleaning up. The cook-off was already done. Over. Kaput. Adios.

I was bummed. Seriously bummed. All the effort to get there, and the thing was over so quickly. Well, we had been warned that folks start lining up for this free event around 11:30, and it’s first-come, first-serve, so now we know for future reference: those who are late do not get chili.

Thankfully, we still had time to buy tickets for the Winter Beer Fest being put on by High Street Grill, and so back up the hill on High Street we went and bought our tickets. The event was broken down into three tasting sessions, and we bought tickets for the last session. this gave us time to grab lunch, and since we were already in front of High Street Grill, we decided to go in and try them out.

Two things jump right out at you when you first come inside: the first floor is not very big, and when the bar is jumping it’s hard to move around. After wading through the folks at the bar, our hostess brought us up to the much less congested second floor. The decor of the restaurant is comfortable and understated, with lots of wood used throughout. You can relax in this kind of setting and enjoy yourself.

High Street Grill has become well-known for their beer selection, but since we were going to be sampling a number of beers soon, we decided to skip ordering beer altogether. The lunch menu was a nice but not too expansive list of items, ranging from sandwiches and burgers to sashimi and salmon with a shiraz BBQ glaze. We decided on splitting an appetizer of their “hoppy” wings (BBQ sauce infused with an IPA); for our entrees, Lisa got the stout braised brisket sandwich and I asked for the big beer chili (still needing my chili fix).

The wings were very good. They had a pleasant (not overly sweet) BBQ flavor with a hint of hops from the IPA. Would definitely order them again. Lisa’s brisket was also good, although it lacked a bit of seasoning. A little added salt fixed that issue easily. Her sandwich was accompanied by a salad of fresh greens with a mustard-y vinaigrette and chips made from root vegetables. My chili was very tasty; the stout was present but not overpowering. The chili was a little on the soupy side; and although I do prefer my chili to be a little thicker, I wouldn’t count that against them.

Overall, Lisa and I came away with a very positive impression of High Street Grill. In the future we will certainly make a point of sampling the beers they have available. Having said that, I think it worked out for us in that we had to focus on the food and not on the beer selection. Now that we know the food can match the level of the beers served, we will be back.

High Street Grill – 64 High Street, Mount Holly. 609.265.9199.

– John


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