Fire Station 1’s Cuban sandwich: almost good

The early public reviews of Fire Station 1 Restaurant and Brewing Co. were disturbing enough to sound at least three alarms. By the time I walked into the new eatery carved out of Silver Spring’s historic fire station, my confidence in the place was flatter than a deflated fire hose.

The interior of Fire Station 1 didn’t inspire much more hope, either. The split-level dining room, its generic Chili’s ambiance pumped up with a haphazard collection of firefighting accessories, looks like a chain waiting to happen.  The Fire Station 1 logo was emblazoned on every piece of glassware at our table.

The margherita pizza with the Marilyn Manson crust

The place offers a line of pizzas baked in a gas-powered oven. Per my usual pie-testing ritual, I ordered the margherita — and braced for the worst. What arrived at our table was this pizza with an explosion of fresh, uncooked basil on top, a promise of at least quality ingredients. The crust, however, looked like death warmed over. It was oddly pale, like Marilyn Manson circa Mechanical Animals.  Still, it had an airiness and a satisfying crackle, which served the round well. Was it a genuine Neapolitan margherita, like you can find a few doors down at Pacci’s? Don’t make me laugh, but it was superior to take-out pie. That, frankly, surpassed my expectations.

So did the Cuban, which, like the marghertia, does not strictly conform to tradition. The sandwich features pig way one — roast pork only, not roast pork paired with the usual slices of deli ham. The pickles are also more sweet than dill. Regardless, the Cuban went down well, its crunch loud enough to stir the pigeons along Georgia Avenue and its flavors deep enough to almost forgive its omissions. I’m this close to calling the sandwich good.

Which is more than I can say for the “Rockfish Imperial,” a fillet of the Maryland state fish draped in crab imperial. The smell wafting from the plate made me wonder how long this poor specimen of the sea had been waiting for its moment in the spotlight. No amount of mayo-slathered crab meat could smother the off-flavors of the fillet. And that accompanying swirl of piped mashed potatoes? It had the consistency of grade-school paste.

Someone needed to call 911 on that dish.

Rockfish imperial: Someone call 911