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WEEKEND IN REVIEW: Fire by the Monon

On Friday—within weeks of the grand opening—scores of casual diners packed the tables of Fire by the Monon (6523 Ferguson St., 602-8590), in the former L’Explorateur spot. Servers at the tucked-away Broad Ripple restaurant seemed a bit overwhelmed by the crowd, their style resembling a sort of hospitality triage as they rushed glasses and plates around the noisy dining rooms. We made quick work of two flatbread pizzas—one layered with roasted veggies and another topped with a respectable combination of artichoke spread and fresh spinach. Thick grilled salmon had the moist, buttery texture of a well-tended fillet, though a steak sandwich layered with rare-centered slices of grilled meat proved the most-envied entree at the table (especially for the person who ordered the over-sauced, coleslaw-topped pulled pork). Sandwiches come with seasoned sweet potato fries—fluffy, crisp and impossible to quit—and local brews are the way to go on the beer/wine menu.