The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local Scene

June 8, 2013

Raise your glass: Red Fire Grille offers locals, tourists fine dining experience

PALESTINE — In a small town filled with mostly fast-food restaurants, one of Palestine’s newest additions — Red Fire Grille — is offering something a little out of the ordinary — fine dining that caters to regional foodies.

Executive Chef Christian Mailloux, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. is chef-owner of Red Fire Grille, operating the restaurant with his wife, Dawn, since their opening Oct. 10, 2012 in the historic Redlands in downtown Palestine.

Christian has had the opportunity to cook American cuisine from as far north as New England, into the heartland of Memphis and as far south as St. Thomas (U.S. Virgin Islands) at prestigious country clubs, inns and restaurants.

“Originally we were looking for a bed and breakfast with restaurant space in it. We came here because we were intrigued by the history of the town,” Christian said during an interview with the Herald-Press — noting Palestine’s railroad history, abundant Victorian homes, dogwoods and ‘destination city’ label as some of the reasons they chose to locate here.

They looked at a couple of places in Palestine the first time they drove through, but nothing fell into place. They were told “don’t give up on Palestine, Palestine needs a restaurant of this caliber.”

Local attorney Jackson Hanks, who serves on the Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors, encouraged the couple to call Redlands owner Jean Mollard, but Dawn didn’t want to call her on Mother’s Day (May 2012), so they waited until the next day.

“Jean said ‘I’ve been waiting for your call,’” Dawn recalled when she called her the next day. Because the couple had already been to Palestine and had returned to where they were living in Lenox, Mass., they couldn’t fly back to Palestine until August 2012 due to prior obligations. “Jean told us, come back, take your time.”

Meanwhile, Dawn fell in love with the Redland’s restaurant space online.

“Christian was a little hesitant because of the kitchen space, but Jean worked with us to make it way more functional,” Dawn said.

In August 2012, the couple purchased the restaurant space and started renovations, opening in October.

“Palestine is right in the middle between Dallas and Houston, which makes it a perfect location,” Christian said. “We have quickly become a destination restaurant. People from Houston, Dallas, Athens, Tyler and the lake areas will drive here to eat.”

Numerous good reviews on and other review websites have helped spread the word.

“We love it here — the lovely history, the dogwoods. The people are so warm and friendly. We have never been hugged so much — Palestine is a quaint little town,” Dawn said. “I love all of the history, old buildings and the architecture.”

One of Red Fire Grille’s signature appetizers is currently the fried green tomatoes, topped with crawfish. Other menu choices range from soup and salad choices like the She Crab Soup and Baby Wedge Salad and entrees such as the Pepper Seared Tuna, Statler Chicken, House Made Ravioli or the Lobster Roll. Desserts currently include Mille-feullie (layered crepes, hazelnut creme), Prickly Pear Sorbert and Chocolate Panna Cotta (Italian dessert drizzled with Chambord and rose sugar).

“Everything is made from scratch,” the chef noted about not only the desserts but the entire menu.

Christian describes Red Fire Grille’s menu in this way:

“It doesn’t just revolve, it evolves,” Christian said. “Anything in season I can get my hands on and create, I will. We do a major menu overhaul every quarter where we look at what the culinary trends are. It’s not going to be the same boring menu all the time.”

Red Fire Grille also is known for its 8 ounce grilled filet.

“We have the best steaks. Our 8-ounce filet I would compare to anywhere in the world, whether it’s well done or rare, it will be the best steak you’ve ever had,” Christian said.

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