Monday, July 21, 2008

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Garden

I write a lot of restaurant reviews on AoaAF and my take on reviewing is to keep it honest and as positive as possible. If it's good, praise it, and if it's bad... well, I try not to be too mean. Sometimes, though, there's an experience that really tests my profanity vocabulary (which is not small... and yes, it stays in my head) and I want to be diplomatic, but still convey my dissatisfaction with the experience.

Stone Brewing's World Bistro & Garden, I'm sad to say, was one of those experiences. I'll start with the positives:

The beer- Good beer and a huge selection.

The setting- The garden is lovely and there are wooden patio sets scattered throughout. We were lucky to find an empty one, but could only enjoy it for 10 minutes before they paged us for our reservation.

I'll pause here to say that if we had simply ordered beers and brought them out to the garden, it would have been fantastic. Idyllic, beautiful, and temperate. I'd have nothing to complain about.

The negatives:

The food- The menu touts their commitment to sustainable, organic, and local eating. That's great. I applaud any establishment that commits to serving whatever grows around here. I will happily pay the oft-higher prices that comes with artisanal and/or organic food from small businesses.

However, I must say that, no matter where ingredients are sourced from, they must be prepared properly. By properly, I mean the dishes should be edible. Let's start with the onion rings.

They're beer-battered in Arrogant Bastard Ale and described as "tempura-style". For one thing, panko crumbs make tempura flaky and tender, which these rings weren't. The other thing is that there is a difference between crispy and hard. These were fried for so long that they were indestructible. It's a shame, because the batter was tasty and the Stone Smoked Porter BBQ sauce was decent.

Burgers came overdone and dried out, but the chicken schnitzel was the evening's winner. The schnitzel was well-prepared and delicious. Another friend ordered the spicy beef and broccoli stir-fry, which was all spice and no flavor.

Last, we come to my mac 'n beer cheese. It was a very flavorful dish and I loved the sausage, the sun-dried tomatoes, and the crusty bread crumbs on top. They didn't divulge the cheeses used, but whatever it was, it separated into fat and curds. Fontina, perhaps? My dish looks great in the picture, but what wasn't captured was the centimeter-deep puddle of oil at the bottom.

The service- After they paged us, they made us wait 15 minutes. Why? Because the runner forgot to prepare a table. Nevermind that the restaurant was almost empty and "preparing" a table meant grabbing menus and leading us to it. Another half hour passed before our server showed up. It took a long time to take orders, bring our drinks, bring the food, etc. Our server seemed harried and overworked, yet there were lots of other bussers and servers who were milling around chatting with each other. Let us reflect again that the restaurant was almost empty. The general impression we received was that we should feel lucky to be let in.


My friend asked to speak to a manager about the service and the response was, "I'm sorry you feel that way."

Well, if there's a next time, I'm going to stake out a seat in the garden, order a beer and an appetizer, and enjoy the view.

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens
1999 Citracado Parkway
Escondido, CA 92029

1 bites:

RecipeGirl said...

Fun to be an "unknown eater" isn't it?? I'll have to remember to pass on this one except for the beer and the garden :)

1 bites