Last night I went to The Stonefish Grill for dinner. I had not planned ahead as usual to find a friend to join me, so I decided to use my Living Social deal for the restaurant on my own. With all the money from the deal, I could order much more food than usual, and sitting alone, I really did feel like a food critic (just like Julia Roberts in My Best Friend's Wedding).
First of all, I must mention the decor. For one, the restaurant is not at street level. When I went through the front door, I saw a long set of stairs with a chandelier overhead and wallpaper that said "Illusion" all over it (which I thought was more appropriate for a salon than a restaurant). Once I was downstairs, I came to a large open room that felt more like a lounge than a place for dinner. There were white leather booths, blue lighting, and private seating areas in the back with sheer curtains. The music was a bit loud, playing popular hits; I enjoyed the music and sang along, but had I been on a date or with a friend, the music would have been a distraction from a conversation.
It was only 5:30, so I was one of the first people from the dinner crowd to show up. There was not even someone at the front desk to greet me. But for the hour that I was there, a crowd never arrived. A couple of people were sitting at the bar, and a few groups of loud, obnoxious friends (squealing sorority sisters, maybe?) were seated behind me, but all in all, the restaurant was pretty dead. So I was surprised by how slow the service was. Don't get me wrong: I like fresh food, and since it was early, I'm sure my food had not been sitting around waiting for someone to order it. But with few other customers, I should not have had to wait so long to receive my first course.
This meal was hit-and-miss. Some parts I greatly enjoyed, while others were sub-par. To start off, the water smelled strange and it tasted tainted, though with what I couldn't say. Then onto the soup. My server (who was completely blinged out, her jewelry including a Marilyn Monroe piercing and tongue ring) could not remember the soup of the day. I ended up ordering the Maryland crab soup, and was glad I had clarified whether it was tomato-based or not; the menu says "Signature Maryland Crab Soup," but really it was Cream of Crab soup. Despite the misnomer, the soup was delicious: there were big chunks of crab, kernels of corn, and a sprinkle of Old Bay. Along with the soup I ordered the skillet cornbread (for one, I love cornbread, but it was also one of the only appetizers that didn't sound like a meal all on its own). The cornbread was a bit overcooked (a little dry and too crumbly), with a hard crust along the outside. There was a dollop of sweetened butter on top, but that couldn't save the disappointing bread.
|Um, where are my fries? Don't you see that empty space on my plate?|
Unfortunately I didn't have room for dessert (I couldn't even finish what I had ordered!), but none of the desserts sounded that appealing anyway: cheesecake, bread pudding, brownie, ice cream. BORING. No innovation there.
Might I add that at no point was I offered a happy hour menu or told about the happy hour specials. Perhaps this is one of those restaurants where you have to be sitting at the bar (those high bar stools are always so uncomfortable!), but in any case, I was not even told about a happy hour option.
But I should note that in the end the restaurant did not charge me for the extra side of spinach due to the mistake with the fries. I always appreciate it when restaurants can own up to their mistakes and make the customer feel better! So I would give this place 2.5 out of 5 stars: it has its ups and downs.
UPDATE: I have sense been to the restaurant two other times, so I thought I should update my review. The fish tacos are pretty good (and reasonably priced), and the roasted half-chicken is a traditional yet satisfying meal that can easily be made into two servings. The calamari is a little too crispy for my taste, and it is served with VERY spicy peppers, which I don't like that all! Again, just things to think about if you plan on eating here!