As often happens, we were lazing around wondering where we should go for dinner. I don’t know how we managed to come across it, but once discovering Stonegate Bistro online, and checking out the reviews, it was obvious that we had to go!
I believe the bistro opened in Februray of this year, so it is still fairly new. I really hope that they manage to make a name for themselves as, it could just be me, but I think their location may work against them. I do hope I’m wrong. I hope that downtown Kitchener will somehow find a way to bring people in and keep them coming back. At least Stonegate has plenty of signage to direct you down to their classy little cavern! And who knows, maybe they will be one of the things that keeps people coming back, I know I will definitely be visiting them again.
Our meal was spectacular from beginning to end. To start we were presented with a basket of pita pieces and bread along with oil for dipping. I found that I liked the pita with the oil, but the bread on its own. Somehow, for me, the herbs in the bread just didn’t seem to go with the herbs in the oil. Next up was my soup, the starter from my 3-course prix-fix theatre menu selection. The soup of the day was a creamy tomato and lentil soup. It was so seriously deliciously creamy. I could probably live without the lentils, but I would still have that soup again any day! My mate didn’t order a starter, but the chef was making complimentary salads that day so we decided to share it. With neither of us being to big on our veggies, we were both very surprised at how much we enjoyed the mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers and sweet vinagrette with goat cheese (or feta, but I think it was goat). As you may have noticed, I especially play it safe with salads, generally going for the caesar variety, as they can be so touch-and-go. But this one was certainly a winner.
For my main I selected the atlantic salmon with a lemon dill sauce. I was expecting it to arrive with garlic mashed yukon gold potatoes, so I was surprised to find wild rice beneath the fish on my plate. Apparently the chef had made an executive decision to switch them out because the potatoes were too dry, so we were told. Even if this was the case, a heads up about the change would have been nice but, regardless, in the end I was glad to have had the rice instead. I think it was much more flavourful and added some neat textures; from soft to crunchy! The grilled veggies the meal came with were not any that I would typically choose: asparagus (which I was not brave enough to try), zucchini, tomato and eggplant. I decided to be a little bit brave and sliced the zucchini and eggplant into teeny tiny pieces and mixed them up with the rice. That way I got at least some of my veggies without tasting, or feeling, them! My mate’s main was the prime rib with the mashed potatoes and the same veggies I had. The au jus it came with looked more like a gravy to me (what we both prefer anyways) and had much more going on than most au jus out there. It is obvious that the chef takes inspiration from all over the world. Even the sauce on my salmon had much more seasoning than just lemon and dill. Although it is obvious that the flavours come from all over, the menu still features mainly American style dishes so it is easy for someone like me to find something I’d like and then to be pleasantly surprised by how much more sensational these dishes are than other similar ones around. I found that, for fine dining, this restaurant has much more on the menu that I would actually try, and probably like, than most others of its kind.
For dessert I chose the chocolate cake from the three options my theatre menu provided. My mate also ended up with a dessert that the chef graciously provided on the house due to the unannounced switch-up of my potatoes. This turned out perfectly as I was having a hard time deciding on whether to get the apple crumble or the cake, and this way we were able to try both. I think I am more a fan of apple crisp as opposed crumble. There is something about the added crunch for me. The crumble was soft and warm though, which is still very comfortable with an accompanying cup of tea. The chocolate cake was of the drier variety. But the various drizzles on the plate helped to moisten things up for me.
Overall, the meal and atmosphere were exactly what we needed on what had been an otherwise lackluster day. From what I have heard, I believe Stonegate does the majority of their purchasing from the Kitchener Market. For this, and many other reasons, I would really like to see this bistro succeed. Thus, I would like to make two small suggestions; 1- invest in proper menus, even just a simple folder that allows for pages to be switched out would be better than what is currently being used, and 2- add some signage to direct diners to the washrooms from the main seating area. I think those two, seemingly minor, details really do have a big effect on people, and right now they are not giving the most desireable impression.
Our whole meal, including 2 pints of Rock Cut Baysville Lager, one theatre menu 2 (included my soup, salmon and chocolate cake), one 12oz prime rib, and complimentary salad, apple crumble, tea and coffee, came to $72.04. It wasn’t until writing this up that I realized that our coffee and tea had not been charged to us. I believe this may have been due to an unfortunate scene that had been caused by a very rude, belligerent man at another table. The chef was obviously embarrassed and was very appologetic. He offered us each a drink on the house but we were just finishing up our meal so we declined. I believe that is why the coffee and tea were not included on our bill. I hope that it hadn’t been an unintentional oversight as it was certainly unintentional on our part to have walked out without paying for them!