Friday, May 16, 2008

QUICKVIEW: Stonebridge Restaurant- +++ / $$$

I was in Connecticut for Easter Sunday, quite awhile ago I know, and went to one of the restaurants having Easter dinner. As with all Easter dinners, it started in the early afternoon, had lots of low-priced, bland food, and was aimed squarely at the geriatric crowd. I'm talking really geriatric. One woman nearby our table was on oxygen. So why am I writing about this old folks home with food? Because if you're on your way through, I would highly recommend stopping by.

I couldn't really gauge the restaurant on its entrees, since they came from a special menu, limited in selection, and easy on the spices. Their dessert menu was also riveting, chocolate cake or carrot cake. Diabetes much? But they did have their full appetizer menu available, and this is the reason why I'm harping on. Coconut encrusted shrimp? Dee-lish! Crab cakes with two different types of aioli? Some of the best. Ginger root soup? Unnnhh, ok, not everything was a hit.

The restaurant was very attractive. The dining area was well-dressed, but unremarkable, and the outside was loaded with the trappings of a dynamite summer deck area. Tables, umbrellas, lighting, and outdoor speakers all but guaranteed fun times on hot nights. This was all situated by a river, the old stone bridge (duh), and a waterfall. Yeah. There was a freaking waterfall right next to the restaurant. Sorry for the picture quality, it was dusk by the time I took the photo. Combined with the heinously quaint street on which Stonebridge, a gourmet shop, boutiques, a cafe, and any number of other cute little shops lay, the area and atmosphere are top-notch.

Opening the dinner was a very good bread selection. Warm and seemingly freshly baked, the plain Italian and focaccia bread went fabulously with the little butter florets that were squeezed onto butter plates. They prepared us well for the appetizers. I like my crab cakes very crispy. I know that's sort of sacrilege for those raised on the softer Maryland style crab cakes, but I like some differing texture to offset the soft, lump crab. These were nice and crispy. I don't think they were deep fried, since they were light and not greasy, but I guess anything is possible. The two aiolis accented the cakes perfectly. I was very impressed.

Next up were some coconut battered shrimp with a sweet pepper relish. The shrimp were large, tender, light, and crispy. They went very well with the relish and saw double duty as an on-road snack on the trip back. Last were the pan-seared scallops, with pecans and gorgonzola. Perfectly cooked scallops went well with the balsamic vinaigrette and roasted pecans, adding a pleasant sweetness, but the gorgonzola was a bit strong for the mild taste of the scallops. I've also had better scallops, but who can argue about getting seven scallops for $10?

The soup was the real failure of the night. It was the du jour soup and just tasted weird. It was thick, and painted my tongue with a strong, gingery flavor, and had a peppery bite to it that wasn't so much as unpleasant but strange. Like, if I was starving, I would happily eat this, but since I'm not, I'd rather eat other things.

The dinners weren't bad. They were just a bit disappointing after the impressive appetizers. My stuffed shrimp were large, well-cooked, and the stuffing had smaller shrimp in it, so that was certainly fun. But all in all, the dinners lacked any sort of spice. Hell, anything. They were just food. The turkey was turkey. The mashed potatoes were just that. The vegetables were steamed. And the stuffing had the bare minimum of herbs to avoid making you feel that you were eating a pile of moist, hot bread. But as I said before, this was a special menu for a certain day, aimed almost undeniably at the older crowd. If I didn't live two hours away from the place, I think I would go back if only to confirm about the entrees what the appetizers promised.

Even for my short trip, I liked this place a lot.

Stonebridge Restaurant: +++
Price range for two: $45-$75

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50 Daniel St.
Milford, CT. 06460
203-874-7947 (Reservations Accepted)

Monday through Saturday 11:30am to 4:00pm
Sunday 11:30am to 2:00pm
Monday through Thursday 4:00pm to 9:00pm
Friday through Saturday 4:00pm to 10:00pm
Sunday 2:00pm to 8:00pm
Menu available in the Bar until 10:00pm Mon-Wed and until 12:00am Thurs-Sat

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