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bad first impression of Stone Park Cafe

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Stone Park Cafe has an interesting menu and wine list, yet it also bills itself as family-friendly, an unusual combination. So I was really looking forward to trying it with my twin kids. I called in advance to find out what time they open (5:30), and whether they have two high chairs (yes). My kids are very well behaved in restaurants, but I always go early, to avoid bothering the other diners who come later.

The first time we went at 5:30, they said sorry, we won't be opening for another 20 minutes, so we went elsewhere (alas, Two Boots again). The second time we went at 5:30, they did not give us a very warm welcome -- a few employees breezed by us, leaving us stranded near the front door. Finally, we caught someone's attention, and it turned out that they did not have high chairs. Well, okay, we decided to try the booster chairs, but one of my sons kept falling out. The waitress was also a bit snippy. But the biggest problem was that it took almost an HOUR to get our food, at 6:30! By that time, the restaurant was almost full, and I was mortified that my starving kids would lose it in front of everybody. After we complained, they apologized and gave us our drinks for free, which helped take the sting out of it....

As for the food: My vitello tonnato sandwich had a good flavor, but was too mushy. They used braised veal which was very tender, but with the tuna sauce and the soft bread, it was too soft. The sandwich needed either a firmer piece of meat, or firmer bread, or an extra something crispy like maybe endive.

Overall, I got a bad first impression. The food was not good enough to put up with the high prices and unwelcoming attitude. Nevertheless, I would be willing to give it one more chance. Maybe they are still working out the kinks, as a new restaurant.

Does anyone have recommended dishes for next time, or other comments?

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  1. Three years later, I gave Stone Park another chance, and it was still the same story. We did not get our food until we had been there for an hour! Had to beg to get our order taken, beg for more water, beg for more coffee, beg for ketchup for my son's fries, etc. And the food was nowhere near good enough to put up with this service. That was definitely my last time.

    4 Replies
    1. re: parkslopemama

      Wow, I had bad service and a terrible experience there too. Went last summer, they seated us by a staircase with running waiters. No one paid us any attention, they would not move us to another table even though it was quite early and there was no one there. We left after 45 minutes and didn't even have any water.

      1. re: parkslopemama

        That place is just odd. Maybe Stoned Park would be more apt? The one time I was there they served us fairly promptly, but the waiter kept lecturing us about what a great restaurant it was. The first words out of his mouth were, "Have you been here before?" And then he started to explain how the restaurant worked—as if it is any different from any other midlist Park Slope place. He just didn't let up. I'd take a bite of salad, and he'd be like, "That salad is really a very special salad...." (Implication being that we could never truly understand how special.) I started wondering if we were on Candid Camera or something. But anyway, it has supplied a running joke for me and the friend I went with.... And—the food was utterly unmemorable.

        1. re: gnosh

          This thread is a perfect example of why chowhound is such a valuable resource:
          parkslopemama was willing to give Stone Park another chance. And, she was willing to give Stone Park at least a hundred bucks of her hard-earned cash (assuming she was ordering for herself and her two kids and maybe a glass or two of wine). A search of this board would have revealed a large number of posts with similar grievances (including a handful from yours truly, formerly a very pleased Stone Park customer, but, more recently, an ex-SP customer, thanks to that magic combination of attitude and lack of grace SP's owners display). I bet parkslopemama would have had a much better evening at any of a dozen other child-friendly, yet hauter-than-Two Boots, joints. A few steps across the street, Cocotte serves quite decent bistro-style French food and has been happy to accomodate families.

          1. re: famdoc

            Hi Folks,

            I haven't been around Chowhound in a while, but I happened to poke in today and felt compelled to comment on this thread. What the heck is up with Stone Park? Are the majority of the new Slope residents and visitors trawling Fifth Ave so desperate or clueless that this place maintains it's nut AND it's mediocre food delivered by an indifferent staff?

            My wife and I recently visited SPC for the first time in celebration of our first wedding anniversary. It's one of the few restaurants in my former neighborhood (I've been in Kensington around four years now) we haven't visited at least once. We knew their rep was a bit mixed but I read enough online reviews and forums that showed evidence of more recent and consistent positive experiences. We felt like a low-key night, favored the price range and figured we would be comfortable dressing up a smidge (almost anything beyond worn sweatshirts and shorts is dressing up for me). I thought my wife managed an informal, yet sexy and casual attire. We made reservations, even got parking within blocks, near my friend's former co-op (she made a mint!), and showed up on time.

            Whatever. We walked right smack into a pretentious meat market bar manned by a sweaty, angry a-hole who less than indifferently threw drinks at my wife after ten minutes of attempts. Of course, the host made her way back in time for us to have to balance the drinks and tip toe through. Real restaurants let you finish your drinks. We got the infamous table by the stairs, some weird service by the various table staff (including the otherwise pleasant waiter). We had to withstand our drunken neighbors - two couples of loud, boorish, boring and childish go-getters. Birthday boy was quite horny, and unfortunately for me, his leery, beery and ham-handed hands and glands were right within my angled purvue. I almost told them to get a room - not kidding.

            Oh, the food. I thought the cream filled onion soup was great, or at least the crab cake swimming in it. Actually, the pound of whole dairy fat within came back to haunt me later that night, and the next morning. Efyunowuttamean. The rest was nothing to write home, or anywhere else about.

            The place was still hoppin' when we split. Where do these people come from? Is every mediocre bar and/or restaurant around the Slope equally packed? We paid the overpriced bill with healthy tip (we DID like the waiter, and I probably overtip as a rule...unless I'm really enraged), walked out w/o notice. On the sidewalk, two out of three workers who had served us were taking a break. They paid us as much attention as we had received in general. They didn't turn their heads and certainly didn't say goodbye. And I don't know why the hell that matters. But, it does. If they only knew how this easy and meaningless gesture can make or break my postive perception. So, uh, it's broke.

            Certainly, no gastronomic tragedy occurred. But, maybe that's what's so sad. Stone Park Cafe's suckitude within their price range is so eerily banal, expressing it's utter mediocrity even within it's expression of middling suck.

            Oh, 5th Ave: Unfortunately, after many years we've decided to never again visit Cocotte. My carniverous daughter wishes we'd reconsider. But though they have one of the fairest and most edible brunches in town and in general their food and service has been solid and reliable, when things go bad, they really go bad. We had one time meals that were subject to a complete breakdown in the kitchen, the service or both.

            I guess we'll stick with Bonnie's and the Chip Shop. When we want to spend we'll go to Rosewater and certainly Applewood. But mostly we'll take advantage of our location and car and explore all over the boros for real, authentic and at times unique international chow that makes it all worthwhile.

            Meanwhile, Mother's Day Brunch of all things was a shocking treat at The Farm on Adderly. The service was ultra competent, relaxed, cheery and delivered by downright normal young folk. The food was great and my mother in law was thrilled. Who knew? I guess we'll be going back to Cortelyou.