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Stone Brewery Garden dining - san diego/escondido

I had lunch at the new stone brewery bistro/garden up in escondido the other day. The place looks real nice. I'm wondering if anyone has had the chance to eat there yet, I was curious what people's impressions are. To be honest, my friends and I are still debating if we think the food is good. The food, all of it, is so STRONG tasting, its kind of hard to decipher. They have a good buffalo burger and a nice mac and cheese dish. The soups were difficult to get down, although they did have lots of good flavor. again, just strong. Its a nice experience at least, and I would go back once they get a chance to tweak the menu a bit. The beer was obviously the best part, as Stone always is.

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  1. I've eaten there twice. I thought the burger was good, and the spud buds. On the second visit, I had the jerk chicken dish, which I also enjoyed, and the smoked porter cheesecake, which was great. My SO had the seared ahi tuna, and she thought the wasabi flavor was too overpowering.

    I have been intending to go back, but it's something of a drive for me.

    1. I've eaten there three times, including during their pre-opening test runs. I liked it quite a bit the first time, and it seems to me that with each visit they are improving. My favorites so far are the tilapia main dish, the burger, the tofu stir-fry, the pickled egg and kimchee plate, and the onion rings.

      Also, I'm not sure it's on the menu, but they offer their draft beers in 3 oz. glasses, which for me is the perfect amount so I can taste 2 or 3 beers during a visit and still drive home.

      1. We had dinner there last night- I had the mac and cheese, my husband had the beef stir fry, and our dining companions had the tilapia and the jerk chicken. Everyone enjoyed their meals, although the mac and cheese was a bit too rich for me to get through the entire bowl. Portion sizes were on the small side. My husband really liked the beef stir fry, but he said it was spicier than he expected. They also had the mussels and clams appetizer and everyone inhaled it!

        My only issue with the restaurant is the ridiculously lengthy wait- they told us 2 1/2 hours on a Saturday night! We were seated after about 2 hours and we enjoyed ourselves, but it was a bit disheartening to see empty tables in the main dining area while we were sitting outside and waiting to eat (seems they need to hire more servers to accommodate the # of people who are coming to try out the restaurant).

        1. I've eaten here a few times. I've had the Buffalo Burger (with the new tweaking, it was good but those onions.. Can I just get some red onion? Please?) with the mashed potatoes. Very good overall.

          Another time I had the Bruschetta BLT which is VERY good, have it with the white cheddar. The bacon is nice and crispy and the bread held up. Wouldn't change this one a bit.

          Also had the prosciutto salad. This was good but I would have liked a bit more dressing. I don't mean drown it in dressing but I had kind of a hard time finding it at all. The apricots and prosciutto were delicious together though.

          The porter brownie sundae is absolutely amazing. Lots of depth to the brownie. The ice cream and fresh whipped cream were awesome also.

          The hummus is perfect. Very garlicky so probably don't order this on a date! Served with mini-toast with olive oil.

          So yes, have garlicky beer breath & enjoy. Overall, great atmosphere, great service (the waiters are funny and attentive without being annoying) and they really put forth effort with their food which shows.

          3 Replies
          1. re: haolebaby

            Have dined at the brewery on several occasions including last Sunday following the conclusion of the Tour of California. We had a party of 6 and everyone loved the food and the architecture/ambiance of the restaurant. Appetizers were the hummus and potato buds. Entrees included the chicken snitzel, pork chop, shephards pie, soba noodle stir fry. Everyone was very happy with the food. Portions are large and we went home with leftovers. The Temecula cabernet at $6/glass is a super deal. Made reservations through Open Table and no problems there. Service was excellent and graciouis. Too bad we live 30 miles away!!

            1. re: sdnativa

              Did you see Christian Vande Velde while you are the brewery? I think he was there that night too.

              1. re: DougOLis

                No but Shimano (or was is Specialized?) was having a big party upstairs so he and others may well have been there.

          2. I'm glad to hear some good reports about this place. Unfortunately, the couple times I ate there were disappointments - interesting and ambitious menu, but execution and service were lacking. I'd like to support their concept but it has to taste good! Especially since it's a bit pricey. I'll try it again based on these reports.

            1. Glad to hear some good reports on Stone since the last time I was there the food blew but the beer rocked..

              2 Replies
              1. re: Beach Chick

                I've been to this place several times and it's been mediocre at best...occasionally downright bad. So why do I keep going back? Becase I reaaalllly want to like it. It would be great to have a nice brewery/restaurant near home. The good part is that they seem to have high-quality ingredients, but they go wrong in their quest for extreme food to match their extreme beer. If it weren't so pricey, I'd be more forgiving. But these folks can't even get the salt right. And their whole "we-know-best" attitude is irritating given how screwed up their food often is. I thought the best item on the menu was the burger... then they took it off the dinner menu. I swear, it's like these people are hellbent on annoying their customers. And the service isn't very good either. I've finally given up on it. I eat dinner somewhere else then go there for a beer afterwards.

                1. re: potter57

                  DH and I LOVE their beer and we are planning to go back up before the New Year with friends to eat and drink so I will report back..love the patio..great place for drinking!
                  I want to really like it too..

              2. I actually had another run-in with the horrible service at Stone that has become something of a joke among our friends. I had been holding off on my little rant because I wanted to send a complaint to their GM, but have gotten a little busy with traveling for work.

                About a week ago (11/28), my husband and I decided to head up to Stone for dinner. He was leaving for an internation trip the next morning, and we figured we'd give it another (10th?) shot. I went online to check out OpenTable and saw they had a reservation available for 2 people at 6pm. Perfect. However...my OpenTable account was acting up, so after futzing with it for a few minutes, figured I should just call the hostess desk and make a reservation. Nobody answered, but I left my name/number/preferred time as the phone message instructed.

                About 2 hours later, I still hadn't heard back for a confirmation, so I called again...still no answer.

                A little later and still no call back, so I check OpenTable again, and the 6pm dinner spot for 2 people was still available, so as it got closer, my husband and I decided to just take our chances and head up. I figured a)somebody got my reservation or b)it just wasn't busy enough to worry about...so either way, even if we had to wait a bit, we'd be ok.

                We arrive at 6pm and there are people waiting all over the place, so I knew that it wasn't looking good. When I asked the hostess what the situation was, she reminded me that reservations weren't set until somebody called back to confirm. When I told her that I had called a few times and hadn't gotten an answer she said "Oh, we've been really busy." I asked her if I was just supposed to call and call and call and HOPE that somebody would pick up, she said, "Well, actually...we haven't been confirming reservations at all this week, so even if you had gotten a hold of somebody, that's what they would have told you."

                Since it was an hour and a half wait for 2 people, my husband and I bailed and headed back home to grab something in Poway.

                So...seriously...how hard is it to change your voicemail recording to say "We aren't accepting reservations at this time."? OR at least call people back to say "Sorry, we aren't accepting reservations at this time."? To be fair, I know we were taking a risk by driving up there in the first place, seeing as we hadn't gotten our confirmation phonecall, but we had been hoping that maybe we wouldn't lose that gamble again. If we had at LEAST gotten a sincere apology or explanation from the hostess or were made to feel that our business was actually worth it to them (we didn't expect to be seated ahead of everyone else waiting there), maybe I would have left feeling ok about it. Instead, it's just another black mark on their service. I'd say that it's easily been 80-85% of the visits where service was too slow or too inattentive or somebody's order got messed up.

                Don't get me wrong. For the most part I like Stone. They put on great events, have great beer, and have done a lot for the community in terms of being able to broaden the variety of other craft beers that are available all around. But there is just something about that restaurant that continues to disappoint, and I don't like feeling like I should be honored to get the chance to eat there, especially considering the prices.

                I'll be boycotting the restaurant temporarily.

                1. Does anybody know if Jason Seibert is still chef at the Stone Brewery Garden ?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: honkman

                    Yes according to their website. He also cooked a special dinner yesterday; also according to their website.

                  2. Count me in the underwhelmed category regarding the food at Stone. I've been there about half a dozen times and tried a number of different dishes.

                    The beer is pretty solid, with some better than others. I'll return for beer but wouldn't ever make a special trip for the food.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Strawman

                      Stone has a new chef de cuisine, Jason Seibert, who used to own Cafe Cerise downtown. The food there has improved noticeably IMO since he came on board.

                      1. re: Josh

                        Any resemblance to the food at Cafe Cerise. (I don't expect it since it is a different customer base but it would be nice and would finally convince me to drive to Stone Garden Bistro)

                        1. re: honkman

                          Not really that I have seen so far. I went to a food/beer event at the tail end of San Diego Beer Week, and they were doing a duck breast that was really delicious, and did bring Cafe Cerise to mind a bit. I think his stint there started relatively recently, so it may be some time before their menu changes.

                        2. re: Josh

                          Stone's' beer is excellent and hopefully with Jason on board as CdC, the food will match well.
                          This is great news!
                          Happy Holidays..

                      2. I went to Stone last night with some friends and was definitely disappointed with it as a restaurant. The beer was excellent of course, and the space itself (we sat outside) was impressive.

                        Sadly the food and service were underwhelming to say the least. My girlfriend and I shared the mac and cheese and the lamb osso bucco. The osso bucco was among the worst interpretations of either that or braised lamb shanks I've ever had. The lamb was pretty tough, not soft at all, indicating the meat was cooked either not long enough or at too high a temperature. Solid pieces of collagen were present (in a proper braise, the collagen dissolves to gelatin). Not a strong enough lamb flavor either; I don't know if it was undersalted, not great ingredients, or they managed to cook out the taste. I know they are all about the ingredient sourcing, but good ingredients mean nothing if your technique sucks. Someone in the kitchen needs to work on their skills!

                        The mac and cheese actually had good flavor with the garlic beer cheese, but not cheesy enough. More like a macaroni with a thin layer of cheese. We got the sausage that normally comes with it on the side; I don't eat pork, but my gf said it was good.

                        Service was haphazard and slow. I don't just mean the dishes took long to come out, which is fair enough as we were a large party. Our waiter took about 15 minutes after we sat down to come take our drink orders (we're at a brewery, think we might want some beers?) and never seemed to be around when we needed something. Overall, especially for the prices they are charging, I expect much better on both the food and service fronts.

                        1. Wow lots of contempt in this thread for ol Stone Brewery. Keep in mind everyone that as a company they are still on the new side of things and as a restaurant they are very very young. So yes I have waited the long wait and ended up sitting at the bar to eat because I was starving but that was also when I ended up there with friends at the busiest times.
                          On the other hand when I got there just before dinner on a few occasions I was seated (plus 1) somewhat quickly and enjoyed the experience. Everyone on staff is young and I imagine that they have cycled through staff like a revolving door because they hired so many youngsters.
                          All I have to recommend is the special cask ales that are only available here and the limited release brews from time to time. And the most consistent and tasty item on the menu is the Bruschetta BLT. It was delicious.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: belsho

                            Did you happen to check the dates on most of those posts, belsho?

                            1. re: RB Hound

                              guess not but it was less than 6 months ago when I was in last and it was noted that there had been staff changes in the kitchen and management and some friends said that dishes they enjoyed had gotten better and they switched up the menu a bit but alas was still pretty much the same experience as my first visits as Stone opened this new location and brewery.

                            2. re: belsho

                              I'm pretty sure that 3+ years is more than enough time to work out some of the terrible logistics and bad attitudes that are the norm at this place. They have a well deserved good reputation for their beer and involvement in the community, but the restaurant is severly lacking in some areas that could make it great.

                              They have been around for 15 years and obviously know how to run an extremely successful company, so you can't blame their problems on a lack of experience that comes from being new in business. For whatever reason, that savvy has not translated into the restaurant, which I think is why so many people are so annoyed. At least, I know that's why I am.

                            3. My husband and I eat at Stone with some frequency, so here's how we manage to enjoy it: plan on surly service. I don't know what it is, but that place brings out the worst in it's waitstaff. I will say, a lunch with Jaclyn last week was surprisingly pleasant. I might ask for her again. Next, have a plan to wait: get one of the fabulous beers, and get out of the lobby! Go out to the gardens and enjoy! They really did that part beautifully - take advantage of it!
                              As for the food, well, you're going to love it or hate it. Enjoy the quality ingredients, ask for extra salad dressing, and ask questions. Expect bold flavors. Lastly, expect to be underwhelmed on a really busy evening....they just can't seem to get that piece together. It's why they no longer serve the spectacular onion rings. Kitchen would just get too backed up.

                              In all, the beer gets the highest rankings, of course. Like others, I sooo want to like Stone, so I keep trying. And when it's good, it's a great experience!

                              Cross your collective fingers - checking out movie night there tonight. I'm not in the mood for surly....

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: StarvinginSD

                                "Lastly, expect to be underwhelmed on a really busy evening....they just can't seem to get that piece together. " - I don't understand why should anybody expect this from any restaurant on any day. Or do customers have to pay less when "they can't get pieces together".

                                1. re: honkman

                                  Agreed. For some reason it seems people make excuses for Stone because they want to like it.

                                  1. re: mayache

                                    Please don't misunderstand - I'm not making excuses. Stone is what it is, and they don't seem to think there's any need to change it, so I can go, or not go. I live in Escondido and as I've seen from previous posts (trust me - I'm desperately looking!), there's slim pickens up here in the way of quality restaurants.

                                    Stone has some lovely attributes...service isn't usually one of them. I've been pretty lucky and nearly always enjoyed my meal. The bruschetta BLT really is quite good. So were the onion rings...sigh.

                                    Others seem to want to like Stone as much as I do too, so I was just trying to, well, I suppose, help. Limit expectations, maybe, offer suggestions of what there is to enjoy about Stone...

                                    Or maybe I hope that the manager/ chef/ owner reads these posts and realizes there's room for improvement. Or maybe they're making a profit in a tough economy and don't care. Who knows?

                                    So far, there isn't anyplace in SD that's receiving consistently high marks in all categories...but I'm trying anyplace that you all rate above-average!

                                    Am I still making excuses? Sorry...I just, well, so want to like Stone too.

                                    1. re: StarvinginSD

                                      i went. sat down. waited..waited..waited..waited. after 10 minutes....sill waiting..waiters walking all over the place...waiting...waiting...no water...waiting. 15 minutes of no contact we got up and left. service so bad, we didnt even get to order.

                                2. re: StarvinginSD

                                  Hahaha... I read your post on my phone while having dinner at Stone, waiting for Office Space to start. I love the movie nights and wish they'd expand their movie bar menu a little bit more because I prefer sweets for the movies. Next time, I think I'm going to order a porter float or Arrogant Bastard chocolate cake at the main bar and bring it to my chair. They recently added their version of a rice krispy treat, but it was kind of meh. The chocolate they used was delicious, though.

                                  Anyway, "meh" kind of describes all of their food. I think it's great that they're using local and sustainable sources, but execution is key and their execution is hit or miss. Seasoning seems to be a major problem... often not enough salt and gratuitous use of heat, making food simply spicy-hot and flavorless. Mr. Geeky had a carrot-ginger soup when we were there for Army of Darkness and it may as well have been a ginger puree. I like ginger, but it was gross. Their ceviche didn't contain enough fish, so it was almost more like a salsa than ceviche. The sausage appetizer is delicious with perfect sauerkraut, but it's pricey for 4 small sausages.

                                  Still, the food has improved greatly from when my first visit in '08, when the onion rings were hockey pucks, the mac and cheese came in a puddle of oil, and someone very brilliantly decided that plated food should be placed in a warming tray... after garnishing with locally-sourced microgreens. Wilted and brown greens on top of your food is not sexy. And service was horrible.

                                  Service hasn't been bad for me the last couple of times... just inattentive. I'm glad I haven't had to deal with surly.

                                  1. re: geekyfoodie

                                    I had a BBQ duck burrito there at a recent beer event and it was pretty good, if pricey.

                                    1. re: Josh

                                      I had one when I saw Army of Darkness and it was a little on the bland side and kind of dry, but I attribute the dryness to the burrito being kept in a warming tray. It is definitely pricey.

                                      1. re: Josh

                                        I've always enjoyed their duck tacos quite a bit too