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Stone Brewing World Garden & Bistro (it's a long one)

I'm curious to hear others' opinion on Stone's new restaurant...

We went about a month after it opened, a couple times after that for lunch on weekends, and then last night for dinner to celebrate a birthday. I think they've changed their Priority Seating to something more along the lines of real reservations, but not quite. In general, I can tell that some of their dishes have improved since opening (like the Spud Buds, but still not outstanding) while others I'm still to scared to try again (the bread pudding that used to resemble fried bread cubes in a sugar sauce - no pudding anywhere and no warning from our server - the menu now calls it Crispy/Chewy bread pudding). However, I feel that the service is still highly lacking. If the food wasn't so good, I'd never go back.

I'll just recap how last night went:

I made reservations for our party of 8 people for 7:30pm. We got there a little early because I wanted to make sure they were setting up a table for us and not waiting until 7:30, waiting for people to leave, THEN start setting up a table. To start off a great night, when I told the hostess we had a reservation at 7:30 for a party of 8, she looked distrssed and surprised. I'm sorry... I thought the purpose of making a reservation for a large party was so that you'd know ahead of time we would have a "large party". Then, she told me to come back at 7:30 to check in. So, we sat at the bar (scored some seats there, too!) where it was packed (as always) and waited for someone to take our beer order. And waited. And tried to flag someone down. And waited. And then some girl came by to ask if we've been taken care of, which we answered in the negative. Yay for her, she took our beer order AND our appetizer order (I knew I was in for a long wait for dinner) and everything came out fairly promptly.

By this time, it was close enough to 7::30, I went back to the hostess and she finally gave me a pager. So I could wait for our table that was not ready at 7:30. More waiting, spud buds are eaten, beer is had, and the pager goes off! I head back up, to find out that, oh, actually, our table isn't ready yet (so why buzz the pager??).

We sit, we know what we're ordering (due to our long wait at the bar), and we order everything all at once - more spud buds for the table, beer cheese (not actually on the app. menu, but it's on the dessert menu), entrees all around.

Water arrives. More beer is ordered. Water is emptied. No bread and butter, because that will cost you $1 since it is a "side" listed on the menu (lame). Our server comes back and says, "Where are your appetizers, ha ha?" I don't know... isn't that your job? So we ask her, "I don't know, where are they?" Her reply? "I don't really know, ha ha!" Right here, we decide we don't like her and are not impressed (again) with the service at Stone. Finally the beer cheese comes out and one guy's soup. Where are the spud buds? "Oh, I found out they're making a new batch of batter, which is why it's taking for-EVER." It takes me 2 minutes to whip up pancake batter. You're telling me it takes 20 minutes to make spud bud batter?

Appetizers are finished, plates are stacked, beer cheese was yummy! More waiting and then present opening (yay!). More waiting. "Are you doing okay? Do you need anything?" How about an update on where our food is? "It'll be 15 more minutes, but I don't know why." And then the food comes out.

The mac 'n cheese there is rich but not too cheesy but filling with all the sausage. It's a good dish. The garlic chicken wasn't as garlicky as we expected, but it was moist and flavorful. Their sweet potato mash is the best side dish ever. I had the braised short ribs and they were so tender and tasty I was very happy. Every time we go, eventually we get our food, and the food is wonderful. We skipped dessert because I didn't want to be there another hour waiting for that to arrive.

I know I should just expect lousy service and long waits when we go and not be annoyed by it, but I can't help it. Each time we comment how busy it is, how packed the bar is, the hostess or server replies "I know, we can't believe it, we weren't expecting it" - but it's ALWAYS packed. Start expecting it and planning accordingly! I suppose I'm more lenient if the servers seemed more competent and not as bewildered as we are when we've been waiting 20 minutes for a scoop of beer cheese. I'm more likely to smile if you come up professionally, not ditzy, apologize for the wait and give me a reason (any reason) why we're still waiting. Don't act surprised and then not know why our table has only non-edible flowers and a salt shaker.

One more gripe: with $20+ entrees, you seriously can't give us a free basket of bread to keep us sane while we're waiting for something to eat?

Is it just me? Do you go and get good service and are happy with how things are managed there? Do you not go at all because you're smarter than I am and just don't put yourself in such annoying situations?

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  1. I go at 3/4 pm or so .....never a problem when there's no crowds.

    1. Sorry to hear about the service problems. I really like what they do with beer, and for beer, and had good experiences at the bistro, but service issues like that really can kill a place. I hope they work it out.

      1. We went about a month and a half ago, and had to endure the ridiculously long wait there as well (a busy Saturday night). Once we were finally seated (close to 9 PM), service wasn't bad. However, we were highly frustrated by the fact that there were a large number of empty tables during our 2 1/2 hour wait! I really hope they iron out their service issues soon- we enjoy going there for a good meal and drinks, but not if we have to wait till it feels like we have holes burning in our bellies from hunger!

        1 Reply
        1. re: jlls

          Well, Thursday night is just as packed as Saturday. And my friends were there for lunch Saturday and had to wait while half the restaurant tables were empty (they said there were no servers for that section). When they were seated, guess where they sat? Yup, the empty part.

          The one thing I've learned is to order something to eat at the bar while you're waiting for a table, otherwise you'll go crazy waiting for your food to finally arrive!

        2. I went there for dinner a couple of weeks ago. It was early (before six) and there seemed to be a huge amount of staff for the number of cusotmers. At any rate, the food arrived quickly (almost, as they say, too quickly).

          The food was okay to good, and seemed a work in progress. The spud buds were my favorite part of the meal, and as noted they were only okay. My friend had the mac and cheese, which as it cooled was swimming in oil, and I had the Super Septuple Garlic Bomb Chicken, which didn't have anywhere near the garlic to merit the name. And while I usually don't notice presentation, this was one ugly dish. All the deserts that night seemed to be forcing the inclusion of beer as an ingredient and nothing appealed to either of us.

          It felt promising, but was frequently undercut by new-restaurant jitters. I think I'll give them another chance some time down the road when more kinks are worked out.

          1. Probably best to stick with the beer and skip the food. And not that Arogant Bastard stuff it will burn your tounge off!

            2 Replies
              1. re: pantani

                The menu there doesn't interest me, but we went once to sit at the bar. I did order the appetizer of homemade crackers with three types of soft beer-based cheeses. It was excellent. I've been thinking of the texture of the crackers ever since, and the cheeses were delicious.

              2. I've been for lunch twice during the week and had no wait for a table and the service was excellent. Fast, friendly and efficient. Our server knew the food and beer and made good recommendations. I had the mac and cheese once and the burger/blt (I split them both with someone else) another time, both were very good, I'd definately order the mac and cheese again. And I LOVE the IPA. Slightly floral and delicious. I'll be back with my work lunch crowd again. One of our group had a birthday and they gave her a choice of a rootbeer float or a beer float, she went with the beer float, it was good, but I'd probably do a rootbeer float next time.

                Anyway, my two cents. I've had two good experiences there.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Katdiego

                  A float of vanilla ice cream in beer? What beer was it? I can imagine it working with a stout, maybe a porter.

                  1. re: Joseph

                    i believe the beer float uses stone's smoked porter.

                2. Unfortunately, I have to agree with the OP here. I've been a huge fan of Stone beers since I had my first Stone back in 1998. The Ruination IPA, the Imperial Stout, some of the Anniversary Porters, and some of the Epic series are among my favorite beers ever. Great, assertive, flavorful brews. So why is the food at the Bistro so bland? When I first heard the Bistro was opening up, I thought it would be amazing--food done the way Stone does beer.

                  Went this afternoon with my wife. First, had a 5-10 minute wait to be seated at about 2 pm on a Sunday (!) with plenty of open tables (I understand the concept of not seating people if it will swamp the servers, even if tables are open--however, this seems like a constant problem based on other posts here--STAFF UP, Stone!!!!). The next disappointment was our fault--on vacation, days of the week don't matter, so we forgot it was a weekend, and were given the "brunch" menu, which is quite limited compared to the regular weekday lunch menu.

                  My wife wasn't feeling well, so she just got the mashed sweet potatoes. I got a buffalo burger with a side of IPA garlic mashed potatoes (the fyrer was down, so no spud buds, onion rings, etc.). Everything was just...bland. Especially considering how much the flavor is played up on the menu, it's a big disappointment. Also, the prices seemed high. With Stone beer, you taste the good flavor, so I don't complain about the cost. $14.XX for a medocre buffalo burger, though? Come on.

                  Service was okay, but not great. Got a bit of 'tag team' action going on, asked our 'second' waitperson for a water, it never came; asked the 'first' waitperson a few minutes later, and the water finally showed up, but only after it took so long I was on the verge of going up to the bar myself to get it.

                  I don't know what I can do but repeat myself...as a huge long-time Stone beer fan, the Bistro was a tremendous disappointment. The atmosphere (architecture, furniture, etc.) was great, but the service was so-so, and the food was wimpy-yellow-beer-style-food, not bold, flavorful Stone-beer-like food. The place was packed, though, so I seriously doubt any major changes will be in the works. However, I'm an optimist, so here's hoping that the food will someday be ramped up to the same level as the beer...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: clarence6ybr

                    My SO and I were there today, also, for our first visit. We got there around 1:15pm and were seated immediately. We had excellent service from our server, but we only had the one server - no tag team - so that likely helped. Our food was good, but not amazing... SO had their version of the Eggs Benedict and I had the Steak and Sweet Potato Hash. I appreciated the fresh flavors and reasonable portion sizes, and the bacon was wonderful. We finished by splitting the strawberry shortcake, which was the winner of the afternoon. I do agree that the prices could be a little lower, but I approve of the attempt to use locally-sourced foods. We'll happily go back, but at the price and driving distance, the Bistro probably will not be a frequent indulgence.

                  2. I was there a couple of months ago for the 'Tapas Tuesday' and we arrived around 7pm, party of 3..we sat inside near the bar area..we ordered the mac n'cheese, mussels, onion rings..
                    I thought the onion rings were awful, the mussels were ok and the mac had meat in it but good and I don't recall seeing that on the menu..the mac was the best. Love the beer and overall, the food could get better..imo..

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Beach Chick

                      My wife and I have been 3 times. In reality, I go for the beer and ambiance, although the last couple times we have went, the wait has been ridiculously long. The last time, the wait was 2 1/2 hours.

                      The food has been pretty good, although I do agree with others, it's a little bland. Funny that a company that prides itself on the extreme nature of their beer and cuisine can actually produce rather un-extreme food. The last time we went, rather than wait for 3 hours for a table, we just ordered some appetizers. I was very impressed by the cheese plate we had. So, in the future, I plan on arriving earlier and probably will just order beer and appetizers. I sure dooo love me some Old Guardian.........

                    2. WE have been there 5 times and so far I love the burger with Cabot cheddar and kimchee, the mac and cheese and the tika masala. some stuff is bland and just OK. I am disappointed they are not doing some fantastic bread. The ciabatta roll that comes with the burger is OK.

                      1. the Executive Chef at Stone reportedly has left, so I am curious what will be different...