Great dining in Kendall County
There's a lot of wide open space out here, and little that's good to eat, but that is changing. Wife and I ate at STONEFIRE in Yorkville last night, and it was delightful. The outside looks like it's going to be one of those dark, clubby masculine places--(which are great, don't get me wrong) but inside, it was all bright and friendly. The main dining room had a roaring fireplace, and the banquettes were comfortable to my well-upholstered behind. The service was friendly and efficient, and I was surprised to hear a special of $2.50 well cocktails. (I didn't order one, but I saw another table that did, and it wasn't a skimpy drink, I assure you).
The menu has a nice variety, but not so much variety as to raise a red flag. Comfort foods like fried chicken, pot roast and meatloaf all looked like they got a nice twist, and the 1/2 pound burger menu offered many ways to customize your sandwich. There were also a number of "southern" items that looked good.
You're given a separate appetizer menu with about ten items-My wife had the potato skins, which were very good, if a bit pricy, and I had saganaki. Stonefire uses Fontinella instead of Kelafoutiri or Kasseri, so the Saganaki is a bit sweeter and creamier. The crunchy fried bits were pure heaven, and they serve pita wedges to sop up all the leftover brandy. Fabulous!
We ordered steaks, my wife had the 10oz Filet and I had the 14oz strip. They were grilled perfectly, and had that top steakhouse flavor that normally cost a lot lot more. The plates came with garlicky veggies, toasty fried onions, and a great little stuffed chilli garnish that packed a nice heat punch. The only letdown were the potatoes-wife had he upcharge twice baked which was so-so, and I had the garlic mashers which were ordinary at best. Next time I'll go for the steak fries or a baker.
I had a glass of the $5.00 house CabSauv with my steak and it was a generous pour, and went well with the meal.
We didn't have dessert, but we saw plenty of them coming out of the kitchen. They are huge and look delicious. There was a hunk of chocolate cake the size of a small SUV that aught our eye, and a house special cheesecake tower with strawberries that is flamed tableside. There was also a huge bread pudding. The desserts are pricey, but I think they are meant to be shared. That didn't stop the 4-top next to us from each ordering (and finishing) 4 of these giant confections.
You had your choice of soup or salad-we had the salad and the homemade dressings-ranch and bleu cheese were great. Even the warm crusty bread with whipped butter was exemplary. There are also a bunch of what they call "kickers" that you can add to your entrees--steak skewers, shrimps, portabello caps and more.
This is a family-friendly place-casual enough for a leisurely meal, and spiffy enough for a date.
For those of us who live out in the sticks, Stonefire is a welcome addition, and might just even give Naperville a run for the money.
We went to Stonefire Restaurant and Pub shortly after it opened in 2006, and I was extremely disappointed and vowed never to return. However, I craved a good hamburger, and there are supposedly new owners, and times change…so I thought to give them one more shot in February, 2009.
And I am again vowing never to return! We went on a Friday, February 13th and were unfortunately limited to selections from a special Valentine’s weekend menu. There weren’t any burgers at this pub, and the lowest priced entrée was $13.95, not the family fare this family sought on a Friday night.
Foolishly I stayed, as we should have only ordered a glass of house wine and then left. I remember from a few years ago they didn’t offer anything but four house wines, and I guess that hasn’t changed. Instead I ordered a Harp Lager from a decent-sized beer list, but the server didn’t know if they had Harp available, so she suggested O’Doul’s non-alcoholic beer. That was a warning sign, indicating to me she had no idea what Harp was, and more likely, that it was rarely requested.
Overall, the service was acceptable but the food nothing special and vastly overpriced. The bread basket was artistically presented and the best part of my dinner. I had the tough, overcooked and definitely not succulent honey-glazed salmon at $17.95. I like to use a measure which I dubbed “the Birds-Eye test.” I am always troubled by restaurants that charge over $12 per entrée and then serve unappetizing frozen vegetables with poor presentation, looking like they came right from the bag. These vegetables should be permitted to be served only at local diners and less-frequented restaurants in golf clubhouses but should never be served in seemingly higher-end establishments. I get the feeling there isn’t a true chef in the kitchen that can slice and cook a fresh vegetable.
Stonefire’s standard fare kids menu selections were priced at $5.95. I think that’s in line with other restaurants. The strawberry ice cream with sprinkles and whipped cream looked and tasted delicious. I wish I were a kid again, since, as an adult, I have no reason to return here.
Something else that really bugs me is fake “reviews” by local media, namely newspapers. A restaurant that purchases any advertising around here receives a glowing “review” about how fantastic the food is, and then the duped public believes the restaurant is really good. Stonefire received attention for that reason when it first opened, as did other local restaurants like Nick & Pat’s Bistro, and Vito and Nick’s II. I will never set foot in any of these again because each is below average in value, and in the cases of Stonefire and Nick & Pat’s, below average in taste as well. To avoid the “I’ve been ripped off” feeling, there are better comparably-priced or lesser priced alternatives to recommend near Stonefire, including Amici’s; Blackstone; Maciano’s; and even Sunfield’s.
While I'm at it, I should also mention a hole-in-the-wall with great food-Granny's Pancake house on RT. 34 in Plano. This is not part of the small "Granny's" chain that dot the near western burbs. The decor is wretched-it's a converted Hardee's. But the food is top rate. Nominally a Greek coffee shop, it's open 24 hours. The Breakfast dishes are extraordinarily well-prepared. The burgers are big a great. The service is friendly and efficient. I love the Athenian Skirt Steak and eggs. The prices are very reasonable.We've all been in hundreds of joints like this all over Chicago, and they're all pretty much the same. This one is head and shoulders above the pack, even if it's not much to look at. It's not a place worth a drive out from the city, but if you're out in the collar counties, it's a great bet and worth a small detour. Even the ":throw" on the Diet Pepsis are good.
We enjoy the Blackstone on Veteran's Parkway (34) just east of the Jewel in Yorkville. Good burgers, steaks and excellant pasta dishes. Their sister place is Tribella's in Batavia and has been a long time favorite of ours. Also, further east on 34 in Oswego is Emmett's Tavern & Grill, great food and a nice atmosphere. They are a brew pub but we aren't beer drinkers.
I have been to Stonefire three times, and it is not bad, and is a welcome addition to lacking dining scene out here. I have had the Rueben, and the Chicken Parmesan. The Rueben was very good, but the chicken parmesan was dry and overcooked(cementing my vow to never order chicken parmesan out ever again, I will only eat mine). The others with me had Fish and chips, and the portions were decent, and the fish was good. The other time I went for drinks only, and the atmosphere is good.
The only other spots I have dined in Yorkville are the pizza place just to the south of Stonefire in the strip mall with the liquor store. It was decent Pizza, but then again I am no pizza devotee.
I also have eaten at Cafe 47 numerous times, it is further south on 47, near where it intersects with 71. Good Rueben, burgers, etc. a decent place for a few drinks, and a quick meal on the commute home from the city.
I live further west, out in Lasalle County(about 20 mins down route 71), and probabaly the best cajun spot in Northern Illinois, Chicago included is out here. Its called Rons Cajun Connection in Utica.