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Apr 9, 2008 05:25 AM

Stonefish Grill - Rockville Town Center

Neither my wife or I wanted to cook last night so we decided to try the Stonefish Grill in Rockville Town Center. It is located right across from Bobby's Crabcakes. It is the second location of the restaurant in Largo, MD. Because there is a lack of true seafood restaurants in Rockville, I was hoping that this could enter our rotation.

The restaurant was empty at 7:30pm on a Tuesday night, one other table and two patrons at the bar. It had a very stark decor, tiled floors, dark wood tables and booths, chrome and cheezy fake fish on the walls. It was also very cold, my wife actually put her coat back on.

We were greeted warmly however, and our server Alex, was very friendly and efficient about telling us about the specials.

I started with a cup of the Maryland crab soup. Not bad, but nothing special. My wife ordered the house salad. I would think that a restaurant would not put pale, tastless wedges of tomato on a salad, but there they were. Again, an ok salad but nothing out of the ordinary.

My wife ordered the BBQ Salmon, described as "Lightly blackened and topped with our signature BBQ sauce, crispy onion strings and scallions." Actually it came with three pretty good onion rings, very good mashed potatos, and mixed vegs., too many carrots, but nice, crisp green beans. The fish was cooked properly and very tasty (or so she said, I don't particularly like salmon unless it is lox or smoked) but she didn't know what was so special about the BBQ sauce. She did like the dish however.

I ordered the Fried Fisherman Platter, 2 scallops, 3 shrimp, cod and 4 large clam strips. It was served with some excellent fries, and cole slaw that was unfortunately just dressed with mayo and had no bite to it at all. The clam strips were good, if a little overbreaded for my taste, the scallops very good, and the cod excellent. Shrimp were, well, fried shrimp. The tartar sauce that was served on the side was pretty good, but the cocktail sauce could have used more horseradish. I washed it down with a glass of a very forgetable Pinot Grigio. (It is interesting to note that Bobby's across the street has a small selection of wines, but every one of them is better than what was offered at Stonefish.) We decided against dessert because the size of the entrees was enought to fill us up. Service was attentive, but Alex should have removed the soup and salad plates when we were finished, not when he brought the entrees. It isn't like they were slammed for time.

Dinner, with tax and a good tip ran about $70. Bottom line, not horrible, but I'm not adding it to the rotation. If I am really in the mood for seafood, and am in the area, I might go again, but I won't search it out.

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  1. Thanks for the review, I've been looking at this place and now know to not make a trip for it.

    1. I went there a few months ago, shortly after it opened. Can't remember what we ate, other than cornbread - which was very good. Overall it was decent, but haven't had the urge to go back.

      It was definitely better than Greystone Grill though. That was horrible.

      2 Replies
      1. re: wysguymd

        I agree with you totally about Greystone grill. If you look at my write up on it, you will see that I thought it was a horrible experience, both the food and the service.

        1. re: wysguymd

          I agree with both of you also -- Greystone Grill in Rockville was the WORST restaurant experience of our lives! Both the food and the service were really, really bad. We can only hope this place will go out of business soon so something else can take its place.

        2. Your first clue should have been the clam strips. The only good fried clams are Ipswich or Belly clams. The difference between them and clam strips is as great as the difference between a hamburger and a prime cut of steak.

          1 Reply
          1. re: michael4ny

            Actually, my wife is the clam strip fan. They were tasty, just a little to much breading for my taste. But then again, I didn't expect they would be as good as the ones at Kinkead's.

          2. I've had mixed experiences at Stonefish.

            Before I moved to RTS, I made it a point to try all the restaurants that had opened here. I found Stonefish had a good lunch special: soup and salad for $9. I typically took the spicy red MD crab soup (mediocre) and tuna steak salad. This is a decent salad with a great raspberry dressing and a large slab of tuna (cooked rare) on top. I was very pleased with this salad as I love good tuna.

            Since then I've moved to RTS and have started eating dinner at Stonefish. The last time I took their crab cakes and they were very good (but not lump). A previous time I ordered a mixed grill of three different fish and the tuna piece was overdone and not entirely fresh.

            I think the restaurant has too much fried food for a so-called grill; high turnover (for several months it was a different server each time I lunched there); and arguably the worst view in RTS with a correspondingly awful spartan decor.

            There are folks who argue that Stonefish and other stores suffer from lack of parking on Gibbs St. While I'd also like to see the bike lane narrowed and more parking made available, there are other stores on Gibbs that are doing just fine (e.g. the Peruvian restaurant, where a recent Saturday evening saw an hour wait for a table).

            Bets are being placed for the first restaurant to go belly-up in RTS, and Vegas odds say it's Stonefish (with Greystone a close second).

            8 Replies
            1. re: glroman

              >>Bets are being placed for the first restaurant to go belly-up in RTS, and Vegas odds say it's Stonefish (with Greystone a close second).

              Unfortunately, this isn't necessarily because of the quality of restaurant, but because the chains can lose money for a long time but get propped up by a corporate parent or multiple-franchisee, whereas local chains or sole proprietorships operate much closer to the margin.

              To me, the best food to be found in the Rockvile Town Square BY FAR is Bobby's Crabcakes, but I've never seen the place more than half full, which worries me for their long-term survival. I've never gone by on a Friday or Saturday night, so they might be busier then, but the middle of "rush" during the week never seems very rushed there.

              1. re: DanielK

                I like Bobby's Crabcakes too. The help is arguably the friendliest in the Square and meal prep is very fast. The crabcakes are excellent and all-lump meat, and the fries and creamed spinach are very good too. I'm hoping they add some more vegetables though, as they are often out of the spinach when I visit. The only other "veggie" side is coleslaw which, with green onions, is not to my liking.

                They also seem to be experimenting with different serving arrangements. Last time I went for dinner I was seated as soon as I walked in and then presented with a menu. Previously I always ordered at the cash register and they would give me a number for my table and a glass for the self-serve fountain. I found the new practice helpful and somewhat amusing, but inconsistent.

                I'm not sure why the place doesn't get more traffic. Yes, the crab cakes are pricey relative to some of the other fast-casual choices in the Square, but it's great crab. I know I'd go there more often if they offered a greater selection of vegetable sides.

                1. re: glroman

                  I walked into Bobby's last Sunday hoping for a reasonably priced lunch and did not find it. I know good crabcakes are expensive, and that folks like them, but what would have been $20 plus for lunch did not appeal to me.

                  1. re: nickdanger

                    A crabcake sandwich platter with crispy, hand-cut fries and slaw is $14 at Bobby's Crabcakes. Add a drink ($2) and you're at $16. Not $20+, unless you wanted the DOUBLE crabcake platter. If you want to eat there on the cheap, there are 7 different sandwich platters (including fries and slaw) for under $10.

                    If you know of a cheaper place for a lump (not backfin) crab cake with no filler, please let us know, because I will be there tomorrow. Saturday before I went to a DC United game I went to Miss Charlotte's Crabcakes in Brentwood, NE DC. It's a hole-in-the-wall carryout. You would think this would be cheap, right - they're probably paying next to nothing for rent.

                    Lump crabcake sandwich - $13. Fries, frozen, awful, and soggy $3. Can of soda $1. Total was $17 - $1 more than Bobby's, and no slaw.

                    Crabcakes are not cheap, but Bobby's is a bargain.

                    1. re: DanielK

                      Well, you have $16, plus tax (another buck) and if there's service, there's a tip, and that's close enough to $20. And, hey, $2 for a drink is pretty cheap nowadays. Sure it isn't $2.69? <g>

                      Yesterday at Five Guys I had a little cheeseburger and fries with plain water and it left just a few cents from a seven dollar bill. These are tough times for people who aren't oil traders.

                      1. re: MikeR

                        Not fair comparing a Five Guys burger with a crabcake. If you're looking at pure $$$, you overpaid 100% for that Five Guys burger and fries, because you could have had the same meal for half that price at McDonald's.

                        The question raised isn't whether a crabcake meal at $16 ($20 including tax/tip) is a bargain compared to a $7 hamburger meal - it's an opinion, not a factual question. The question is whether the Bobby's crabcake meal at $16 is a bargain FOR A CRABCAKE MEAL. I would argue that you can't get this meal (lump crab, no filler) for less anywhere in the area.

                        1. re: DanielK

                          I think you're right about the bargain. I was talking about how much I'm spending for lunch. A $20 lunch is very unusual for me, as is a trip to Rockville.

                          I didn't intend to compare hamburgers to crab cakes, I was just pointing out that even a hamburger lunch (once you get away from McDonald's) is expensive enough to comment about. A couple of years ago, I could have lunch for $5, not eat junk/fast food, and have enough to satisfy me. Now that $5 lunch is $7.

                          I didn't get a 40% cost of living increase so I notice these things, but still, I gotta eat (and do).

                    2. re: nickdanger

                      I eat well at Bobby's for less than $20 per person. I think their menu is pretty reasonably priced.