If one would cross a fine-dine restaurant with a neighborhood eatery, what would be the result? The answer is Stone Creek Dining Company in Montgomery, according to Andrew Schrier, general manager at the long-time dining spot.
For me, the fine dine part is obvious; the décor, the ambiance, the entrée selection, the presentation, the wines, the whole megillah. But a neighborhood eatery? Really?
“We are a neighborhood restaurant, so we want to make sure we take care of the people who live in this community. So, if they want to come in and have a bowl of soup and a glass of wine, we are here to provide that; whatever they want is fine with us,” Schrier said.
In fact, there are several items on the menu that cause one to lean in the direction Schrier suggests. One is the “classic” salmon salad.
“It’s the No. 1 selling dish in our restaurant,” he said. “It’s dressed with our garden herb dressing – sour cream and cream cheese based – but we add a whole host of herbs to it to give (the dressing) an herbaceous, delicious taste and one that complements the salad greens perfectly.”
He said it’s not unusual for a couple to drop in and have salmon salads and wine and that’s it. Or a burger, or a Chicago-style Italian beef sandwich or an appetizer sampler, all of which we’ll get to in a bit.
The classic salmon salad is scrumptious. As a salmon-lover, I appreciate salmon prepared by someone who knows how. One might think that a professional kitchen would be able to easily turn out a good piece of salmon. But ideally grilled salmon is more of a challenge than it would appear. Grilled yes, but not to the point of sapping all the juiciness out of the flesh. So, grill it to crust the outside, then heat it in the oven just long enough and not a second longer, and serve promptly. Mine was perfect. And the salad, made up of romaine lettuce, bruschetta tomatoes, red onion, capers and parmesan cheese with hard-cooked egg garnish is simply delightful. Put a chilled dry Riesling next to it and you have a wonderful, healthful meal.
Then there are the burger and the Italian beef sandwich, perhaps standard menu items of the corner pub/eatery/drop-in spot, but rare choices in fine-dine establishments. First the burger: “We have our specialty blend (of ground beef). One of our sister concepts is BRU Burger Bar (there is one in Cincinnati’s downtown) and we have the tri-blend (of ground beef) used there.”
Schrier explained that because the ground beef is proprietary and its process is highly controlled, the result is a product that can be cooked to medium rare with no worries. Plus, the flavor is enhanced by Stone Creek’s proprietary spice blend that is added at the time of grilling. The burger (hold the cheese) is taken through the garden – lettuce, tomato, red onion and mayo, and served on a brioche bun, nestled in among French fries, or sweet potato fries if you want.
The Chicago beef sandwich is a wonderful beef-eater’s treat. It’s the French dip sandwich without the pedigree, to my way of thinking. This quintessentially Chicago sandwich has been around Chi-town since the 1930s at least. It features thinly sliced seasoned roast beef piled into a slightly crusted hoagie bun. The beef is warmed in au jus, much like the dipping au jus for French dip sandwiches. The importance of this prep method is that the beef carries some of the jus with it when the beef is placed into the slit of the bun. The hinge of the bun typically becomes soggy with the jus, which in this case is a good thing. To further the style of Chicago, Stone Creek garnishes the sandwich with a giardiniera as is done in the Windy City. If you have not had an Italian beef sandwich Chicago-style, be prepared to go through at least one napkin. They can be messy, but fun to eat, and I’m betting you’ll love the flavor.
Also, at Stone Creek, we had the triple dip appetizer board, served with grilled French-bread wafer slices and grilled pita strips. The dips on the board are unusual, and, oh my, are they delicious. First there is the San Marzano tomato dip with bits of goat cheese mixed in. This might casually be compared to salsa, but it is much different – and better, I think – in flavor, texture and dimension. Then there is the hummus, made from quinoa, which is a different wrinkle, and seasoned with sambol Thai chili sauce, which provides just a hint of a kick to it. And lastly, the Brussels sprout au gratin, which is a cheesy warm dip with a delightful flavor profile. Prediction: when the triple dip ramekins are empty, you’ll wish they weren’t.
See you at Stone Creek Dining Company!
Stone Creek Dining Company
9856 Montgomery Road,
Montgomery, Ohio, 45242