Stone Castle Inn not only continued our close-to-home
picks but also marked another local restaurant opening. SCI has held an
aura of mystique ever since it closed over a decade ago when it was the
Stone Tower (how much further back, we could not decide). The stone tower
and stone facade, with large windows facing the road, is an eye-catcher
that lures the drivers-by.
And, we were pleased to see another local eatery off to a good
start. (We had tested The Saloon two months ago.) We wish the best to the
A major attraction of SCI is ambiance. The exterior needs no more
One opens the heavy door that leads into the circular vestibule
that is the stone tower silo, which then requires opening another
castle-like door that empties into the dining area. A knight’s armor
stands stiffly on the left, fronted by a flat TV screen on the wall and
several high and low tables.
On the right is another dining space, holding a dozen-ish tables,
in company with the large windows facing the road. (It should be noted
that the Teators scouted the night before and enjoyed a table by the
windows – a definite plus!).
In front, center, is a handsome wood-rimmed, right-angle bar, with
a half-dozen seats left-center, and another three or four seats curving
around right center. Unable to be ignored is the landing and stairs
leading to the second floor, encouraging soon-to-be-diners to crane their
necks upward, revealing an Irish-castle feel with wood timbers stretching
eave-to-peak, with eight or so feet of gray-ish plaster in between.
On the second floor level is perched another suit of armor against
the stone tower, while the very soft lighting burnishes the richness of
We climbed to our reserved table, and found two tables of
black-dark marbled tops, centered with a lit candle cup, with six places
of fork and steak knife pre-wrapped in a green paper napkin
It’s cozy and warm and inviting.
The menu is mostly on the light side, with a half-dozen entrées
added to the dinner menu. In addition, several appetizers, a few salads,
and about a dozen sandwiches and wraps fill out the sheet.
This evening’s food started with salads: Both Chay and Deb K
selected the Caesar salad while Deb T and Ken chose the house salad. All
were deemed competent (Deb K thought it the highlight of her meal!).
The entrée round included: chicken wings (Ken, the mild, and a bit
hot for him; Chay, the hot, and satisfyingly hot for him; taste of chili
pepper or something else, Deb thought); the ‘chicken’ fajita (Deb K,
good, she couldn’t tell if it was beef or chicken, and it was
grease-drippy); the strip steak (Kriss, medium-well, boiled potatoes
although she asked for smashed potatoes, ok); cod strips (Deb T,
satisfactory, pieces of fried cod, with fries, coleslaw); and the Asian
salad (Don, satisfactory, a spring mix with onions, wasabi peas,
watercress, and more).
The dessert round beckoned: the very warm chocolate lava cake (Don,
soul-satisfying; Kriss, very good); the Key Lime cheesecake (Deb K, good,
presentation could be improved); and the Key Lime pie (Deb T, good, as it
was the night before).
Although there is no wine list currently, Stone Castle Inn carries
a generic red and white assortment of varietals, and we ordered a full
carafe, and a half-carafe, of the house cabernet sauvignon, which we later
learned was from Stone Cellars. Two diet sodas rounded out the drink
Service was provided from former student and former teaching
colleague (and nice person, we want to add) Aileen, who was attentive and
pleasant and cheerful. Thanks, Aileen (and good luck with the new teaching
job, and, of course, with finding a permanent one).
With most prices ranging $6-$8 for salads, $10-$13 for sandwiches
and most entrées (the steak was slightly more), we foresaw an inexpensive
evening. The final bill, with tax, drinks, and tip came to $53 per couple,
a reasonably fair price, and one that will keep the diners coming in who
want a nice, but lighter, evening. Still, a sandwich or burger for eleven,
twelve bucks seems a tad strong.
I think we were a bit forgiving this evening, wanting so decidedly
to want a local venture to do well that we shrugged our shoulders at a few
shortcomings that we hope might be addressed in the near future. The
second floor collects heat and we came prepared with light clothing but
were glad it was not warmer. Errors marred the delivery of a couple plates
(boiled potatoes instead of smashed; beef fajita instead of chicken). More
glaring was the announcement that three entrées were sold out and, when
the menu only has a half-dozen to start with, the choices became quite
limited really fast, and, in two cases, led to chicken wings for the main
course selection. It seemed the restaurant was about one wait-staff short,
with Aileen trying to juggle too big a load. The spacing of rounds was
lengthy, and this group (if I have judged them well) would have bitched if
we had been at a different place (eighty minutes from seating to entrée,
with only the salad in between; and if no salad, nothing for eighty
minutes). It was nearly 10 p.m. by the time we arrived home. And, Ken
would have liked more coffee!
In spite of the last paragraph, we all recognized the potential,
and know we shall revisit a charming, romantic “castle” that should do
well in Cairo.
The evening had started at the Karnes’ house, glad
to see each other (EXCEPT the Adamses were absent, taking the month in
Florida and other environs; we missed ya!) and just as pleased with the
very spring-like weather we had mid-week.
Deb had prepared a pepper-jelly covered cream cheese dish; a plate
of orange peppers, carrots and celery; a basket of crackers; and a bowl of
guacamole dip. Meanwhile, Chay unparched our throats with a soda, Sierra
Nevada Glissade, and Thirsty Owl 2006 Pinot Noir. Thank you!
Discussions: Tsunami, of course! What unfathomable destruction.
Other topics were about school cuts, retirements, Tim &
Judy’s whereabouts, recent trips and visitors, the Teators’ new
Fusion, Ken’s birthday..., work, weather & spring, Chay &
baseball, the Karnes’ trip to Kentucky, spring break and lying, and