Sunday, October 12, 2008

Stone Grill Restaurant in Sacramento

It was good. Better than good. The meat, Kobe beef, was tender and flavorful. This restaurant, which is either a chain or a franchise, has a gimmick of sorts which almost works. It's called the Stone Grill because they serve your protein on a stone that has been heated to 700plus F. degrees. The heat from the stone, which lasts a llllooonnnggg time, then cooks the protein and you eat it right from the stone. A new kind of do-it-yourself, I guess.

You order your steak or seafood or fish--in our case, it was a couple of NY strips and an order of scallops--and it arrives in front of you raw on the stone. The stone is set into a platter, which is obviously heatproof since the food is already sizzling. The platter includes a section on each side, one for the cooked potatoes and one for the raw veggies.

Up to this point, life is good and the food is wonderful. The aroma of sizzling Kobe beef, just imagine...are you drooling yet? You cut off a perfect piece of steak. Well, perfect if you like your beef rare. Which I do. So perfect for me; never mind about you. Pop it in your mouth--ooooohhh, hot hot hot. Too hot for my delicate mucous membranes. Okay, we can work around that, cut another piece and blow on it. Better, but still uncomfortably hot. Meanwhile, the rest of your steak is still sizzling away. So if you do like it rare--well, them days are gone for this piece of beef. I didn't finish my steak--I never do, should you be buying me dinner--and it was a lovely pinkish medium when I ate it at home for lunch today. However, if I had eaten the whole thing at the restaurant, by the time I finished it would have been shoe leather.

Meanwhile, over at the giant scallops stone, they're sizzling away and getting a nice carmelized crust on them. Grab them now, because in another thirty seconds or so they're going to be OVERCOOKED. Fish, seafood is funny that way; any chef will tell you that cooking it to the right consistency requires a delicate hand. I know this, so I take my scallops off the stone and plunk them in my potato area. Where they sit for a while...and get lost among the fingerlings.

And then there are those lonely raw veggies. I don't know about you, but I don't care for asparagus and mushrooms grilled dry.

So here's the thing. They've not taken this idea far enough. They're assuming everyone has (a) an asbestos mouth, and (b) eats faster than a truck driver on speed. Those of us who dine at leisure--well, we must resign ourselves to overcooked, and therefore tough, food.

One of my dinner companions, the lovely Nanny Goats In Panties (wearing black slacks for all of you who are curious) suggested the one should cut up one's meat all at once, as if one were feeding the two year old, and fling it onto the side where the veggies are. One should. Our host, Mr. Mudpuppy, did not complain. Nor did he eat his mashed potatoes, which left all the more for me--nah nah nah. I can, therefore, recommend the steak and mashed potatoes. And fling--or eat fast.

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So--whaddaya think?