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Stonehill Tavern - Monarch Beach - Long - Hmmmmm....

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Stonehill Tavern - Monarch Beach - Long - Hmmmmm....

torta basilica | May 22, 2006 01:39 PM

Located in the St. Regis Hotel, which is gorgeous. We were met at the door by a charming gentleman, who gave those of us who had not been to the hotel before a tour & showed us where the restaurant is. It kindof went downhill from there. Our party wanted to have drinks in the lobby bar, but I had heard about the lychee drinks in the restaurant. I asked if I could order one of those & was told no. I then asked if I could go get one & bring it back to the lobby bar (it's right around the corner) & that was fine, but I really thought they should have offered, being a 5 star resort. Then the bartender in Stonehill corrected my correct pronunciation of lychee twice, which was a further irritation for a $14 gimlet. I forgot I wasn't a big fan of gin, but that wasn't their fault. Really didn't get the lychee (or, as the bartender said, 'leechee' part of it at all.) The bar in the restaurant is small, but has 4 charming booth/rooms off of it, which looked like great places to sit & relax.

It was a Wednesday night & we were taken right away to our table - through the bar, to the back - restuarant is long & narrow & has a nice view, but... I thought the tables very close together & after the visually attractive bar, the restaurant was a let-down. Wasn't really happy with our table for 4 by the order station & it was loud & one of our party has a hearing problem, but they said they couldn't move us. I really didn't see any other tables I thought would be much better - long banquettes with tables for 2 close together, then a few tables for larger parties. Totally changed from Aqua. Explained we'd already had our pre-dinner drinks & decided to each have wine by the glass - wonderful, but expensive list. 2 Chateau Montelenas Chards ($16 ?) good as usual, 1 Ici/LA-Bas Willamette Pinot Noir ($14) that was just plain boring & really needed some breathing or something to help it along & a Spanish red - Tres Picos Garnacha ($12) that was just incredible - I'm going to hunt this stuff down! Wine served immediately, then we waited & waited & waited... I was about to go back to the bar to get their wasabi peas & roasted cashew snacks off a table just to have something to eat. Finally flagged someone down & begged for bread & for them to take our orders. Bread was incredible - some of the best salt rolls I've ever had, nice little baguettes, a so-so wheat roll & fresh unsalted butter. We were dissapointed the bacon & shiso lobster fritters weren't on the menu that night, but finally ordered - my foie gras with strawberry & rhubarb ($23) was interesting - foie gras was small, but excellent, rhubarb rather al dente & brioche it was served with was stale & inedible. A goat cheese & arugula salad ($15 ?) was just that - not exciting at all. Duck thigh appetizer ($16) excellent. For mains, dad & I split the deep fried whole chicken, which they brought out & carved - this was very moist & tasty, but we were also looking forward to the root veggies, which were very undercooked & super-excited about the mascarpone polenta, which turned out to be a small spoonful poured on the bottom of the plate to anchor a few peas. 1 roasted monkfish deemed pedestrian & 1 Tasmanian trout that looked like salmon, tasted like salmon, served with a grape & caper relish that was just plain wierd & I'm not sure I got the point of - it was ok for salmon, but again, nothing stellar. The chicken was the only hit, except for the polenta disappointment. I did beg for a little more polenta in my take home box & got a wee bit more...

Dessert - root beer float with sasparilla ice cream & chocolate cookies was just as it sounds - good, no big whoopee. 'Strawberry shortcake with Strawberry Soda' was a small mille-fleur type of arrangement with layers of strawberries carmelized on top & frozen strawberries with strawberry soda poured over in a martini glass on the side. Sounded better than it tasted. Chocolate peanut butter molten cake with milk chocolate shake was ok - small cake was very rich with peanut better oozing out & the melted 'shake' helped cut it. Basically, the only thing I'd go back for was the chicken.. and at $30 per person, 2 required, not exactly a bargain.

There was a loud private party going on behind a door by us & I kept asking them to shut the door & they would for awhile, then open it again, which made conversation very hard & everyone around us privy to everyone else's chats. Staff were very nice, but somewhat inefficient. They did get the Happy Anniversary & Happy Birthday messages correct & in lovely script on the dessert plates, but I don't think I'll be running back. Came to about $410 for 4, with 7 glasses of wine, 3 appetizers, 4 mains & 3 desserts, which I guess isn't totally outrageous, but I'd rather save up & go to Studio next time. Or pay less for better food & atmosphere at Sage in Eastbluff.

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