It takes no time to settle into the elegant lodge-like atmosphere of Stoney River Steakhouse and Grill. A big stone fireplace flickers at one end of the room, a large circular bar fills up the center, and the perimeter is large booths and roomy tables. Framed black and white photography of stone-filled rivers lines the walls, emphasized by spotlighted gallery lighting. At the back wall, a large open kitchen is separated from the bar by a glowing wine cellar counter that runs the length of the wall.
As soon as the signature rolls arrived we knew that the evening would be something special. They’re like upscale, pre-meal doughnuts, a crisp exterior encasing a warm doughy center with a profusion of poppy seeds. They come with a ramekin of soft honey butter to add a gentle frosting sweetness to every bite. If it’s Stoney River’s way of hinting that you should save room for dessert, it’s very convincing.
The most unique starter we sampled was the Whiskey Shrimp on Country Toast. At first glance, it looks every bit like biscuits and gravy topped with grilled shrimp. The white sauce is a tangy mustard cream sauce made from spicy English course mustard, cream, and whiskey; the biscuit turns out to be a crisp slice of garlicky Texas toast; and the sautéed Jumbo shrimp delivers the fresh seafood savor and a hearty chew. Together the combination of flavors and textures makes for a decadent and original appetizer.
However, their approach to traditional starters is indicative of their overall spirit of flavor innovation. Their San Francisco Spinach Dip arrives scalding hot, a layer of fresh grated Parmesan cheese melting over a mixture of rich creamed spinach and water chestnuts. Blissfully salty tortilla chips still hot from the fryer are the perfect base upon which to lather the dip.
Their approach to deviled eggs delivers in the same way as the spinach dip, dispensing the traditional flavors but with their own specific point of view. Halved eggs are piled high with the tangy “deviled” filling and chives, but topped with house-made pickle relish, crumbles of candied bacon, and a sprinkling of course sea salt.
The Wedge salad is a massive halved head of iceberg lettuce smothered in a creamy bleu cheese dressing, pieces of bacon, chives, sliced Roma tomatoes, and bleu cheese crumbles. Whereas all of the factors of bleu cheese can sometimes overpower in a salad like this, Stoney River keeps it subtle and combines it with a smattering of black pepper to keep it rich and sharp without suppressing the other ingredients.
As with any establishment that has the word steakhouse in their name, they have a lovely selection of meat cuts, ages, preparations, and options, but only one of them appears in a box on the menu to draw attention to it: Coffee-cured Filet Mignon. It’s a nine-ounce center cut filet cured in a special blend of coffee, brown sugar, and molasses.
The exterior was perfectly grill crisped with a slight caramelization and the inside was perfectly tender and medium rare as per our request. The combination of inside and outside textures and flavors is everything we want in a steak, with the rub making the meat all the more savory. The Au Gratin potatoes that accompany it are a dense cake of thin sliced potatoes layered between a mixture of melted cheeses leaning into a sharp pepper bite. Absolutely scrumptious.
Our favorite entrée of the evening was the “Hong Kong Style” Sea Bass. The steamed sea bass flakes apart instantaneously at the mere suggestion of a fork and mixes with a bed of sautéed spinach and sweet sesame soy sauce. It’s topped with toasted sesame seeds, julienned ginger, and green onions for a greatest-hits combination of Asian fusion flavors supporting a beautiful cut of fish.
For dessert, we tried two very different ends of the flavor spectrum. The Chocolate Chip Blondie is a huge chocolate chip cookie delivered in an oven-warm skillet covered in hot fudge, pecan pieces, topped with a tower of rapidly melting vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. It’s decadent, rich, and checks all the dessert boxes your 10-year-old self once championed. The Key Lime Pie is a mature version of the dish leaning into perfect tartness over sweetness all on a graham cracker crust.
In every single course, Stoney River Steakhouse and Grill set themselves apart from the rest of the steakhouse landscape. They gave us traditional dishes with delicious twists and standout offerings we never expected, all at a very reasonable price point.
Stoney River Steakhouse and Grill is located at 20504 N. Rand Road in Deer Park, 847-719-1596, jalexanderholdings.com/stoneyriver.