If your spirit of adventure has suffered from the recent cold front, Stoney’s on L offers a new experience right in the neighborhood.
But reviewing this bar wasn’t just about checking out a new place. I walk further to get coffee in the morning, so Stoney’s is a serious competitor for my go-to spot. This kind of research demanded three visits, and I use a strict scrutiny test when evaluating my next go-to neighborhood bar.
First, I went for dinner. The diverse menu was impressive, leaving me torn between their pastrami sandwich and pulled-pork sandwich. I betrayed the Northeasterner in me and opted for the pulled-pork. Despite the large dinner crowd, the food came out quickly and looked fantastic. The presentation, like the location, is slicker and more modern than the original Stoney’s. Something felt wrong about the fries arriving in a metal cup, far away from the barbecue sauce overflowing from the sandwich onto the pristine white plate.
Though I found the cleanliness to be inversely proportional to quality of barbecue, Stoney’s sandwich held its own. They are certainly not cutting corners in that kitchen.
My second neighborhood bar test was going alone, late-night. Near closing time on a Sunday night, Stoney’s was nearly dead, but still looked surprisingly clean for what I imagine was a long afternoon of boisterous football watching. Though it was quiet, I wasn’t even halfway through my first Boddingtons when I had found a fellow Giants fan with whom to celebrate the Patriots’ downfall. You can’t ask for much, approaching midnight on a Sunday, but two beers and a good conversation made this trip a success.
The last, and perhaps most important, test was an evening at the bar with some friends. The draught beer and whiskey selections were impressive. The knowledgeable bartender was able to rattle off the brewing locations all the way down the line of taps. I ordered a Widmer Alchemy Ale, and we got to talking and drinking.
Despite a couple of large parties, the massive bar was quiet and spacious, and the bartenders kept our drinks full. After a couple of beers, I spotted the cocktail menu. Though I rarely order mixed drinks, I’m a sucker for whiskey rickeys – a Stoney’s specialty. Marker’s Mark Bourbon provided a great base, and the bartender’s hand squeezed the lime juice. Stoney’s put a twist on the original recipe, substituting simple syrup with St. Germain liqueur.
The drink was delicious, but strong enough to make me call it quits, lest the evening at a bar turns into a night on the town. We left satisfied: well-crafted drinks and a spacious, laid-back atmosphere made for a great time, and no one could complain about the 30-second walk back to warmth.