Stones Throw is not a restaurant that has an identity crisis. They know exactly who they are, head-to-toe: from each table to each dish to each guest. Stones Throw is a thoughtful, playful and comfortable restaurant; it’s like kind of boyfriend you wish you can be around with all the time.
This is a place where they notice the small things. Diners are not overlooked. Each staff member understands their role and how it plays into making a great dining experience for you. Baby, it’s all about you – they let you take your drink back if you don’t like it; they write you a message if you’re celebrating a special occasion; they even let you provide ideas for dessert and invite you back if they make it. These are the little twists define Stones Throw as an establishment that goes above and beyond.
They make the meal a dialogue, starting with them, and what they want you to understand about California and its great produce.
They started with a big “HEY” – their puffed potatoes were amazing. Every bite came with a pleasant surprise of an egg so the yolk oozed out when I pierced it with my fork. OOZED. The cauliflower mousse, chives and crispy chicken skin added textural elements that created one holistic delicious bite. It had me wanting more so there’s a good chance I would go have a seat at their bar JUST to have this dish.
The Five Peas in a Pod felt as though it was springtime on a plate, as you can see from above, it looked as if greens were growing out of the piece of brioche. Personally, I had a hard time eating the dish. Aside from munching through fibrous vegetable, the drops of preserved lemon and ricotta couldn’t helped subdue the leafy greens and strong mint flavor.
You’ve heard me be particular about my pastas, and this one sits in the upper-middle range of what I like; each component of the Squid Ink Conchiglie (seashell) pasta was cooked well. It was served with spicy capers, clams, calamari, shrimp and tender greens.
Pork belly, pig’s ears, rilettes – it was all in one dish, and served with charred onion and sunflower seeds. Every main component was pork, but they were able to make the dish interesting. It showcased all the different textures that can come from the same animal – crunchy, soft, and smooth. My favorite of them all? The crispy pig ears.
Utter comfort is now I would describe this sweet corn soup. Alongside many other corn soups that I have had – it was warm, not creamy and silky. What is there not to love about a soup like this?
In a similar vein of the pork dish, the duo of beef ribeye and braised short rib was a great juxtaposition of the same meat cooked in two different ways. The short rib meat fell off the bone – I love it when that happens. However it was the fava croquettes to me stood out for me. They were lightly fried, creamy, and had a mellow flavor which merged nicely together with the beef.
Liberty Farms duck breast tasted as good as it looked, and to me was my favorite main entree. It was tender, juicy, and had just the right amount of fat. Hidden in that pile of delicious corn is a tamale filled with duck confit meat. The cherries gave the dish a nice touch of sweet tartness to every bite I took of the meat.
The conversation wasn’t one-way; Stones Throw invites you to “talk” back, or in this case write, about where you want to be taken back to with this question. MMM…indeed. As I thought through this prompt, I looked more carefully at the dessert menu. Now this gets even more interesting. Dessert was a mini history lesson where there weren’t descriptions on the menu; rather they provided a brief history lesson (i.e. “In 1901 the Boston Cooking School Magazine first referenced peanut butter paired with jelly on bread”).
I went on to notice how each dessert listed was a childhood staple such as Funfetti or key lime pie. My mind was intrigued – how can you remake these to being just as good or better? Reinvention of these items that we place so closely to our hearts requires distilling what make these desserts great, and reinterpret it in a different way so that it’s both new and old.
Their key lime pie dessert was delicious, and not just because of the pie. First off, the pie itself was not too sweet nor tart, and a great pie to crust ratio. Secondly, the sorbet brought in a cold element without being overbearing on being able to taste the lime from the pie. Let’s not forget the meringue which provided that touch of cream (without the flavor of anything else but light cream), and was what you looked for to round out a fulfilling slice of key lime pie.
They broke down the elements of an Oreo – chocolate cookie and cream – that included strawberry, white chocolate, and even fruit roll-up. I gasped, knowing that all of these components were “homemade” in a way – at least not made by Nabisco. Everything on that plate was delicious, apart and together, and similar to the key lime pie, was sweet but not overly so. Reinvention success here? YES.
I was sad to end this meal, this conversation that I was having with them, but then I realized that I could always come back. I can have more! Just like that great boyfriend who shares who they are, what inspires them, and wants to know know you more, Stones Throw fills those shoes and will happily have you back.