Date Night: Week 5 – StonePepper’s Grill
Modern, casual feel and large, reasonable menu impress Sarah and Jeremy on this week's 'Date Night.'
Jeremy drives by StonePepper’s Grill on Washington Road when he drives from his place to mine, and so he actually suggested that we check it out for this week’s column. I had heard that it was a pretty chill sports bar, but when we came into the contemporary entryway and had the option of sitting at the pasta and wine bar, main dining room, or the tall-stooled bar surrounded by the Pens on huge TV screens, we knew immediately that we had underestimated our evening out.
We were seated by Jimmy, a now-highschooler at Bethel who was my first babysitting charge when I was a teenager. He, his younger sister Lexi, and I used to make crafts in their basement and tents in their living room while his parents were out, and now he stands at over six feet and is one of Bethel’s top track and field athletes. I felt old.
Jimmy took us to our table in the main dining room – somehow intimate yet modern and casual with a few flat-screen televisions on the walls and a half-wall separating the area from the bar. Jeremy claimed he was “hangry” – a term coined by a friend of when you’re so hungry you start to get mad, so at the first chance he had he ordered the Crispy Cheese Fries with bacon (6.99 plus 0.99 for a side of ranch) and said I could have some if I picked around the bacon. I kept my mouth shut and opted for the Garden Veggie and Gouda Quesadillas (8.99)…
… and a beer. Stone Pepper’s has a huge selection of beverages from the wine bar to the impressive imported and domestic beer list. I went with a Blue Moon, but could have had my choice of imports from all over – Great Lakes Burning River, Stella Artois, Dog Fish 90 Minute IPA, Wood Chuck Cider Ale, and Franziskaner Hefeweissen.
Jeremy was a much happier camper once the appetizers arrived. His fries were, in fact, crispy, though the ranch dressing was thin and runny. My quesadillas – four of them which would have served easily as my main meal, were choc full of grilled zucchini, squash, mushrooms, tomatoes and Gouda cheese, and “cooked to perfection” (as the menu promised) in the kitchen’s brick oven, and the homemade tomato-basil vinaigrette was the perfect compliment.
We both ordered salads with our meals; Jeremy had a Ceasar with scallops, and said the scallops that made the dish. My house salad was unimpressive with the same runny Ranch dressing on iceberg lettuce – fine for the $1.99 addition to my meal but not worth the $4.99 that it runs a la carte.
Jimmy had recommended brick oven pizza or one of the signature pastas, and though tempted by the choices of pizzas (veggie, white, mushroom, spinach and artichoke, and the list goes on) I felt I owed it to you all to have something new.
My Spinach Florentine on Whole Wheat ($12.99) more than made up for my lackluster salad – spinach, goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, onion and spices with a light garlic Parmesan sauce over linguini. Jeremy had the Top Sirloin Steak ($14.99) – well cooked and lightly flavored - and loaded mashed potatoes consumed half of each, and then his stomach caught up with his eyes.
We were impressed by the variety of options StonePepper’s had to offer – the menu is impressive. Appetizers ranged from hummus and pita to wings to nachos and mini-burgers and nothing’s over $10. There are nearly twenty types of brick oven pizzas with the option of whole-wheat dough. Nearly a quarter of the menu is devoted to burgers, soups, and salads. Most intriguing: Baja Chicken soup, the Pittsburgher burger, and the Maryland Lump Crab and Fruit salad. Pastas, tacos, wraps, and entrees like Pan-Seared Shrimp and Scallops ($16.99) round out the menu. There are kid-friendly options too – mac and cheese, pasta, a 6-inch pizza, and mini-burgers should please any tiny-tots.
The long and the short: The prices are reasonable, options are plenty, and the atmosphere is casual and comfortable. Stop in for a drink, a Pens game, or a date night sometime soon!