I learned two important lessons about dining out tonight:
1. On Monday, the restaurant has run out of anything that was popular on the weekend and has not yet gotten this week's supplies in.
2. Speedy service is not always a given, even when you arrive one hour from closing time.
Stone Hearth Restaurant has been a fixture in Elizabethtown for over thirty years. The supper-club exterior opens into a elegant but cozy dining area that is divided for a more intimate feeling. We were seated in a booth next to the bar, across from a comfortable sitting area with plush couches and wide coffee tables. Each booth was divided by a high wall of dark wood, completely separating each table group. Lovely prints on the wall over each table complete the look.
Each entree comes with Stone Hearth's soup and salad bar. The salad bar had wonderfully fresh fixings and several mixed salad dishes to choose from.
I chose the French Onion soup, which was mostly broth and lacked an expected flavor depth. I really had to hunt in the bottom of the soup pot to find a few pieces of onion. Croutons and grated parmesan were provided for topping, but that is not an equal substitute for the crust that usually tops a crock of French Onion soup.
My dining companion had Ham and Bean soup, which was warm and comforting. It was not outstanding, but "how would you do 'wow' with bean soup?" It was good for the cold evening.
When we returned from the salad bar, we were served warm, crusty rolls with butter and strawberry butter.
I ordered the Sea Bass: "The king of fish, pan sauteed and presented with jasmine rice and grilled asparagus and lemon Beurre Blanc." The fish was very good, the rice was not overcooked, and the sauce was wonderfully creamy. The dish as a whole, however, lacked flavor - it was all very bland. But that was not my biggest annoyance. This dish was served with three of the most pitiful-looking spears of asparagus I have ever seen - they appeared to have been boiled last week and were most certainly not grilled. The stems were stuck under the mound of rice and the ends were draped over the side of the plate, so that they hung straight down. That poor limp vegetable should not have left the kitchen. (I tried one piece, and it was not good.) I chose the Pecan Glazed Baby Carrots as my side item. They were spiced with nutmeg and cloyingly sweet. The pecans were plentiful, but were simply sprinkled raw on top of the dish instead of being cooked into the glaze as was implied.
My dining companion wanted the spicy island snapper, but they were out. She settled for the Seafood Stuffed Tilapia: "Mild flaky Tilapia stuffed with a rich crab meat stuffing. Served on wilted spinach with a shrimp Beurre Blanc sauce." This dish had a surprising bite to it, as she was not expecting it to be spicy. She had the Stuffed Potato Casserole as her side, which was essentially the mashed stuffing for a twice-baked potato, scooped into a bowl and topped with bacon bits.
The entrees were served with large, flaky popovers.
Our server presented us with a tray of delicious-looking dessert options, so we ended our meal with a generous slice of German chocolate cake and coffee. The cake was nice and moist with a bit of coconut and a thick layer of milk chocolate icing.
Although we arrived a full hour before closing, the service was so slow that we were not given the check until a half-hour past closing time. The so-so sides, bland entree, and slow service, added to the multiple items that they were out of, did not make for an impressive dinner. I would be willing to try the restaurant again, but definitely not on a Monday.
Stone Hearth Restaurant: Not recommended, based on this experience. I would like to give it another try.
1001 N. Mulberry St.
Elizabethtown, KY 42701