It’s visitor-from-away time for me, and with it, sightseeing and shopping in places usually off my beaten track. We’re in Historic Properties, browsing in the many tiny shops. As we come out onto the Granville Mall and into the lower level of Barrington Place Shops, I’m thinking ahead to an eatery somewhere between a pub and fine dining.
At the Stone Street Cafe, a wall of windows looks out into the pedestrian thoroughfare, giving the illusion we’re looking outside. Windows also look into an inner dining area with stylish banquettes and a large table that looks designed to host a lunch or breakfast buffet. The Stone Street Cafe might be the Delta Barrington’s restaurant, but its location and non-generic decor doesn’t make you think you’re in a hotel food outlet until you get your bill and notice the line for “room number” on the cheque.
Stone Street’s menu focuses on fish. We start with a Seafood Sampler for Two ($15), which is a feast for the eyes. A large, rectangular glass platter with three indented areas sports two seafood cakes, a lobster spring roll and a small mound of mussels. The two seafood cakes are served with a sun-dried tomato tapenade that doesn’t add much to the cakes but makes a delicious spread for the house bread. The large lobster spring roll, garnished with hoisin sauce, would be fabulous were it not for the pastry being doughy and a tad undercooked. The stuffing is very good; shredded vegetables and plenty of lobster. The mussels are cooked simply and lots of garlic butter pools in the bottom of the glass well, giving us yet another tasty thing to sop up with our bread.
In keeping with the seafood theme, we’ve chosen salmon and haddock for mains. Again, they’re beautifully presented. Both plates come with the daily vegetables, a medley cooked al dente. Salmon ($24) is stuffed with lobster and laden with a rich herb cream sauce. The sauce tastes like a guilty pleasure and helps offset the dryness of the lobster-stuffed salmon. It’s not unbearably dry, but a little lighter hand on the fish would be nice. Again, the lobster is plentiful and certainly justifies the price, which would be considered a little steep for a salmon dinner. An interesting risotto-style rice comes with the salmon—the texture and doneness are superb, but it has an overabundance of thyme.
The haddock ($19) is stuffed with a tasteless crab mixture and is also a little overcooked, but again, the sauce saves this dish. The potatoes are mashed, with small bites of sweet potatoes scattered throughout; a nice variation from the standard starches that accompany fish.
For dessert, we’re having the sampler ($9.75). The rectangular glass platter reappears, with a hunk of bread pudding, a large fig creme brulee and a wedge of flourless chocolate cake which is best described as a hardened portion of Betty Crocker fudge frosting from a can. If I hadn’t read the menu, I wouldn’t have known fig was involved in the creme brulee, but this brulee is lovely, with its thin roof of caramelized sugar resting on the creamy goodness underneath—yummy. And the bread pudding with raisins is also delicious.
While the food might be a little uneven, the service certainly isn’t. Warm, friendly and efficient, our server makes our meal a delight. Going back for a meal wouldn’t be out of the question, though I think I’d prefer lunch, where the inconsistencies in the food are at a lower price, that makes them easier to swallow.
Stone Street Cafe Delta Barrington1875 Barrington 429-7410 Daily 7am-2:30pm; 5:30pm-9:30pm
Find Liz Feltham online at www.foodcritic.ca