Though it opened in March, StoneBridge Grille feels like the kind of place that's been around for years -- and that will continue to be around forever.
The Parkton restaurant, located in a building it shares with Maryland Line Wine & Spirits on the site of the original Maryland Line Inn, serves the kind of familiar comfort food that has been trendy in recent years but never really goes out of style.
That food is capably prepared, with a few blips, and the service is likable.
Scene & Decor Before opening, the StoneBridge space underwent a top-to-bottom renovation; all the effort and money spent was worth it. Pale gray walls and sleek fixtures modernize the decor, but a large stone wall behind the bar and photographs on the walls are nods to the restaurant's history and name, which is borrowed from the historic Parkton Stone Arch Bridge over Little Gunpowder Falls.
When we arrived at StoneBridge, around 7 on a rainy Thursday night, the place was packed. In the bar, a cheery (but not too loud) crowd was gearing up for football, and in the dining room, nearly every table was occupied with families or couples. We were lucky to nab a deep, comfortable booth.
Appetizers A starter of ravioli stuffed with burrata and tomato ($9.50) was lovely, though maybe not the best use of the fabulously creamy cheese. Since the burrata was stuffed into pasta, it lost some of its mystique; regular mozzarella would've been just as good.
But good it was. The half-moons of ravioli were gently cooked and tender and the stuffing well-seasoned. The sauce, a buttery tomato gravy, was wonderful; it would bring any plain pasta to life.
Entrees The sauce was also the highlight of a chicken scampi entree ($18), which was more complex than how we usually imagine scampi. Instead of a simple combination of lemon, garlic, wine and butter, this sauce included sundried tomatoes, which gave it a bit more tang and depth. Sundried tomato often seems dated or overpowers other ingredients, but not in this sauce.
Though the chicken in the dish wasn't cooked perfectly — the breasts were thicker at one end than the other and the skinny end was a touch dry — the meat was a good match for the sauce. We also liked the crispy leeks scattered over the chicken; they added fun texture to the plate.
Pot roast, served doused in a dark, rich and very tasty sauce, was more of an unqualified hit. The meat was tender, the sauce again seasoned well. Beefy and intense, it was comfort food at its most comforting.
With both dishes, big scoops of mashed potatoes and servings of sauteed zucchini, carrots and green beans were cooked nicely and the sides seemed like appropriate matches for the generally traditional entrees. The potatoes, especially, were a welcome addition to the plates; they gave us one more tool to sop up those sauces.
StoneBridge offers a handful of pasta selections; unfortunately, our choice of alfredo served over pappardelle ($15) was a let-down. The pasta itself was cooked nicely and arrived steaming hot and we liked the creamy sauce, but it was unevenly distributed and there just wasn't enough of it.
Drinks StoneBridge's wine and beer lists are approachable, if not exactly full of surprises. We started with Guinness stout ($6) then washed down our dinners with likable glasses of Altos Los Hormigas malbec ($7).
Dessert An individual apple tart topped with ice cream ($9) was pretty, in a rustic way, and boasted surprisingly tender pastry. The sugar-dusted crust, which we cut easily with a fork, was excellent, elevating the tart from a standard dessert to something special.
Service Despite one odd beverage mix-up — we said "Guinness," but our waitress thought we asked for milk, causing much confusion all around — the service at StoneBridge Grille was both prompt and friendly. And as we discovered during the beer/milk conflict, the staff was also quick to correct misunderstandings — and to joke about them, when appropriate.
We liked the mild jokes that followed the big glass of milk; they made us feel welcomed and like regulars, even after just one visit. Comfortable, even. Just like the food.
Nearby reviews: Dish Baltimore - Northern Baltimore County