Oodles of style

Chic, sophisticated and elegant, Stone Water Grill packs plenty of style but not enough substance

Date nights pose a very specific conundrum. Should I go all out and pick a place that’s elegant, laid back and sophisticated (as I prefer), or should I pick a place with music loud enough to drown out your thoughts amid a maelstrom of lights?

Why pick only one when you could have both though?

A shot of the exterior lounge area by night
A shot of the exterior lounge area by night

If I had to pick one word to describe Stone Water Grill, that word would be dapper. Let me try and paint a mental picture of it for you.

Think of Di Caprio in his perfectly tailored tuxedo nursing a poison of his choosing in the Great Gatsby, looking suave even as fireworks go off around him and everyone loses their mind.

That, ladies and gents, is the personification of Stone Water Grill. If it were a comic book villain, it would be Two Face, and not just because it mixes the resplendent and the rambunctious with such ease.

My experience at Stone Water Grill was a mixed one that was divergent in a great many ways.

Heading into Stone Water Grill, one cannot help but be impressed by the vast expanse of its interiors, and its eye for detail extends from the décor to the food as well. The splash of colours from the orange pillows dotting the al fresco lounge area caught the eye and pleased the sense,

as did the serenity of it all, but it was oddly empty on a Thursday night. No matter, I thought, the inner dining area will surely be more populated.

Interior by night, Stone Water Grill
Interior by night, Stone Water Grill

I was wrong. There were a few tables that were occupied and that’s it. However, I am pleased to report that the table next to ours (a set of parents with 3 kids) seemed to be having a wonderful time as the parents were struggling not to rip their hair out and one of the kids had Spiderman and

Iron Man rocking a wonderful bromance. Spidey did some unmentionable things to señor Stark, but let’s not go there, shall we?

Elegantly done up and dimly lit, I quite liked the inner area, lack of diners be damned. In any case, I was regaled by the alternate Marvel Universe unfolding on the adjacent table.

The menu, like the place itself, is sprawling and expansive.

The Amuse Bouche. Not bad at all, but it didn't rock my world
The Amuse Bouche. Not bad at all, but it didn’t rock my world

As we bided our time and zeroed in on what we wanted, we were brought an amuse bouche of Panko-crusted Scamorza ball in a moat of Broccoli Puree with an Aubergine shot to go with it.

The cheese balls were exactly as you’d expect with the lightly fried exterior and the puree it came with didn’t alter or enhance the flavor of it significantly since it wasn’t a great, big glob of it. The aubergine shot too was rather indistinctive and went down all too easily without putting up any kind of a show or fight.

I quite enjoyed the freshly baked focaccia that was on offer, although I gave the accompanying brioche a miss. The former was slightly buttery, crumbly and toasty to begin with and made the wait for the food quite a pleasant one.

Freshly Baked Foccacia and Brioche. Yum!
Freshly Baked Foccacia and Brioche. Yum!

The staff too saw that we had quite a knead for more bread and dutifully kept on stocking it up, all the while doubtlessly wondering if we’re squirelling it away to open our own bakery. Maybe I am, who knows?

The Lemongrass and Paprika Prawns came recommended by a friend whose opinion on all things food I’d trust, and so we went for it eyes wide shut.

Best. Decision. Ever.

I remember somebody quizzing Michael Chang on what Sampras’ (at the time an almost indomitable colossus) biggest weaknesses were. Not one to miss the opportunity to hit a glorious winner, Chang deadpanned that Sampras couldn’t cook.

It was a delightful quip that serves to illustrate my point that this dish had absolutely no downsides save for the fact that it will instigate arguments if you order only one plateful for a large group, for it comes only in a set of 5.

Lemongrass and Paprika Pan-seared Prawns
Lemongrass and Paprika Pan-seared Prawns

Rich in flavor and boasting just the right amount of aroma, these perfectly seared prawns are served on ceramic serving spoons and are an absolute treat to have. They go down way too easily, like some footballers I wouldn’t name, and you’ll be left wanting to be on their joyride only to find out that it’s over before you know it. Shame.

Fairly emboldened, we called for the Coconut and Miso crusted Black Pomfret for the main, and I have to say that I was fairly indifferent to this on the whole.

While the miso lent it a slightly salty and earthy flavor, it was on the whole fairly flat as a dish. I did, however, enjoy interspersing it with bursts of the brilliant citric salad on the side.

Bursting with juiciness, it served to kick up a party in my mouth every time I grabbed a mouthful of it, which sadly wasn’t often enough for my liking. It was like getting a sighting of a gorgeous girl on a dreary day, only for her to be a fleeting joy at best.

Coconut and Miso Crusted Black Pomfret with an incredible salad
Coconut and Miso Crusted Black Pomfret with an incredible salad

It shouldn’t have been this way, I quite like Black Pomfret (or Halwa, if you will), but this dish was listless and devoid of anything to keep it vaguely memorable, save for the stellar citrus punch of that salad.

Desperate for some redemption, and in keeping with the theme of the evening being very fishy, I called for the Mozarella and Norwegian Salmon duet. It was gorgeously plated and looked as inviting as Alexandra Daddario and Christina Hendricks frolicking in a bath tub and beckoning for you.

It wasn’t as mild-meltingly great as I expected it to be, but between the tanginess of the capers and the mildly salty bluster of the mozzarella, I found them to be a good complement to the delicate, subtle, mildly sweet fillets of pink salmon that lay before us.

If you’re anything like me, you like your food to be fierier than all Spice Girls at once, and so having a dish such as this serves as a refreshing departure from the norm.

The Mozzarella and Norwegian Salmon duet  that looked oh so pretty
The Mozzarella and Norwegian Salmon duet that looked oh so pretty

Even so, I’ve had mildly spiced wins in the recent past, such as that incredible Himalayan Trout at Indigo, and this wasn’t quite in the same zip code as that. It was close enough, but there was no cigar for it.

Stone Water Grill ended up leaving me with very conflicting feelings. Some of the food was stellar, some of it a bit underwhelming (perhaps because I had set the bar quite high), and the service, was not intrusive and was attentive enough to be passable.

However, the flavour I am left with at the end of the meal is of mild disappointment as I walked in expecting to be floating on a cloud. Instead, I left with my feet firmly on the ground and wondering if my lofty expectations were my undoing.

My experience was a bit like opening a beautifully wrapped present on Christmas day and finding a dead Parakeet in there, except it was a lot less horrifying and there was a lot less parakeet to be had.

Quibbles about the nibbles aside, Stone Water Grill is a great place for date night. Just don’t walk in expecting your mind to be blown and you’ll walk out reasonably pleased with a wallet that’s reasonably lighter.

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