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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

End of Stone

From the Back of the Fridge Dept.: Here’s a reminder of a long-gone eatery that eventually became the also now-defunct Milestone Restaurant (which was the guise under which the accompanying photo was taken). I’m leaving in a huge error I just spotted – and which seems to have bypassed editors and readers until now. The discount hardware store mentioned blights the landscape with ... a secondary color.


I RECENTLY TRIED TO BUY a lawn tractor from one of those huge discount hardware stores whose primary color blights the landscape, and, after fighting for attention from the barely sentient customer service drone, eventually got a lawn-and-garden android to speak to me. What scotched the sale was his boast, when I asked for the time, that he never wore a wristwatch. The correct answer, as any good server knows, is, “Excuse me for a moment while I find that out for you.”

A more recent view of the
dining room's interior.
I learned it early and well in my waitering days because it was directly tied to my tip, and I made a fantastic amount of money at some white-linen joints in Fairfield and Westchester Counties. This quality of service is missing from all but a few local restaurants – it’s the biggest shortfall in what I see of the business here – but I was delighted to find it well in place at the new Stone Ends.

Reopened in November by former owner Henry Junco in partnership with Quintessence’s Jimmy Scalzo, Stone Ends now boasts a (fairly) northern Italian menu, overseen by chef Paul Persico. But it’s much more than that. It’s once again a standard setter for fine dining around here.

There’s no sense of the nearness of 9W in the large main dining room. Even before the first morsel of food was served, the surroundings inspired a terrific sense of well-being. I looked at a wine list, ruing the fact that I had nobody with which to share a bottle of sparkling wine (it’s what that sense of well-being always provokes), delighted when we were offered a choice of still or sparkling water so that, in choosing the latter, I at least got to enjoy some bubbles.

We started with bread. It’s baked on the premises, and it’s the kind of crusty, chewy loaf that’s heavenly when fresh, a doorstop a day later. The olive oil presented with the bread was infused with rosemary and garlic, both on display, but the Susan eventually swiped and ate the clove.

Soup for Lily: a bowl (the menu terms it a cup, for $2.25) of the day’s selection, which turned out to be an excellent broth with spinach and parmesan cheese. It shares the appetizer page with minestrone, four salads and ten other items, priced up to $9.

Susan chose the chicken and spinach phyllo crown ($6), which wraps the first two items in the third and serves it with a roasted red pepper coulis. Phyllo is tricky; it’s like puff pastry, but more brittle, needing good timing so it and its components all cook properly. The presentation was very nice, and the flavors melted together wonderfully.

Not surprisingly, this also was characteristic of my starter: grilled stuffed chevre and spinach eggplant roulade ($5.25). The ingredients themselves tell you plenty. Chevre, the soft goat cheese, has a light, refreshing flavor that balances the earthier overtones of spinach and eggplant; it almost looked like a dessert, and the flavors certainly had a dessert-like sparkle to them, enhanced by fresh tomatoes and toasted pine nuts.

House salads accompany entrées, and here, too, attention to detail lifts this course from the realm of the ordinary. The greens are startlingly fresh, the dressings well flavored.

Two pages of entrées are broken into component meats, fish and pasta; traditionalists will find filet mignon ($22), pork tenderloin ($17.50) and plenty of pasta and poultry dishes. But heading the poultry selection is bobwhite quail ($17.50), which I ordered, ready to do battle with the diminutive birds. “In terms of etiquette,” I lectured my bored table, “you’re allowed to use your fingers with a tiny-boned bird like this.” But the portion had been boned – and more than one bird contributed to the result, which was displayed over a bed of buttery wild rice. The quail portions were rolled around figs with a touch of prosciutto, given a fruity finish with a raspberry demi-glaze. Just the quail-fig combo alone was worth the price of the dish, but the whole of it came together magnificently.

The chicken breast that Susan ordered also sported prosciutto ($15), along with fontina cheese, but this time they were wrapped on the outside of the meat, which also was flavored with pesto, the pesto livened with sun-dried tomatoes. For a starch, a serving of lasagna pasta (just the pasta), along with mint-scented pearl barley and fresh green beans with red pepper slices.

Lily made significant headway with a child’s portion of fettuccine carbonara ($11 for a regular portion), which proved that chef Persico knows his classics. Tasty chunks of pancetta accompanied the pasta in its cheesy cream sauce.

We had much of the entrée course wrapped so that we could give the made-in-house desserts some attention – but much of that went home with us, too. Chocolate pâté, my choice ($4), was too fudgily heavy to be truly enjoyable, but Susan’s white chocolate cheesecake (a special) was magnificent, blending the flavors beautifully. Lily finished with port-poached pear served over sabayon, another excellent combo. Tea service is very nice, and I enjoyed a decaf espresso to get me ready to travel.

Dinner for three, with tax and tip, desserts and a couple of glasses of wine, was $90.

The Stone Ends,
9 Frontage Rd. (off Route 9W), Glenmont, 465-xxxx. Gourmet Italian fare, served with a delightful flair, with a menu that features the traditional and some specialty wonders like fig and prosciutto-stuffed quail. Serving dinner Mon-Sat 5-10. AE, D, DC, MC, V.

Metroland Magazine, 18 May 2000

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