Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Riverfront Revival

As a Realtor, it pains me to see empty buildings around town.  One in particular has been the former New Orleans restaurant.  This building occupies one of the most prime locations and views of the city than anywhere else in town.  Sadly, since January 2010 the building has sat empty and lonely. Until now.

Stone River has recently (like 3 weeks or so) opened.  They are touting themselves as Columbia's premiere wedding and event hall. Extensive renovations/changes have been made to include new stacked stone accents inside and out, new big beam timbers framing the entrance and what appears to be an outdoor covered space, walls have come down to open up the building and the decor is sharp & modern (lots of wood, black & white.) And, they also serve lunch. 

I headed over there today with my mom and dad to try out the lunch menu and to check the place out.  I really like the upfitting that's been done to the building. It's very attractive.  While at first glance, the new openness may seem too open, when you consider what they've designed the place to be (events) it really makes sense. The dining areas have all been pushed out toward the windows, overlooking the Saluda river and downtown Columbia.  And of course, there is dining on the porch. Where previously there had been rows of tables in the center of the room, there is now open space for dancing, cocktail mingling and bouquet throwing.  The tables are dressed with white tablecloths under black, simple black chairs and I know you may think I'm nuts to say this, but I even like the water glasses.  They are a highball size rather than a giant milkshake sized glass.  I rarely drink a whole glass of water during any meal and I really hate it when this huge vessel of water ends up just flooding my table with condensation.  (Does anybody remember the simple little "bev-nap"?)  Valuable little square of paper, in my opinion but today, you have to request them if, like me, you hate a drippy, wet table. With this shorter glass, I don't feel like my table is so cluttered nor is there as much surface area to sweat all over my placesetting!

So, how about if we talk about the food?  Yes, let's.

My mom ordered the club sandwich with baked potato salad. Like a lot of clubs, it is huge.  Nice, homemade looking bread loaded with turkey, ham and bacon, pretty red tomato and a little mayo.  Mom really liked the potato salad, which is noteworthy because usually potato salad (of any kind) is the last side dish she orders.  But she opted for this rather than fries and was pleasantly surprised.  The salad was warm and had gooey melty cheddar in it.  I tried a bite and it really had that baked potato flavor.  I'd order that myself.

I love the way they stand the sandwich up! Side of baked potato salad.

My dad chose the three salad plate (chicken, tuna and shrimp.)  In a nutshell, he said his tuna and chicken salads were very nice, but the shrimp salad, and this is a direct quote, "is a total disaster."  I knew the answer, but I asked it anyway.  Pre-cooked and/or frozen shrimp.  You know the kind.  They end up looking translucent, feel slick & rubbery in your mouth and have zero flavor.  I tried a bite.  No bueno.  Here's my thing about this.  We live in a coastal state.  The shrimp is only a couple hours away.  Hell, you can find a fisherman in Charleston who would meet you halfway on I-26 every morning with fresh shrimp, crab and fish. So what in the world is any restaurant in Columbia doing buying sub-par shrimp from a freezer?  If the Stone River guys take this piece of advice, throw out that junk and serve SC shrimp, this dish will improve exponentially. 

Chicken, tuna and shrimp salads with homemade pita chips.

I ordered the Cobb salad.  I always joke about installing a salad bar in my house right after I win the Powerball.  I am a salad junkie.  I love them, I crave them.  Cobb salads are one of my favorites because I am also addicted to bacon and blue cheese.  This is one righteous salad, friends.  It was served with a very generous amount of fresh blue cheese crumbled on top, pinwheels of smoked turkey and ham, fresh bacon pieces, avocado chunks and bright red, tasty tomatoes.  Traditionally, a Cobb is served with hard-boiled egg, which I loathe.  So, I always request no egg.  However, unless I really missed it big time, the menu didn't list egg, so I said nothing.  Yep, egg was on the plate.  However, since the salad was laid out in rows as a Cobb should be, it was a piece of cake for me to just eat around the egg. No big deal.

Cobb salad-isn't that pretty?

As for the people, everyone we encountered was very pleasant.  We were welcomed by the owner, Chris and later greeted by the GM, Jay.  Our waiter was Cameron and he was very personable, knew the specials and was attentive to us. It's so exciting to see something happening in this space after sitting vacant for so long.  As far as using it for an event hall, I can see loads of potential there.  You overlook the river and the riverwalk, have an awesome view of the ornate Gervais Street bridge and enjoy a great view of Columbia's skyline.  How could you not be happy sipping champagne at your cousin's wedding or enjoying lunch with friends while a couple of kayaks glide by? 

It's such a prime spot for a restaurant and an event space.  I wish Stone River well.  I think they've put together a great multi-purpose venue and they serve a nice lunch as well.  

Stone River on Urbanspoon

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