This week, I got filmed eating. For TV. Like, WHAT?? A producer of a national TV show read my blog and decided that they wanted to feature me as the host in a new program that will begin airing next spring!
That’s a lie. A sad, sad lie devised by pitiful blogger.
What really happened: every year at my company’s Christmas party someone wins a really cool prize, and my coworker (not even me) won a package that involved dinner at a local restaurant and the opportunity to appear in TV Diner’s (not national, very local) “Diner for a Day” segment. She is the best person ever, in the entire world, and invited me to join her. Naturally I ran home immediately to plan my outfit.
Is it pathetic that three minutes on a TV show is maybe the most exciting thing to ever happen to me? Probably. But I’m ok with that. BECAUSE I’M GONNA BE ON TV, Y’ALL.
I thought it might be cool to take you through the steps of filming while reviewing the restaurant we visited. Granted, this isn’t going to be a full review because we went during off-hours. I also don’t really feel comfortable reviewing the service, because it was SO exemplary it was clearly staged. For instance, I don’t think it was an accident that our waitress was the cutest, bubbliest staff member in the room. Also, you know how some places will take your used silverware and place it back on the table between courses? I would totally peg this restaurant as the place that would do that, but we got what resembled freshly polished silverware at least four times throughout dinner. Not that I’m complaining – it was pretty cool – but I just don’t think it was realistic enough to assume that’s the norm.
Who knows, maybe it is…like I said, I wouldn’t know. It’s like the cat fur on our couch. Our good friends don’t really get the benefit of seeing our couch in its freshly vacuumed glory. They can suck down that cat hair all the live long day because, hey, they’re practically family and they are comfortable with my crazy ass cat lady-ness. But if someone has been to our apartment less than 10 times? They’ll assume Maverick is hairless and just wearing a really cute little coat I fashioned especially for him.
(I like to look like an exhibitionist while I destroy your house with my thick Russian fur.)
Ok, bad example, but do you see where I’m going with this?
10 Roosevelt Circle
South Easton, Massachusetts 02375
(Update: See our segment here!)
Getting Ready to Film
Ok so can I be honest? I totally didn’t have high expectations for this place. For one, it looks like your average steakhouse chain restaurant (which I tend to avoid like the plague because I prefer quality over quantity). Secondly, the menu is huge and the prices are low. Living in Boston has skewed my perceptions of food entirely; I’m used to the small and more expensive menus typically breeding better dishes. I forget about the inflation of price and pomp characteristic of Boston restaurants.
We arrived to the restaurant about 45 minutes early, so we compensated by reapplying lipstick in the bathroom and ordering some pre-dinner libations. We decided that fried pickles would be necessary to soak up some alcohol from said libations.
(Getting drunk on TV is not classy.)
The fried pickles took me back to my childhood. When I was younger I would visit family in Mississippi twice a year, and I would always beg my aunt to take me to this place in Oxford called Kalos that had the BEST fried pickles served with “comeback sauce” (spicy ranch). Every encounter with fried pickles since that time has involved pickle spears, which are just NOT as good as the chips.
These fried pickles took me back. They were crispy and crunchy, and the seasoning was perfection. I could have eaten these suckers all night long. The dipping sauce was no comeback sauce, but it wasn’t bad.
This takes place in two parts. The restaurant scene is one part, and all we had to do was eat. They would film the dishes arriving at the table and us taking the first bites. The next segment will involve a trip to the studio, where Billy Costa (the show’s host) will interview us about the experience.
Our crew consisted of one cameraman, Michael, who was great and very friendly. When he arrived, he asked us to walk outside so he could film us walking into the restaurant. It was slightly awkward – we had a fake conversation about “uhhhh, this is weird” complete with big hand motions and smiles. After we walked in, I became acutely aware of my poor posture and immediately wished we could re-shoot the scene. Let’s hope I don’t look like Quasimodo.
The hostess led us to our table, which was already set for two and located next to the fireplace.
Michael told us he would film the food arriving to the table, and film us eating our first bites, but then he would disappear so we could enjoy our dinner. He was right; I don’t think he ended up filming more than about 5-10 minutes total.
(This is staged, but it pretty much looked like this.)
I couldn’t get shots of the food arriving to the table because Michael had to film us eating our first bites, so the following pictures are uglier than usual.
Naturally we started off with cocktails.
I ordered the Cucumber Crisp, a mix of Effen Cucumber Vodka, St. Germain, soda water and cucumber slices ($8.25).
It was similar to a cucumber gimlet with St. Germain. It was fine – nothing earth-shattering but great for a hot summer day.
Nicole got a Guilt-Free Creamsicle, which contained Pinnacle orange and whipped cream vodkas, soda water, and an orange garnish ($6.25).
This was pretty refreshing as well, and not too sweet. It actually tasted identical to a creamsicle.
For appetizers we ordered blackened ahi tuna served with a spicy soy mustard butter sauce ($9.99)
and stuffed mushrooms brimming with spinach, feta, and bacon ($8.99).
The stuffed mushrooms were essentially big globs of spinach and cheese, with a nice meaty texture from the mushroom. They were as good as you would expect something smothered in cheese – we stuffed our faces.
The blacked ahi tuna was delicious. The sauce wasn’t particularly spicy, but it had a lovely, complex flavor of soy and miso with the undercurrent of wasabi running throughout. Texturally, the julienned vegetables were a wonderful pairing with the tender chunks of tuna. All was seasoned perfectly.
Dinner started with a side salad (included with dinner price)
and warm bread fresh from the oven.
For my main course I chose the Moroccan spiced mussels, which came towering over a pile of cilantro rice and braised chick peas and drowning in a spicy tomato broth ($23.99).
This was a sexy dish. Pulling out the mussels and dragging them through the robust and flavorful broth, spearing tender chick peas and forkfuls of fluffy rice, dipping the warm bread into the sauce and licking it off my fingers – it was a delicious, delicious dinner. The broth was light and flavorful, the spiciness tempered by the sweetness from the mussels. The textures were all so different but worked so beautifully together.
It was a stand out. I will order this if I ever go back. If you go on a date to this restaurant, split this dish.
Nicole ordered the pan roasted cod ($21.99).
I only had a bite but it was very tender, and the Ritz crumbs on top were nice and crispy.
The dessert menu isn’t online, but here it is:
At this point we were absolutely stuffed, so we decided to order more drinks and split a dessert. We went with the Lemon Berry Mascarpone Cake ($5.99), a Nutty Irishman Coffee (me) and a glass of port wine (Nicole). Dessert drinks aren’t online either, and I don’t remember the cost.
The cake was great – tasted like a mixed berry coffee cake from Starbucks (spongy, dense, and sweet). I like mixed berry coffee cake from Starbucks, so I was a fan. The creamy mascarpone was a nice accompaniment.
By now we were off camera, so we just started acting-a-fool.
Class, class, class.
The entire dinner was complimentary (thanks to Nicole, my company, and TV Diner). Prices are what you would see in any casual, above-average chain restaurant. As always, my opinions are my own.
Summary of this Knight at the Restaurant
- I mentioned before that I thought Stoneforge is a chain – it’s not, really. There are only two locations.
- The restaurant is clean, inviting and affordably-priced.
- Like I said, I totally didn’t have high expectations. I was dead wrong. From start to finish, there isn’t one dish I didn’t enjoy eating. If I were paying for my own dinner, I would order the pickles, ahi tuna, and mussels again and not regret a thing.
- It got pretty busy for a random Tuesday night, the mark of a good dining establishment.
- I probably wouldn’t drive to Easton JUST to eat here, but if I were in the area I would absolutely return. I could see this being a go-to place if I lived nearby.
FINAL RATING: 3.8/5.0
What’s your neighborhood go-to?
Ours is Piattini, on Newbury. I haven’t done a review yet because we haven’t eaten a full dinner there in awhile (I usually get wine and an appetizer or a salad or something small, and they deserve a big review).
We also do Tapeo, Lolita and Forum regularly.
KATR’s TV Debut & A Review of the Stoneforge Grill,