The People's Choice: Traditional Dishes

Posted: February 14, 1988

Taking a novel approach, the owners of The Stone Horse, the modest new dining place in Frazer, have fashioned a menu based on a survey of what local residents want in a restaurant.

The result is an unexciting but acceptable menu with simple, traditional dishes that it would be hard to object to; combining these with decent preparation, the area's newest restaurant has a lot to offer.

The most daring dish seems to be pecan-batter catfish with hush puppies; for the rest, we have baby back ribs, pork chops, veal loaf, strip steak, crab cakes and several grilled fish as blackboard specials. Who could argue with that?

Not I, certainly, for its moderate prices put The Stone Horse within reach of most families.

Corn chowder ($1.95), a daily special, was a bowl of rich, heavy cream thick with chopped ham, potatoes and corn niblets, all sprinkled with parsley flakes. The aroma was tantalizing and the flavors nicely smoky.

Oyster gumbo ($3.75), somewhat more adventuresome, was a hearty Creole stew chockablock with tender chopped oysters, fresh tomatoes, fiery red pepper with flavor traces of file and okra, with a sprinkling of grated cheese.

Spicy chicken wings ($3.95) were eight meaty, batter-dipped wings deep- fried just greasy enough to be pleasantly tasty; they came with a tangy, spicy-hot barbecue dipping sauce. Clam fritters ($3.75) - three little pancakes with the merest suggestion of chopped clams - were forgettable, except for a very good homemade tartar sauce for dipping.

Flavorless Italian bread came with a swirl of unsalted butter.

Gorgonzola tortellini ($9.75), a decent entree, was a good-sized portion of cheese-filled egg pasta hats with fresh mushrooms and green peas in a pleasant cream sauce touched with the rich Italian cheese. Deep-dish chicken pot pie ($7.25), quite nice with no surprises, was a casserole of tender chicken meat and mushrooms in a decent cream sauce with a lid of light, flaky pastry crust. The main dishes come without vegetables or salad, but at these prices, I suppose you can't complain.

Desserts made by an outside pastry chef included light-textured, creamy cheesecake ($2.50) redolent of amaretto and finished with shaved almonds, and a sensuous dark-chocolate truffle torte (also $2.50) slathered with icing.

Service was unusually friendly.

Although The Stone Horse is the successor restaurant to the old Sleepy Hollow Inn, there is no trace of the tired old place. The setting is informal: A waist-high room divider separates the dining area from the bar, while two side rooms provide cramped solitude.

Paneled wainscoting is topped by white-painted brick walls, pierced with Moorish arches for a side room. Tables are set with homespun gold tablecloths and white cotton napkins and an oil-fed wick in modified hurricane shade. Alas, overly loud contemporary music is unmitigated.

THE STONE HORSE

330 W. Lancaster Ave.,

Frazer, 647-1450.

Open: Lunch 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Mon.-Sat.; dinner 5:30-9:30 p.m. Sun.-Thurs., until 10:30 p.m. Fri. & Sat.

Price range: Appetizers average $4, entrees $10.

Credit cards: Major cards.

Nonsmoking section: No.

Facilities for handicapped: Yes.

Atmosphere: Modest.

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