3966 Barranca Parkway
Irvine, CA 92606
It was time to go out with Chuck and Stephanie. This time I did not have to decide where we would be eating. Thanks to rave reviews from Chuck's Dad, we were headed to a place I had heard of before, but never been to, Stonefire Grill.
Stonefire Grill has been in business since 2000. In those twelve years they have opened seven locations. OC is home to two of these locations, with the other one situated in Fountain Valley. Sisters, Maureen and Mary Harrigan opened this place as a tribute to their Mother. She was a mother of 11, and the sisters wanted to create an atmosphere where families could congregate around the table, share conversations, and create special memories.
Stonefire is a fast casual restaurant. Ordering is done at the counter and then brought out to you. The restaurant really reminded us of an updated Sizzler, without the salad bar, or a Pat and Oscars. The menu is pretty large. They have plenty of family meals or individual meals to choose from. Salads, sandwiches, pizzas, and four proteins dominate most of the menu here.
We got to Stonefire Grill at about six on a Wednesday night. The restaurant was pretty busy, but we had no problems finding seats. We perused the large menu, ordered at the counter, and waited for the food to come out. The restaurant is pretty loud, but that just helped drown out some of Chuck's ramblings. After about a five minute wait the food started to make its way to our table in waves. Let's see how it all came out.
Individual meals come with your choice of salad, so we selected the Garden Salad and the Caesar. Both of these salads were big enough to share, although I did not share too much with Katie, sorry about that. The Caesar was pretty basic, but I really enjoyed it. It was probably one of the best I have had in awhile. I liked that there was plenty of dressing here, and it kind of had a little bite to it. It could have just been the pepper, but it really was a nice surprise. Stephanie went with the Garden Salad. This salad came with mixed greens, chopped tomato, carrots, cucumber, red cabbage, and your choice of dressing. She opted for the blue cheese. I really liked that they tossed the salad for you. I wish more places would have their salads come out this way. It really coats the greens better.
Each salad came with two Breadsticks. I am not wild about breadsticks. These ones were good though. They came out warm, and were soft on the inside. The outside had a nice garlic/butter taste. You can tell these were freshly made.
Katie had been here before and wanted to try their Grilled Chicken Pesto Sandwich ($7.99) again. This sandwich came with caramelized onions, mozzarella, pesto sauce, tomato, and greens, on a French roll. As you can see from the pictures, this sandwich was dominated by vegetables. Katie liked the toasted bread, but felt there was way too much pesto on this. It really detracted from the chicken. She would forgo this sandwich on her next visit to Stonefire.
Both Chuck and Stephanie got basically the same thing, just prepared differently. Chuck ordered the 1/4 Chicken and Tri-Tip Combo ($10.99), while Stephanie got the Boneless Chicken Breast and Tri-Tip Combo ($13.99). They both really enjoyed the tri-tip. It was cooked a perfect medium rare. Very tender and it had a great meaty flavor. The chicken was another story. It was very tender, but lacked any flavor at all. The mesquite BBQ sauce really failed here as well. Chuck even ordered an extra side, and it helped just a little bit.
I knew exactly what I was going to have before I got here, and it was the Tri-Tip and Rib Combo ($14.99). I liked the tri-tip very much. I got it with pepper garlic and Gorgonzola butter. The butter was pretty mellow, from what I was expecting, but it still added to the meat. The baby back ribs were very tender. They separated from the bone very easily, and the taste of the meat was spot on. I thought the BBQ sauce was a little weak because it was a little too sweet, and kind of on the thin side. Not a bad plate of food though.
We also got some side items to try. We got the small Macaroni and Cheese ($7.99), and it could have easily fed three people. Everyone really liked this mac and cheese, except for me. I thought it was kind of plain tasting. They all liked the cheesiness, but I needed a little more bite from the cheese. The Nutty Coleslaw came with Katie's sandwich. I really enjoyed this version of slaw. The cabbage was crunchy, the nuts added a little earthiness, and the dressing did not overpower the other ingredients. The Garlic Mashed Potatoes ($2.99) were a pleasant surprise as well. By looking at them I was not expecting much, but they had lots of garlic flavor, and there seemed to be a layer of cheese running through them. Sure they could have been a little creamier, but the garlic flavor more than made up for this.
Okay, it was finally time for dessert. At Stonefire they offer three desserts, and we tried two of them. The Famous Chocolate Brownie ($2.79) was just okay. I would have liked this brownie to be a little sweeter. It was moist enough, but was kind of plain tasting. The Incredible Carrot Cake ($5.49) is the dessert to get here. The serving size was perfect to split with four people after dinner. The cake was moist and had a very good spiced flavor. The cream cheese icing was sweet, without taking over the cake. There was also not big hunks of things in this cake, like in other carrot cakes. We would all get this again.
I liked Stonefire Grill, but I am not sure it is destination dining for me. If I were in the area again I could see myself eating here though. The food was all pretty good, but nothing really hooked me. I liked the concept though. The restaurant was pretty comfortable. We were here at a peak hour and there was plenty of room, so we did not feel like people were right on top of us. The service was pretty good for a quick service restaurant. They had a lot of dining room runners, and they checked on us frequently. I did not feel the prices were outrageous here either. Glad Chuck's Dad gave me a night off from choosing where to go for dinner.
Out of five eagles, (because this restaurant is located in the same city as Concordia University, and their mascot is the Eagles), five being best to zero being worst, Stonefire Grill gets 3 eagles.
For more information about Stonefire Grill, click here: http://www.stonefiregrill.com/