Stone Park Cafe opened in September of 2004 and was named Time Out’s best new restaurant in 2005. Frank Bruni reviewed the restaurant in March of the same year, giving it two stars and declaring that Stone Park “deserves to be a hit.” Since then, the restaurant has faded from the limelight, but it is chugging along as a neighborhood favorite, the dining room always at least three-quarters full of people eating solid New American dishes like lamb cassoulet, seared scallops, swiss chard ravolini, grilled hanger steak, and sweetbreads.
But after six years in business, with only a handful of similar places to compete with in the near vicinity, is the restaurant resting on its laurels?
A recent visit suggests no, not even a little bit. Stone Park Cafe continues to take obvious care with its food, service, and bar. It’s the kind of place that makes you want to be a regular. (If you can afford it: mains cost $14-$30.) The food is simple, comforting, and executed nearly perfectly.
An appetizer of grilled octopus ($14) with chorizo, preserved lemon, and fingerling potatoes is particularly lovable. If the octopus is cooked well, you know that dish is going to be good. And it is–meaty tendrils of tender octopus, satisfying to sink your teeth into.
A grilled pork chop in pickled mustard seed demi-glace looks like a prehistoric fossil: enormous and blackened in spots. It, too, was cooked to a flawless, juicy state: rosy pink inside. The pickled mustard adds welcome zest to rich demi-glace. Swipe up some sauce with the crisp slice of rosti potatoes.
And Stone Park has a very good burger, although it was cooked to medium, rather than the requested medium-rare. If you want a true medium-rare, make sure you emphasize that to your server. Still, for $14, it’s one of the most affordable dishes on the menu; you have your choice of several cheeses, mushrooms, and/or bacon for no additional charge, and it comes with excellent fries or a (boring) green salad. For a more worthwhile vegetable side, ask for the Brussels sprouts instead. They’re an additional $2, but worth it.
Stone Park Cafe
324 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn