Swimming Upstream at Stoneleigh Creek
Growing pains—and moving pains—in a new relocation to Armonk
We go into every new restaurant hoping it will be a gem. If the décor is less than impressive and the service a little rough around the edges, so much the better—perhaps we’ll make a “discovery.” But sometimes our experience confirms Malcolm Gladwell’s contention in his book Blink: those conclusions you jump to in the blink of an eye prove valid more often than not.
Stoneleigh Creek, which moved to its current Armonk location from Croton Falls in August 2007, looks like it has been in this space forever—or at least long enough to need a little sprucing up.
Here’s what we liked about Stoneleigh Creek: it has a comfortable, neighborhood vibe, pleasant servers, and several nice dishes. One of them was the Bistro Chicken, a roasted, frenched breast with savory, crisp, seasoned skin and moist, tender meat. On one visit, a “Poke Salad”(below) ovely melody of diced, clean tasting raw yellowfin, bright mango, sweet fried onion and crisp jicama; Thai peanut sauce added a creamy, rich note and an enormous bed of fried noodles served as a crunchy, starchy base. On a subsequent visit, the fish was in larger, sinewy chunks, and the burned shallots infected surrounding ingredients with bitterness.
We almost liked a chicken pot pie. The rich pie filling was redolent with the flavors of the vegetables and a hint of truffle, but we found only one piece of chicken in the entire serving, and the underside of the deceptively golden, flaky crust was raw and pasty. This seemed to be the pattern with many dishes—they each had potential but suffered a fatal flaw. A plate of scallops and shrimp was promising, with the first taste of a moist, tender sea scallop conveying the sweet, fresh flavor of having just been pulled from the sea. But then the accompanying roasted shrimp tasted distinctly of iodine.
An appetizer of mussels served in a garlic cream sauce was worrisome: many of the mussels were not opened, and the broth and several of the opened mussels had an “off” fishy flavor. Five-onion soup was rich and beefy, but undone by excessive amounts of salt. And a strip steak would have drowned in a bland sauce, had we not scraped away the sauce to better enjoy it and the accompanying crispy golden fries and onion rings.
We didn’t fare much better with dessert. A cheese plate was the worst of the lot: we were served a slice of completely dried Boucheron, which was immediately and apologetically replaced; moments later, we noticed another cheese on the plate looked odd, and upon turning it over, realized we were served only the rind.
None of our other desserts were quite as bad as that cheese plate, but few were much better: a poached pear tasted of uncooked wine and was still somewhat crisp; a thick, dense cookie crust overwhelmed a barely discernable layer of lemon in a lemon tart; and undercooked puff pastry and crisp apples were combined in what was described as a tarte Tatin. On the other hand, a dense, rich flourless chocolate cake was satisfying, and a dish oddly listed as “blueberry cobbler,” but which was actually cooked blueberries topped with ice cream (no cobbler) was tasty.
We weren’t looking for haute cuisine when we walked through the doors of Stoneleigh Creek. But mishaps like raw dough, unopened shellfish, and cheese rind are hard to forgive, even when the restaurant strives only to be a homey neighborhood gathering spot and the staff is kind and well-meaning.
Stoneleigh Creek Restaurant â˜…
1 Kent Pl, Armonk
(914) 276-0000; stoneleighcreek.com
HOURS: lunch Tues to Sun, 12-2 pm;
dinner Tues to Thurs 5-9 pm, Fri 5-10 pm, Sat 5:30-10 pm, Sun 5-9 pm.
Appetizers: $10-$14; entrées: $18-$28;
â˜…â˜…â˜…â˜…—Outstanding â˜…â˜…â˜…—Very Good