On Friday night, the Boy and I headed out to Stoney’s Bar & Grill for a quick bite. It was a particularly chilly night (read: fucking cold), so we didn’t want to head too far. Luckily, Stoney’s is only a hop skip and jump away from Shaw in Logan Circle. Stoney’s is the epitome of a neighborhood joint: laid back atmosphere, friendly service and no pretenses of being anything more. This being our first time there, I wasn’t sure whether we just sat down or waited to be seated. A waitress smiled and told us to “sit anywhere”, so we planted ourselves in the dining area. Unlike most bars and grills I’ve been to in DC, the noise level at Stoney’s was low enough to actually be able to carry on a conversation. Our waiter came to the table fairly quickly and took our drink orders before I looked at the menu.
Although I was told Stoney’s had great burgers, I honestly wasn’t expecting much from it. And given that it was more of a tavern than a restaurant, I really didn’t expect anything more than bar food. A quick look at the menu, however, showed a good variety of items: everything from burgers (of course) to kosher franks and beans. Since I had a purpose for being there, I concentrated on the burger options. They have the usual cast of burger characters: the regular burger, a cheeseburger and a bacon cheeseburger. But they also have some different twists on the classic burger: the One Eye Burger, served with Swiss cheese and a fried egg; the Black and Blue burger, a blackened beef patty topped with blue cheese; and a Hamburger Special, a cheeseburger topped with (of all things) ham. But I chose the Texas Burger, which usually consisted of hickory bacon, cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce, grilled onions and coleslaw. However, me not being a fan of coleslaw, I asked the waiter to hold it from my burger.
When the burger arrived, I was a little anxious about its height. I am usually not a fan of burgers that require me to unhinge my jaw to eat, but the Texas Burger did have a lot going on. The bun was rather fluffy and high…and even though this may sound strange, it was a bit shiny. Yes, the bun was shiny…and this concerned me a little. I had forgotten to tell the waiter to hold the lettuce and tomato on my burger, which I usually do. I tend not to like tomatoes on my burgers because they make the bun soggy. However, Stoney’s does something rather interesting. Instead of placing the tomato right next to the bun, they put a layer of lettuce between said tomato and said bun. Because of this, the tomato doesn’t leave the bun a soggy mess. Inspecting the burger further before I ate it, I noticed the bacon wasn’t very crispy. In fact (as you can see from the picture), it was mostly gristle. I was starting to get a bad feeling about the burger. Another concern: the “grilled onions” were not grilled. The onions were thick cut, raw red onions piled onto the burger.
Finally done with my initial visual inspection (and taking pictures of it with my Blackberry – sorry, I forgot my camera), I decided to get down to the business of eating. And I was very pleasantly surprised. Having removed the “grilled onions”, my first taste was of the bun. And this was a pretty good burger bun…fresh tasting with a slight hint of sweetness. Mind you, it was not a sweetened bread, just a bread with a hint of honey (or a similar sweetener). Lightly toasted, the bun was hearty enough to stand up to the many toppings weighing it down. The beef was nicely seasoned, similar to the burger at Trios and you could tell it wasn’t a dethawed, pre-formed patty. Also like Trios, the beef didn’t have a charred taste to it nor was it dry. And unlike a lot of cheeseburgers, the cheddar was sharp enough to stand out in the menagerie of flavors. The combination of the bun and the seasoned beef almost gave the burger a one up on Trios…were it not for the bacon and the overly liberal use of barbecue sauce. The bacon was greasy and basically just fat, adding nothing at all to the burger. And although I liked the tangy flavor of the barbecue sauce, there was a bit too much on the burger.
All in all, this was a pretty good burger, especially considering it was from a neighborhood bar. I’m not ready to say it was better than Trios and I am still not convinced Trios has the best burger in town. Fear not, however, dear readers. My search continues this weekend with a trip to DC Chophouse! Stay tuned!