The Sandstone Grillhouse & Lounge is a locally owned restaurant in the heart of Niagara Falls. With so many chain restaurants and corporately owned establishments, it was great to find a mom and pop shop in such a tourist driven area. A group of twenty friends and I headed down last weekend for some celebrations.
Being such a large group they split us up between a few servers. Our server was attentive and really polite. Unfortuantely the server tending to our friends next to us wasn't. She did't go over the specials, soup of the day and just really seemed to be going through the motions.
Because we were such a large group, it took a while to have our mains come out so our server was quick to reload our bread basket. I appreciated this because it left us with something to munch on while we waited.
The first app to arrive was the stuffed portobello mushroom ($10.95) – black tiger shrimp, asiago cheese, mozzarella cheese & roasted red pepper, with housemade garlic crostini. This was a big hit with the table and everyone really enjoyed it. It was sweet and creamy and the portobello was nice and meaty. I just wish for eleven bucks they would have either pumped up the salad/garnish or given you an additional portobello.
We also ordered there "famous greek salad" ($10.95) and this was surprisingly a really good salad. It was simple and excuted very well. The dressing was definitely the shining star on the dish and having the sliced feta instead of the crumbled feta was an added bonus. It was a bit overpriced for eleven bucks though. I ordered the soup of the day ($4.95) which was corn and potato chowder with ham. This was excellent. The chunks of potato and ham added more depth to the soup and set it apart from a typical creamed soup.
A long beach ice tea seemed to be the drink of the weekend. You replace the coke with cranberry juice in a long island ice tea and you've got trouble!
We got into some rocky waters once the main dishes started to roll out. The other tables seem to be having trouble with the steaks. A few dishes had to be sent back because the wrong steaks and colour were being sent to the wrong individual. This can be a huge problem with steak houses but if you have an organized server and a well oiled kitchen it shouldn't be a problem. I believe one of the steaks ended up being taken off the bill because they just weren't getting it right. The server wasn't able to keep track of who ordered which steak and what colour they wanted.
Our table ran into some way underdone pasta and unseasoned shrimp. My shrimp came fully seasoned and garnished but my friend beside me (who ordered the same thing) had her shrimp just tossed in some melted butter. It was a juvenile mistake and showed the inconsistency of the kitchen. Once we brought our concerns to our server, he didn't hesitate to fix the problem.
Overall, it seemed like it might have been a bad day for the kitchen. I see how there can be a problem cooking food for twenty people but because we were split up, there was no expectation of having twenty mains come out all at once. Why there was such an inconsistency, I have no idea.
Not all of us ordered steak though, shown above was the spicy shrimp & sausage penne ($19.95) – spicy marinara, hot italian sausage, black tiger shrimp, roasted red peppers, diced onions & sweet bell peppers. They were really generous with the tiger shrimp and the heat in this bad boy was intense!
When I ordered my Rib Eye Steak & Shrimp ($34.95) I was told by our server they serve a rice pilaf but once it got to the table, I was pretty disappointed to see that it was just plain ol' steamed rice. This sucked because the rice wasn't even seasoned with salt and pepper. The veggies tasted pretty bland as well. The steak on the other hand was pretty good. It was charred well on the outside and cooked just the way I like it on the inside. There was a few fatty bits but I didn't mind that.
We were here celebrating a very special occasion and I wish it would have gone smoother but because of the special day everyone still had a great time. I would definitely consider coming back to the Sandstone, with a smaller group. I would prefer to support an independently owned establishment instead of a chain when I'm in Niagara Falls.
5467 Victoria Avenue
The next morning we all got treated to the brunch buffet at the Niagara Falls Casino Resort. The line up for the buffet was utterly ridiculous. The general clientele looks like it rolled in on a coach bus that picks you up from a local mall and these people take gambling, and eating pretty seriously. I know now, not to mess with a senior citizen and their eggs benny!
There was a bit of variety on the menu but please don't mistake this buffet for the ones you can find at the Bellagio or the Wynn in Vegas. Everyone at the table found it a challenge to find a dish we thought was spectacular. The eggs on the eggs bennedict were poached perfectly but the hollaindaise was runny and bland. The dishes at the wok station were also not very impressive and the roast beef was too cooked for my taste.
The service we recived from the cooks working the buffet was excellent though. They were all smiles and super friendly the whole time.. which is unusual for a cook. The buffet staff also did a great job replenishing the buffet. It got pretty busy the whole time we were there but there was never an empty tray to be seen!
This is definitely a quantity over quality kind of buffet and unless it was a complimentary meal provided by the casino, I wouldn't consider returning. Our server was friendly but after she dropped off the drinks, we never saw her again.
6380 Fallsview Blvd