March 30, 2002 – In the good old days, when there were milk cows on St. Thomas, there was also a little two-lane road wandering through the pastureland of the Petersen estate. On this road was an old stone farmhouse next to a muddy corral, built smack dab on the roadway which led through the farm.
Nowadays, there is a new road around the Petersen property — better known as Mahogany Run Condominiums and Golf Course — and the old road runs past the entrance to The Old Stone Farm House restaurant before disappearing into a fairway. The farmhouse has been gutted and the stone walls cleaned until they sparkle.
In the restaurant, there are three menus: the basic menu, the wine list, and the daily listing of specials and desserts. The basic menu includes six to eight appetizers and about a dozen entrees. The emphasis is on foods you wouldn't want to take the time to prepare at home and for which you might not even know how to obtain the basic ingredients.
Instead of the run-of-the-mill snails, fried cheese, and shrimp, the appetizers stretch from sushi rolls to soup to salad. The sushi rolls yield six to eight goods bites of sushi complete with soy, radish and wasabi — the great green paste which ranks right up there with the finest Antiguan mashed peppers for bite. The soups are healthy helpings with wonderful flavors you are not ever going to find in any store and even many restaurants. The salads are generous, fresh and spirited, going beyond the genre.
The bread baked in the kitchen is served warm with an iced spread. It's a pleasing herbal mix which complements most before-dinner drinks, especially a dry white wine.
The entrees are plentiful, colorful, and tasty. While many upscale restaurants use pastas with some sort of tomato or cheese sauce to fill in the low end of the menu, The Old Stone Farm House has a black mussels and pasta dish which is loaded with plump mussels married to the pasta twirls with a rich cream sauce. If I were to ask for anything more, it would be plain bread to complement the wonderful flavors of the mussels and the sauce.
The shrimp used in the seafood dishes approach jumbo size. With angel hair pasta dressed with a diablo sauce, they provide a great mix of yin and yang.
The wine list can be a bit overwhelming with its preponderance of high-priced bottles. I don't know why so many restaurateurs feel they have to maintain such a markup. I would drink more wine if it were better priced, but most finer St. Thomas establishments have made it a luxury item. If you persevere, however, you can find a couple of excellent wines under $30 for the bottle, which is about the same as four glasses. The water, served in a pitcher, is as good as it should be in a truly good restaurant. Bravo!
Instead of the killer double chocolate, etc., concoctions of cake, cheesecake, brownie, etc., The Old Stone Farm House offers interesting light desserts. There are small cups of custard with different flavorings such as coffee and ginger. There is a tempting selection of handmade ice creams and sorbets including tamarind, berry and vanilla/mango.
The Old Stone Farm House is a splurge: A three-course dinner for two including a before-dinner drink and coffee will cost over $100. The good news is that you can justify the expenditure with the old adage "You get what you pay for." I found the food to be more than adequate in quantity and absolutely first class in quality.
Furthermore, the ambience was remarkable. We could talk without having to shout over someone's idea of dinner music, and the service was timely and pleasant.
The building is historic and the period furniture is suited to the setting. The once-mud yard has been transformed into a paved courtyard, and an outbuilding has been remodeled into luxurious restrooms with an eye to comfort and function. Not just toilets, which are clean with quality supplies, but actual "resting rooms" where you can sit and relax from or for whatever in overstuffed chairs with mirrors aplenty for primping.
Guests arriving at the restaurant can be dropped off at the front door, which is just around a gate opening onto the development road. There is parking at the turn in the road behind the restaurant and above the restaurant where you enter west of the circular drive and across the courtyard. When things are crowded, you can park off the first road to the right, which goes down to the Mahogany Run tennis courts.
At The Old Stone Farm House, if it weren't for the climate, you would swear you were in Provence. If you want to concentrate on top-quality food in an atmosphere where companionship can flourish, I recommend it.
The Old Stone Farmhouse
Ambience: 5 stars
Food: 5 stars
Service: 5 stars
Value: 5 stars
Mahogany Run road
Dinner nightly except Monday 5:30-9:30 p.m.
Amex, MasterCard, Visa
Editor's note: The Tottering Taster is a senior citizen dedicated to enjoying good food who periodically dines in local establishments to bring Source readers unsolicited assessments biased in favor of an ultimate eating-out experience. The individual uses a pseudonym so restaurant personnel will not be able to identify the reviewer and try to influence the review.
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