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Fair Food, Fair Prices

Stonefly’s good-time spirit

Mar. 18, 2009
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Brew pubs tend to be large places, as exemplified by Rock Bottom and the Milwaukee Ale House. But Stonefly Brewing Co. in Riverwest offers a similar atmosphere in a smaller space. Stonefly first opened under the name Onopa, until Julia LaLoggia purchased the place from a friend and made the switch.

The main bar/dining room at Stonefly Brewing is a casual spot. The bar curves a bit and most of the tables are high-tops, with the exception of a few lipstick-red booths grouped near the front windows. The brewery tanks are hidden from public view.

The menu lists seven of Stonefly’s own beers, some available seasonally. The alcoholic contents are thoughtfully listed, with the weakest being Brass Knuckle Blonde (4%) and the strongest being Sixfinger IPA (7%), an India pale ale that is said to be very hoppy. The bartenders often steer customers to a beer in the middle range like the Mustache Ride pale ale, which has a brownish hue and a full flavor. You are not restricted to Stonefly’s own products, of course. There are 40 other options sold in bottles, with a focus on microbrews. The wine list is meager by comparison.

The menu has informal, beer-friendly fare with some items that are tailored to the neighborhood (i.e. vegetarian and vegan). You’ll find appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, flatbread pizzas, salads and a few entrees. The most anti-vegan item on the menu would have to be an appetizer named “It’s Bacon!” ($6). It sure is: Strips of smoked bacon are coated in a Stonefly beer batter and deep-fried. There are two dipping sauces, one a mild cheese and the other a tart Stonefly stout mustard. The deep-frying actually seems to eliminate a lot of the bacon fat, though this could never be called heart-healthy! An appetizer that is healthy would be the “Bibb Lettuce Rapper” ($6.50), a plate of lettuce leaves used to create wraps with rice noodles, thin strips of vegetables and a choice of very mild herbed chicken or tofu. There is not a lot of flavor, so give the wrap a jolt of sweet plum sauce.

The burgers ($7.50-$8.50) here are good. Start with a choice of Angus beef, chicken breast, veggie patty or true vegan patty. Then choose from one of the preparations. The Stonefly burger is simple, with just caramelized onions, romaine lettuce and some Roma tomatoes. The beef version is cooked to order, and “medium-well” actually means “medium-well.” A side item is included—the best are the beer-battered fries or the homemade applesauce.

For sheer creativity try the tofu Reuben ($6.50), where tofu is a substitute for corned beef. The other ingredients include the standard sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and dressing with rye bread. The tofu does not have a lot of flavor, but it does have a firm texture, firmer than cheese. The other ingredients take over in what ultimately is a good and tasty sandwich. The entrees are listed under “Pub Fare” and some fare better than others. One winner is called “Chicken Pot Pie and I Don’t Care” ($7.50). It is actually a small pottery crock with boneless chicken, peas and carrots in a cream sauce that tops a bed of celery root mashed potatoes. The only crust is a small roll of puff pastry placed on top. Add a side of applesauce and the result is fine comfort food, perfect for a winter day. “Smack Down n’ cheese” ($7) is an alias for macaroni and cheese. While perfectly adequate, the only distinguishing trademark is the addition of a few slices of jalapeo pepper. This menu has better things to offer.

For casual fare at modest prices, Stonefly does the job. It is geared to a youngish crowd and is not the spot for a quiet meal. Enjoy a good burger, some deep-fried bacon and wash it down with plenty of beer. This is the Stonefly spirit.

Stonefly Brewing Co.735 E. Center St. (414) 264-3630 $-$$ Credit Cards: MC, VS, AX Smoking: Yes Handicap Access: Yes

Photo by Don Rask


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