Stonefire Grill recently opened its doors in Chatsworth’s Pacific Theatres movie complex on Winnetka Avenue off Prairie Street, unfortunately it prompted negative responses.
It may be the new restaurant’s poor layout or perhaps the small chain’s motto, “A fresh approach to family dining.” But there’s nothing very appetizing about being crammed in a three-foot wide entryway where families are attempting to read a menu stand placed only a few feet from the door.
Stonefire’s casual style means you order before you’re seated, and you receive a number so that when your order is ready, it’s brought to your table, wherever it may be. Normally this system isn’t so bad, but only when the layout of the restaurant allows for lines that can move along steadily, something that Stonefire’s layout didn’t do.
At least three families visiting the establishment during Labor Day weekend found themselves crammed against the wall to let incoming patrons inside, with no designation as to which lines patrons should head toward in order to get seated.
Once seated, there’s no guarantee that the wait staff will even see the order number. Most booths have surrounding walls so high that the small stands meant to hold the numbers are completely obscured from the aisles.
Similar to Sizzler, Fresh Choice and other buffet-style restaurants, drinks at Stonefire Grill are “serve yourself,” aside from the beer on tap and a selection of wines. While the selection is ample, service tend to be slow and forgetful, with two different servers mixing up the beer orders.
Stonefire Grill wouldn’t live up to its name if it didn’t offer a variety of foods from the grill, and while it does offer a good selection of beef, pork, chicken, and salmon, the meals tend to be more than $15 each, which is typically out of student budgets for a nice dinner and a movie.
One person ordered the tri-tip and rib combo, but while mouthwatering in appearance, they were very overcooked despite two returns to the kitchen. As a replacement for the mangled meat, the wait staff brought a full-sized portion of their highly-rated carrot cake, a brick-sized blend of carrot strips, plump raisins and a thick layer of icing. The inexpensive and delicious desserts would seem to be the Chatsworth Stonefire Grill’s only redeeming quality.
Thankfully, the variety of other menu options, whether from the grill or from their wide selection of salads and other appetizers are quite filling. There’s nothing on the menu that’s really meant to be eaten by one person, so to compensate for the higher prices and the buffet-style atmosphere, the portions served are best shared. Better yet, many of the dishes that’ll most certainly leave leftovers.
Like the many other restaurants newly opened in the Pacific Theatres Winnetka movie theatre complex, Stonefire Grill is still on wobbly legs, adjusting to moviegoers and Valley residents, a crowd quite different from its other Southland locations in Valencia, West Hills, Fountain Valley and Irvine.
While a pleasant escape from the blistering heat of the past week, Stonefire Grill leaves much to be desired in the form of timely, effective service and appropriately priced foods. The stores managers should mostly consider rethinking the layout, for if they ever expect to draw crowds, they’ll need to accommodate the entryway, high-walled booths and narrow walkways for them.
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