At night Hot Stone Grill has an unusual concept, allowing diners to cook food on a heated slab of volcanic rock. It sounds like quite an experience. But we were interested in having lunch at this Cornelius restaurant, which proved a delicious experience unto itself. The truffle mushroom soup and the shepherds pie were the stars of a nearly flawless meal.
The lunch menu is basically the same as dinner the chief exception being that entrees cooked on the hot stone are not part of the lunch lineup. If you ask, you can order from the dinner menu and cook on the stone, but it will cost you. The filet mignon is $27, ahi tuna, $36.
Nazira Atme and her business partner, Heinrich Henry Lentzy, opened their restaurant four months ago. Both are from Europe, so its no surprise that most of the lunch menu reflects that side of the globe.
Im not sure Europe can claim Hot Stones mushroom soup ($5). Once white truffle oil was drizzled on top, it certainly felt French even though the chef let me in on a secret. The truffle oil used was manufactured in Napa Valley.
Of course, food snobs may say the use of truffle oil (which often is no more than hyped up olive oil) is unforgiveable. I say whatever. For that briefest moment I detected the earthy flavor on top of the slightly textured soup, I was happy.
Almost as happy as I was while eating the French onion soup ($7). Its buttery onions were cooked just long enough so they asserted personality into the rich warm broth, which floated a raft of gruyere cheese and a crisp crostini.
The shepherds pie ($13) was the epitome of comfort food. Tender ground lamb joined peas, onions, carrots (a mite undercooked) in a rich brown gravy. The mashed potatoes piped on top were covered by a smattering of melted cheddar cheese.
The German sausage ($13) entrée showed a sausage can have plenty of flavor without having plenty of fat. Two lean sausages were paired with German potato salad, which was actually the weakest part of the entrée as it was quite under-seasoned.
A side of triple cheese macaroni ($5) (cheddar, white cheddar and smoked cheddar) was both creamy and crunchy thanks to the crisping of the cheese on top.
Dessert was just OK. An oversized four-layer triple chocolate cake ($8) sounded better on paper than it turned out to be. The ganache frosting was first-rate, but the cake was dry. I think had it not been served cold, the fat in the cake would have warmed a bit and made for a more pleasant feel in the mouth.
Even though dessert wasnt the experience I hoped for, overall the experience at Hot Stone Grill would be one worth repeating.