Where's the damn door?
On my first visit to Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens in Liberty Station (2816 Historic Decatur Road, No. 116), I couldn't find the door. There was no signage yet, but it turned out to be a good thing. I ended up walking around the perimeter of the new space, taking in the water features, the bocce-ball court, the many Adirondack chairs on the huge patio. After finally finding an entrance, I was in a cavernous space filled with wood and stone. There's the Stone Company Store on one end and fermentation vats on another. The bistro with big tables and sturdy wooden chairs fills the rest of the space. Even the bathrooms are visually arresting.
It's all very nice, but I like sitting outside best. Whether you're next to one of the water features, grabbing a beer at the bar or lounging in an Adirondack chair, the patio is a perfect place for beer, food and spending time with friends. Unlike the Escondido location, this one never feels too crowded, although I don't expect that to last very long. If you have the opportunity to dine here for a weekday lunch, expect a quieter and more easygoing meal.
In my experience, the food at Stone's Escondido bistro can be inconsistent, and I found it an afterthought to the beer. Liberty Station, however, has been more consistent for me. I'm not sure what they're doing differently, but the meals have been as solid as the beer on every visit. The menus are fairly similar, with only a few exceptions. If you're a fan of Escondido's barbecued-duck tacos, Ruination IPA cheese soup or wild mushroom penne, rest assured that they're served at Liberty Station.
Liberty Station, however, features a lobster roll that's one of the best dishes I've ever had at Stone. Big chunks of lobster are mixed with lemon aioli, celery, parsley and scallions and served in a fluffy hunk of brioche. The brioche is an enormous slab, but so very light. The green stuff keeps the aioli from dominating the sandwich. Overall, it's incredibly light and refreshing, considering it's bread, mayo and seafood. Freshly fried potato chips are on the side, which are perfect with most of the beers.
Lobster's not your thing? Well, there's always the grilled Duroc pork chop or the tempeh shepherd's pie. For those looking to keep their calories with the beer and money in their wallets, the appetizers are hearty. Tasty picks include the crispy Brussels sprouts and the tilapia ceviche. They also feature Meatless Mondays with additional vegetarian dishes and remakes of meat dishes with veggies. For dessert, there's an Arrogant Bastard brownie sundae. You're welcome.
The entrances are marked nowadays, but I still recommend walking around a little bit. The area's lovely, and there's no harm in burning as many calories as possible before having good eats and great beer.