CONTINUING OUR summer search for golf courses where the on-site restaurant is advertised and touted on its own merits for success, we had just such an uninterrupted and leisurely, relaxed time one recent night at Stonebridge CC, about a mile west of state Route 114 on Gorham Pond Road in north Goffstown.
Stonebridge seems to have ramped up its marketing and promotion of the course this year, hosting the State Championship and other amateur tournaments.
On the restaurant side at Stonebridge, Executive Chef Rick Reeser and Sous Chef Ed Ceccherini have made it clear on the website and social media promotions that the kitchen caters to the dinner crowd. Weekly emails and mobile-device alerts promote fine dinner specials and desserts that are slowly creeping into the must-have category for golf course management.
The setting inside the Stonebridge clubhouse is mostly that of a nice, cool, carpeted golf clubhouse, with a small bar and a dozen or so tables, some TVs and plenty of room for foursomes to relax, have a beer, compare scores and watch televised tournaments in air-conditioned comfort after playing their round.
Dinner patrons can eat inside or relax on the spacious back deck at high bar tables or regular four-person dinner tables under umbrellas behind the ninth green — and away from the putting green, parking lot and sometimes cart-crowded first-tee area.
It is as relaxing as can be, with cool drinks and a solid lineup of pub fare and fine dining options available.
We started with a cocktail and a couple of orders from the appetizer menu.
The Asparagus Salad plate ($9) featured grilled asparagus, and was served cold, and laced with a thick, rich and tangy lemon vinaigrette and a dill pesto sauce with a hint of mint. Served with buttered croutons, this large-ish serving of asparagus was a refreshing beginner along with a small helping of salad greens. The sliced cucumbers were memorable, and the salad was well dressed but dominated by the asparagus.
Another appetizer could be paired with the asparagus for a very nice $18 meal — Steamed Maine Mussels ($9), served with grilled toast and a nice dipping sauce of garlic and shallots, further flavored by white wine. It was a medium serving of smallish mussels, but well-cleaned and cooked, tender out of the half-shell. The sauce was plentiful for scooping into the mussel shell, with plenty to dip the toast that goes well with that dish.
The dinner menu featured a NY strip steak, chicken, seafood, pork and add-ons such as lobster, potatoes, mac and cheese and risotto. The pub menu is loaded with all manner of burgers and sandwiches and salads, including an interesting Caprese dish of fresh mozzarella with tomato, lettuce and pesto aioli on a toasted brioche roll ($9, plus add-ons).
We opted for a Lobster Roll ($12) off the specials menu, and a seafood plate on the regular menu.
The Lobster Roll, not our first of the season, came on a regular hot dog bun stuffed with thick, cool, tasty lobster meat, and no other adornments between the bread and the shelled lobster. It looked a bit dry at first glance, but the goodness and moistness of the lobster meat on simple bread spoke well for the traditional favorite — and we eschewed most of the side order of mayonnaise we initially thought it needed. It was accompanied by a large pile of thick, home-cut, tasty potato chips and homemade pickle slices. A good-rounded meal for a good price,The Grilled Swordfish ($22) on risotto with vegetables also caught our eye. This dish dispels the myth that you cannot find good food at a golf course.
A thick swordfish steak sat atop a large bed of seasoned risotto, accompanied by a nice serving of the aforementioned asparagus, with shallots and a strong sprinkling of capers. A delicious combination, and a hearty dinner, made better by a scoop of a warm, diced-tomato medley atop the swordfish, which added taste and a moist texture to the rice and seafood.
This has to be one of the better dishes available at Stonebridge (it is on the everyday menu) but we’ve only eaten there once, so will withhold our judgment. But comparisons aside, it was a pleasing and filling plate of seafood and accompaniments that you would find in any upscale New England restaurant.
There is an unavoidable beauty and a particular calmness to the orderly and lush expanse of greens, fairways, trees and birds at golf links, which we think goes very well with gourmet dining and a refreshing summer evening.
We have scored well on our golf outings (to the restaurants) this summer, and will be traveling further afield for more. Two of our visits since June have produced outstanding results, and Stonebridge Country Club in Goffstown is one of those.
We applaud the efforts by golf course managers to beef-up their restaurant business to attract a clientele that might not care at all about teeing up a little white ball and whacking it about.
There is more to golf than shooting a round, and we’ll join the crowd without plastic spikes in the clubhouse.