ONSET — As the newbie to the Dine Out scene, I scoured our restaurant database looking for a hidden gem that had yet to be found.

After literally hours of looking — man, we’ve reviewed a lot of restaurants — I landed on Stonebridge Bar and Grill. It’s scenery, looking out onto Broad Cove, piqued my interest.

September brought more sun — it felt — than June, July or August. But inevitably fall crept toward the SouthCoast. I hoped a great meal and view would allow me to fulfill my longing for an extended summer and open a new chapter into fall and winter.

The trip from New Bedford to Onset started exactly how I envisioned for my girlfriend, Allyssa, and I. Weaving through the tight streets by the water resurrected summer memories, despite the overcast skies. The left-hand curve of Onset Avenue brought us directly to the inviting entrance of Stonebridge Bar and Grill.

Parking was limited with only three or four spaces in front of the restaurant. A space appeared open, but a telephone pole prevented me from confidently parking my small Toyota Prius.

We drove down East Boulevard less than 100 feet and found a spot off the road overlooking the cove.

My longing for summer heightened.

Walking toward the restaurant's entrance, I spotted the back patio with dozens of seats, all empty. As much as I wanted my last taste of summer, Mother Nature wouldn’t cooperate placing a chill in the air prior to dusk.

The scene made it easy to picture the back portion of the restaurant filled on summer nights with a gorgeous view.

Still, inside we found a table past the bar and into rear next to a slightly open window, which provided just enough sea breeze, and a beautiful view — even if it was cloudy.

The decor paints a picture of a post-beach hangout. Handmade and hand-painted woodwork mixed with commercialized signs with clever sayings. A few boat motors and propellers act as pleasant conversation pieces as you find a seat.

Despite sitting “in the back,” it’s difficult to escape the flashes from the flatscreens. I didn’t mind, considering it was an NFL Sunday. One moment I looked at the sea, the next I saw Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott leaping into the end zone.

At about 6 p.m. we were the only couple in the dining area, but it picked up as the night progressed.

Our waitress, Stephanie, seated us and kindly asked if she could help us. She assumed we needed more time and just offered us water.

The menu offered a solid array of wine options and many intriguing mixed drinks for $9. In the end, we decided a Coke and a water were sufficient.

As an appetizer, we debated between crab cakes and haddock bites ($9). The “house sauce” earned the clincher for the haddock bites, which were on our table seemingly minutes after we ordered. The choice beat out other seafood appetizers like tuna tartar ($12) and calamari ($11).

The bites, which looked like mini-fish tenders, were tender, cooked to perfection and the batter provided enough taste but didn't overwhelm. The sauce didn’t disappoint either

I struggled to determine its ingredients but described it as chipotle sauce meets Italian dressing. Normally, not a marriage you think would work, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Without the sauce, the fish could have used a bit more seasoning, but overall, the first course left me excited for the entrees.

We twice asked our waitress for more time to place our main course meals as our eyes felt bigger than our stomachs.

The options leaned toward seafood but steaks, chicken and duck were also the menu.

There was also an entire page of grilled pizza options ($12-17), including red and white pizzas. The Scuba Steve ($15) with olives pepperoni, jalapenos and feta and mozzarella cheese caught my eye.

The menu contrasted with the restaurant’s vibe. We poured our own water in plastic cups and the silverware could have been cleaner. The decor screamed beach bar, while the menu hinted at exquisite dining with cedar plank salmon ($22), grilled duck breast ($25) and a pair of sirloins ($23).

The southwestern sirloin jumped out to me first. It featured a steak rubbed with southwestern spices, topped with tomato slices and was served with sour cream, Jasmine rice and a vegetable The option battled my childhood craving of my mother's homemade pasta and meatballs every Sunday. So the chicken Parmesan sounded appealing too.

Allyssa narrowed her choice down to the grilled duck breast over butternut squash with Parmesan, pecan and cranberry sauce or the shrimp with lobster ravioli ($25) topped with Parmesan and Romano cheese blended with butter and red peppers.

Allyssa asked our waitress for advice. She suggested the duck. I confidently chose the chicken parm.

Each plate arrived with a more-than-generous serving. Mozzarella cheese thickly covered four pieces of breaded chicken, which sat atop a hearty amount of angel hair pasta. Small flakes of uncooked parmesan accompanied the dish to sprinkle where I pleased. It was a nice touch I really enjoyed.

The “homemade red sauce” tasted more like store-bought, but overall, I enjoyed the dish. The chicken was cooked well, as was the pasta. Like the haddock bites, more seasoning would have put the dish over the top.

A smorgasbord filled Allyssa’s plate. She described it as “Thanksgiving” in a bite. The duck was cooked well. She would have preferred more sauce and a less busy plate. It was often difficult to encompass all aspects of the plate in one bite. Rather large chunks of apple topped the dish and seemed out of place. The pecans were also rather large.

Cranberries speckled the plate and added a sweetness to the dish.

Neither of us finished our potions, but we had our eyes on dessert.

A sign that read “Sunburn Sundae” stared at me throughout the meal. Fried ice cream and chocolate chip cannolis both tempted me, but the brownie sundae with three scoops of vanilla ice cream or the “Sunburn Sundae” ($9) after it had called my name.

A chocolate creme brulee ($7) caught Allyssa’s eye.

Neither disappointed.

We agree dessert topped every other course. Allyssa mixed some ice cream with the creme brulee to add some sweetness to the richness of the chocolate.

The “Sunburn Sundae” was the perfect end to my longing of summer. The brownie appeared to be homemade. The whipped cream was rich. The ice cream was soft. The three layers made for a delicious bite that I couldn’t get enough of.

My stomach was full, but I didn’t want to stop eating.

Our bill came to $75.70 after tax and before tip. As we left, a Stonebridge Bar and Grill rickshaw parked outside of the restaurant offering free shuttles from the beach.

Allyssa and I both smiled at the thought.

 

Dine Out’s reviewer visits restaurants unannounced and at his or her discretion. The newspaper pays for the meals reviewed. The reviews merely reflect one diner’s experience. Ratings range from 1 to 5 stars.