Food & Drink » Restaurant Review

Like Spinning Plates

Sophia's Stony Point Café doesn't quite know what it wants to be.

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To start, there have been some changes here. There's a new name — apparently patrons were confusing Charley's with the chain restaurant, O'Charley's. The décor is now Tuscan, and they've revamped the menu. But all these recent transformations show mostly that Sophia's is trying to accomplish too much at once.

Take the menu. It's an internationally-inspired, eclectic mix of appetizers, salads, sandwiches and entrees ranging from $6.25 to $18.95. Black bean lasagna rolls are served alongside Asian-inspired sesame tuna and chicken cordon bleu. Couple these with American-style bar foods such as potato skins, chicken wings and sandwich wraps and you've covered most of the western and eastern hemispheres.

Pricing seems all over the board as well, appearing random with an appetizer of hot crab dip at $9.25 (a bit high for a ramekin of cream cheese dotted with crab bits) and a half-rack of St. Louis-Style ribs for $16.95 (this price will buy you a full rack at most other restaurants). Yet pasta and chicken dishes seem to be priced fairly at $9.95.

Service and presentation are also hit or miss. A fried oyster po' boy tasted fresh with several fried oysters served on a French baguette, yet the accompanying cocktail sauce was smeared on a piece of untoasted bread. Servers were friendly and attentive, though when we ordered a bottle of wine, tasting it became an afterthought when most of the bottle was instantly poured out into our glasses.

A classic burger was big and juicy, but when we opted for the addition of a fried egg (selected from a list of toppings) we were told the kitchen had run out of eggs altogether — a bit odd for a Friday evening, especially since the restaurant is next to a grocery store

A garden vegetable lasagna is a nice vegetarian option with plenty of béchamel sauce and fresh broccoli. However, when we ordered a Miller Light draft, we were told they were out of that, too. A Port Orleans Gulf Shrimp and Crab Cake is described as "the perfect union of jumbo lump crab meat and fresh shrimp, blended together and uniquely seasoned with just enough filler to hold it together." Served with clumpy, sticky orzo pasta, there was little to no jumbo lump (mostly backfin and claw meat) and more than sufficient breading as filler.

The newly-decorated dining room didn't seem to represent any one theme either, appearing stark and gloomy instead of warm with the typical Tuscan reds, yellows and terra cotta. Walls appeared barren, and the uncomfortable brass-backed chairs seemed as if they'd been pulled straight out of a hotel meeting room. Combine that with background music that fell somewhere between Busch Gardens' Ye Olde Country and John Tesh live, and I just wasn't feeling it.

Sophia's seems like a good place for a sandwich or to enjoy some live music in the bar. But as a total package, they have yet to pull it all together. S

Sophia's Stony Point Café ($$)
3088 Stony Point Road
323-3984
Lunch and Dinner: Monday to Friday 11:30 a.m. - 11 p.m., Saturday noon - 12 a.m. Brunch: Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.



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