UD and I have sauntered past The Stone Soup Company many times on our way to the Centro Ybor Muvico, but have never been compelled to stop in. From the street, it looks kind of like a dumpy hole in wall with an extremely limited menu and (quelle horreur!) no adult beverages. Turns out, we were wrong on all accounts.
The interior is actually pretty urban-chic with comfy booths and tables, brick walls adorned with modern art and a trendy vibe. While I had envisioned standing in line to place my order (a la Seinfeld's "Soup Nazi"), there was none of that required and service was quite attentive.
Misconception #2 also went by the wayside when we checked out the menu. In addition to the half dozen or so available soups, there was also a short but decent selection of appetizing-sounding sandwiches and salads as well as a few entrees. Oh...and we were able to order brewskis as well (yay!).
Our simple starter of garlic cheese bread was probably the best thing we tried here. The bread was hot, crispy, moderately garlicky and topped with golden brown, melted mozzarella. A small side of the house-made tomato basil soup was served alongside it for dipping. This was one superlative tomato soup...hearty, fresh-tasting, herbaceous, tangy and creamy decadence!
Soups were priced in the $3.99 to $5.99 range for a cup (which was pretty generous) or $5.49 to $6.99 for a bowl. Honestly, I didn't see much difference in size between the "cup" and the "bowl". My three-cheese and broccoli soup was fine...thick, flavorful and laden with broccoli and carrot bits (although I don't think it necessarily needed so much carrot and the liberal use of broccoli stalks as opposed to florets also kept it from reaching its full potential). The problem is, I've had "fine" broccoli cheese soup at Chili's. Yes, I've been known to default to Chili's on occasion...but only when a potentially life-threatening diabetic incident is imminent, of course. I guess I expected something more memorable from an eatery that supposedly specializes in soup. This is the "bowl":
And, here is the "cup" of the spousal unit's completely forgettable Lobstah Chowdah. My spidey senses told me to steer clear of this one (even though I can ordinarly never resist ordering lobster anything) when I read the description, which spoke a little too much of shrimp and fish and little too little of lobster to inspire me. Indeed, what was presented was an orange, fishy-tasting concoction bearing a resemblance to lobster bisque whose predominant ingredient was overcooked chunks of some ambiguous variety of whitefish. You don't want to go here.
I followed my soup with "The Real Cuban"...mojo roasted pork, ham, swiss cheese, pickles and mustard-mayo sauce. It was a good, meaty rendition and was served on hot and crunchy pressed bread. The menu claims "it might be the best in Tampa", but let there be no mistake...it is not. Still, it was certainly nothing to get snarky about. The side of mojo dipping sauce (their take on "au jus") didn't taste like much or particularly excite me, however.
Underdog's lobster ravioli was nothing more than a revisitation of his icky Lobstah Chowdah. The off-tasting, tough raviolis had a dried out texture and tooth feel that screamed "microwaved". They were presented swimming in a reduction of the more fish/less "lobstah" chowder. He took two bites, I took one. It was a completely unpalatable thing. Blech.
Our tab was around $50 with two beers each and a $10 Restaurant.com cert...which I'm glad we used. Food was average at best for the most part and we won't be returning.
Worst part is that the owner can be creepily stalkerish if he can track you down after leaving a less than glowing review. Really strange.