A fresh dining experience near downtown Winter Haven
Written By: Valerie McCutcheon
We visited The Seasoned Stone recently for their Signature Saturday Island Branch and knew immediately this would not be a typical chain dining experience.
The cheery yellow house with fuchsia trim has a welcoming green door. Strains of island music drifted down from the covered patio dotted with paper lanterns and we discovered Chef Rex Harris cooking authentic Caribbean roti on the front porch.
The Seasoned Stone, opened in August 2011, expands on the success of R & R Chutney, a company Rex and his wife Kim started in 2009 to sell homemade island versions of traditional Indian chutneys such as the popular Pineapple-Mango Chutney.
Originally from Grenada, the “Isle of Spice,” Rex has lived throughout the Caribbean, including Trinidad and The Bahamas. He also served 24 years in the U.S. Navy, which allowed him to travel worldwide. He incorporates this varied culinary knowledge into every creation. Even the restaurant’s name came from his early childhood memories of cooking on three flat “seasoned stones” recessed in the ground.
The interior decorations make you feel like you’ve just been invited to stay awhile in a trendy yet intimate home. Bright yellow walls, “but not too bright, just the perfect shade to reflect our personality,” explains Kim, are set off by black and white furniture and turquoise accents. Comfy armchairs, small tables and a functional bench accompany a funky black and white pub table and more traditional table for four. Further inside, the Mango Room beckons with pops of purple, green, and orange.
On this particular beautiful Florida afternoon, we sat at one of the outdoor tables in the front yard and were soon served glasses of a refreshing mint infused water. Flavors for the waters change daily, as do menu selections. Menus are released weekly that feature specials for each day. Always available are fresh options in the deli display such as chicken and pasta salads, antipasto, hummus and salsas.
The Seasoned Stone’s fresh ingredients are taste-apparent in every dish. Local ingredients are used whenever possible and seafood is never farm-raised.
The Saturday Island Brunch features made to order sweet and savory crepes and Rex’s specialty: homemade roti filled with vegetarian or chicken curry. Roti is a type of unleavened bread made from flour and ground split peas, similar to naan. Prepared fresh each Saturday, they have become so popular that some regulars drive over from Lakeland to pick up to-go orders.
Our dining experience began with a meatless antipasto. Not your traditional heavy Italian antipasto, this featured fresh greens, olives, artichokes, chickpeas, onion and fennel, mixed with the perfect amount of dressing.
Next came the main course – a savory crepe stuffed with orzo, asparagus, feta, carrots and juicy fresh tomatoes wrapped in a light and fluffy batter. Also delicious was the strawberry/pineapple filled sweet crepe topped with a decadent berry glaze with a hint of rum. We also sampled a delicately-crusted, perfectly-spiced vegetarian curry roti with potatoes, sweet potatoes, onion, chickpeas and red peppers. The portions were generous, and our take-home box of roti tasted just as good reheated at home.
The Seasoned Stone prides itself on featuring hand-selected wines hard to find anywhere else in Polk County. Don’t bother asking for a Bud Light…here, it’s more appropriate to kick back with an ice cold Carib or Red Stripe! They also make their own red and white sangrias. We sampled the deliciously fruity white sangria with splashes of Noble Brand tangerine juice and lemonade, as well as the refreshingly sweet non-alcoholic guava lychee nectar.
The popular spot to grab a quick, healthy weekday lunch or spend a relaxing Saturday afternoon is also a great venue for bridal or baby showers and birthday parties. The Mango Room, which comfortably seats eight, is often reserved for meetings and book clubs. Free Wi-Fi is also available.
At $9.50 for lunch and $11.50 for dinner, The Seasoned Stone is definitely affordable. This great addition to the downtown Winter Haven area eateries provides a unique dining experience. We thoroughly enjoyed our relaxing brunch with new friends, and we’re certain the ever-changing menu will keep us coming back for more!
The Seasoned Stone
132 Avenue B SW
Winter Haven, FL 33880
Facebook: The Seasoned Stone
Fax Orders: 863-232-5046
Hours of Operation:
Monday & Saturday: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Tuesday -Thursday: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Friday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.