Stock Hill & Conroy’s Public House
I don’t think of steakhouses as places to eat healthy, but then Stock Hill isn’t your average steakhouse. In fact, it’s way above average in terms of food quality, service, and ambiance. Sure, Stock Hill has amazing steaks, maybe the best in town, and lots of starchy, creamy side options. But as my wife and I discovered during a recent meal focusing entirely on vegetarian and seafood dishes, it’s easy to eat healthier and with every bit as much flavor. Unfortunately, the special 40-day Plant + Seafood menu we partook of is gone, but some of the dishes remain along with other healthier choices that make Stock Hill a great place to dine regardless of your dietary interests or needs.
Brad Rieschick, Executive Chef at Stock Hill, says flavor is the key ingredient for any menu item. “We like to start with one component: vegetable, spice, protein, then work outward. The carrot tortellini on the menu now started with some carrot juice. We loved the color and started working on a way to use it in a savory dish. We don’t always start with the intention of making something vegan or vegetarian, but if the dish works without a protein, we’re not going to add meat just for the sake of having meat,” Rieschick shared.
Wood fire grilled oysters, some of the best in town, are a great way to start. I also had the bay scallops in yellow curry, a new dish on the menu, which overflowed with flavor. You could ask the kitchen to wave the fingerling potato chips or just eat a few for the crunch and salt. I mean how bad can five or six chips the size of your thumbnail be anyway? There are scallops, king salmon, and halibut for seafood choices. My wife had the halibut, which was so fresh and delicious it tasted as though we were eating it right off the boat! Hold the crab and potato hash if you must or do as my wife did and eat a spoonful or two as it is an amazing accompaniment. “We like to make food we want to eat. Starting with the ingredients that pack a ton of flavor, color, texture into a dish, but still leave you feeling clean and satisfied. It’s fun to splurge on a ribeye and foie gras but offering dishes with lots of fresh veggies year-round is just as important,” Rieschick said.
I really enjoy finding healthy options at places where you’d think they’d be scarce. Conroy’s Public House fits that bill. Recently expanding from two to three locations, all in Johnson County, Conroy’s is a modern take on the Irish pub. The menu, under the direction of local Irish super-chef Shaun Brady, is expansive, and yes, most of it is not what you’d call healthy: Fish and Chips, Cottage Pie, Fried Chicken, and some of the best burgers you will find anywhere. Believe me, it’s all delicious, just not what you’d order if you’re looking to cut calories. However, if you get off the beaten Irish cuisine path and head out a bit, there are some terrific healthier options. Brady makes sure of it. “We’re a scratch kitchen, so everything is fresh, which is a good place to start when you’re talking about healthier food,” Brady notes.
I, for one, am a big fan of Conroy’s salads, which are plentiful and plenty tasty. There are seven from which to choose, and while not all are what you’d necessarily call healthy, they can be made so with a simple substitution or subtraction. A personal favorite of mine is the goat cheese and spinach salad, served with grilled chicken, tomato, onion, and tortilla strips. Another great thing about the salads at Conroy’s is the fact that they change frequently, so there’s always something new, fresh, and delicious. “We try and change our menu with the seasons as much as we can. We like to bring in local, fresh produce whenever possible to help support our local farm community,” Brady said. Beyond salads, try the grilled Atlantic salmon or the shrimp diablo pasta for two great fresh seafood options. Ask them to sub out the cream sauce on the two dishes, and voila, you’ve got some lovely healthy and fresh entrées.
So, there you have it, Stock Hill and Conroy’s-more than meets the eye, and plenty to meet your dining needs, whatever they may be! They both hope to serve you soon!