Bob Wilhelmy writes the Dining Out column for The American Israelite.

On an evening earlier this month, there were four of us—two couples—who sat down at a table in the main dining area at Stone Creek Dining Company in Montgomery. Initially, we thought of eating outside on the restaurant’s patio, which faces Montgomery Road, but is nicely sheltered from the rush of traffic by potted plants and the like. Alas, temps were a bit nippy, made cooler still at times by a rambunctious breeze. So, inside we sat, enjoying glasses of wine while deciding what entrée choice to make.

The other three hemmed and hawed over this or that, but not me. My choice was the vegetarian squash Wellington, a dish that I’ve ordered before, and enjoyed immensely.

The squash Wellington

Vegetarian entrees reside in my Pet Peeves Department at many eateries, for the simple reasons that in most cases, they are bland, nearly flavorless options with inflated price tags. Not so with Stone Creek’s Wellington option. It’s loaded with flavor. Just the look of it tells you that somebody spent some time and creative energy on this dish.

In my case, one of the elements that makes the dish is the phyllo dough that crusts and enwraps the squash. Stone Creek’s treatment of the crusted part of a Wellington-style recipe changes its character for me. Conventional flour-fat kneaded and rolled dough used in a beef Wellington basically is pie dough and bakes up as such. Phyllo micron-thin sheeted dough bakes up differently. Phyllo dough as used here features patches of crispiness and crunch on the top, and soft, absorbent, flavorful patches on the underside of the preparation. To me, the phyllo wrap is both ingenious and a surprise treat of this entrée.

The squash for this dish is butternut, my personal favorite of that family of veggies. I’m positive the seasoning of the squash enhances its nutty, earthy flavor. But what puts this dish in a class of its own is the mushroom duxelles that heightens the flavor profile.

So, mushroom duxelles? Sounds fancy—and French. Turns out, while certainly part of French cuisine, mushroom duxelles is easy to make and the flavor payoff is impressive. The chef starts with a mix of mushrooms which can be white or bella button, cremini, or perhaps an array of wild types. Doesn’t matter, really. The mushrooms are finely chopped, along with finely chopped garlic and shallots, all of which are sauteed in butter. Once browned and sweated, the sauté is mixed with fresh chopped parsley, then further sauteed until the moisture of the mixture is cooked away. This approach intensifies flavors to produce a thick, tasty, savory combination with a paste texture.

The mushroom duxelles are perhaps the defining flavor add-in for squash Wellington. But more flavor notes are derived from the remaining ingredients, which include Brussels sprouts, a topping of sherry cream sauce, and a tangy, rich tomato jam. It’s delicious!

My mates that evening each picked a meal that brought smiles and compliments for the chef. One choice was an entrée we’ve featured in the Dining Out column more than once—the salmon. Over the years, Stone Creek has changed the presentation of its salmon option, and also has seafood specials featuring salmon. The orange-miso salmon entrée features the grilled salmon, finished in the oven, situated on a sesame rice cake, and accompanied by leek, spinach, asparagus, and scallions. A soy-ginger sauce and orange-miso glaze complete the taste profile for this long-running winner at Stone Creek.

The orange miso salmon

The second choice, made by two of the four at our table, also featured grilled salmon, this time atop a crunchy-cold salad of romaine lettuce, red onion, tomato, capers, parmesan cheese, hard-boiled egg, with garden herb dressing on the side.

A salad with salmon

There are a number of kosher-style choices on the Stone Creek menu. That said, Jewish diners-out are encouraged by management to ask questions about preparation, and also to ask about altering an entrée or other items to satisfy the need for a kosher-style dish. The scratch kitchen will oblige whenever possible, which we are told is most of the time.

See you at Stone Creek Dining Company!

The outdoor signage at Stone Creek in Montgomery