The Stone House in Nevada City: Food, drinks & music

JONATHAN ROWE EPITOMIZES the new group of entrepreneurs who are helping to revitalize our region’s dining, entertainment and hospitality scene, making it a destination for food, wine and music lovers.

At the same time hotelier Jordan Fife is renovating the historic National Hotel in Nevada City, Rowe is breathing new life into another one of the town’s iconic landmarks: The Stone House.

Originally constructed in 1882 as a brewery, the distinctive wood-and-stone building — built from locally quarried granite block — has seen many incarnations. Rowe’s vision is irresistible: a destination for farm-to-table dining, craft cocktails, entertainment, and weddings that showcase our region’s culinary talent and locally grown food.

“This has been a lifelong dream of mine,” says Jonathan, CEO and founder of The Village events venue in San Francisco, as well as Madrone Studios, which specializes in event production. He has been a longtime visitor to Nevada City, and this year bought a home just outside of town.

Jonathan — known as “J. Rowe” to his friends and coworkers—has lovingly restored The Stone House, turning to local artists and crafts people (see “Local Artisans”) and hiring talented staffers, such as head chef Jesse Hanshaw and manager Ashley Quinlivan.

The kitchen and bar are a hub of creativity. Jonathan never seems to run out ideas and Jesse, Ashley and the staff offer their own. Chef Jesse’s culinary creations feature fresh ingredients from local farms.

“The chefs are doing an incredible job with the food,” says Jonathan, and we would agree. Adds one local, “I’ve been there twice and had phenomenal meals.”

The ground floor of the 10,000 sq.-ft., three-story building features The Stone House Tavern. “You can drink, eat and listen to live music,” says Ashley.

The Tavern menu offers approachable food at reasonable prices. Some examples: A cheese plate with selections from Nevada City neighbor Wheyward Girl Creamery; a pulled pork sandwich with remoulade served with fries or a Caesar salad; ribs with Szechuan cabbage; pakora battered fish and root chips; and a delicious hamburger, topped with herb aioli, white cheddar and house-cured bacon.

Some of the craft cocktails are named after local landmarks, such as the Malakoff (Mezcal, lime, pomegranate, agave, angostura bitters). Local draft beers are featured, including Three Forks Emerald Pool IPA or ol’ Republic Celtic Red .

The Stone House’s upstairs dining room is a fine dining experience. Jesse updates the menu weekly. Dishes might include beef short ribs with ancho chili sauce, corn arepas, and five-spice pickled radish; or bacon-wrapped scallops with celery puree, Meyer lemon pickled Tokyo turnip, and herb salad.

“J. Rowe” and the staff are excited to open the outdoor patio now that it’s spring. New features will include a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar and bottomless Mimosas at brunch. The brunch menu also is imaginative, with a cornmeal and lemon ricotta waffle, an asparagus and mushroom tart, and eggs benedict with orange hollandaise. “I enjoy the freedom we have in the kitchen,” says Chef Jesse.

Local Artisans

The Stone House has turned to local artists and crafts people for one-of-a-kind touches, such as sliding barn doors made of recycled wood by Sally Peterson of Funkyard Art and Monica Hughes of Naked Tree Woodworking.

More and more businesses are tapping our local artistic talent, and the “trickle down economics” is a benefit to the region.

Examples include: The Curious Forge for a bike rack with a Yuba River theme at Summer Thyme’s; Sally and Monica for a coffee bar for Rogers Family Coffee in Lincoln; and local artists for exhibits at Nevada City Winery.

Diet for a Small Planet

The Stone House owner Jonathan Rowe belongs to a family of trailblazers. He is related to Frances Moore Lappé, the author of the 1971 bestseller “Diet fora Small Planet.” The groundbreaking book started a revolution in the way we eat, focusing on a healthy diet.

Rowe’s sister, Katherine, was recently named the first female president of William & Mary College in its 325-year history.

(Caption: Jonathan Rowe and Head Chef Jesse Hanshaw; photos for this story: Joy Porter and Will Edwards)

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