Savor your dining experience at The Stone House
Jonathan Rowe is the embodiment of the American Dream; proof that hard work, a willingness to take risks, and a vision of excellence can bring success. Now, Rowe has brought that spirit of ingenuity, along with a passion for good food, sustainability, and local focus right here to Nevada City at The Stone House.
Turning Passion into Action
A self-taught business man, Rowe left his home town of Boston in his teens to be a “snowboard bum” in Montana, and then left at 23 to work on a sustainable biodynamic farm in Maui that operated completely off the grid. “That experience really inspired me to do something around food and sustainability. I wanted to bring that back to share with others, and to use media storytelling to create sustainable local systems,” Rowe said.
Rowe left Maui to pursue his passions in California, and ended up coming to Nevada City when a friend asked him to come play in his band. He immediately fell in love with the area, and in particular the Stonehouse building, dreaming of some day owning the iconic establishment but uncertain how that would come about. He stayed in Nevada City for three years before moving to San Francisco to start his media company, Madrone Studios.
In 2009, Rowe moved to the Bay Area and along with eight friends rented a warehouse space where they lived while converting it into a private party venue. They soon learned that corporate events were by far more profitable than parties, and began to focus on building that market. Five years later, Rowe and his partners opened The Village, a 17,000 square foot event venue in the heart of San Francisco that hosts large scale expos, corporate events, concerts and more. In addition, the group launched Madrone Studios, a full-service creative agency specializing in creating immersive experiences through the marriage of light, visuals, sound and cutting-edge technology with prestigious clients that include Google, Facebook, Hyundai, PayPal, Microsoft, and many more.
Now, Rowe has brought that same entrepreneurial spirit that turned an empty warehouse into a thriving sought-after business to Nevada City with The Stone House; resurrecting the building he had fallen in love with during his stint here as a poor musician to its former glory from the Gold Rush days and beyond. Pulling from his experiences as a work share farmer, Rowe’s food philosophy is to keep the restaurant’s dishes fresh, organic and local whenever possible, focusing on contemporary fusion that blends American cuisine with different cultures. Currently, he is working with several local farms including Riverhill, Mountain Bounty, Towani, Foothill Roots, Back to Basics, and others, but the goal is to have his own farm dedicated to growing the produce served in the restaurant. “It has always been my passion to do food-related projects and to educate people about food. This gives me the perfect platform to do so,” Rowe said. “It has been a lot of fun getting into the restaurant world and learning a different industry.”
The passion for food that compelled Rowe to take a brand new leap of faith is shared by his entire team, especially Executive Chef Jason Jillson. A trained salumiere, Jillson smokes his own meats that are used in dishes such as Braised Niman Ranch pork belly poutine with crispy fried fingerlings and quesa fresca. All bacon and sausage are made fresh by him, as well. In addition, his meats are featured in the salumi and cheese platter for two which comes with a variety of fresh local cheeses as well as pickled vegetables, tapenade, house made crackers, olives, baguette crostini, and a rotating selection of meats cured by Jillson such as Toscano salami, sweet coppa, and mortadella.
As with the produce, nearly all of the meat used at The Stone House is organic and local to Northern California as much as possible. Even though Jillson is an expert meat man, he also relishes getting creative with the vegetarian dishes, as well, using as much finesse in his flavors and techniques as he does in the meat-based dishes.
For instance, one of the salad specials this week includes a shaved fennel and watermelon salad with basil and chili in with a rice wine vinaigrette. Jillson uses the vacuum sealer on the melon, which he says changes the molecular structure and gives it more integrity and color, as well as intensifying the flavor. His Buccatini with wild mushrooms, roasted fennel, arugula and red wine butter is also a big hit with the local vegetarian community.
Make sure that you save room for dessert, as well, as the confections created by professional pastry chef Christine Cain are not to be missed. Desserts change daily, once again depending upon what is fresh and seasonal, and are well worth the splurge.
Jillson loves that he has the opportunity to create new dishes for the menu, which changes every week depending on what is fresh and seasonal, which allows him to take different approaches to dishes and ingredients. Only the very best ingredients are used at The Stone House, a commitment to excellence that can be tasted in every bite. “We keep it simple and let the ingredients shine,” Jillson said. “The fact that I get to create new dishes every week and use my palate to be creative is a dream come true. The customers love it, as well. There’s a sense of wonder and discovery when they return again and again to see what is new on the menu.”
Rowe’s commitment to using fresh, organic, and local products extends to the bar, as well. For example, Nana Mae’s Stillhouse Cider from Sonoma, CA, is 100% organic and according to Front of House Manager John Pomery is, “The most sustainable alcoholic beverage on Earth.” The beer and wine selection take advantage of the fact that we are nearly surrounded by high quality breweries and wineries, many who focus on using organic ingredients.
For the craft cocktails, organic liquors as well as the fruits and juices are used to make delicious concoctions such as the “Malakoff Cocktail,” which mixes Mezcal with lime, pomegranate, agave, and angostura bitters.
For the younger crowd or teetotalers who also want a creative liquid concoction, the bar offers a wide variety of organic drinks such as the Revive “Spring Fling” Kombucha which is white tea brewed with cucumber, mint, and lemon, or a watermelon ginger mint cooler that is just the thing to cool off on a hot summer day.
In addition, Rowe has purchased a micro still and plans to begin distilling his own liquor in the spirit of the Wild West Gold Rush history that permeates the heart and soul of the building.
The Stone House has long been a space where live music has flourished, and Rowe intends for this newest iteration to be no different. Indeed, with his extensive event planning experience at his very successful venue in San Francisco, it is possible that this could quickly become one of the top live music venues in the area. With a newly built stage, state of the art sound system, and large dance floor, guests can enjoy a meal or a drink and then dance the night away. In addition, the upstairs space is a great place for weddings, rehearsal dinners, conferences, and other small to mid-sized private parties of all kinds. Call The Stone House to learn more about hosting your next event in their beautiful private space.
The Stone House is located at 107 Sacramento St. in Nevada City and is open Wednesday-Thursday from 5-10 p.m., Friday from 5 p.m.-12 a.m., Saturday-Sunday from 10 a.m. – 12 a.m. Brunch served on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. For more information call 530-265-5050 or visit http://www.stonehouse.io.
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