“All great change in America begins at the dinner table.”
— Ronald Reagan
Sierra Nevada House
A week ago the new owners of the Sierra Nevada House, Keith Merson and Kristi Warren, along with their Executive Chef Diana Greer, invited us to dinner to check out several of the new things on their excellent menu. I love this place because it is both casual and upscale. Overall the dinner was delightfully delicious and the service outstanding.
Merson and Warren met in Nevada City several years ago, where they were involved in the software business. He is from New England and she from Colorado, but for the past 11 1/2 have been living in Cool. On a kayaking trip in 2010 they saw that the Sierra Nevada House was for sale and looked into it. “I had worked in the hospitality business before and it looked like a good fit and a return to my roots,” said Merson. “So we bought it. Howard (the previous owner) had made it a special place and we intend to keep the quality up. We are happy that the transition has been good.”
“Keith always wanted someone to cook him dinner every night and had to buy a restaurant to get it,” added Warren with a sly smile and a laugh.
Chef Greer first brought us the cheese and olive plate, which included four different kinds of olives, four different kinds of cheese, cornichons (tiny French pickles) and bread. It was a nice start to a meal and I was amazed at the different tastes between the several kinds of olives. It perked up our tastebuds and was a nice opening for a wonderful dinner. The dish, and the following one, was paired with a not overpowering Grace Patriot Viognier — a nice combination.
The next dish was the popcorn shrimp and chips, which came with sweet potato fries and a special cucumber-wasabi dipping sauce. The shrimp were buttermilk breaded and really needed nothing more. Like all of her dishes, this one was beautifully presented. Although the cucumber-wasabi dipping sauce had a wonderfully clean aroma and quite a bite, we found the decorative stripe of mustard on the plate went somewhat better with the sweet potato fries (I actually prefer mustard over catsup on all fries).
The third presentation was a unique salmon BLT, made with charbroiled salmon, hardwood smoked bacon, lettuce and tomato on a ciabatta roll. With this was served a David Girard Coda Rouge, a wonderful Rhône blend. It was delicious and the wine picked up the bacon and the crust on the salmon without overpowering the rest of the dish.
The last two dishes were roasted chicken with blueberry apple confiture (think preserve) and spicy shrimp and Andouille over pappardelle (a very broad fettuccini). With them was served a Grace Patriot Cabernet Sauvignon.
The chicken was delightful, consisting of both white and dark meat perfectly cooked. The dark sweetness of the confiture was complimented by the wine, but the chicken, along with the accompanying garlic smashed potatoes, actually did better with a little of the grenache based Coda Rouge I had left in my glass.
The shrimp and Andouille dish was wonderful, having been sautéed in a spicy tomato white wine butter before being placed on the perfectly cooked pasta; full of flavors and textures. The Andouille sausage and the wine were meant for each other.
Before offering us dessert, Greer brought out a new addition to her kitchen, sous chef, Casey Moore. I met Moore when he was the chef at Poor Red’s, and was delighted he had found a place where he can more effectively use his vast experience and knowledge.
“We are happy to have him,” said Greer, “he is a good addition and good for morale in the kitchen.”
I was going to forgo dessert until she mentioned strawberry-rhubarb pie made by Sierra Rizing Bakery in Lotus was on the menu. Not too sweet and with good fruit texture and a great crust.
The Sierra Nevada House has many more dishes on the lunch and dinner menus, such as salads, steaks, seafood, pork, sandwiches, burgers and more. The restaurant is open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday from 5 p.m and, starting this Saturday, for lunch on weekends starting at 11:30 A.M. Happy Hour is from 4 until 6 p.m. at the full bar.
Sierra Nevada House is also planning music on the weekends and more. For more information call 530-626-8096 or visit sierranevadahouse.com.
Oh, Warren is quite an artist and has put together great looking, easy to read menus and a comical, “pop-up” children’s menu. Ask to see one even if you are not a child.
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