Ione Steakhouse -- Ione's newest is off and mooing
Sierra Lodestar 06/16/10

Ione’s Newest is Off and Mooing

By Antoinette May Herndon

The car is dead. Long live the car.

My beamer died a tragic death. It gave its life for me. At least that’s what the ambulance nurse told me. Apparently she was right. I came out of the accident without a scratch. The car morphed into an accordion.

Yes, I was very lucky. But also very sad. I’d had my little turquoise beamer for 12 years and would easily have kept it at least another 12. My cars have been friends to me, the departed beamer one of the dearest.

So, maybe you can understand why I didn’t rush right into buying a replacement—much as I needed a car. I was in deep mourning.

A month passed. Charles was growing impatient. Carting me around in his truck was getting to be a drag. I’m a big city girl, too. Surely he didn’t expect me to drive it!

Fortunately, our marriage was saved when a friend spotted “just the car” for me on Craig’s List. His intuition was right on, to. A little Miata sportscar, dark green (my favourite color), low mileage, right price. It was a long drive to Santa Cruz where the car waited for me, but worth it.

We came home just as the weather changed. Remember May— that overcast, drizzily month—nothing merry about it. But now suddenly here it was June. The sun was out! Perfect top down weather.

We’d heard tales of a restaurant newly opened in Ione. What a perfect afternoon to check it out. Charles and I were on our way skimming up hill, down dale flanked by fields of wild flowers. Have you been out lately? Maybe all those riotous blossoms are worth the rain. Maybe.

And Ione is so pretty. One of the oldest foothill towns,

the tiny enclave of 600 souls reaches back to the exciting days of yesteryear. Even before the Gold Rush, Ione functioned as a trading post.

Think authentic pioneer architecture, charming, well-tended shops and vintage houses. You can almost hear the clip! clop! of horses’ hoofs, the jubilant cries of Argonauts striking it rich. No question but those lucky so-in-sos would have headed straight for the Ione Hotel, current home of the town’s debut restaurant, the Ione Steakhouse and Bar,

The lush maize walls and dark stained oak furniture have been wisely kept in place, a hold over from the restaurant’s earlier incarnation as Cravings. Both bar and eating house are pleasant places in which to linger.

Charles ordered his usual scotch over and was well pleased by a generous pour. I was equally happy with my martini. It not only had two olives but a cocktail onion. Bliss!

Looking out the window, I admired my new car glittering in the late afternoon sun. Raising a drink I saluted, “To the Green Hornet!”

From there the dining experience slipped a bit. First off the menu promised corn on the cob—what a pleasant change from the usual restaurant fare of rice and potatoes. Besides, corn’s my favourite vegetable. I was thrilled by this innovative surprise. But not for long. It turned out the Ione Steakhouse and Bar didn’t have corn after all.

Next my eye turned to the Friday and Saturday night special, prime rib. Unfortunately, the restaurant was also out of rare prime rib. For me, “well done” or “medium” are practically swear words.

I turned my attention to the 12 oz. rib eye steak ($18.95). I could and did order this rare and was well satisfied with the result. The steak came with house salad, beans (quite good) and baked potato. A potato’s a potato, nothing like

that oh, so tempting ear of corn but still a food staple. This one had all the bells and whistles: sour cream, chives, a smattering of cheese.

Charles got the same accompaniments with his bacon wrapped filet mignon ($24.95). We were both a little knocked out by the additionally priced steak toppers. OK, Charles could see $1.50 extra for sautéed onions, but I drew the line at paying an additional $1.50 for horseradish. Horseradish?

The Ione Steakhouse and Bar doesn’t have the enticingly innovative menu that its predecessor, Cravings, had, but what they do they do well. There are six varieties of steak as well as pork BBQ ribs, basil chicken, grilled salmon and tuna steak. I’ll try the latter another time. The salmon penne and seafood fettuccini looked good too.

The restaurant’s ambience is comfortable and inviting with kumbaya music spilling over from the vintage bar. Live and lively entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights.

Our wait person, Rayshell, was not only efficient but arguably beautiful. But she refused to tell us her last name. On our way home Charles and I had something to puzzle over.

“Ah sweet mystery of life,” I sang to my little car. Secrets are always fun, don’t think.

VITALS: The Ione Hotel & Steakhouse is located at 25 Main, Ione. Phone: 274-6366. Open daily for lunch Wednesday through Sunday from from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dinner served from Tuesday through Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m. Credit cards accepted.


Two pictures of Rayshell

Our love waitress at the Ione Steakhouse and Bar is a mystery woman.

Exterior shot

The historic Ione Steakhouse & Bar has lots of stories to tell.

2 interior shots

The interior of the Ione Steakhouse & Bar is warm and inviting.