General Store Pub Stone City

Stone City RestaurantFrom time to time, I like to report back on a restaurant that I’ve visited. Mostly because I think you can never know of too many enjoyable places to eat and because when you’re traveling it’s often fun to try some place different. Today I report back on the General Store Pub in Stone City, Iowa.

Stone City History

Around here Stone City is famous for two reasons. First for the excellent quality limestone that is quarried there that the region is famous for (many important buildings in the area are built of it). Second for the connection to Grant Wood. If you grew up in this area, you couldn’t help but tell you were in Grant Wood country. Wood, a Regionalist style painter most famous for his painting American Gothic, was both born in the area and worked here as an adult artist. Stone City was not only was one his better known paintings (“Little House” picture book artist Renee Graef specifically mentioned being influenced by this work), but also the site of his attempt at founding an artist colony. Sadly the Great Depression provided too large a hurdle for them to overcome. Learn more about the history of Stone City and its Grant Wood connection:
http://www.thestonecityfoundation.org

Stone City Today

Today Stone City is a small town on the banks of Wapsipinicon River. It is well aware of its Grant Wood roots offering tours through the foundation, being part of the Grant Wood Scenic Byway, and even having a building in town mocked up as the American Gothic house. (The real American Gothic house is located in Eldon, Iowa and is currently occupied by a pie maker who I hope to report on in another post.)  It’s built in bucolic river bluffs and the quarry is still there, still huge, and still in operation. But what I enjoyed most in my recent visit was the General Store Pub restaurant.

Eating An Experience

I went there at my brother’s recommendation and he said it is usually packed on the nights he and his wife go, but we met up there for Sunday dinner and there was plenty of space. The restaurant is housed in a stone building right on the river, in fact one of the buildings you can see in the Wood painting. During nice weather you can even eat on a balcony overlooking the river, but it was raining buckets the day we visited so we stayed inside.

They definitely keep to a fishermen theme in the dish names. Appetizers were in huge proportions and were named things like the Bait Bucket and the Tacklebox (both served in their name sake containers). I had gotten a burger and it was good, if nothing special to write home about, but the most memorable part of the meal by far was their side dish. And it wasn’t even MY sidedish. You’ll notice the list of options for sides does NOT list sweet potato fries. The paper version is similarly lacking so after a bit of indecision I took the waffle fries (which I wouldn’t pick again), but being in the know, my sister-in-law cleverly ordered their sweet potato fries which were excellent on their own, but (hold on to your hat for this one) came with a marshmallow dipping sauce that was ambrosia itself. I had never heard of such a thing before and now I never want to eat sweet potato fries without it again. (Thank you Jen for sharing a few.)

If we hadn’t been so darn stuffed after the enormous appetizers of the Tacklebox which went a long way to filling up four adults and two kids, and our generously portioned meal, we would have topped the meal off with s’more pots that they bring to your table so you can make a s’more right there. I’m not going to make THAT mistake again. Who need appetizers when the other choice is a s’more pot? I hope we get back there soon and that you will too.

Find more information on them and a menu on their website:
http://www.generalstorepub.com/index.html

And find them on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/StoneCityGeneralStore

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+,LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently acting President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

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Augusta Restaurant in Oxford Iowa

Upscale in a Small Town

This is the town that I serve as library director in and I’ve eaten many times at the Augusta Restaurant.  It’s a small intimate place that really does have a New Orleans flair. If you’re familiar with a upscale, small town restaurant in an old building (a relatively recent trend, think Lincoln Cafe in Mt. Vernon), you’ll have an idea of what to expect.

Augusta in Oxford, Iowa
Augusta in Oxford, Iowa

What’s To Eat?

The first year it was open under this management they won the best Pork Tenderloin in the state. Their iced tea is excellent and I really love their desserts. They also have amazing sweet potato fries. The squash soup they had this winter my mother said it was the best she ever had. I like the crab cakes. Their menu is a mix of New Orleans, Midwest, and upscale restaurant.

Need a Reservation?

While I often get asked about it and people come in from as far as Des Moines just to eat there, there’s usually room without a reservation (I’d make one if you were coming very far though anyway.) While you certainly can dress up to eat there, you don’t have to and you’ll still feel comfortable.

Try It Yourself

If you are passing by on I-90 be sure to take the Oxford exit and follow the curving country road 2 miles north into town. There’s a lovely little antique store in town too, called Bootleggers.

Find Augusta on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/augusta.rest?fref=ts

Find Bootleggers Antique Warehouse:
https://www.facebook.com/BootleggersAntiqueWarehouse