I’m hanging out in Markleeville, California for a long weekend to do some scenic hikes and get some R&R. My friends have a cabin up here and I jump at the opportunity to visit. Markleeville is in Alpine County which is Southeast of Lake Tahoe and has a population of about 200. Its claim to fame is “The Death Ride,” a bike tour of the California Alps. It’s a 129 mile ride with elevation close to 9000 feet.
Normally we cook and prepare all of our meals when we visit. It’s really part of the fun anyway. My friend told me about a new restaurant in town called Stonefly which opened earlier this year. Other than that, Markleeville has one sandwich shop and one bar/restaurant where the motorcyclists like to hang out.
Stonefly is a restaurant/pizzeria owned by a couple, Nick and Ali. Nick actually built the building and Ali is behind the pizza making in their beautifully tiled wood fire oven. As we walked in, I was introduced to Nick, Gordy, our waiter, and Linda, the prep cook. Ali instantly remembered my name from meeting me earlier in the day. I thought that was pretty cool.
We sat at the bar which allowed us to see all the ins and outs of the kitchen. It was like a backstage pass. We began the meal with some salads to start. I ordered the beet salad which came with blue cheese, toasted candied walnuts on a bed of spinach and arugula with a lemon vinaigrette. My friend got the Caesar salad. They were both quite yummy. We watched as Linda prepared both salads. I learned that Linda is an artist and it showed as she carefully plated the beet salad and painted dressing on the Romaine lettuce.
There were a few things that I was contemplating for my entree. I did want to try one of their pizzas and I was pleasantly surprised that the steak on their menu was a NewYork strip that was grass fed. I decided on the wood fired wild salmon cooked on a cedar plank with a sweet rub. The salmon was great. The cedar brought about a smokey flavor which I enjoyed. Our dishes both came with grilled asparagus and polenta. I am not a fan of polenta because I don’t like that grainy texture. This polenta was formed into a mold and then cooked over a hot grill. It was the best polenta I have ever had.
My friend got the lamb chop which was highly recommended. I had great visuals of the chops getting fired up on the grill. My friend shared some of the lamb with me and I thought it was delicious. Remember this is coming from someone who doesn’t like lamb very much.
We saw all the desserts getting plated during the time that we dined and they all looked amazing. Being quite full, I thought I would just have a bite of something. I think those are my famous last words. We decided to share the strawberry rhubarb crostata with strawberry ice cream. Everything is homemade. The sweetness and tartness was an excellent combination. I had a few extra bites as expected.
Stonefly serves amazingly great food. I kept thinking I was in a Bay Area restaurant, but I wasn’t. I was in the small town of Markleville that has such a great vibe. It’s where locals know each other, it’s where everybody knows your name. For those 3000 bicyclists coming to the area in a few weeks for the Death Ride, you better make a reservation now if you are looking for a great meal.