General Store Pub Restaurant Spotlight
Article by Shannon McGraw
Photography by Justin Fox
One of the things I love the most about the area we live in, is the abundance of history and how wonderfully it’s preserved. The corridor and surrounding communities are full of well upheld and repurposed buildings that maintain their original structure and still serve purpose.
One of my favorite places to visit is The General Store Pub in historic Stone City, a quick 20 mile drive east of Cedar Rapids on US Hwy 151. Stone City was constructed in 1850 with the discovery of large deposits of limestone along the banks of the Wapsipinicon River. Early settlers, Henry Dearborn and John Green, developed three quarries, increasing the population and creating a town with a church, post office, black smith shop, and school house made of the local limestone. In 1952 the financially suffering quarries underwent economic revival under a new owner and continue to grow today as Weber Stone Company; one of the largest limestone quarries in the Midwest.
Stone City is so captivating that it is immortalized in a 1930 painting by Grant Wood; his first major landscape painting, done the same year as American Gothic. Although Wood did not include all of the buildings of Stone City at the time, many of the buildings featured in the painting still remain today such as St. Joseph’s Church, the black smith shop, and the General Store.
The General Store was built in 1897, originally as a post office and rail depot with quarry offices on the second floor. Now, the historic building serves as the very popular General Store Pub. One of my favorite destination spots to enjoy a delicious meal and a relaxing drink. The General Store Pub is perched on the banks of the Wapsipinicon and features two levels of spacious indoor and outdoor seating with two decks overlooking the flowing river. The limestone architecture is very unique and the fireplaces make it cozy.
Recently, my husband and I met up with a couple of friends for lunch. Luckily we got there right when it opened so we could enjoy dining on the lower deck. I love the entire place but the basement with a fully stocked bar, fireplace, and deck overlooking the river, is the ultimate spot to fade the day away. Surrounded by trees and close enough to hear the trickling water, creates a relaxing atmosphere on a warm summer day.
We started with a round of Wapsi Rita’s and a couple of appetizers to share. The Wapsi Rita is a known pub favorite and a great way to start melting the worries away. Served on the rocks, this sweet electric blue margarita has a gentle kick and is served in a mug with a salted rim and a couple of gummy worms. I suggest saving the yummy margarita- soaked gummy worms for last!
As always we shared the General Stores’ signature appetizer sampler, the Tackle Box. An array of favorites served heaping full in an actual tackle box. Seasoned waffle fries, “Earl Rings”--crispy onion rings, “River Rocks”--white cheddar cheese curds, and “Fungus Amungus”--golden fried butter breaded button mushrooms.
We also shared a plate of their Hawg Nachos. A new appetizer on the menu. On a mound of their large waffle fries is juicy pulled pork topped with melted pepper jack cheese, crispy crumbled bacon, drizzled with a sweet tangy barbeque sauce with a generous dollop of sour cream. The large waffle fries do a spectacular job of holding up the pulled pork and not becoming soggy.
Entrées are always hard to choose as The General Store takes pub food to a whole new level. The flavor combinations they have created are genius and not found elsewhere often if ever. Our friends settled on sharing a special on the menu, the Reuben pizza. A thin crisp crust topped with thin shaved corn beef and a light scattering of tangy sauerkraut. The light smattering of sauerkraut brought out the flavor of the corn beef nicely without being overpowering.
My hubby had their version of fish and chips. Atlantic Cod cut into strips and hand breaded, then fried to a crisp golden brown, served with waffle fries and homemade coleslaw and tartar sauce. The tender fish strips were wonderful and really didn’t need the tartar though the homemade dip was tasty. I snagged a bite of the coleslaw and have to give it two thumbs up. I like that the cabbage is shredded thick and has a nice crunch with a creamy slaw sauce.
I was craving an authentic pub burger and that is definitely what I got with the Tad Burger, made American Gothic Style with two patties. This burger was complete with two patties with cheese in the center and on top, topped with crisp strips of bacon and an over easy egg to top that. Cut down the center, this burger oozed cheesy egg goodness. Served with a side of peanut butter for a creamy bold taste. Half of this went in a to-go box!
Dessert was called for but shared! We had to have the strawberry rhubarb crisp served a la mode. I love rhubarb this time of year and it really is a great ending to any summer meal.
Even better though is when they brought out their signature complimentary fire roasted Bailey’s marshmallows. A small sterno fuel fire set on a wooden board with skewers and large marshmallows and a shot of Bailey’s. When you have your marshmallow secure on your skewer, you dip the marshmallow in the Bailey’s and then roast it over the fire; then devour the gooey goodness. Served without the Bailey’s for kids, of course. My kid’s always love this part and helps them to decide to eat all of their food!
I really enjoy restaurants that put thought into their menu, atmosphere and service, and The General Store has really created a one-of-a-kind experience. The day was excellent as always. Great service, incredible food, and other welcoming patrons to add to the laughs. If you are not a regular yet, stop in for a visit and you will become one.
•Enjoy Prime Rib every Saturday night and BBQ Ribs the first Friday of each month.
•August 6 Summer Beer Olympics 12pm
•Live entertainment featuring Raldo Schneider August 13, 9pm-12am Slewgrass August 27, 9pm-12am
Open Mic Night every Sunday starting at 4pm
The General Store Pub, Stone City
Open: Wednesdays 11am-4pm
Thursday 11am-9pm (Bar til 11pm)
Friday 11am-10pm (Bar til 12am)
Saturday 11am-10pm (Bar til 12am)
Sunday 11am-9pm (Bar til 11pm)
12612 Stone City Rd, Anamosa