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The comforts of home

By Keegan Prosser on January 7, 2013 – No Comment

STORY AND PHOTO BY SAMANTHA PAK

With a cobblestone walkway, lined with lush green vegetation, leading up to a small house with a stone-and-brick exterior, The Stone House looks like something out of a fairy tale.

Standing in the shade of a towering, centuries-old oak tree, it takes no stretch of the imagination to expect to find Hansel and Gretel living inside, or the Big Bad Wolf disguised as Little Red
Riding Hood’s grandmother – right in the heart of downtown Redmond.

But you won’t find any characters or creatures thought up by Hans Christian Andersen or the Brothers Grimm. What you will find is the former living room of a home converted into a small restaurant, owned by chef Ryan Donaldson.

The 34-year-old Seattle resident first opened The Stone House in September 2008 after the building, located at 16244 Cleveland St., had served many purposes, including as a mortgage office, art gallery and teahouse. Before all of this, The Stone House was just that: a house.

“This was a house until I want to say, the late 1970s, maybe early 1980s,” said Donaldson, who adds that, every now and then, he will get diners who actually used to live there.

Various sources have The Stone House’s origins ranging between 1913 and 1916. According to the Redmond Historical Society website, the house was built by Orson W. Wiley and his wife Emma Holmes Wiley in 1916. Even back then, the materials used for the bungalow-style building were different from the wood-frame homes and buildings of the day.

“(Orson) Wiley owned a thriving livery stable on the same property, and while he built his stone home, he and his family lived above the stable where horses were boarded, and wagons and carriages were rented.”

Donaldson said Orson Wiley was one of three one-eyed bartenders in his day and according to local lore, he may have run a bootleg operation with a moonshine still somewhere on the property – possibly in a small shed located behind the main building.

“My guess is that’s where it was done,” Donaldson said, adding that underground tunnels were built to transport the liquor so it could be sold down the street.

In building his business, Donaldson said he wanted to create a vibe, “kind of like walking into your own house.” He says he wanted The Stone House to be a full-service restaurant with high-end dishes, but without the formalness and pretension that comes with that.

“You just want to feel comfortable,” he said about the dining experience.

By buying his ingredients from local farmers and serving beer and wine from Washington and Oregon – with a few northern California beers thrown in – Donaldson said The Stone House’s menu can be described as “Northwest seasonal comfort food.”

His menu includes items such as Truffle Tremor Mac and Cheese with fresh Dungeness crab and a salad with comice pear, persimmon, arugula a walnut vinaigrette and blue cheese. For seafood lovers, there’s wild American shrimp on chipotle cream and Penn Cove mussels in red coconut curry sauce. And for those who would like to experience a variety of new flavors, Stone House offers small plates so diners can sample a variety of dishes. The Stone House offers wine dinners in which meals are paired with specific wines.

Donaldson, who received his formal culinary education at the Seattle Culinary Academy and studied hospitality management at Washington State University, has spent his entire career in the restaurant business. He started as a pizza cook at the Crocodile Cafe in Belltown in high school and he’s been in the kitchen ever since.

“It was fun,” he said. “I got in there and I got hooked.”

The Stone House is open for lunch, Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday from 4-9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 4-10 p.m. For more information, go HERE.