Restaurant Review – December 2009

Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine Restaurant Review December 2009

Jonesy’s Steakhouse…
A New Incarnation At A Familiar Place

By Dorothy and John Salmon

John and I recently celebrated an important project milestone with good friends Beth and Brooks Painter at the newest incarnation of Jonesy’s at the Napa County Airport. We had heard that Jonesy’s had changed ownership, menu selections and the look and feel of the place. It is changed, but still offers the intrigue of watching at private planes taking off and landing, while we wonder who owns the plane and where it’s coming from or going to.

As luck would have it, we arrived on the unofficial “opening night.” The owners were there, celebrating their milestone with their friends. The service was a little slower than we expect it will be as they get things under control. But, we were served by very enthusiastic servers. We were greeted by Nancy Otton who, with her husband, Terry, are the new owners. They look forward to carrying on the long and successful history of Jonesy’s, as does Fredrick, their new general manager. Nancy Otton is a pilot. So, creating the next step in Jonesy’s history was a natural for her. Jonesy’s has been a Napa landmark for 60 years and we are sure it will continue to stand the test of time.

As we walked into Jonesy’s, it felt twice as large as we remembered it. It has an updated look and feel, along with a new menu with wines by the glass, the bottle and… the case! None of us had ever been to a restaurant that sold wine by the case! But it does make sense to serve the travelling community that passes through the airport and who might want to take some of Napa home with them. Even more intriguing is that they sell new, unique and up-and-coming wines by the glass, bottle and case. Portions of their wine list will change every couple of weeks, depending on what’s hot and what’s not.

We all thought that wine sales add an interesting touch to the restaurant and a BIG difference from when Hugh Jones opened Jonesy’s in 1946 as a burger joint. The attack on Pearl Harbor sparked construction of an airfield in Napa.  In 1942, the Napa Auxiliary Air Defense Field was built. Not long after the Field became operational, the threat of attack ended and, in 1945, the federal government turned over control of the airport to Napa County.

Two years later, the airport featured a hangar, shop and administration building and five, fixed-base operators vied for business. Only one of the five survived beyond 1947, Bridgeford Flying Services, which remains in operation today. During 2008, the airport’s 1960-era control tower received extensive radio, plumbing and electrical upgrades and renovations. At the time of these renovations, airport officials claimed that the airport had about 122,000 flights take off or land at the facility annually. For a brief period of time, Southwest Airlines commuter service flew from Napa’s airport to San Francisco. Today, the airport is bustling year round, but is jammed to capacity in June when Auction Napa Valley hosts hundreds of visitors and when NASCAR comes to Infineon Raceway.

If you are having lunch or dinner at Jonesy’s, you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a movie star, famous racer, athlete, or other well known celebrities as you eat Jonesy’s Special Potatoes. Yep, they kept them on the menu … but classed them up a bit.

We started our evening with a bottle of Lloyd Family 2008 Carneros Chardonnay ($42). It was an easy choice since Dorothy’s son Rob is the owner and winemaker for Lloyd Family. Rob worked with Brooks Painter years ago at Stags Leap Vineyards. Brooks is the winemaker at V. Sattui and also makes our favorite COHO Pinot Noir.
We talked Napa County politics while we enjoyed Rob’s wine with Frito Misto, with battered prawns, calamari, sweet onions, red bell peppers and tender green beans crisply fried with Aioli ($12.50) and Crab Cakes with orange fennel salad and spicy roasted pepper Aioli ($11.50). Then, Brooks and Beth shared a Classic Caesar Salad served with a farm egg and a sea salt breadstick ($10.50). John ordered a Classic Iceberg Wedge, served with Jonsey’s famous bleu cheese vinaigrette and yellow pear tomatoes ($8.95), which he thought was really good. Dorothy had the Salad of Baby Greens with caramelized pecans, Bosc pears, and Brioche croutons tossed with black pepper and Sauvignon Blanc dressing ($9.95).

The menu and the prices have dramatically changed from the old Jonesy’s. Nancy Otton told us that Jonsey’s Special Potatoes ($5.50) would always remain on the menu. They are jazzed up a bit, but were essentially the same hash brown potatoes with melted cheese and onions, but with a new twist and a slightly higher price.

For dinner, John had the Petit Filet Mignon ($26.95), Brooks had the New York Strip ($26.95), Beth had the Grilled Portobello Mushroom ($16.95) and Dorothy had the Seared Glazed Salmon, pan seared basmati ginger encrusted salmon with tomato citrus Beurre Blanc ($21.95). All four entrees were wonderful. A few planes took off while we were having dinner and the wait staff was very friendly. Since we had finished Rob’s Lloyd Family Chardonnay before our entrees showed up, we ordered a bottle of Conceited Stag 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon ($59.50). It was terrific, almost as good as Rob’s Chardonnay. Hey, he’s our kid!

The wine list at Jonesy’s is one of the most interesting wine lists we have seen with wines such as “Forlorn Hope 2005 Gascony Cadets Petit Verdot” and “Eagles Trance 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon.” Nancy’s goal is to promote new wines, up-and-coming winemakers,  and to help them sell their wine by the case, often loading it on those flights departing out of Napa. It’s a novel idea and we wish her well.

A full bar and lounge make Jonesy’s a great place for large parties, weddings and special occasions, complete with large flat screen TV’s at one end of the restaurant. If you have not been to Jonesy’s for a while, give it a try and tell Nancy we sent you. It’s a great place to hang out, bring kids and grandchildren and experience some of Napa’s history at a friendly airport that is an important part of Napa County’s past and its future. You can contact Jonesy’s at (707) 255-2003. Their address is 2044 Airport Road, Napa.


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