There's also a view of Broad Street, Nevada City's main drag (although this photo is taken from the second floor balcony that any guest has access to, off an inviting lounge--featuring the world's longest sectional couch--where each morning there's coffee and scones). Yep, it's a town with saloons, some vacant spaces because it's 2021 post?-pandemic America, art galleries, and some recognition of the Native Americans who came before those hungry for gold in the 1850s and those hungry for vacations in the 2000s.
Or something a bit more direct, the Limelight, that I made the mistake of not taking notes about, and the bar menu isn't on the website. It was delicious, though, and I recall chartreuse was involved, so what could be wrong?
It's a gorgeous room, with nifty light fixtures and plenty of mirrors, so lots of reflected glow that makes you and you fellow diners even more beautiful than you are (and I have no doubts you are). Blue banquettes line the walls, both for comfort and sound absorption, always an issue in a building with so much exposed brick. And it's a perfect place to feast on frites, as we both did--Chryss had the moules frites and I had the steak frites. There was a lot more cream in that wine sauce than in some versions of the mussels, so it was pretty decadent, and also just pretty, with sea beans scattered atop adding crunch and even more salt. The steak was perfectly cooked to medium rare, and speaking of decadent, I would have bathed in the Bearnaise. Many of my fries certainly did.
I do not mean to slight the precursors to our mains, either, a savory smoked salmon mousse with potatoes gaufrettes--a fancy name for chips that these delights earned--and a farmers market fresh salad of butter leaf lettuce, cherries, pickled onion, pepitas, and a healthy toss of Humboldt fog cheese (Northern California, represent!) Or our server, who paced the meal perfectly, offered wonderful advice, and really seemed glad to be there, as was true for all the staff in the hotel. (Side note: all through our two night stay we repeatedly witnessed staff training other staff--a lot of learning was going on, no doubt as the hotel has faced the same employment issues everyone in the service industry has faced of late.)
Of course, Nevada City itself is a trip back in time. At least two times, I should say, for while the predominant building style is Gold Rush meets Victorian chic, the town was re-infused with architectural goodness during the WPA, and that means there's a cool art moderne City Hall and this County Courthouse that sits atop one of the town's many hills, so is yet more imposing.
So let's not forget when and how it all began for this property that's been on the National Register of Historic Places since the Nixon presidency, so even its historic nature is historic. Not sure why pointing out this was the site of the first whipping post in the state is a plus, but maybe when the plaque went up someone really loved the Allman Brothers? I promise if you stay at the National Exchange Hotel, you will leave your blues at home.