Mineral Restaurant is a haven for vegetarians

By The Record
October 02, 2008 12:01 AM MURPHYS – Imagine the best hand-crafted Bay Area boutique food without the traffic jam. Instead of breathing fumes from Shattuck Avenue in the heart of Berkeley’s gourmet ghetto, you have sweet mountain air, and an intimate courtyard tucked between stone-walled buildings dating to the Gold Rush.

That’s what it was like to dine on a recent Sunday afternoon at Mineral Restaurant in Murphys.

Meat eaters be warned: Mineral is vegetarian, though not dogmatically so.

Food review
Mineral Restaurant

*****

Where: 419 Main St., Murphys

Information : (209) 728-9743 or www.mineralrestaurant.com

Type of food: vegetarian California fusion cuisine

Bathrooms: scrupulously clean

Atmosphere: informal patio/bar setting in a Gold Rush-era foothills village.

Parking: on the street or in lots a few blocks away

Price: Moderate

What our ratings mean

***** An exceptional dining experience.

**** An enjoyable dining experience.

*** A reliable dining experience.

** An unfavorable dining experience.

* A miserable dining experience.

Price (average cost of entrée):

Expensive: $25 and above

Moderate: $16-$25

Value: $15 and less
Eggs and dairy products appear on the menu, although pure vegans will have plenty of choices.

The restaurant is tiny, and often staffed only by its owners: Steve Rinauro in the kitchen and Maya Rinauro in the front. Still, there are indoor and patio tables. The patio, which offers glimpses of passers-by on Main Street, was a natural choice on a warm fall afternoon.

After seating guests, Maya Rinauro soon returned with a carafe accented with a sprig of fresh mint and a hibiscus blossom floating in the water.

Currently, everything on the menu is offered a la carte. The Rinauros formerly offered fixed price meals that included multiple courses. But they cut their prices and shifted to the a la carte format this year as the economy declined and diners were more reluctant, Maya Rinauro said.

We decided to begin with one of the menu’s small plates, the eggs tannat ($7), which are hard-boiled eggs decked out in black lava salt and flavored with goat cheese emulsion, a citrus marinade and Mexican saffron. A papaya avocado salad ($12) arrived at the same time.

Both the eggs and the salad came elegantly displayed on translucent plates like works of art. And all the details of each dish – the flavors, the textures and even the temperatures of all the ingredients, showed the same level of care.

The avocado in the salad was as pleasing and soft as the goat cheese and the thin, julienned strips of cucumber. It is no easy feat to have even a tropical fruit such as the papaya at the perfect stage of ripeness when it hits a plate in Northern California.

In part because of the seasonal nature of the ingredients, the menu here changes regularly.

The main event for our small party was the arrival of the X-burger ($12), a vegetarian hamburger featuring a patty made of oat, wheat gluten, and carmelized vegetables; and the chef’s plate ($16), which included hummus, jicama salad, pickled vegetables, couscous and warm flat bread.

The X-burger had a smoky, freshly grilled flavor and came with a side of potato chips that were so thin they were translucent.

The chef’s plate featured a salad that combined pickled cabbage, onion and beet with some fresh corn and lightly seared chunks of Brussels sprouts. The hummus had a pleasant kick from being flavored with freshly ground cumin.

One great advantage of relatively low-fat vegetarian fare is it leaves room for desert. We had the stone-fired sweet pizzette ($14), sort of a tiny pizza in which tomato and mozzarella are replaced by honey and mascarpone, with lavender blossoms thrown in as an accent.

Mineral has a modest but selective wine list that includes wines from Europe, Argentina and Northern California in a variety of price ranges.

Questions? Comments? Contact Managing Editor Donald W. Blount at (209) 546-8251 or dblount@recordnet.com.

About Mineral

Striking foodie gold in California Gold Rush region

By KEVEN ANN WILLEY / The Dallas Morning News
Published 22 November 2009 02:26 AM

MURPHYS, Calif. – It’s not as well known as Napa or Sonoma, but the Mother Lode region of Northern California along the western side of the Sierra Nevada is just as rich in scenery, food and wine.

Mineral Restaurant, on Main Street of the old mining town Murphys.

Our lunch here, a leisurely three-plus-hour scenic drive from South Lake Tahoe, was the foodie highlight of our trip. We sat at one of the seven tables on the tiny patio (there are just six additional tables inside) and were absolutely blown away by the Curried Pickled Organic Cauliflower appetizer. Spicy and alluring, the creation ($8) was hearty and delicate at the same time.

Also outstanding were the Bermuda Triangle and Poached Pear Salad With Aged Cheese ($9) and the accompanying glass of Cava. I also tried and enjoyed the house drink, the refreshing Aphrodisiac, made from hibiscus flower, coriander, anise, ginger and soda water.

Christa Rypins of the Pilates, Yoga and Imagery studio across the street spoke the truth when she told us Mineral offered “the best food in town, and there’s lots of good food in this town.”

About Mineral

WinoEats Mineral Restaurant, Murphys, Ca.

Ah, Murphys… where you can spend the afternoon walking along Main Street going from one tasting room to the next. Then, just when you need it, you will stumble upon our number one pick for dining in Murphys, a great little place called Mineral. With some outdoor seating on a patio out front, and a small yet modern dining room, (the long red couch is ultra-trendy!)… Mineral is very inviting and comfortable. What initially made us look at Mineral was a small sign advertising the Wednesday special: 1/2 off all bottles of wine. Ummm… let me think?

Co-owners Maya and Steve opened the joint in 2006 to bring some gourmet vegetarian food to Murphys. But don’t get me wrong… Mineral does not play up the fact that it is vegetarian, nor would you immediately notice by looking at the menu. Chef Steve Rinauros made a name for himself in the Bay Area, then in southern California, working at some of the best restaurants around. At one point he worked as a chef at the Kali Ray Tri Yoga Center in Malibu, where he “honed his skills and his passion for vegetarian cooking,” as it says on the website. Maya, a cool artsy chick, is originally from Murphys. After art school and retail gigs in SF, she came back to Murphys to make some noise in the food biz.

Maya greeted us warmly and set us up at a table out front. We knew we were in for a great meal when we saw the fresh bread with a crazy tapenade made with orange, olives, and carrots. The water was brought out in a large clear glass bottle with a mint sprig floating inside. Nice touch. We started by ordering the Papaya Avecado Salad, with a madigascar vinilla vinigrette, mint, feta, black seseme, and saphron… which was amazing. We were licking the plate.

For an entree I had the X-Burger, which was the absolute best veggie burger I’ve ever had. On a house baked bun, the “vegetable platform” burger was covered with pickles, lettuce, shaved onions, and herb aioli. This burger was top notch, fresh and delicious… and I’ve had my share of veggie burgers, believe me. This ain’t no frozen pattie.

Miss Melody had the Spanish Pizza, topped with Spanish Red Sausage (soy chorizo), Cider Glazed Onions, Cheese, and Fresh Oregano. When I asked her how it tasted she just continued to chew slowly with her eyes closed. I don’t think she said another thing until she was two or three slices in. Only then did she inquire as to whether there was any Crack in the pizza… it was that good! (For the record, I don’t think there was any crack in the pizza).

For the wine, at 1/2 price, we went with a 2006 Plungerhead Old Vine Zinfandel from the Sierra Foothills, (bottled by Sebastiani and Sons of Napa). This proved to be a perfect wine for our meal, deep and spicy with smooth tannins. It also confirmed the fact that we were on a full-blown Zin kick.

The food and service was great. The prices aren’t cheap, there’s a mac & cheese plate for $18…but the food is of gourmet quality. The menu is small and precise. They manage to keep an informal enough vibe, making it completely unpretentious. A perfect microcosim of Murphys itself. We love it.

The economy has been hurting the business on Main Street, and Mineral has been feeling the pain. For a while we were the only customers in the joint, (later joined by some locals at two other tables), and once everyone was served, Maya and Steve sat with us and talked politics and the economy. They told us how they sometimes think they should have opened a place closer to SF. But we hope they ride out the storm and continue to provide Murphys with the best restaurant on Main Street.

About Mineral

Restaurants Worth the Drive

Sacramento Magazine October 2007
(by: Elaine Corn)

Sure, there are plenty of great restaurants right here in Sacramento. But sometimes a culinary road trip is in order. Turns out, theres a host of gastronomic gems just waiting to be discovered in the foothills, farmlands, and river towns that surround our city. All you need is tank of gas, a bit of extra time and a sense of adventure. Your growing anticipation, and hunger, on the pretty drive to your dining destination are all part of the experience. Here we present six restaurants within an hour or twos drive that prove when it comes to the pursuit of great food, its worth going the distance.

Mineral Murphys

The first time I went to Murphys about 12 years ago, a pickup parked in front of a bar on Main Street had a dead bear in the back. This time I returned to Murphys with my friend Victoria intending to eat vegetarian. We ended up taking a walk on the wild side of meat free cuisine. At Mineral, incongruously located in this unpretensious cattle county getaway, we found vegetarian food that occaisionally was as incomprehensible as modern art. It’s organic, yes. But it’s edgy, with surprising and delicious combinations like agar mango jelly with green goddess sauce. Grass-green jalapeno gastrique shoots across the plate. A garnish could be “dust” grated from mizithra cheese. We arrived in late afternoon, thirsty. Svelte glasses were filled immediately with filtered water infused with lemon and mint. The mostly sake drink menu uses mathematical looking codes from -12 to +4, making Murphys the seat of sake scholarship. A minus sign means sweet, a plus sign dry on the SMV, sake meter value. In Victoria’s flute of blood orange bitters in Champagne, even the sugar cube was organic. My Ginjo sake highball combined lemongrass, citrus, and thyme, with a lime slice floating on top for one of the most refreshing drinks I’ve ever had.

You may have questions about the menu, which lists fried shiso and carnaroli, a cylinder of red aka tofu, porcini cocoa crusted seitan and various treatments of tempeh. Owner Maya Radisich expects them. There is no bread in this open kitchen. Here, the hospitality snack is fried hibiscus won tons with miso butter and carrot jelly- Minerals version of peanut butter and jelly. Radisich’s husband, Steven Rinauro, is the chef. He takes his inspiration from Thai, Indian, and Latin American flavors.

Come for: A culinary walk on the wild side
While here: Shop.

Murphys is southern Gold Countrys answer to Sausalito.

About Mineral

Mineral Spices Up Downtown Murphys Scene

Calaveras Enterprise Friday September 7th, 2007
(by: Bethany Monk)

Taste. Texture. Style.

Mineral, a vegetarian and primarily organic restaurant in Murphys offers these qualities and much more; even self proclaimed carnivores are filling their plates and enticing their palates with the restuarants unique tastes.

Murphys native Maya Radisich and her fiance Steve Rinauro, originally from the bay area, opened Mineral about a year ago after carefully scouting out the Murphys area for the perfect place to open their restaurant. What they found is an eclectic hideaway nestled in the heart of the downtown area, not too far from the Murphys Historic Hotel and Murphys Community Park. Rinauro, who describes the set up as an “urban experience” says his daily goal as a chef is to “execute the perfect dish” calling the work of a chef definently an art form. Using a mostly French technique when preparing dishes, Rinauro mixes the flavors and spices of several cultures, including Indian, Mexican, and Asian, producing delectable tastes and textures unfamiliar to most diners.

“A lot of times people have misconceptions about vegetarianism” said Radisich who has been a vegetarian her entire life. The 1997 Bret Harte graduate grew up in Murphys and left the foothills to study graphic design at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. It’s helpful, she said, to have an open mind about trying new food. Rinauro has been a vegetarian most of his adult life, and said that people visiting Mineral for the first time are surprised with how satiating the dishes are. “They say ‘Wow man, I just feel amazing” Rinauro said adding that people often comment on the richness of the food, which he describes as organic and kosher, with a beautiful, silky richness. “You leave full. People are happy.” Some of his favorite flavors to include in dishes are garam masala, tumeric, coriander, citrus, and fresh and local chilies. With dishes sporting fancy names like Smokes Chamomile Citrus Vegetable Risotto and Honey Snap Crusted Seitan, it’s no surprise that each prepared dish looks beautiful enough to frame, hang on the wall and invite friends over to show off as your new modern art piece. One popular meal, the Chilled Heirloom Tomato Soup is one such dish. Made with red wine, Cherokee tomato sorbet, and a madori cucumber “caviar” the flavors are sure to offer the tastebuds a reawakening. The cucumber gives it a little kick, Rinauro said, noting the chilled aspect mixed with the sweetness of flavors in the dish. Another favorite the Shiso and Carnaroli Cakes with candied jalapeno gastrique and crispy fried shiso, is a delight for the palate with it’s mixture of hot spices and sweet flavors. One of the highlights of Mineral is the varied types of sake- an alcoholic beverage made through the fermentation of rice. Rinauro and Radisich enjoy helping their guests at the restaurant pair sake with their meal.

Mineral is an experience completely rare compared to what’s going on the foothills. The resturant at 419 Main Street is open Thursday through Monday.

About Mineral

Mineral quite a find in Gold Country

The Modesto Bee

For those prospecting for a new dining gem, heading to the Sierra foothills like the Gold Rush miners once did could result in quite a culinary find. Although the region has many promising places to explore, visitors to Murphys should hit it big if they can locate the Mineral Restaurant.

Of course, once folks find their way to this old Gold Country town along scenic Highway4, it shouldn’t be too tough to find the Mineral because it sits on the town’s tiny main street. Formerly home to a burger joint, the space has been completely revamped. It features a sleek interior accented with artwork and new lighting — urban style meets the foothills. There’s even a sidewalk patio and exhibition kitchen for those who want to watch the action.

About Mineral

Vegetarian Pay Dirt

The Sacramento Bee

Despite the popularity of vegetarianism, the strictly vegetarian restaurant hasn’t carved out a large niche for itself on the American dining scene. The Sacramento area once had at least four vegetarian restaurants, but most have disappeared. The reason is twofold: They were co-opted by mainstream restaurants that recognized the appeal of vegetarianism and began to add more meatless options to their menus. Secondly, ethnic restaurants have risen in popularity, many of which offer several vegetarian dishes.

Thus, I’m surprised to learn of an earnestly artful new vegetarian restaurant in the old Gold Rush mining camp of Murphys, Calaveras County. It’s called Mineral, and it occupies the former Main Street site of the old and casual burger joint Pick ‘N Shovel.

The owners are Steven Rinauro and Maya Radisich. Over the past 17 years he’s put in stints with several upscale restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles, but moved to the foothills to be closer to family. Radisich grew up in Murphys, moved to San Francisco to study art, got involved in managing a coffee company, then returned home first to open a bakery and now to run Mineral.

They recognize that a vegetarian restaurant in cattle country is a high-risk venture, so they’re promoting not so much the meatless aspect as the novel artistry of Rinauro’s cooking. The Murphys area is short on ethnic restaurants, notes Radisich, so Mineral is a way to introduce residents and visitors to combinations of flavors, textures and the like that they might expect to find at Asian, Latin and other specialty restaurants.

About Mineral

Sake walks the line between wine and beer

The Stockton Record

The Japanese spirit known as sake (pronounced “sa-kay,” emphasis on the k) suffers from something of a split personality.

Like wine, people swirl and sip this traditional drink and explore its multitude of flavors, which seesaw between bold and sweet, milky and fruity. But its centuries-old brewing method – which uses rice grain instead of barley and hops – brings beer to the mind and palate.

View The Articles Here…

About Mineral

Recipes to enjoy a variety of mushrooms

Recordernet.com

The versatile mushroom can be wild, simple and earthy, or cute as a button.

And whether you prefer it stuffed, grilled or placed on pizza, the flavorful fungi – which boasts 2,500 varieties – also can be found year-round, a bonus in the winter months when fresh produce is limited and spring feels a long way off.

View The Articles Here…

About Mineral

4 Valentine’s Getaways Near & Far

110 Magazine

We put our heads together at 110° Magazine and came up with dozens and dozens of possibilities – restaurants we’ve eaten at, hotels we’ve stayed at, and places we’ve vacationed at. Out of all the possibilities we’ve distilled four ideas, ranging from dinner in a nice restaurant to a weekend at a more distant destination.

Check out the following suggestions and then plan a getaway for the person you love. Do one of these or do something else. Just get away for a few hours, perhaps. Or for a few days.

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