The Kitchen -- Pizzazz pops up on the dining scener
Sierra Lodestar 03/14/12

Foothill Flavors 769 words

The Kitchen Adds Pizzazz to the Dining Scene

By Antoinette May Herndon

The Kitchen sounds cozy and is. The tiny slice of a place smack in the middle of “down town” Murphys, has been open for less than a year.

In August when The Kitchen expanded from a lunch venue to dinner, I received an email notice. The bistro sounded interesting but in the intervening months I had been googling mixed reviews.

Really mixed.

Some diners raved: “The Kitchen is amazing!” “Hard to believe we were in Murphys and not San Francisco.” “The salmon was moist, tender and delicious.” “The ribs were falling off the bone perfection.”

But others complained of the wait staff’s slowness, and the lack of basic accouterments like salt, pepper or napkins. One disgruntled diner was so displeased, he opined: “The Kitchen sucks.”

Clearly the eatery cried out for an impartial investigation. Charles and I were eager to check it out. Our Mok Hill friends, Barry and Ginger Griffin, are always keen for a culinary adventure.

First off, The Kitchen’s décor is trendy-cute. Think sleek, stream-lined bar and open patio. The walls are lined with colorful, three-dimensional art partially created with seeds, leaves, and other “natural” elements. The ambience is all very “in.” And isn’t that exactly what we Foot Hillians are looking for? Don’t we all crave new epicurean worlds to conquer?

The Kitchen’s menu is small which allows the staff to focus on seasonal, market-fresh ingredients, but there are also exciting daily specials. Be sure to ask.

It’s clear that the The Kitchen is a

natural extension of the food and wine experience owners Scott and Melanie Klann have created in their adjacent Newsome-Harlow tasting room.

Scott concentrates on grapes, Melanie on the food. That “marriage” is the corner stone of The Kitchen. For our party the combo definitely worked. I suspect that the problems reported by other earlier diners were basically the result of growing pains that have since been worked out.

I hope so. Let me hear what you think.

In the restaurant’s small, intimate atmosphere, we had an opportunity to meet and get acquainted with Chef Melanie who is dedicated to sustainable practices and green living.

“I source food from local farmers and suppliers whenever possible,” she told us. “It’s not unusual to make early morning runs all the way to Oakdale in order to serve fresh food at lunch time.”

There are a lot of things that Ginger can’t eat. No wheat of any kind, no alcohol, potato, sugar or rice. She’s not being finicky. These are stay-alive restrictions that her doctor has ordered.

Melanie worked with Ginger to find just the right mix to make her dinner not only diet-sound but delicious. Consider grass-fed jerk sliders ($12) with Swiss cheese, caramelized onions, chipotle aioli with jerk sauce and argula. Sound yummy? It was and the only thing Ginger forfeited was the bun.

Charles and I spilt Melly’s Greek Salad ($11) which was made of organic greens tossed with fresh herbs, sun dried tomatoes, spicy green olives, crisp back, Greek feta, cannelloni beans, and home made croutons tossed with house balsamic vinaigrette. A perfect Greek salad if there ever was one.

Barry enjoyed a truffle

Caesar salad ($10) which was concocted of organic romaine, home made croutons, parmesan cheese, and tossed with lemony Caesar dressing.

He and Charles followed up with a pizzeta ($14) which Charles thought just might have been the best pizza of his life.

I chose jambalaya ($18) for my main course and thought it the best this side of New Orleans. Imagine spicy andouille sausage and Cajun shrimp on a bed of red beans and rice with sautéed local organic dino kale.

Maybe the dish was a little too spicy for my glass of 2009 Newsome Harlow zinfandel ($7) but I did my best to intersperse bites with gulps of water. The Kitchen’s jambalaya is not for the faint of heart.

Perhaps a better choice was Allagash Brewing Company’s Black Belgian Stout ($9) which Charles and Barry enjoyed with dinner.

We thought the service was just great. Chef Melanie visited with us often, the minuscule dining room lends itself to that. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself chatting with diners at the next table. We did.

After so much controversy, I found The Kitchen to be a lively, happening place with exciting food. Try it and let me know what you think.

VITALS: The Kitchen. 403 Main St., Murphys. Phone: 728-9817. Open Thursday through Tuesday form l:30 to 3 for lunch and Friday and Saturday nights from 5 to 9 for dinner. Reservations advisable. Parking is on the street, so plan accordingly. Credit cards accepted.


Melanie Klann cooks up a storm at Murphy’s The Kitchen

Winsome décor adds to the ambience at The Kitchen in Murphys.

Diners were enthusiastic about their dinner at The Kitchen.