● By Wendy Sipple
Photo by Dante Fontana
Café Mahjaic is located in a historic building dating back to the mid-1800s, in what was once the heart of Gold Country – Lotus.
The high ceilings and exposed brick and timber have an amazing charm that just adds to the dining experience. Café Mahjaic is what they call “food with love,” an American infusion; a menu full of items like scratch-made breads and sauces, “Moody soup” (characterized by the chef’s mood that day), and nightly specials, tailored around seasonal ingredients, organic meats and grains, the dining experience is constantly evolving.
I took my wife there for a peaceful night out. The evening started with a basket of fresh bread and an appetizer called Saganaki, a sautéed Kasseri cheese slice in a brandy lemon sauce (which went great with the bread). Café Mahjaic also touts a large wine list with many local and regional wines by the glass or bottle, with paring suggestions from the helpful wait staff. They also offer a wide selection of beers and other unique non-alcoholic drinks.
We normally try to stick to the menu when reviewing local places, but the specials this night were too tempting to resist. I was drawn to the naturally-raised, grilled Niman Ranch Filet Minion wrapped in bacon and topped with wild mushrooms and fried scallions, while my wife ordered the Steelhead Salmon with a fig sauce on polenta. Both dishes were served with a side of fresh vegetables – roasted corn coblette, beet, carrot and acorn squash. The sauces were well crafted with established flavors accented by fresh ingredients and distinctive seasonings.
We broke for the Espresso Crème Brulé the moment our waitress described the dessert, and it was an excellent finish to a nice dinner.
Mahjaic’s menu is available online and you can book an overnight stay in the Lotus Inn, just next door, which includes a table at the restaurant. Although the miners are long gone, you can still find gold in the foothills at Café Mahjaic.