Master Chef Rob Christie gave himself an enormous birthday gift five years ago when he opened his very own restaurant, Rob’s Place in downtown Murphys.
“I would say it was a spontaneous thing starting Rob’s Place,” said Christie. “I felt like it was time for me to move forward. I just felt that I had what people would like. It took a couple months to clean it up and revamp and make it the way I would want to make food and serve food so that is what we did.”
Christie has been in the restaurant business for almost 20 years, starting out at the bottom and moving his way up very quickly in the kitchen as he figured out temperature and timing. He began his career at Lake Alpine Lodge and was at Bear Valley Lodge for 12 years before taking the Executive Chef position at Ironstone Vineyards. At the time, Christie was a vegan and had to cook hundreds of pounds of tri-tip each week. While still preferring vegetables, the chef does enjoy the occasional fish or chicken dish. Despite his personal tastes, he earned a reputation for preparing steaks perfectly.
“It was the most amazing job,” Christie shared about his time working at Ironstone. “I loved it. It was like I had everything thrown at me that I never would have expected and I survived.”
The first thing Christie did when opening Rob’s Place was change the menu. The site had in the past featured Italian cuisine. He also renovated the outdoor seating area.The menu has several original items that Christie created over the years, along with traditional steaks, burgers, seafood and sandwiches. The menu is also very vegetarian friendly and includes options for those with food allergies, are vegan or have Celiac disease.
Popular appetizers on the menu include Duck Wontons, Tempura Avocado, Bacon Apple Turnovers, Chicken Salad Lettuce Cup and fresh cut fries that are made to order.
The Chicken Cups are served on fresh peeled butter leaf lettuce that is filled with in-house chicken that is roasted and has been pulled off the bone with chopped red onions, diced celery, fresh rosemary and some mayonnaise.
He created the Duck Wontons at Ironstone but brought them to his menu since they were a huge hit. The wontons are filled with grilled duck breast, fresh ginger and sautéed onions and served with a sweet chili sauce.
“It is a time-consuming process that takes hours to do to get two or three dozen done,” said Christie about the duck appetizer. “The flavor is really good and people love them. I feel it is worth it.”
The tempura batter dipped fried avocado served with a scratch made basil horseradish aioli sauce is another favorite.
“Our mouths are subject to five senses, sweet, salty, savory, bitter and sour,” explained Christie. “If you can hit all five of those you are going to have the perfect melt in your mouth.”
The Edward Burger is a best seller and very popular with diners at Rob’s Place. The burger was named after a dear friend of Christie’s that frequented the restaurant and ordered that burger on a regular basis so it was added to the menu. The burger is hand-pressed when ordered and grilled the way you want it with cheddar cheese, crisp bacon and avocado placed right on top with a ciabatta roll with scratch made basil aioli served with handmade French fries that are freshly cut and never frozen.
Another option on the menu for vegetarians is the Veggie Burger made with crispy coated potatoes, black beans, ground flax seed patty on a sesame seed bun with basil aioli.
“I was just trying to get away from that horrible puck,” said Christie of creating a different veggie burger. “They are horrible. They are dry and I don’t know of anybody that makes their own. It is just different and everything is fresh. We deep fry it and put that aioli on there. It is pretty tasty. It is not the puck on a sesame bun.”
Putting his own spin on a traditional Italian dish, the Carbonara Linguine has sautéed bacon, chorizo, ground beef, linguine, egg, wine, onion and garlic topped with fresh herbs, parmesan cheese and served with a slice of garlic cheese bread.
“The original one was made in Italy for our soldiers at war over there,” Christie said. “They were creating a burger or sandwich but they didn’t have that there so they created this during WWII for the soldiers but they used pancetta instead and that is where carbonara came from. My spin, of course, is a little bit more savory.”
For a few lighter options Rob’s Place has a variety of salads like the Grilled Shrimp and herb goat cheese bits and the Black Bean and Egg Salad.
The Black Bean Salad was a “strange creation” Christie said he came up with that starts with cooking up black beans, roasted tomatoes tossed with hearty greens that is topped with an egg sprinkled with a few red pepper flakes to create a little heat served with a scratch made roasted bell pepper vinaigrette. The egg is cooked over easy and placed right on top so that once the fork has broken through it allows the yolk to flow all over the fresh greens.
Rob’s Place highlights several local wines and a variety of regional beers.
The casual chic restaurant is very inviting with red floors and decorated with watercolor paintings done by the chef himself. You can also find Christie occasionally behind the saxophone.
“You are going to leave here with a really good experience,” said Christie. “It is not just one thing; I think I encompass all of this. It has to feel. It has to smell. The temperature, the lighting, the chairs, the service, the food, it is all important. If you don’t have all of it then something is not going to be right.”
IF YOU GO
140 Main St., Murphys, CA 95247
Contact: 209 813-7003 or www.robsplacerestaurant.com
Friday – Tuesday
11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for lunch
5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for dinner