The Shenandoah Valley and Plymouth have a long list of wineries for wine enthusiasts to explore, but it’s also a great place to find that perfect ‘Taste.’
Taste is a restaurant that features a seasonal New American style cuisine that has something for everyone. Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, have a gluten intolerance or if you are just looking for food that delights the taste buds, grab a taste at Taste. Executive Chef and General Manager Micah Malcolm explained that their motto is “yes is the answer, what is the question.” The restaurant is located on the corner of Mineral and Main streets in Plymouth. It is a quaint restaurant with white tablecloths and attention to detail with each place setting and creation on the menu giving this small-town restaurant a big fine-dining vibe.
With all the wineries in Plymouth, tasting rooms in Sutter Creek, and all the outdoor activities offered, Amador County has become quite the tourist destination over the years. Owners Mark and Tracy Berkner renovated the property about 14 years ago to bring guests an exemplary dining experience with a high-end restaurant. The new creations that include an array of flavor profiles like Asian, Middle Eastern, French, Mediterranean, Italian, American south and Latin dishes.
“We use it all,” said Chef Micah. “We are not stuck to one single group. We try to have a balance but we branch out to every other cuisine as well to create our dishes. We want to make sure our guests have a great experience here at Taste. We produce high-quality product, the freshest that we can get all the time. So, everything else on the menu is going to be delicious, seasonal, fresh, and awesome.”
Mark Berkner is a chef as well and is a culinary arts instructor at San Joaquin Delta College and Tracy runs the restaurant. They have grown their business over the years and have a sister restaurant called the Union in Volcano that has been open for about 10 years. They also have a boutique hotel called Rest that has been open for three years.
Malcolm has worked for the Berker’s for nine years, starting as a line cook, and would commuting from Stockton to Plymouth on a regular basis. He was then moved up to Chef at the Union and for the past four years has been at Taste where he created the menu and runs the floor, as well as the kitchen. When he was young, he would cook with his mother in the kitchen at home where his passion for food developed. His first job in the food industry was as a dishwasher at a grill in Lodi. The owner advised him to take a culinary class at Delta and at that point he enrolled both for the experience and to be able to feed himself and ended up falling in love with the culinary arts.
“My style is I don’t like a lot of components on a dish,” stated Malcolm. “The components that I do put on the plate, I want them to stand and shine. I don’t want to manipulate things too much to be something that they are not. I try to stay true to the produce that I am using. I like to use the produce from Amador County as much as I can. We are definitely seasonal so whatever is in season is going to be what is on our menu at that time.”
He has created the many menus they offer including a wine bar menu, lunch menu, dinner menu, vegan menu, vegetarian menu, and a gluten free menu. The majority of items on the menu are made in-house including the sauces and dressings. The bread is purchased from a local bakery but they also make their own gluten-free bread to offer those that are gluten intolerant. They do not charge to split meals and they have a chef’s tasting menu that consists of half portions or small bites to be able to try multiple items.
Malcolm noted, “Here at Taste we want to make sure that it is about the guest and make sure they have a great experience. We go out of our way to do gluten free, vegan, vegetarian menus so when people come in and they might have a food inversion where maybe it is a shrimp allergy or whatever, we make sure to go through all the steps to ensure that that person can have a great experience.”
The wine list is extensive and with the 49 wineries in the area they have a lot of wines to rotate through and share with their guests. They offer a local red flight, a bubble flight, Italian red flight, and a white local flight. They also offer beer and feature special events like wine lunches.
“I have a great crew that works with me,” Malcolm said. “I have a talented sous chef and kitchen manager and great staff behind them.”
Although the menu is seasonal the one item that guests will always find is the mushroom cigar. This small bite appetizer has crimini, shitake, and oyster mushrooms with fresh herbs, and goat cheese that are wrapped in a phyllo portcini. Another fan favorite is the lamb ragu that is on the bar menu with house made pasta, garden herbs, and shaved parmesan.
The hanger steak is Certified Angus Beef that Malcolm explained is also known as the butcher’s cut or hanging tender. He said that there is a depth of flavor to this cut that is unrivaled and is just about as tender as a filet if not more so.
Guests can also try the salads, soups, sandwiches, salmon, filet mignon, impossible meatballs, prawns, oysters, a cheese plate and a dessert menu to finalize the experience. They also have specials that they create for guests on occasion that will not be on the menu.
For Valentine’s Day they will have a special dinner menu available from Feb. 13 to 16 and a special lunch menu available from Feb. 14 to 16. The dinner will include a four-course meal and lunch will be a three-course meal for a specific price per person.
“I would encourage people to come here and ask to do a tasting experience,” Malcolm stated. “We want people to have a full experience. Talk to the server and talk about the mutli-course meal or smaller portions; whatever we can do to create a magical experience for you, the guest.”
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