My Way Cafe

Located nearly 15 miles west of Medford along Highway 238, My Way Cafe brings a little bit of sophistication to the rural community of Ruch.

Dingy on the outside with a clean and modestly-furbished interior, the cafe, formerly the Magnolia Grill, caters to local ranchers, farmers and vintners as well as passers-by, like myself, en route to the nearby Applegate Lake.

Owner Jon Shulkin opened the restaurant in March, intending to showcase local flavors in an unpretentious, affordable way.

Shulkin owned a burger joint in Idaho before selling the restaurant and moving to Napa Valley, Calif., to learn the art of the restaurant business. He worked in various roles at about seven different restaurants — French, Spanish, Italian, etc. — in order to grow his culinary expertise.

About seven years ago, he and his wife, Tina, purchased some acreage in Ruch. Jon Shulkin worked at Lark's in Ashland until the restaurant space in Ruch became available.

As its name aptly promises, My Way Cafe aims at giving customers what they want by offering a comprehensive menu, ranging from basic sandwiches and salads to more refined entrees and tapas such as hazelnut-crusted ling cod and calamari with lemon aioli.

My husband Sean and I were the sole patrons at the establishment when we arrived late one Sunday afternoon. We were seated at a small booth near a decorative wine rack. Sean and I perused the expansive menu, written in an elegant but slightly illegible freehand, and Shulkin came by to spout off about five specials.

Of the specials, Sean ordered the rock fish and chips ($9), and I selected the Cajun chicken sandwich ($8) and a small house salad. Sean and I doubted whether the fish would be fresh as resources seem limited this far out, but Shulkin assured us all the seafood offerings are fresh and purchased weekly from Port Orford Sustainable Seafood.

Lunch, which is offered all day, also includes prime rib cheese steak, Reuben, BLT and barbecue pork sandwiches as well as several burgers, fish tacos, soups and warm spinach ($8), duck confit ($9) and roasted beet ($8) salads. Sandwiches are served with your choice of fresh-cut fries, fried red potatoes, slaw or a house salad.

Besides food, the cafe offers a full liquor and coffee bar, from which I ordered an iced latte ($3.50), a refreshing treat on such a warm day. All wines and beers are local.

While we waited, Sean and I admired the small Applegate-themed murals on the walls, which we later learned were done by Jacksonville artist John Michener.

As it was a slow afternoon at the cafe, our meals arrived promptly.

Sean's rock fish, although not entirely flavorful on its own, was battered and golden, and after he had personally prepped it with lemon, vinegar and creamy housemade tarter sauce, he was sufficiently content with his selection. The fries were fresh cut, slightly limp from the oil, but crispy enough on the edges to tempt me to nab a few.

I love the extra oomph of Creole and Cajun cuisines, so was pleased overall with my sandwich. The baguette was slathered with chipotle aioli and lined with mildly-seasoned pieces of chicken and traditional veggie condiments. My side salad was as delicious as it was colorful. There were carrots, cabbage, spinach, cucumbers and tomatoes doused in a savory-but-sweet, housemade coconut milk vinaigrette.

The portions weren't big, but then again, neither were the prices.

Eyeing the dinner menu, I wished we had visited the cafe a few hours later. The menu touted chicken meuniere, smoked ribs and slaw, seared pork chops, mushroom ravioli, eggplant Parmesan and a handful of other no-less upscale options, all priced between $12 and $16.

Sean and I topped off our meal with a berry cobbler a la mode ($5). Sean pined for the chocolate truffle souffle, but in the end, I convinced him of the cobbler's merits. The cobbler was served warm, with a biscuity crust hiding the delicious ooey gooey marionberries beneath.

I asked Sean to accept a raincheck on the souffle as I'm sure we'll dine there again the next time the cafe is on our way.

— Teresa Thomas

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