Once a breakfast-phobe, Ann has become a convert to the pleasures of the meal; one morning while Joe was in a meeting, she slipped away to a restaurant called Morning Glory, the only one of our Ashland, Ore., restaurants that isn't within easy walking distance of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. It's in an old Craftsman bungalow across the street from Southern Oregon University. Parking can be tricky, by the way; a sign directing people to park at a nearby motel is easy to miss.
Breakfast and lunch only from chef Patricia Groth, who worked under former Kansas Citian Bradley Ogden at Campton Place in San Francisco and then went on to Bridgecreek Restaurant in Berkeley, whose menu was planned by Marion Cunningham, author of The Breakfast Book.
The good-sized restaurant is busy, especially in the summer, and we can understand why. It boasts a large and fascinating menu, with choices that require enough study to make ordering a lengthy process. Yes, there's an alcohol license for chipotle bloody Marys and other necessities. And unlike some breakfast specialists who lean toward either the sweet or the savory, Morning Glory offers plenty of choices on both sides of the aisle.
One of the signature dishes is the lemon ricotta French toast, slices of bread with seasoned ricotta sandwiched inside, dipped in an egg batter, sauteed and served with a generous drizzle of raspberry puree. This is a lemon French toast that's actually lemony, not tart, but generously infused with the flavor from a generous amount of lemon zest, the acidity coming from the raspberries. An order of chicken sausage brought an amazingly juicy pair of fellows, chicken sausages often leaning toward the dry. Made by Taylor's of Bend, Ore., these were first-rate.
A large soup plate went by and caught the eye with a serving of Moroccan oatmeal large enough to surprise even a St. Louisan, by the way. Why it's listed with Small Bites is beyond us. But the oatmeal itself, steel-cut, is cooked with dates, apricots, some nuts and spicing, which clearly includes turmeric, bringing a orange-yellow color, and cardamom, giving a slightly orange taste, and perhaps a little hit of cinnamon as well. Chewy from the usual steel-cut oat texture and the bits of dried fruit, it was even good cold the next day.
Good coffee, too, which should not be a surprise at any place that features breakfast. When Ann remarked that someone had done a good job scouring the coffee machine, the slightly frazzled barista/counter server replied with a brilliant smile. And yes, there's also outdoor seating.
1149 Siskiyou Blvd, Ashland, Ore.
Breakfast and Lunch daily
Credit cards: Yes
Wheelchair access: Fair
In many ways, Ashland seems like Berkeley must have been in the Seventies, Birkenstockian, vegetable-centered, laid back. So to find a spot that proclaimed itself “meatcentric” was more intriguing. And when we looked online at the Smithfields menu, with its Fergus “Nose to Tail Eating” Henderson influences, we almost loped the block from our hotel. Nothing against vegetables, to be sure, but things we haven't seen on menus very often.
And so we began with roasted marrow bones, split the long way and presented face-up. Alongside was an excellent parsley and caper relish or salad, salty-tart to bounce off the rich unctuousness of the marrow. Alongside were crostini-like toasts that had been brushed with an onion-y oil, good enough to munch solo, and some housemade pickled carrot and onion. Fries with parsley and goat cheese are listed as a side dish, but it sounded as though it would work well with the wine we'd ordered, and were pleased with the result, not crisp to a snap, but flavorful and crisp on the ends. Goat cheese and potatoes: A logical combination.
Along one wall is a loooong chalkboard with meat charts and a few wisecracking jokes, so we could easily figure out just where the rump of lamb originated. It was grilled and sliced, arriving rare, over tiny green lentils cooked with more lamb, almost confit-ish. Carefully spooned across the slices was a first for us, hummus made with fava beans, the color pale chartreuse, the flavor lemony, thrillingly delicious. The fish of the day was sturgeon, a chunk of it, also grilled, arriving with crispy browned skin and incredibly white flesh. More white in the virginal-looking risotto with roasted asparagus, very creamy indeed, the pieces of asparagus harmonizing with a pesto over the fish. The fish was delicious, the risotto more so.
Surprisingly quiet before theater, but we'd still suggest calling, especially if you want outside seating. And check out the brunch menu.
Smithfields Restaurant and Bar
36 S. Second St., Ashland, OR
Dinner Wed.-Sun, Brunch Sat.-Sun
Credit cards: Yes
Wheelchair access: Good