The food scene in Southern Oregon has been getting a lot of attention lately. With new restaurants, cafes and tasting rooms popping up every month, there are more than enough options to fill up your social calendar. Since Fall 2021 there has been a flurry of culinary activity from new business openings to expansions at well known locations. It reached a crescendo with the easing of pandemic regulations so here is a spring rundown of eight spots worth a visit, or several. There are new tastes galore to explore.
Napa Valley culinary team raises fine dining bar with DECANT.
With the opening of DECANT (top image), Medford adds fine dining to its growing roster of creative food and beverage businesses that partner with local farms. The kitchen is led by Chef Todd Meyerhofer, who brings more than 20 years of experience at the Culinary Institute of America, St.Helena Greystone and Copia Restaurant in Napa. Italy-born and raised Miriam Barchi has a successful management background at esteemed Napa Valley restaurants, daughter Jessica Colburn at Napa Valley wineries. Second daughter Irina Colburn, is well known for her tenure in hospitality and marketing with Southern Oregon hotel groups and wineries.
Located in the quaint “house’ formerly occupied by Café Dejeuner, DECANT presents a menu born of organic ingredients from local farmers paired with an extensive wine list curated by Barchi and daughter Jessica, both certified sommeliers.
Currently, Decant has spring offerings that include Cauliflower Soup with Wild Mushrooms and Truffle Dust, Halibut with Mussels in a Bouillabaisse Jus with Artichoke and Fennel, and Butter Poached Shrimp. Note: The menu will change seasonally based on what is available from local farms.
Open Thursday-Monday 5pm-9pm
Getting there: 1108 E. Main Street, Medford (map)
The Urban Cork tasting room reopens.
It was no April Fool’s joke when The Urban Cork, reopened on April 1st to a full house of pandemic weary fans. This swanky downtown tasting room pours wines produced only by the adjacent urban winery known as Pallet Wine Company. The custom crush facility, led by winemaker Linda Donovan, has produced more than 60 varietals for her small-scale vineyard and winery clients across Southern Oregon, such as Grizzly Peak Winery, Peter William, and Dana Campbell.
Coming this summer is Donovan’s fulfilled dream for a “wine district” adjacent to her existing crush facility. It will consist of the newly named “District Wine Bar”, the new 1,100 sq. ft. tasting room with open-air plaza, and a soaring, expansive 7,000+ square foot barrel storage and utilities for Pallet Wine Co.
Getting there: 330 N. Fir Street, Medford (map)
Simple Machine Winery rises from the ashes.
The Almeda fire of 2020 brought tragedy and loss to Southern Oregon, including Talent’s wine industry. The owners of Simple Machine Winery, Brian Denner and Clea Arthur, experienced it first hand in September 2020 with the loss of their young production facility…down to the last bottle of wine. Over the ensuing months, their winemaking efforts continued with the support of wine industry friends. As a result, by August the following year they bottled their first post-fire wines from premium vineyards at Medford’s Barrel 42 custom crush facility.
The reopening of their new winery and tasting room in the Fall of 2021 generated much excitement for local fans. Tasters looking for natural wines are attracted to Simple Machine’s sustainable, minimal intervention methods using native yeast fermentation and low-tech winemaking techniques. Indoor and outdoor seating is ready and a local food truck may set up on Friday nights weather depending.
Open Wednesday – Sunday from 12 noon – 6 p.m.
Getting there: 717 S. Pacific Highway, Talent (map)
New Port Distilling and Over Easy collaborate on new night spot.
On the Rocks is a new downtown Medford dining collaboration between Over Easy and New Port Distilling. The ever-changing corner of Bartlett St. and East Main is now home to an evening cocktail bar serving libations by New Port Distilling and eclectic small plates, espresso and coffee shop-style items by Sunny Side, an expanded service by Chef Braden Hitt, owner of the adjacent Over Easy, the popular breakfast and brunch spot that has earned a loyal following. Followers of Herb and Flour Patisserie will be excited to know that owner/chef Kali Kennedy will stock a few of her stylish sweet and savory pastries at the counter.
The cocktails, featuring New Port Distilling’s vodka and gin, have created an instant sensation at On the Rocks. The drinks pair well with the eclectic and changing menu items, such as the Charcuterie Board, Greek Gyros, Mezze Platter and Ahi Ceviche Verde.
Open Tuesday-Saturday, 5pm-10pm.
Getting there: 237 E. Main Street, Medford (map)
Hither owners launch second dining concept with Bar Juillet.
Fans of the inspired homey, comfort food at Hither Market, located at the south end of downtown Ashland, may well follow owners Corrie and Wesley Reimer to their new eatery, Bar Juillet (“zhoo-lay”) on the Ashland plaza. The closure of Ostras! Tapas Wine Bar created an opportunity for the Reimers to add a second dining spot to their portfolio.
With more than a decade of combined food industry experience in New York, Portland and San Francisco, the Reimers have created a bustling restaurant boasting a menu of rustic fare using local ingredients, such as the BJ Burger with Bacon, American Cheese, Fancy Sauce, and Fries; Cappelletti Brodo with Caramelized Onion and Parmesan Broth; Halibut with Spring Herbs, Fennel, Meyer Lemon; and Clams with Miso, Meyer Lemon, Ginger, Sesame Seed, and Spring Onion. Craft cocktails and a list of natural wines will make for happy pairing.
Open Thurs-Mon: 5pm-9pm reservation-only full dinner service; 4pm to 5pm and 9pm to 11pm happy hour and drinking hour menus; creekside and deck dining for walk-ins.
Getting there: 47 N. Main St., Ashland (map)
Ashland’s first raw bar NAMA Pacific Kappo Kitchen, courtesy of MÄS chefs.
The culinary duo behind the much acclaimed Cascadian cuisine sensation MÄS have opened a second restaurant — NAMA — a raw oyster and seafood bar. Led by chef /co-owner Josh Dorcak and Chef Sarah Cook, the 20-seat NAMA overflows with numerous types of fresh seafood. Their focus on raw offerings fills a culinary space in Ashland that no one else could.
The twice a day “oyster happy hour” will find guests seated around the bar chatting with the chef during plate preparation. The menu includes several different varieties of West Coast oysters, in addition to raw clams and scallop shooters.
Getting there: 140 Lithia Way, Ashland (map)
Alchemy Restaurant and Bar gets a sister with Chateaubriand 36 steakhouse.
Located in the spot previously occupied by Smithfield’s Restaurant and Bar, Chateaubriand 36 steakhouse opened recently by the Gibbs Family, longtime owners of the Winchester Inn and Alchemy Restaurant and Bar just across the street. The new dining spot is reminiscent of a traditional steakhouse, but with modern French twists on beloved classics.up
Start your meal with a classic – Sea of Cortez Shrimp Thermidor or try an adventurous bite with Roasted Bone Marrow. True to its name, steak is absolutely the star of the show, with options that include filet mignon, hanger steak, Wagyu New York strip, and of course, Chateaubriand. Other French-inspired dishes are dominant throughout the menu, including French Onion Soup, Garlicky Haricot Verts, Local Trout Meunière, and a house ground filet and ribeye burger. Alchemy Restaurant has an award winning wine program so guests can anticipate a curated selection of wines to match.
Open Tues-Fri 5pm-9pm; Saturday 5pm-10pm
Getting there: 36 S. 2nd Street, Ashland (map)
Coquette Bakery opens first retail cafe.
Coquette Bakery, a European-style bakery, has been a much loved part of Southern Oregon for many years. Co-owners Tom Clark and wife-baker Danika Voget recently opened their first retail location, Coquette Bakery Cafe, tucked between Rogue Creamery and Lillie Belle Chocolates on Central Point’s Front Street Artisan Corridor. The perfect trio, oui?!
Voget creates eye-popping French-inspired breakfast pastries, cakes, tarts and artisan breads. Every item is handmade. Coquette uses organic herbs, fruits and vegetables in their baked goods, which they source from their historic farm property.
For all the farmers market fans who are missing the Pennington Farms booth, Coquette Bakery Cafe is stocked with a variety of Pennington Farms jams, as well as Hilltop Coffee. Check the weekly menu posted on their Facebook page for regular offerings, bread and pastry specials of the week. Special orders can still be requested through their website.
Open Tuesday-Saturday 7:00am-2:00pm
Getting there: 245 N. Front Street, Central Point (map)
The bustling Rogue Valley food scene promises to keep locals and travelers satiated through the upcoming summer months and beyond.
Hours may vary due to changes in pandemic health regulations. Visitors are encouraged to check current hours on the website and social media pages of any business prior to going.
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