Annual Wine Issue, Saving the Redwoods, Event Recaps & More 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Brunch - Southern Oregon Style

Cravings

Brunch, Southern Oregon Style

Anything goes: from egg-centric entrees to triple-decker sandwiches

Story by Juliet Grable

Photography by Jerry Clarkson 

It’s breakfast, it’s lunch; it’s a noun, it’s a verb—brunch is a word that evokes lazy weekends and decadent dishes enjoyed with friends and family, and washed down with adult beverages designed especially for this indulgent meal. Brunch was formally christened in England in the late 1800s and likely originated from the traditional Huntsman’s Breakfast. It was popularized in the U.S. by the leisure set in cities like New York and New Orleans, where classic brunch dishes like eggs Benedict and French toast were born. That said, when it comes to the brunch menu, anything goes: from egg-centric entrees to triple-decker sandwiches, from dainty salads to slabs of corned beef, from fruit-stuffed crepes to charcuterie.

Brunch options abound in the Rogue Valley. Patrons looking for a more formal experience can visit the Regency Grill at the Rogue Regency Inn in Medford, or one of the two Larks restaurants, where white tablecloths accompany such dishes as Dungeness crab cakes with Hollandaise and grilled asparagus.

Considering its size, Jacksonville boasts an impressive array of brunch venues. The Jacksonville Inn serves a champagne brunch every Sunday of the year—although wine shop manager Jack Kendrick recommends staying home on Mother’s Day, unless you want to wrestle with 650 other diners. Better to indulge in such delicacies as a Belgian waffle with Mascarpone honey, strawberries and toasted almonds on an alternate Sunday with a little more breathing room.

The Bella Union’s Sunday brunch menu includes cinnamon roll glazed pancakes and huevos rancheros along with lighter fare; all bunch items come with a complimentary glass of cider and champagne. Frau Kemmling’s Schoolhaus Brewhaus gives brunch a German twist, with such offerings as Schupfnudeln: pan-fried potato dumplings served with sautéed leeks, spinach and eggs. Their menu aptly states, “Brunch without booze is just a late breakfast,” and they back it up with specialty brunch drinks such as the Banana Russ’n—Hefeweizen with a splash of Sierra Mist and a shot of banana liqueur—along with their impressive assortment of ales.

Uniquely, the C Street Bistro does not serve Sunday brunch; instead, the cozy venue offers the meal from Thursday through Saturday. The menu consists of one custom breakfast plus four items that are “pretty dang brunchy,” says Chef Paul Becking, including, for example, pork belly served with Cajun grits and braised greens.

Some may want to pair brunch with an outing, especially one that burns off a wedge or two of French toast. Those en route to Crater Lake or on a jaunt on the Rogue River might consider fueling up at The Rogue River Lodge near Trail. Though the menu is under revision, the current version includes five variations on Eggs Benedict. Reservations are recommended.

Those searching for a casual brunch experience with an urban vibe can head to Over Easy, chef Braden Hitt’s “pop-up” brunch show at the Downtown Market Co. in Medford. Since opening in November of last year, Over Easy has been attracting a diverse crowd, from churchgoers to restaurant industry insiders, says Hitt, who also teaches cooking classes and moonlights at the Medford location of Larks.

“We offer four savory dishes and one sweet, and they change every week,” says Hitt. A recent menu included "pigs in a blanket": cornmeal pancakes with Taylor's breakfast sausage, Chantilly, honey butter and maple syrup. Those who don’t want to be surprised can check out the week’s menu on Over Easy’s Facebook page. Space is limited, but diners can sip on a coffee or mimosa to ease the pain of waiting. Patio seating will expand capacity come April.

Hitt also helped launch Smithfields, Ashland’s meat-centric mecca, where I brunched recently. Under the able direction of head chef Neil Clooney, Smithfields serves brunch on both Saturday and Sunday. A handful of unique specials accompany the fairly extensive brunch menu, and though it was difficult to pass up corned beef hash or lemon crepes with pears and strawberry coulis, I couldn’t resist one of the savory brunch specials: a generous bowl of steel-cut oats topped with perfectly sautéed spinach and crimini mushrooms and a single fried egg, garnished with bite-sized bacon pieces (not bits). From the regular menu, my partner ordered shrimp n’ grits. The light cornmeal coating complemented rather than overwhelmed the shrimp, which were perfectly grilled, and the cheesy, creamy grits were punctuated with salty bits of bacon. The pork theme carried over to my drink: a bacon-and-egg Bloody Mary, which starts with bacon-infused vodka. Salty, zesty and spicy, the $10 cocktail was a small meal in itself. Along with the traditional celery stalk, stuffed olive and lime, the drink came garnished with a pickled quail egg and small flag of bacon.

The wood floors, packed bar seating and friendly servers combine to create a casual and lively atmosphere at Smithfields. A large chalkboard proclaims the restaurant’s many local vendors, helping diners enjoy their bacon in good conscience.

It’s worth mentioning that along with spots like Smithfields, which offer special brunch menus, a number of restaurants in Southern Oregon deal exclusively in breakfast and lunch. Their creative menus and inviting atmospheres make them brunch-worthy—Morning Glory in Ashland and Ma Mosa’s in Grants Pass come to mind—leaving no shortage of picks for a leisurely weekend meal. Fortunately, there are 52 weekends in every year.

 

 

SIDEBAR

Brunch Around the Valley

Hours are not guaranteed, and are subject to change by the restaurants.

 

ASHLAND

Smithfields

36 S. 2nd St.

541-488-9948

www.smithfieldsashland.com

SAT/SUN 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

 

Larks (Lithia Springs Hotel)

212 E. Main

541-488-5558

www.larksrestaurant.com

SAT/SUN 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.

 

Morning Glory

1149 Siskiyou Blvd.

541-488-8636

DAILY 8 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

 

GRANTS PASS

Ma Mosa’s    

118 NW E St.

541-479-0236

www.mamosas.com

TUE – SUN 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

(Hashes on Saturdays; Benedicts on Sundays)

 

Taprock Northwest Grill

971 SE 6th St.

541-955-5998

www.taprock.com

MON – SAT 8 a.m. – 11 a.m.; SUN 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

(No special brunch menu)

 

JACKSONVILLE

The Jacksonville Inn

175 E. California

541-899-1900

www.jacksonvilleinn.com

SUN 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

 

Frau Kemmling’s Schoolhaus Brewhaus

525 Bigham Knoll Rd.

541-899-1000

www.fraukemmling.com

SUN 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

 

Bella Union

170 W. California St.

541-899-1770

www.bellau.com

SUN 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

 

C Street Bistro

230 E. C St.

541-261-7638

www.cstbistro.com

THU – SAT 10:30 am – 2:30 pm

 

MEDFORD

Larks (Inn at the Commons)

200 N. Riverside

541-774-4760

www.larksrestaurant.com

SAT/SUN 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

 

Regency Grill (Rogue Regency Inn)

2300 Biddle Rd

541-282-2123

www.regencygrill.com

SUN 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

 

Over Easy (Downtown Market Co.)

231 E. Main St.

https://www.facebook.com/overeasyatdowntownmarket/timeline

SUN 9:30 am – 1:30 pm (or until the food runs out)

 

MISCELLANEOUS

Rogue River Lodge

24904 Hwy 62 (Trail)

541-247-0101

www.rogueriverlodge.com

SUN *10 a.m. – 2 p.m. (*brunch starts at 9 a.m. during high season)

Web Design & Web Development by LVSYS