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Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Hearsay is Fine Dining Experience Not to be Missed


Have You Heard?

Hearsay is Fine Dining Experience Not to be Missed

Story by Leslee Ryerson

Photography by Ezra Marcos


A three-minute walk from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, up the hill on South First Street in Ashland and tucked right next to the Oregon Cabaret Theater, you’ll find a canopied breezeway leading you straight into Hearsay Restaurant, Lounge and Garden.

Craig Hudson, building owner and founder of the Oregon Cabaret Theater has meticulously created the perfect set, if you will, for an extraordinary evening of dinner, drinks, and music. When you walk inside you instantly know you’ve found someplace special. The expansive yet intimate space is reminiscent of a 1930’s speak easy or French bistro. Warm wood walls are decorated with colorful paintings of larger than life jazz musicians and flapper girls. The dining room lighting is just the right dark to produce an elegant atmosphere, without needing a flashlight to read the menu. The acoustics are brilliant as well, so dinner conversation is not drowned out by the grand piano or live music that may be performing on your visit.

The enchanting atmosphere spills out onto the terraced garden patio where you can dine al fresco under a canopy of trees draped with rows of twinkling lights.

A stickler for detail and talented designer, Hudson made sure even the washrooms have art deco wallpaper and artwork.

When Hudson offered Julie Gurwell ownership of the restaurant, he knew it would be in excellent hands. An accomplished veteran of the Ashland food and entertainment industry, Gurwell was the former concessions manager and then audience services director for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for 15 years. Then she was the general manager of Oregon Cabaret Theater. Gurwell has taken her wealth of expertise in providing a “flawless guest experience” and poured it into Hearsay. “In many ways the guest interaction (and long hours) in a theater environment are very similar to a restaurant. The entire staff works together to provide the best possible experience for our guests.” So the stage is set beautifully, the staff is on point, but what about the food?

Gurwell hit the jackpot when she hired Clarissa Carbajal, a passionate young chef who

is always exploring new recipes and techniques. Eager to learn from local chefs and always inspired by what’s at farmers markets, Carbajal has created an all-from-scratch menu that is heavily influenced by what’s fresh, in season, and local when available.

A smoker is producing not-to-be-missed dishes like the slightly smoked, red wine-braised English cut short rib served with blackberry sauce, rice-filled collard greens and house pickled vegetables. Lighter smoke lets the flavor of the meat come through without being overpowered, while slow cooking creates a tender, melt-in-your-mouth bite. 

The bacon-wrapped tenderloin is grilled to order Painted Hills grass-fed beef. The super tender cut is served with mashed potatoes, charred broccolini, and a green peppercorn demi glace.

Seafood dishes range from a seared sea scallop appetizer to a pan-seared Columbia River steelhead served with warm quinoa salad, grilled asparagus, and pepita pesto. Fresh herbs create bright bold flavors and attention is paid not only to excellent flavor but also to aromas and textures.

The chicken Milanese is a crunchy, breaded chicken breast with lemon butter caper sauce, served with potato purée, and arugula salad. 

Toothsome pasta, creamy sauce, bits of crunch mixed with fresh vegetables make the lemon walnut pasta interesting and delicious. House made fettuccini is tossed in a light béchamel sauce, topped with toasted walnuts, crispy shallots, lemon, asparagus, and peas. Add an order of house bread and a salad and you’ve got a really great meal.

The Caesar Salad is baby gem lettuce and kale tossed with Caesar dressing, Grana Padano cheese, and served with pan-fried croutons and lemon. The house salad is baby gem lettuce dressed with a mustard tarragon vinaigrette, a goat cheese schmear and everything bagel seeds. Or try the delicious beet salad made with roasted beets, Cara Cara orange, endive, Danish blue cheese, ground hazelnuts, and red onion with a Pedro Ximénez reduction.

You might be lucky enough to catch the special, scallop crudo. Thinly sliced chilled scallops, cucumbers and red onion are plated on a cilantro, lime, and poblano dressing, making for a perfect summer appetizer.

During the summer months look for weekly “farmers market” specials and happy hours.

As flavorful as the food is, the bar menu is exceptional as well. Veteran bartender, Freddie Herrera has been bartending for twelve years and in the business for 18, learning his craft in West Hollywood’s Hugo’s Restaurant. As one of the original crew at Hearsay, he has developed an elevated drink menu that features award-winning drinks and tasty concoctions for any palate. A true bartender’s bartender, Herrera understands flavor profiles and how to mix and match to create interesting and delicious cocktails. A big fan of agave spirits (Mezcal in particular) his favorite creation is La Gloria, a coriander-infused mezcal with strawberry black peppercorn shrub*, lemon, Cynar** and Demerara.

The Jade Rose, named after his children, won first place at the 2017 Ashland Culinary Festival competition. It’s made with huckleberry vodka, basil, sugar, lemon, Peychaud’s bitters, and egg white. 

A carefully curated wine list offers local, domestic, and imported wine—ensuring there’s something ideal to pair with your meal. Beer and hard cider are also available.

The short but brilliant dessert menu is definitely worth saving room for. Choose from house made sorbet or ice cream, malted chocolate pot de crème with malted whipped cream, carrot cake, or an orange crème brulé.

Hearsay is a place that captivates all your senses: sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch. You’ll feel the warmth of the staff and will be bathed in the ambiance without even realizing that all of those needs are being met. It’s like magic. Don’t take my word for it though, go see for yourself. After all, it’s Hearsay….



Hearsay Restaurant, Lounge and Garden

40 S First St, Ashland



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