Our household of Southern California Chowhounds was in Southern Oregon for a week, and we dined at a variety of places. Here is my report:
Antonio's Cucina Italiana - The ambition is modest, but results are good. This checkered-tablecloth Italian serves good pizza and decent pastas in vast quantities. The only surprise was a very authentic Sicilian wedding soup, a daily special that is worth repeating. Not a destination restaurant, but a good choice for a casual bite.
Waldo's Grill - Went here on recommendation of a local. Food is OK, service is intolerable; it took over an hour and a half from ordering until food arrived at the table, and that was for a spinach salad, grilled cheese sandwich, and a couple of burgers. There are obviously staffing problems here; the waitress blamed the problem on the fact that the dishwasher had quit that morning. Still, with only two tables occupied and three servers and a cook working, it shouldn't have been this bad.
Smokey Joe's BBQ - Very good Southern-style barbecue, slow-smoked so the outside is slightly leathery, inside is tender. Sides OK. Take-out or dine at outdoor picnic tables only, apparently only open for lunch.
Ranch House Restaurant (at the Running Y golf course clubhouse) - Exceptional quality steaks and lamb chops, but kitchen sometimes overcooks meats - on our first visit we sent back several steaks because they were medium well instead of medium rare. We were quite happy with them when they were cooked properly. Good spinach and cheese-stuffed chicken breast, decent but extremely rich seafood Newburg. Attentive service, nice view of golf course and cattle ranch. Definitely caters to the country club set, expensive for the area but environment is very nice.
New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro - Exceptional, creative food at absurdly modest prices; our three course meals with a delicious bottle of Provencal wine averaged out to $50.00 each. Starters included a green garlic custard with an onion and fava bean stew, flank steak and mango salad, and goat cheese and toasted almond salad. Outstanding dinners were a lamb shank in anchoiade sauce with orange, roast duck with sauteed leeks, onions, and dried cherries, and the best roasted black bass I've ever had. Desserts were excellent too, a buckwheat crepe with orange blossom honey ice cream and the gingerbread with ginger ice cream were my favorites. We drove almost a hundred miles per direction for dinner, and it was absolutely worth it.
Crater Lake Lodge - We were there for lunch and were quite impressed. This place has a monopoly and could sell anything to the tourists, but they are turning out excellent meals at reasonable prices. Salmon wrap, crabcakes, and burgers were served in large portions and nicely presented. Surroundings are beautiful, service attentive. Note that there can be a considerable wait for lunch- it is wise to call ahead for a reservation. Dinner menu very impressive, and I hope to return sometime.
Jacksonville (near Ashland/Medford):
Back Porch Barbecue - Wonderfully tender meat properly smoked, including ribs, brisket, peppered pork loin, and good though not homemade sausage. Sauce a bit thin and bland, but soke flavor in meat is so good that this may be forgiven. Sides exceptional for variety and quality - peach salsa hot, fruity, and a good complement to the meat, hot bean dip great with chips. Kitschy Western decor fun, service very friendly - a great stop on your way to see the historic downtown area.
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