Hearsay Restaurant, Lounge & Garden Wins With ‘Local Special’ – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News

Anchovy fritters complement the Caesar salad at Ashland’s Hearsay Restaurant, Lounge & Garden. Photos of Sarah Lemon

The Foreground “Artis’s Special” and “Sleigh Ride” are craft cocktails at Ashland’s Hearsay Restaurant, Lounge & Garden. Photos of Sarah Lemon

Bread pudding was a recent dessert choice on the “local special” menu at Ashland’s Hearsay Restaurant, Lounge & Garden. Photos by Sarah Lemon

A fish burger was a recent entree choice on the “local special” menu at Ashland’s Hearsay Restaurant, Lounge & Garden. Photos by Sarah Lemon

Anchovy fritters complement the Caesar salad at Ashland’s Hearsay Restaurant, Lounge & Garden. Photos of Sarah Lemon

Shrimp pasta was a recent entree choice on the “local special” menu at Ashland’s Hearsay Restaurant, Lounge & Garden. Photos by Sarah Lemon

Restaurants in the area, especially Ashland, will surely revel in the romance day.

Rigging the holidays has its merits, however, when a meal for a special occasion can be had at a special price. Sunday and Monday nights at Ashland’s Hearsay Restaurant, Lounge & Garden are for locals only — or any restaurant that likes low-key promotions. Paying just $28 for the restaurant’s three-course “local special” saves a lot in the wallet for other indulgences.

Gourmet cocktails are part of Hearsay’s business cards. For the cold season, heavier liquors like bourbon, brandy and cognac – accented with warming spices – rule the menu.

For its intriguing duo of bourbon and sherry Amontillado, I ordered the “Artist Special” ($14). Although its seasonal appeal is fading, the “Sleigh Ride” ($14) with cranberry juice, ginger, vodka and a sugar rim pleased my partner.

Delicious is a term I don’t usually apply to drinks, but mine was exactly that. Dutifully trying to slow down my first greedy sips into small sips, I only wished it had been twice as big.

Portions are perfect for every “local special” course. It’s one of the few gourmet meals I’ve had in the last year that doesn’t require me to weigh the entrees against the dessert. To be fair, the appetizer section of this menu offers a soup of the day or one of two salads. But we couldn’t have been happier with our choices.

Hearsay got me to “anchovy fritters”. I generally dismiss Caesar salads as a kitchen’s refuge, despite all their popularity. The dish rarely reflects the seasons and usually only plays one note on my palate. But Hearsay’s version swaps romaine lettuce for baby lettuce and conjures up lighter-than-air donuts from the oily essence of anchovy. This focal point of the restaurant’s regular-priced salad ($8 for small, $15 for large) adds significant interest to the “local special.”

Virtually helpless to pass up the chowder, my partner nearly passed out for his salmon. He asked me solicitously if I would prefer to try the vegetarian soup of the day, borscht. Although the beet-laden brew almost always meets with my approval, it just can’t compete with the salmon chowder.

More seafood was in store with my selection of shrimp pasta appetizers and my partner’s choice of the fish burger, priced at $16 off the regular menu. Other mains were a 6 oz sirloin steak with parmesan fries and vegetarian spinach pesto pasta with mixed grilled vegetables.

Both entrees arrived generously garnished – mine with freshly grated parmesan, my partner’s with fresh flat-leaf parsley. I enjoyed the drizzle of dressing over the lettuce in my salad rather than the mixed topping that overpowers most Caesars. The greens that prompted me to recall Hearsay’s Corner as one of the best salads of 2020 were equally effective chopped up for this dish.

Since that visit, Hearsay has promoted Leticia Lujan to executive chef. Originally from Ashland’s sister city, Guanajuato, Mexico, Lujan has lived and worked in Rogue Valley for over a decade, fusing his experience of Mexican cuisine with French techniques.

I can’t wait to see more innovations from Lujan, given how perfect their anchovy fritters are. Resembling delicate donut holes, these crispy spheres imploded in your mouth, releasing a flavorful puff of vapor, followed by a tender chew. Cut in half, donuts lose their impact. Open up for a big bite.

A small cup, my partner’s chowder was easily finished in a few spoonfuls. The flavors were rich and brackish without bordering on fishy. I found the diced carrots a bit distracting, but they added body and color.

Shiny, crispy produce accompanied his fish burger, consisting of two fingers of beer-battered cod on a soft bun slathered in homemade tartar sauce. The hearty portion of fresh cut fries would have been a nice side. But Hearsay added a lightly dressed, Asian-inspired coleslaw.

Numbering five, the wild prawns in my dish looked equally well done lying on their bed of richly sauced linguine. Dubbed a “creamy shallot reduction”, the sauce – while decadent – was not particularly distinctive. Squeezing the lemon from two large wedges lightened up the flavor profile, also helped with the tangling of green onion leaves turned into fine threads. The delicate acid note of the Kriselle Cellars Sauvignon Blanc ($8 a glass) complemented the pasta well.

Neither donuts nor pasta could dampen my enthusiasm for more carbs than bread pudding. Hearsay’s dessert was sprinkled with fresh pear and delicately dressed with caramel sauce and whipped cream.

Given the choice between cherry sorbet or lemon ice cream, my partner chose the latter. Although the pale, no-frills scoop had little to do with it, the punchy flavor of the ice cream stopped short of the lemon scrunch. We followed the bites with the subtly flavored bread pudding, its crumb and cream homogenized into an almost cohesive cake-like texture, which challenged my partner’s longtime notion of day-old crusts turned into a treat.

Courted not only by a bargain, but also by Hearsay’s commendable quality and conscientious presentation, we came away flushed with renewed affection for this local’s darling. Located at 40 S. First St., under the Oregon Cabaret Theater, Hearsay is open 5-9 p.m. Thursday through Monday.

Hearsay’s “local special” is not available on Monday, February 14, when a Valentine’s Day menu is scheduled. Book at hearsayashland.com or call 541-625-0505.

Tempo information

Show your love with locally baked, gluten-free treats.

Heart-shaped brownies and chocolate chip cookies, drizzled with white and dark chocolate, are available to order ahead of time from Organicos Bakery in Phoenix. Sprinkled with raspberries, the dark chocolate brownie is $20 and the cookie is $18. Each is sized to feed six to eight people.

Orders must be placed by 5 p.m. Thursday for in-store or curbside pickup on Saturday or Sunday, February 12 and 13. Order at organicosbakery.square.site

Using brown rice flour, tapioca flour and potato starch in its cookies and brownies, Organicos specializes in vegan and gluten-free baked goods with organic ingredients. The bakery’s breads, buns and pastries are available at local farmers’ markets and grocery stores.

Organicos is located at 4495 S. Pacific Highway #420. Hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, or while supplies last. Only fresh pastries, savory and sourdough are available on Tuesdays and weekends.

See organicosbakery.com. Email [email protected] or call 541-944-1473.

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Chocolate is the theme of a local competition open to all artists.

Ashland’s Golden Grove Collective is hosting the Oregon Chocolate Festival-inspired event, March 4-6. The festival has resumed in-person gatherings this year following the 2021 virtual experiences. See oregochocolatefestival.com

Art competition finalists will be on display at Ashland’s first Friday Art Walk on March 4 in Golden Grove,

342 Lithia Road. Visitors will vote for their favorites and the winner will receive a Golden Grove gift card. The retail and atelier space specializes in locally made goods and second-hand clothing. See goldengroveshop.com

Open to all ages, media and styles, contest entries are due February 28. Submit in person at the shop, via email with a photo and brief description, or on Instagram @goldengroveshop. The pieces will be exhibited throughout the month of March.

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The wines promote sustainable practices at Larks Home Kitchen Cuisine in Ashland.

The farm-to-table restaurant redefined its wine list last week, on which half a dozen appellations guide diners’ selections. Recognizing that many of the small vineyards and family-owned wineries in the region do not engage in certifications, Larks does not require this formality. All wines are tasted and hand selected by a certified sommelier, said restaurant manager and sommelier Molly Shaughnessy.

The icons on the new Larks wine list indicate organic farming without certification, organic certification in the country of origin of the wine, biodynamics without certification, certified biodynamics Demeter, Napa Green certification and certification in viticulture and low-input oenology.

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Do you have a Tempo treat to share? Send news about the local restaurant, food and drink scene to: [email protected]

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Sarah Lemon has savored the Rogue Valley dining scene for nearly two decades as one of the original contributors to Tempo’s restaurant column. His palate has helped judge some of the region’s food competitions and festivals. A former editor of A la Carte, the weekly food section of the Mail Tribune, she writes a bi-weekly column, The Whole Dish, as well as blogs and podcasts under the same name. Listen at mailtribune.com/podcasts and read more at mailtribune.com/lifestyle/the-whole-dish. Follow @the.whole.dish on Instagram, @thewholedish on Twitter or check out facebook.com/thewholedish.