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Ashland 2009 Restaurant Wrap

Thursday 31 December 2009

2009 has gone down as a net loss (by number) of restaurants for Ashland. Some good stuff closed for good; some of the replacements are not yet as good as what they replaced.


  • BZ’s Last Stand & Hacienda (18 Calle Guanajuato): Replaced Pilaf oh so briefly. It tried to be a table-service Central American restaurant. That location screamed for a straight-up taqueria, but that’s not what Beasy does.
  • Harper’s: Breakfast place in the old Monet location on Second Street. I think they tried to be affordable and somewhat healthy (lots of whole grains), and they tried dinner service during the season, but the breakfasts came off as a bit light and there is a lot of competition in that market. Will be missed anyway.
  • Ashland Bistro Cafe (a.k.a. Ashland Bakery Cafe, ABC): The old owners had it back briefly but could never get it to work. Too bad; we had a few meals there, mostly breakfast, and liked them.
  • Il Giardino (5 Granite Street): Apparently moved to Medford. Once one of our go-to restaurants anywhere, it suffered when ownership changed 10 years back and it went heavily in the “whatever the locals want” direction instead of “make good food and they will come”. It may have had a bit of a revival this last year according to other sources, but we missed it.


  • Taj Indian Cuisine (31 Water Street): Replaced Deep’s. Excellent lunch buffet that would be right at home anywhere in the Bay Area. Great naan–herself has mumbled about getting it take-out for a party. Definitely recommended.
  • Motif Restaurant and Lounge (62 E Main St.): Replaced Kat Wok in location but not in service or food. We’ve been a couple of times; the food is below the level of Tour Eiffel (Los Altos), a decent Vietnamese cafe, but with way higher prices. Incredibly pretentious in the name (“Motif Ultra-Lounge”) and the web site (which is more about the lounge, with a really annoying techno-pop soundtrack). We’ll wait for others to try it again before we do.
  • Sesame Asian Kitchen (21 Winburn Way): Across from the entrance to Lithia Park. Owned by the same couple who owns Pasta Piatti. We had a couple of good lunches, a couple of mediocre dinners. They’ve started service char siu bao as a starter; with the duck potstickers, that’s a nice lunch.
  • Tease (303 East Main): Formerly T’s, now owned by the same couple that owns Pangea. Micro-review, as we’ve only been once, but thoroughly enjoyed what we had. Music many nights, and seems to be packing them in. Excellent drinks. Recommended.
  • Red Hibiscus (11 North First Street). Billed as “Hawaiian Fusion”, it lists SPAM Musubi, Kalua Pig, Pork Adobo, Loco Moco, and Saimin, all with descriptions that sound right. We haven’t tried it yet and it’s closed until sometime in February (this is normal in Ashland), so a review will have to wait.


  • Martolli’s: Pizza on the Plaza. Replaces Ashland Bistro Cafe. Printed Menu posted in the window, so that’s a good sign. Based on scant evidence, I suspect that this is being run by the folks who run Martolli’s in Sisters, OR. This is a good sign; we need something to replace Cozmic.


  • Palace Cafe (542 A St.): A charcuterie and cafe in the A Street corridor. We’ve tried them a couple of times and it didn’t get better. The service was slow–dedicated cashier, busboy, and waitress in a shop that really needs at least two servers. Food okay, but nothing to keep us from going to Lela’s when they are open, or Morning Glory any day.
  • Hana Sushi (29 N. Main St.): Average-priced sushi place in the old Pipon’s/Quinz location. Prices run $4 to $6 or so for two pieces of nigiri, and $6 to $14 for various maki. We’ve been back a couple of times; it’s becoming a regular place for us, especially during summer by the creek.
  • Brother’s (95 North Main Street): It had been maybe 10 or 15 years since we had last been to Brother’s, so bad were our couple of meals at that time. We went back on good reports, and found it good enough to rate coming back to when we’re headed to that part of town. Decent corned beef hash, and they got herself’s over-medium eggs right.
  • Kobe (96 N. Main St.): The beef tataki is back! They are still also doing a beef carpaccio with yuzu and balsamic vinegar drizzle. Sesame ahi tuna, seared very rare, very good. Beef bul-go-gi good, not as good as what I can find in Mountain View, but good when I have the craving.
  • Lela’s Cafe (258 A Street): Under new ownership for several months now. Shrimp toast sadly gone from the lunch menu, but herself says the new chicken salad has the same delayed “must have now” effect. A couple of dinners there since the change have also been good. Also highly recommended.
  • Geppetto’s (345 East Main Street) is under new ownership; the previous owners sold to the cook. I didn’t notice any major changes in the menu.

All the other usuals (Morning Glory, Beasy’s, Larks, Amuse, etc., etc.) still open.

Now get out there and eat!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. cynthia permalink
    Saturday 2 January 2010 5:42 PM

    Great review of the restaurant scene… you’ve mentioned many things I didn’t know so I feel suitably humble when I report that Tease is owned by Mark from Pangaea and Julie, the interior designer who created the original T’s dinner club vibe. I hope they make it. Their effort to build community around local performance art is commendable and much needed.

    All in all after all the tantalizing possibilities most of the new 2009 restaurants proved disappointing. (Tease was an exception). Better luck next year I’m hoping.

    • Saturday 2 January 2010 11:50 PM

      Ah, you’re right (about Tease) and I knew that. Thanks for the correction. It’s Sesame Asian that’s owned by the Pasti Piattis.

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