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Eating Out in Ashland, Late 2010

Monday 3 January 2011

Executive summary: a pretty good year for the Ashland diner. Some new arrivals, some departures, probably a net gain.

GONE

  • Palace Cafe. Although the WWW site is still there, there’s a new sign over the shop and a change of ownership. See below for more.
  • Motif. Also not officially gone, but closed for so long, and this week there was a letter from what looked like a lawyer’s firm taped to the door.
  • Turtle’s Beejie Hut. Word has it that Noble Coffee owns the building, and kicked them out to make space for yet another coffee outlet near the Plaza. Feh. Turtle’s had a great, unique offering (kettle corn in various flavors) for the area. I’ll miss them, and spurn Noble.

NEW

  • Martolli’s (38 E. Main St.) When Cozmic Pizza left Ashland, it left a big, cheesy hole in the Ashland food galaxy. Martolli’s has filled that hole, at least in general quality and friendly service. A big slice, a fountain drink, and a nice salad for $6.75. Pizzas are thin, with the right balance of cheese (some), sauce (some), and toppings (lots). Highly recommended, especially for quick bites between films during the Ashland Independent Film Festival.
  • Loft American Brasserie & Bar (18 Calle Guanajuato Way) A French bistro in the old Pilaf space? Okay, we can do that. A couple of pretty good lunches and dinners. Service a bit pokey at times, but the food is quite good so we are tolerant.
  • Chateaulin Bistro (52 E. Main St.) The owners of Chateaulin closed down late last year, all very hush-hush, paper over the windows, etc., etc. Then they revealed this charming little bistro, just four tables and a bar, with wine racks lining the walls. Great bistro food like escargot and duck confit cassoulet. Wines by the bottle, glass, and half glass. Highly recommended.
  • Blue – Greek on Granite (5 Granite St.) Very positive experience for a couple of dinners and lunches. Excellent dolmas (served in a lemon-butter sauce–unusual and good) and spanakopita. Very good roast leg of lamb and divers scallops special, although it all could have been a little hotter. Great prices on wine by the glass. Note that the lunch and dinner menu prices and items are the same, so it’s a spendy lunch or a reasonable dinner. Service can be slow but friendly–the owner may stop by for a chat–so plan accordingly if you have evening plans.
  • 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. But in our two trips there earlier this year, the everything was markedly bland and low-fat. Maybe we’ve been ruined by L&L and J&J, but this is not what we want for this food group.

ANTICIPATED

  • Coquina (542 A St.) Replace Palace Cafe, R.I.P. Lots of construction work going on there the past several months; the old charcuterie case and other defining internal design characteristics appear to be totally gone.

UPDATES

  • Kobe (96 N. Main St.): The beef carpaccio is gone again, sad sad sad. But they have hazelnut crispy prawns, whole prawn coated with broken hazelnut pieces, fried and served with a sweet sauce. We often order one as a starter and one as dessert (three prawns to an order). Also an Azuma roll, shrimp tempura, avocado, and their spicy aioli. Very good; Kobe remains at the top of our rotation.

That’s all. Get out there and eat!

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