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More To Eat: Omnivore, post 2

Sunday 22 January 2012

It’s been a busy few days at the Omnivore Café.

Morning Glory:

Rock Shrimp Cakes with Smoked Tomato Chutney:

This is one of the things I’ve never tried at Morning Glory. Two cakes of rock shrimp and a starchy binder, two poached eggs, smoked tomato chutney, and grilled polenta cakes. Poached eggs are not something I would normally order anywhere; I really don’t like runny yolks. However, with something like these shrimp cakes and the polenta to absorb the yolks, even I liked these eggs. The polenta cakes, having been grilled, had a crunchy exterior that I’d never had with polenta; it’s a nice change from the usual runny or spongy polenta. The tomato chutney is the same sort that they used to put on the lamb burger (and still will, if asked).

This is a pretty good dish; I might order it in the future, when I want a change from my usual favorites.

 

Breakfast Croissant with Ham and Eggs:

This is another thing I normally wouldn’t order, because it seems so…ordinary. I mean, ham and eggs on a croissant–get that anywhere, right?

Leave it to Morning Glory to elevate this to a really good example of a standard dish. A really fresh croissant, that would be good on its own; a nice, thick stack of thinly sliced ham; and two fried eggs. With the hashbrowns, this is a really substantial breakfast or lunch (or both). I might try it with the polenta, or something else with a lower fat content next time, to better balance the ham and eggs.

 

Thai Pepper:

Rock Cod with Chilies (Special):

Thai Pepper has a fairly short lunch menu and a creative kitchen, so it’s definitely worth trying some of the specials. In this case, a fillet of rock cod, dusted with chili powders and flakes and sautéed. It’s a very light and flavorful dish, the chili flavors not being so strongly applied as to overwhelm the fish. The usual cucumber salad worked well against the mild heat of the chilies.

 

Larks:

Macaroni and Cheese:

Mac and cheese is a perennial favorite of children all over the country. It’s classic comfort food–warm, a little chewy, a little gooey, just the right thing for a cold day’s lunch.

Larks goosed up their mac and cheese with house-smoked ham, green peas, several cheeses, toasted breadcrumbs, and fresh herbs. It still gives that comfort food vibe, without getting boring after the first few bites.

 

Taroko:

We’ve been to Taroko twice since our last update.

Tofu and Shiitake Mushroom Dumplings:

Ordering tofu is not something I voluntarily do, at least when there are any alternatives on the menu, or an alternate restaurant nearby if not. I got a great kick out of Gordon Ramsay’s The F Word episode in which he feeds meat dishes to a bunch of vegetarians (they were warned in advance). But that’s part of the point of this challenge–eat things one would usually eschew.

This one was a real find; a warm, buttery sauce that perfectly complimented the mild flavor of the mushrooms. The tofu was just texture, and melded well into the mushrooms and wrapper. I’d definitely order this again.

 

Hamachi Kama:

This dish is exactly the reason I started this effort. Hamachi Kama is the collar of a yellowtail tuna. It’s the piece right behind the head, and is one of the most flavorful pieces of the fish. And somehow, I have never tried it. At Taroko it’s served (as you can see) with bowls of salt and pepper, limes, and soy sauce. I squeezed some lime across the fish and dipped the first piece into the salt and pepper. Uh oh, it looked way, way too salty and peppery. Then I dipped it in the soy sauce and tried it.

Heaven!

The rest of the meal was a blur of fish, spice, and soy. Hamachi Kama is now on my must-try list for Japanese restaurants I come across. As it’s a low-fat, high-protein meat, I will feel (dietary) no guilt about this one.

 

Salt & Pepper Calamari:

Calamari, the Italian word for “squid”, has become a staple at Mediterranean restaurants. I don’t normally associate that word with Asian cuisines. It’s usually in a heavy, thick breading with a dipping sauce, as seen here.

Taroko’s is not like that. The batter is very light and crisp, similar to what is on their Pattaya Chicken. It’s got enough salt and pepper in the batter, enough to impart flavor but not to overwhelm. The peppers and onions (with a little vinegar?) impart a brightness to the dish that is missing from most traditional calamari dishes. It goes great with the Pattaya Chicken, the pepperiness of the calamari and the sour-sweet of the chicken sauce. Again, here’s another dish I would have missed.

 

Pork Dumplings:

I’ve had the soup dumplings (a.k.a. Little Dragons, Xiao Long Bao) several times, and was expecting something similar. Instead, this dish is more like the tofu and shiitake dumplings: pork balls wrapped in rice paper wrapper, steamed to tenderness, and in the same sauce as the t & s dumplings. Really good, and a little more substantial than the t & s dumplings.

 

Sesame Asian Kitchen:

Red Curry Pork:

Sesame Asian is unusual in Southern Oregon, in that they are not afraid to put large amounts of spiciness into their dishes. The red curry pork is no exception; roasted (or smoked?) pork, shredded, and served in a spicy, smoky red curry sauce. I like the bean sprouts and sauce, but I found the pork not to be sufficiently tender. I left a note to the manager to that effect; we’ll see if anything come of it as I work my way down the menu.

 

Martolli’s:

The Grizzly:

After a week of mostly unusual tastes, The Grizzly was a safe bet. It’s a classic meat-centric pizza, with olives and mushrooms to add an aura of nutritional completeness. It’s a great pizza for when you want that big slug of meat.

 

Smithfield’s:

Lemon Crepes:

Smithfield’s cuisine is based on meat: beef, pork, almost anything with four hooves or feet.

So, of course, the first item on their brunch menu is lemon crepes with pears, yogurt, strawberry coulis, and ginger snaps. It’s a really interesting and very light dish; the texture and taste of the pears worked well in place of what would often have been banana chunks. I didn’t know it was yogurt; I thought it was a whipped cream, and the ginger snap bits read as bacon. But it’s a very light dish; if you’re hungry, get a side of something.

That’s it for this set of meals. More to come, including a couple of new restaurants as they re-open for the tourist season.

Bon appétit!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Saturday 28 January 2012 9:21 AM

    Great food photos and love your commentary. I make it up to Ashland occasionally and have eaten at only some of the restaurants mentioned. Looking forward to trying out the different places. Would be nice to have locations or links to the restaurants in your reviews. Keep up the good work.

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