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Sep 24, 2006 07:35 AM

Road Trip Summer 2006: Part 3 - Southern Oregon

Dear Hounds,

I hang my head in shame. It's been many weeks since my last report on our August road trip, where I left you all hanging on the California/Oregon border as posted here:

While I think Southern Oregon has so much to offer in its towns, I honestly feel like we didn't have enough time there to make any dent in the food scene. We essentially only had a day and a half before we headed back into California via I-5. Regret not staying one night in Ashland, but there's always next time!

So this report will be lacking in juicy food details, but I wanted to make sure to report back and thank you PNW hounds for your help in my query here:

Notables that have stuck w/ me:


We stopped at the little blue shack (does this place have a name?) by the water in old town for fish and chips. Weren't that hungry so shared one portion w/ cole slaw and fries. Choice between snapper and halibut, and we went for the cheaper snapper (around $7 including sides). Fish was fine and what you'd expect from snapper, but the fry job was terrific! Batter was puffy and greaseless, and the fries stayed hot and crispy to the last bite. Next time I'd upgrade to the halibut for a few extra bucks.

We went to Cranberry Sweets and More afterwards and had fun tasting all the samples. They were running a tape of Rachael Ray's visit to their store for one of her travel shows on the Food Network--a bit over the top. We liked the marionberry and cranberry pates de fruit, so bought a box. I'm sure the local cranberry bogs are getting ready for harvest...


We were headed to Coos Bay for the night and stopped at many lovely sights along the coast. Boy, was it super windy though! Clear difference between California vs. Oregon beaches. We checked into our hotel just before dinner time. We then drove north to do some more sightseeing and returned to Coos Bay for dinner. Driving around, we didn't see anything that interested us and everywhere we went seemed really, really dead. We kept on feeling like we were missing some major hub of town, but we were both getting cranky and needed to get dinner before places closed.

Ended up at Bennetti's in the downtown area right off Business 101. I remembered reading one positive report, but didn't have much to go on. Old school, red sauce Italian w/ a family-friendly vibe. All dinners come w/ bread, soup, and salad. We saw huge portions on tables so opted for half portions of their lasagna and eggplant parmigiana. Both were pretty bad, sloppy renditions of classics. Very salty, mushy masses on the oddest looking pre-heated plates that stayed hot forever. Soup tasted like canned minestrone. Even though the food was barely edible, we liked the vibe and service. The booths and red interior along w/ the quirky staff and patrons made us feel like we were in a David Lynch movie.

Next day we headed straight to the Dunes for some early morning sightseeing and hiking. So beautiful and tranquil. This is where our chowing takes a serious plunge. I think we were so worried about seeing everything that food just fell by the wayside. We snacked on car foods, but did manage to stop for wine tasting at River's Edge Winery in Elkton. For some random winery off the small highway headed towards Ashland, we were impressed w/ both their Pinots and Gewurtz. Bought a bottle of their 2004 Pinot Noir for $17; should age well.


Just outside of Ashland, we stopped in at Rising Sun Farm since I had seen an ad for it. Small shop that specializes in making savory cheese tortas and sells local products and wine. Sales clerk was friendly and offered many samples, but we didn't care for anything so left empty-handed.

Walked around downtown Ashland for a couple of hours and thought about grabbing an early dinner there, but none of the window menus really grabbed us. I tried some local gelato being sold at the ice cream shop, but I didn't really care for it. A new sweets shop called Mix looked interesting...

Feeling pressured to get to our nighttime destination of Redding, CA, we decided to head south and grab dinner in Dunsmuir at Sengthong's (sp?). That wasn't the most successful of meals, but I'll have to leave you in suspense and pick up again on the CA board in a couple of days.

Here are a few photos from this leg of our trip:

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  1. Carblover, Thank you for the report! The "Blue Shack" in Bandon serves some of the best Fish & Chips I've ever had.
    You may want to pick up the October issue of "SAVEUR". Saveur has seleted Ashland as one of the hot new food towns in America. Their recommendations look interesting.

    3 Replies
    1. I did see that Saveur article, Leper, but will have to read it more closely. We entered Ashland at an odd hour, around 3pm or so. Around 5pm, we started thinking about dinner and walked around the main drag and around the park area. Nothing appealed, but mind you, we weren't that hungry and husband wasn't "feeling" Ashland, although I found it cute. I'm sure some of the more interesting places were on side streets or in other areas.

      The very talkative woman at the info booth highly recommended Omar's to us, saying that's where all the locals go, but we weren't in the mood for standard steak and seafood dishes. Not really our kind of menu. Is that place any good?

      Hard to say anything about a town that you only spend a couple of hours in, so we def. plan on returning to spend a few days in Ashland and pair it w/ a visit to Crater Lake.

      1. re: Leper

        I happen to have my issue with me. The places they note are:

        - Chateaulin
        - Amuse
        - New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro
        - Winchester Inn (wine selection)
        - Allyson's of Ashland

        The restaurants mentioned are more like places for big sit-down dinners, so for what you wanted they might not have worked for you. I think Allyson's has sandwiches and lighter food, so that might have been an OK choice.

        I hope that you make it back to Ashland with a little more time to explore!

        1. re: Nettie

          We did walk into Allyson's. While they may have fresh, good-quality food, we found the gourmet cafe menu a bit boring since we can get that in Santa Cruz or make at home.

          I remember reading about New Sammy's in Talent and would have wanted to go if we were staying in the area and in a splurge mood. I believe that reservations need to be made well in advance though.

          Seems like Ashland also has some good breakfast places, but we were there way past breakfast time. Look forward to returning to eat and catch some of the local theatre.

      2. hey carby, gosh, i took a road trip to vancouver in august. shoulda coordinated.

        i actually planned things to arrive in ashland for breakfast at the black sheep. i had a legendary 3 hour breakfast there years ago, and always enjoy trying to repeat the feat. i like the english b-fst with a shandy, a few rounds of darts, then scones and tea. yes, good carbalicious scones.

        good news is that it's open til quite late.
        bad news is that the stale pub aroma just won't quit.

        1 Reply
        1. re: echo

          I guess the stale pub aroma comes free of charge. Thanks for the Black Sheep tip; never heard of it and didn't see it during our stroll through town.

          Here's the website for those interested:

        2. Argh! I was hoping and hoping that a local chowhounder would post on New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro. I've read so much about it and have even stopped and walked around it (Labor Day, it was closed). Since it's such a hidden (yet world-renowned) treasure, I wanted a report from you, CL, whom I trust about everything except that Nigella's Orange Cake isn't the best....well, at least among the best.

          So when's your next trip up there? Next month, I hope.

          1 Reply
          1. re: oakjoan

            Care to buy me a plane ticket then? ;-)

            I remember reading about New Sammy's before going to Ashland and REALLY wanted to check it out. We just didn't have enough time there and will have to return next year and give it due diligence. I couldn't find a website for them, so what is the general price range per person excluding wine?

            Ah yes, the clementine cake. I haven't given up on it yet; will try again this holiday season...