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Coquina, Ashland, Oregon

A group of us went to the recently opened Coquina on A Street. We had a sufficient enough group to experience many of the things on the menu. The lasting impression of this restaurant after a week's reflection is how little you got for your money. The serving sizes were incredibly small. One of our friends split the lasagna with his wife. When he got the plate he assumed they had split it for him. Oops, not true. The extra plate came for his use in splitting the 8.5 oz serving. Yes, they told us it was 8.5 ounces. I had the gnocchi. For $18 I got approximately 12 of the little morsels. They were good, but for $18 I expected more than a bland tomato sauce and the gnocchi. Nothing else on the plate. My SO had the scallops. The three or four on her plate were good, but again, the portion was small. The price of $22-24 seemed steep. The wine list wasn't particularly good, and again, priced on the aggressive side.

I would have preferred we get a new restaurant that isn't trying to be a Peerless or Amuse clone. There is a real need in Ashland to have a reasonably price, good quality, unpretentious restaurant. Loft and Lela's come to mind, but they aren't quite there.

If the rule of thumb for restaurants is 1/3 of the revenue should go to cost of ingredients, Coquina doesn't come close. I'd say 20% at most.

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  1. thanks for taking one for the team,RR.I will now proceed to Smithfield's instead to try this year's
    new crop of joints.

    3 Replies
    1. re: bbqboy

      We had a very good meal at Liquid Assets Wine Bar a few weeks ago. Very good food, nice ambiance, there were muscians playing when we were there. Friendly service and a fantastic wine list. :)

      -----
      Liquid Assets Wine Bar
      96 N Main St, Ashland, OR 97520

      1. re: syrahgirl

        Kim, this is down on A street where Palace Cafe was. Smithfield's is on S. 2nd Street where Harpers used to be, opened by the former Dragonfly chef and his wife. Supposed to be a meatfest.

        1. re: bbqboy

          You may be disappointed with Smithfield's if you're expecting a meatfest. They are into the snout-to-tail thing, but the portions are more like Coquina or Amuse. For a steakhouse, you still need to go to Beasy's or Omar's, or the pork chop at Larks.

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          Amuse Restaurant
          15 North First Street, Ashland, OR 97520

          Beasy's On the Creek
          51 Water St, Ashland, OR 97520

          Omar's Fresh Seafood & Steaks
          1380 Siskiyou Blvd, Ashland, OR 97520

          Coquina
          542 A St, Ashland, OR 97520

          Smithfield's Restaurant and Bar
          36 S 2nd St, Ashland, OR 97520

    2. Hmm, I both agree and disagree.

      Yes, it's like Amuse in that it's high-end, high-quality food. Yes, it's expensive, but being on par with places like Amuse (and Smithfield's), I expected that. I thought the presentations were very nice, not overly pretentious--minimal use of sauce squeeze bottles to decorate the plates, for example. The gnocchi is on par with Perbacco (San Francisco), no mean feat that. I can eat at Coquina for a lot less than Amuse or Peerless and be just as happy (happier, really).

      It's not pretentious or stuffy, as one might find Peerless. The dining room is fairly bright, lots of off-white and blond wood, and very plain lighting fixtures, totally unlike Chateaulin or Peerless. The service is friendly and warm, not particularly formal, but still very correct.

      I'm quite happy to have a good high-end restaurant in the Railroad District. I little closer to town might have been better, the better to walk off dinner.

      -----
      Amuse Restaurant
      15 North First Street, Ashland, OR 97520

      Chateaulin Restaurant
      50 E Main St, Ashland, OR 97520

      Coquina
      542 A St, Ashland, OR 97520

      Smithfield's Restaurant and Bar
      36 S 2nd St, Ashland, OR 97520

      1. I totally disagree. As a foodie, i found Coquina had the most delicious food of my entire trip to Ashland. The owner of my Ashland B&B has the same high opinion of Coquina and he tries all the major restaurants in town on a regular basis. The coupe that run Coquina are wonderful and dedicated to making innovative cuisine that is truly amazing to eat.

        5 Replies
        1. re: dogenjoe

          Joe, I think if you reread my post you'll note i thought the food was decent, but that the portions were simply too small. We sampled many things on the menu, and all were on the small to very small side. If you disagreed with me, I guess you believe the portions were large. OK. We all have our own opinion. I still don't believe their cuisine is that innovative. Perhaps some of their sourcing is, but innovative. No.

          My other complaint, due to being a local, is the number of establishments catering to higher end clientele. Not everyone in this town can afford entrees priced at $20-$35+. I was hoping this restaurant, since it is off the beaten track, might have catered more to the center. That wasn't to be. Their format caters to the Peerless, Amuse, Chateaulin, Smithfields, and Winchester Inn crowd, to name most. Ashland does have some restaurants that are for the more mainstream, but they don't get mentioned much and in my opinion aren't Chow worthy.

          I use Chowhound, not to find the best, most expensive restos in a town, but to find the unique, fun,one of a kind, inspired, undiscovered, food value. I like the finds that mention the food way more than what the room looks like.

          BTW, I like good food. I think New Sammy's is Chow worthy, due to the combination of good food and a fantastic wine list. The wine list makes what they do very unique.

          -----
          Chateaulin Restaurant
          50 E Main St, Ashland, OR 97520

          Winchester Inn
          35 S 2nd St, Ashland, OR 97520

          Smithfield's Restaurant and Bar
          36 S 2nd St, Ashland, OR 97520

          1. re: runninrob

            New Sammy's is one of our favorites in the area! We have enjoyed a few lunches there, I especially loved their housemade raviolis. :)

            1. re: runninrob

              With all due respect Rob, I don't value my food by the pound...but I respect the fact that you had a different experience than I did. I am from San Francisco and would put Coquina in the top 25% of high-end restaurants even here. I didn't leave Coquina feeling hungry and slighted in portions.

              1. re: dogenjoe

                As an ex-Bay Area person who has been visiting Ashland since the early 1990s and living between here and the SFBA since early 2000s, I'm with dogenjoe. I'd happily match Coquina against Amuse, Peerless (rarely high on my lists), Smithfield, or any other place in Ashland and against many in San Francisco. The service is friendly without becoming chummy, and the quality of the food--presentation, preparation, taste--is right at the top. The menu is innovative compared to many other restaurants--c'mon, when is the last time Amuse made a major menu change? Amuse is still where I take out-of-town friends and relatives who are not particularly adventurous or want a more formal meal, but Coquina (and Smithfields, for a different experience) is where I go for a really good meal that will have a better chance of surprising me, pleasantly, in at least some aspect.

                As far as "mainstream" goes, I saw a statistic that Ashland gets something like 120,000 visitors a year. With a local population of 21,000, mainstream is the tourists, not the locals. So if Coquina, with a small number of tables, is catering to the tourists to make their numbers, that sounds like a good business decision. Yes, I'd like more at the prices of Munchies or Pangea, but that's the economy we live in. I can't fault Coquina's owners for that.

                1. re: SCF

                  Coquina is a chefs expression. She puts a personality on a plate. Some people like it as do I or some people feel ripped off cause they didn't receive steamed veg and a 13 ounce portion of protein. Further more you should look at Amuses menu there has been major changes. For a town that has over 100 placed to eat for the true value and quality of what you will be eating along with the care and time it took to prepare Amuse and Coquina are the only players in Ashland. I think.