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Porked! Ashland Restaurant Week

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The difference between a supper club and a steakhouse may seem like semantics; after all, most supper clubs serve a choice of juicy steaks and most steakhouse have the egalitarian elegance of a supper club. But there is an important difference.

Supper clubs are a distinctly American invention that boomed in the post-World War II years as cars and interstates opened new avenues for destination dining (whereas, technically, the steakhouse is an English invention and something more akin to the bourgeois class). Carrying a distinctly midwestern charm, supper club establishments serve as a social hub, much like a bar where everyone knows your name, except that supper clubs offer a more family-oriented attitude and are usually knee-deep in surf and turf offerings.

Within this definition and history, Omar’s is one of Oregon’s premier supper clubs. Established in 1946, it celebrates seven decades of top dining—and, instead of resting on laurels, last August, pushed forward Executive Chef James Williams to Bite of Oregon’s Iron Chef Competition, which, oh yes, he won. Boo-yah!

For Ashland Restaurant Week, starting on Sunday, January 31, Omar’s will present Williams’ winning dish: Pork Three Way (braised pork jowl and crispy pork belly, topped with a chili honey glaze; served with corn and bacon puree, roasted cauliflower and baked spaghetti squash, garnished with crispy leeks and dried cherry pan sauce).

The week-long event is organized by the Ashland Chamber.  

The density of restaurants in Ashland is particular strong, as this small town hosts a dining population many times its residents, with several months of solid tourists flowing through the region. There are a remarkable 100-plus restaurants in Ashland alone, and more when including surrounding areas. But restaurant week is unique in that it largely caters not to tourists, but to locals, as late winter is the low point for tourism.

Restaurant Weeks are still a relatively new invention, with the first reported event happening in New York City in 1992, and quickly spreading to other major cities. But few small towns have the shear breadth of restaurants to host a meaningful Restaurant Week.

The Ashland food scene is certainly varied, with a wide selection of cuisines and restaurant environments to choose from. ”explains Susan Chester, owner of

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant. We are fortunate to experience big city selection in a small town; a bit of something for everyone!”

Now in its fifth year, the event in Ashland includes a few dozen eateries offering special deals and dishes.

Ashland Restaurant Week runs Sunday, January 31 – Saturday, February 6.

For more details and deals, AshlandChamber.com/Food2016.

 

Some select highlights:

Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant
A hardy smoked salmon pot pie for one inexpensive price.
51 N. Main.

Callahan’s Mountain Lodge
The romantic and rustic chalet Callahan’s Mountain Lodge has won the Taste of Ashland “Taster Award” for the past three years as the Best Restaurant. Once again, they are putting their best fin forward with a variety of smoked salmon dishes—smoked salmon benedict for breakfast, smoked salmon BLT for lunch and smoked salmon salads at dinner. See a theme? Fifteen percent off most dishes that a smoked salmon even looks at. 7100 Old Hwy 99 S

Eleven Restaurant
A winemaker’s dinner on Thursday, February 4 at the Basque-inspired restaurant (think figs and chorizo). 11 N 1st St

Ashland Food Co-op
From curry to spices, an Indian cooking class, hosted by Rose Strand on Thursday, February 4. 6:30 – 9:30 pm. $40.

 

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