"Home kitchen cuisine" has been the subtext for Larks, the restaurant inside Ashland Springs Hotel, since it was hatched in spring 2005.
This comfort-foods concept, however, has been executed with the freshest local and regional ingredients, much of them sourced at farmers markets by Executive Chef Damon Jones. The farm-to-table ethic continued at Larks during Jones' recent, two-year absence from Ashland.
With Jones back at the helm, bringing some fresh ideas from the East Coast, Larks closed for a few weeks to freshen up its menu and decor. Passers-by may notice a new awning over the windows fronting Ashland's East Main Street.
Larks' dining room still echoes the hotel lobby's nostalgic, naturalist theme of bird's eggs, seashells and pressed flowers. But repainted wicker-look chairs and new light fixtures complement the slightly elevated preparation of entrees, which include more seafood selections, as well as Kobe beef.
Although Larks' long-running meatloaf with mashed potatoes didn't make the new menu, fans of Jones' home-style recipes still will find Southern-style fried chicken with bacon gravy and grass-fed beef pot roast — both served with mashed potatoes. The pork chop with apple compote and sweet potatoes is another menu mainstay.
Recommended: Dungeness crab and five-cheese fondue is redolent of — if not awash in — shellfish with a sauce thin enough for soaking ample portions of lightly grilled, rosemary-spiced bread; confit duck leg is rich and fall-off-the-bone tender atop hearty but creamy polenta.
Alternative diets: At least two vegetarian dinner entrees offered daily; salads feature organic arugula, spinach and field greens; many other ingredients are locally produced and sustainable.
Beverages: Oregon-focused wine list organized by varietal, strong on local labels, lesser emphasis on California and Washington wines, with several half-bottles and imports; local, other craft and domestic, bottled beers; specialty cocktails, aperitifs and digestifs; full bar; house-made lemonade and locally roasted Noble coffee.
Price range: Lunch, $9 to $14; dinner appetizers, $10 to $15; soups, $4 to $6; dinner salads, $8 to $10; entrees, $21 to $33; desserts, $6.50 to $8.50.
Extras: Split-plate charge $2 for salads, $5 for entrees; wine-corkage fee $15; 18 percent gratuity added to parties of six or more; street parking or in pay-to-park, city-owned lot on Hargadine Street behind the hotel.
Serving: Lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays, brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; dinner from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, until 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; bar opens at 5 p.m.
Info: 212 E. Main St., Ashland (inside Ashland Springs Hotel); 541-488-5558; www.ashlandspringshotel.com/larks-restaurant.