Hither, a new cafe-lunch spot on Main Street across Gresham Street from the Ashland Public Library, is offering all organic coffee, wine and foods, house-made bread and pastries and dishes with a refined urban accent that are a big step beyond the eggs-and-hashbrown fare of many favored Ashland eateries.
One customer wandered in for the first time and exclaimed, “Oh, New York!”
Hither has the kitchen in plain view behind the counter, lots of seating inside and on the two familiar patios (this spot has had several incarnations as a popular restaurant — remember Evo’s and Garo’s?), and an engaging central “larder shelf,” packed with goodies they use in cooking: olive oils, cheeses, honey, creme fraiche and house-made butter.
When you pick up the breakfast menu, get ready for a bit of study and a convo with friendly owners Corrie Robinson and Wesley Reimer, who have long resumes in top restaurants in San Francisco, Portland and New York.
“We bring a flair from our fine dining background. We bring elegant to Hither, but downplay it,” says Robinson. “Not too highbrow. We’re normal people.” They call it a “New Age bodega,” a corner store with a little bit of everything — and curated wines, to go or enjoy there.
Some breakfast picks: herbed eggs with local greens, grana padano (cheese) and country levain (bread). Another - Biscuit, La Quercia ham, fried eggs, Calabrian aioli, Beecher’s cheddar and local greens. Then there’s house-made granola, nut milk and fruit. They like to make interesting granola.
Here’s how Robinson describes the herbed eggs: “Soft scrambled eggs, low and slow, nice and creamy, with chives, parsley on a slice of garlicked bread, topped with salt, pepper and Aleppo chili.”
The biscuit is “Creme fraiche biscuit, made in house, put a little cheddar on top, into the oven till it’s melty, super high heat 'til the edge (of eggs) is crusty but the yolk is runny, with Calabrian chili aioli, hot smoky chili pepper, topped with prosciutto style ham.”
At lunch, you’ll see brioche BLT and plow ham, heirloom tomato, Calabrian aioli and Romaine. Another offering: Peach, tartine (open-faced sandwich with spreadable ingredients), balsamic vinegar, Marash chili, basil.
They stress that virtually all ingredients are locally sourced and therefore fresh and good for the environment and area farmers.
“That’s important to us. It’s sustainable,” says Robinson. “We don’t have ingredients that shouldn’t be grown in the valley, so you won’t see tomatoes in December or peaches in the January. No mass-produced chicken.”
Coffee is from Four Barrel in San Francisco, a roastery that cultivates personal relationships and supports a living income with java farmers in Central America and Africa, they say. Wines are from Oregon and all over the world and have in common that they are “not manipulated,” but, rather, free of additives and sulfites and “made like wine was a century ago. It’s alive and we want to celebrate that.”
The outside decks, by the way, will be year-round, as they now can be enclosed. It still has an open ceiling and good parking. A charming, familiar and “townie” touch is the old sketchily painted concrete floor from its early days a gas station.
“We wanted to keep that floor,” says Reimer, with a smile.
The couple moved here from Portland to be near parents. They are expecting their first baby in November. Hither is at 376 East Main St. View on web at www.hithermarket.com or call 541-625-4090.
—John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.