Innkeeper Duane Smith of Lithia Springs Resort & Gardens of Ashland has opened a new restaurant, Verdant, serving Southern Oregon Cuisine prepared using traditional European methods, Verdant will feature a Prixe Fix (fixed price) menu, changing daily, that includes a variety of roast meats and fresh fish complemented by a number of creatively prepared and presented vegetable dishes. The new restaurant's lush, European-style desserts and an extensive beer and wine list will cater to the most discriminating tastes. A wine menu chosen by the Sommelier to match dinner will be available nightly. Set in the Carriage House at the Inn at Lithia Springs, located at 2165 W. Jackson where Ashland's Main Street becomes South Pacific Highway, the restaurant seats 40 people.
The new restaurant will be open for dinner Thursdays through Saturdays from 5:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. Reservations are available by calling (541) 488-1062. In addition to Thursday-through-Saturday dinners, Verdant is hosting "Wine Wednesdays," every Wednesday from 4:00 p.
m. until 9:00 p.m.
These events will feature special presentations of Owner- or Barrel-Select wines, paired with the restaurant's gourmet fare in an informal setting where guests can eat, talk and sample fine food and wine in comfort. Helena Darling, Verdant's executive chef, founded Ashland's Prima Vera restaurant in the early 90's, then sold it in 1997. "I am delighted to be working with Duane Smith to provide our region and visiting tourists with a new and different fine-dining experience," said Darling.
"I'm going to ensure that Verdant will be known for its fresh, local ingredients; sophisticated, textured flavors and creative menu options featuring regional favorites. Our cooking is really inspired by what we've got growing outside the kitchen door and the wide variety of very high quality locally-grown organic produce and meat." Darling's style incorporates the use of fresh and rare herbs, like Saffron; flavored oils, like truffle and walnut oils; and aged, balsamic vinegars in the preparation of roasted, grilled and baked meat and fish entrees. Her desserts add Northwest touches to her classic European sensibilities to produce menu items like: "Meyer Lemon Custard Cake with Blackberry Puree and Orange Cream Cookie" and "Housemade Spumoni Bombe with Strawberry, Pistachio and Chocolate Ice Creams served with Balsamic Syrup and Anise Biscotti.
" After years of promoting and enjoying all of Ashland's fine-dining establishments, owner Duane Smith thought it was time to offer area residents and Inn guests his own vision of Rogue Valley Haut Cuisine. "I've always wanted to try my hand at the restaurant business," said Smith, who has lived in Ashland for almost 40 years. "I remember when the Chateaulin first opened 34 years ago.
I hope that Verdant will join the top-tier of fine restaurants in our region ? which is home to some of the West Coast's finest dining." Restaurant Verdant plans to look at expanding their operating days and hours during the height of the tourist season in Ashland. "It will depend on our success and the demand for our services," said Smith. "We want to keep all of our options open to best serve our customers.
" Lithia Springs Resort & Gardens is located in Ashland, Oregon ? home of the Tony Award-winning Ashland Shakespeare Festival, Southern Oregon University and the Mt. Ashland Ski Resort. The Resort is privately held. Established in 1991, Lithia Springs Resort & Gardens of Ashland and Waterstone Spa features Ashland's only natural hot springs water in its baths and pool. The award-winning SPA offers facials, wraps, steams and hot rocks massage.
The Inn offers guests accommodation in 4 garden rooms; 10 small suites; 8 English cottages; and 3 theme suites. Open year round, the Inn can be contacted, toll-free, at (800) 482-7128; or by email, at: Lithia@ashlandinn.com. They welcome press trips.
By: Charlie McHenry