My wife and I have always enjoyed ABC in its various incarnations. When we first moved to Ashland two decades ago, Ashland Bakery Cafe was one of the few bakeries around. It was a great place to pick up a loaf or two of bread and some cookies or have a nice breakfast or lunch. The place was usually packed. And we liked the mantra on the walls and T-shirts: "Life is short — eat dessert first."

My wife and I have always enjoyed ABC in its various incarnations. When we first moved to Ashland two decades ago, Ashland Bakery Cafe was one of the few bakeries around. It was a great place to pick up a loaf or two of bread and some cookies or have a nice breakfast or lunch. The place was usually packed. And we liked the mantra on the walls and T-shirts: "Life is short — eat dessert first."

A few remodels later and under new management, the place became Ashland Bistro Cafe. When the new owners had to return home after two years, the "old management" from the Ashland Bakery Cafe returned. That was in January, our waiter told us. We were curious to see what of the new had been retained and what of the old had been restored.

Accompanied by a dear friend, we set out for dinner. It was a Tuesday, and on Tuesday nights, ABC serves a three-course dinner for $12. And yes, we were told when we called ahead, there would always be something for vegetarians. And there would be live music provided by a jazz band. Reservations wouldn't be necessary.

When the three of us walked in, there was the band, Grooveyard, featuring Dave Swan on piano, Joe Cohoon on bass and Gary Hirsh on drums. There were smiles of recognition all around and we sat in the corner booth at the back so we could get a good view of the band and the entire restaurant.

The bistro atmosphere really works for the space. As I looked out at the tables with their white cloths, the dark wood trim on the walls, windows and doors and gazed through the windows at the passersby, I could just as easily have been sitting in a cozy little spot in Paris, London or Prague.

The music put the finishing touch on the ambience. The selections were perfect as was the volume. As each piece finished, the diners would acknowledge their appreciation with applause. The music was so good that our dining companion "rued that they didn't have a dance floor."

The meals came with a salad, soup and an entree. The soup choices were corn chowder or lentil sausage. The three entrees were polenta lasagna with garlic, chicken marsala over fettuccine and pot roast with roasted vegetables.

All of us chose the corn chowder. My wife and I ordered the lasagne and our friend opted for the pot roast. We could have ordered a bottle of wine with our meal for $12 but passed.

Our salads arrived soon, brought by our attentive waiter. The service would prove to be excellent. He was friendly, always there when needed but never intrusive.

My wife and I enjoyed our salad. Our friend liked the chunks of cheese in her blue cheese dressing. She said the dressing was tasty but not blue cheesy enough for her. My wife, not a big fan of croutons, enjoyed her seasoned croutons. The soup was the first big hit in an evening of many. It needed no salt and was made with small pieces of celery, slices of potato to complement the corn and seasoned with thyme.

The presentation of our entrees prepared us for the delights that awaited us. Our friend's pot roast was perfectly cooked. It was tender and served with a rich sauce with tomatoes without the tomato flavor being overpowering. There were roasted potatoes, carrots, celery and onions. The vegetables were not overcooked. There was a little bit of crunch to the carrots and celery.

The lasagna was imaginatively prepared and served with yellow squash, zucchini, red onions and asparagus with slices of corn on the cob and garlic bread. It was soooo good and prepared with a creamy polenta and without tons of noodles. My wife really liked the tomato sauce, which she said was not acidic. Normally she prefers not to have a tomato sauce, but she loved this one. She proclaimed her meal to be one of the best vegetarian entrees she'd had.

We finished with a cup of coffee ($1.95) and a fruit tart ($3.95). As we walked to the car, the three of us couldn't remember when we had enjoyed such a great evening. Everything worked — the music, food, ambiance, service and companionship. We're still smiling. And looking forward to many more Tuesday nights.

— Richard Moeschl