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New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro

Charlene and Vernon Rollins' don't have a restaurant; they have a way of life at New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro in Talent.

The couple and co-owners founded their establishment on a shoestring 22 years ago after remodeling the building themselves. That intense involvement continues to characterize the restaurant named for the Rollins' son and his childhood sensibilities.

New Sammy's on-site, organic garden and fruit trees provide between 20 and 35 percent of its produce during the growing season. Charlene Rollins shops at local farmers markets and orders direct from growers, changing her menu daily based on what's freshest, even if only to highlight a single, exquisite ingredient.

While she holds court in the kitchen, her husband visits every table for a wine "consultation" to complement customers' food. Despite developing his palate in Europe and favoring imported wines, Vernon Rollins is an unpretentious steward who specializes in customers' satisfaction rather than education.

A lunch service added in 2007 and the co-occurring popularity of eating like a "locavore" has endeared New Sammy's to Rogue Valley residents. Previously, the restaurant counted tourists among its steadiest clientele based on the Rollins' reputation earned in California's Anderson Valley, as well as exposure in numerous nationwide publications.

Unlike many restaurants championing local food, however, New Sammy's is so hyperlocal that it dispenses with listing purveyors or sources of ingredients on its menus.

Recommended: Any preparation of steak; duck confit-kale salad; house-made chorizo; handmade pastas, such as gnocchi and truffle tortelliini; herb-infused, house-churned ice creams.

Alternative diets: Organic foods go far beyond vegetables and fruits grown on the property. The chef attests that 99.8 percent of items used, including dairy products, eggs, flour, sugar, salt, coffee, are certified. Vegetarian entrees are available daily.

Beverages: Known for putting Southern Oregon on the oenophile's itinerary, New Sammy's has a list of 3,000 labels, virtually unsurpassed in the region. With that variety, there's a wine for everyone at just about every price point; also bottled beers and specialty beverages.

Price range: Lunch entrees, $15 apiece; three-course dinner menu, $40 to $50; desserts, $9.

Extras: A mere three-mile drive from downtown Ashland, New Sammy's seems to inhabit another world; blink and you'll miss it; dinner reservations mandatory, recommended between noon and 12:30 p.m. for lunch.

Serving: Lunch from noon to 1:30 p.m., dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

Info: 2210 S. Pacific Highway, Talent; 541-535-2779; no website.


Cuisine and scene: Chic, sleek sushi bar with idyllic outdoor dining above Ashland Creek. Plates showcase colors, shapes and textures with a minimalist beauty reminiscent of Japan's formal style of floral arrangement.

Recommended: Beef tataki, served rare and meltingly tender; duck spring rolls with orange-miso sauce; sunshine roll filled with tempura shrimp and flying-fish eggs, topped with fresh scallops, salmon and wafer-thin lemon slices.

Alternative diets: Vegetable, miso-eggplant and crunchy cheese maki are vegetarian-friendly, also vegetable tempura, miso soup and several salads.

Beverages: Sake list with more than 25 labels available by the bottle or large, small and "taster" portions; local and other domestic wines by the bottle, half-bottle and glass; bottled and draft beers, specialty cocktails; full bar.

Price range: appetizers, $8 to $22; soups and salads, $3 to $13; sushi, $3 to $22.

Extras: Happy-hour specials from 5 to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to closing daily; convenient access off Ashland Plaza.

Serving: From 5 to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday, until 10 p.m. Sunday.

Info: 96 N. Main St., Ashland, 541-488-8058; www.thaipepper-kobe.com.