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Easter Brunch

Before suiting up young ones in the yellow, pink and purple hues of Easter and scurrying off to a Sunday service or Grandma's for an egg hunt, enjoy a traditional Easter brunch that should ease you into a day of spring merriment and marshmallow Peeps.

In anticipation of the holiday, I decided to scout out a few local restaurants that would be serving Easter brunch.

Having heard that one of downtown Medford's trendy dining spots, 38 Central, would host such a brunch, my husband and I decided to dine there for its debut brunch last Sunday.

As its name suggests, the establishment is located at 38 N. Central Ave. Executive chef David Graham opened the restaurant in August 2008 hoping to bring some wine country cuisine to Southern Oregon. Graham says he saw an opportunity in downtown Medford for a restaurant offering a good quality, leisurely brunch menu.

My husband and I were presented such a menu upon entering the restaurant. The menu offered a wide selection of both lunch and breakfast items, including corned beef ($11.95) or salmon ($13.95) hash; crab cakes and eggs ($16.95); johnnycakes ($6.95), which could be served with bacon, sausage, eggs or buttermilk fried chicken; house-made granola ($7.95); and an "Inside Out" omelet ($9.95). The omelet was the most tempting to me until the waiter read the French toast special ($10.95) — coconut-coated French toast served with cinnamon mascarpone, grilled peaches and bourbon-maple syrup.

As it was noon, my husband preferred a lunch rather than breakfast dish and opted for Burger "38" ($11.95) and, upon our waiter's recommendation, crab cakes ($13.95), which were, as he promised, "out of this world." My husband was just as pleased with his burger, which was complemented by aged cheddar and caramelized sweet onions and served on a monstrous handmade bun.

My French toast comprised three thick slices of Deux Chats brioche. The coconut shavings teased my palate, and the sweet mascarpone transformed a traditional breakfast dish into dessert.

A handful of classic brunch cocktails ($8) are available, including mimosas, Bloody Marys and sparkling Bellini.

For Easter, Graham says he plans to expand the menu to include a bourbon-and-maple-sugar-glazed ham and sweet potato hash. Both items will be served with poached eggs. The French toast special will feature brioche bread stuffed with fresh strawberries, framboise and a soft goat milk cheese.

The restaurant's brunch hours are noon to 5 p.m. on most Sundays, but 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Easter Sunday.

For a more inclusive brunch, Café Dejeuner in Medford will host its first-ever Easter brunch buffet for $17. The buffet will feature a wide selection of protein dishes, including eggs Dungeness, eggs Benedict, honey baked ham, hickory smoked bacon, pork and chicken sausage, smoked salmon as well as sweeter items and pastries such as crepes a la reine, ricotta blintzes with huckleberry sauce and toasted almonds, chocolate-covered strawberries, cinnamon rolls, éclairs, banana nut bread, croissants and streusel cake. Call 541-857-1290.

Jacksonville's Bella Union also offers a Sunday brunch buffet created with Easter in mind. The buffet will include brandied French toast, hickory smoked ham, blueberry pancakes and a portabello mushroom scramble as well as some of the restaurant's regular brunch options. The buffet costs $16.95 for adults, $12.95 for seniors and $8.95 for children, ages 12 and younger. Call 541-899-1770.

In the same vicinity, Jacksonville Inn also will offer fine Easter fare — smoked North Pacific trout quiche with Rivers Edge goat cheese and sundried tomatoes; a honey dijon glazed ham served with a rum, raisin and cranberry sauce; spinach and fresh salmon Wellington served with lemon beurre blanc sauce; braised beef short ribs topped with soft poached farm eggs and grilled asparagus and Tabasco butter as well as the standard eggs Benedict meal. All dishes will be served with pastries and a fruit plate and followed by a piece of chocolate caramel cake topped with Easter coconut Jell-O. Brunch prices range from $16.95 to $21.95. Brunch will be served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call 541-899-1900.

Other local brunch locations offering a traditional Easter feast are Callahan's Siskiyou Lodge south of Ashland, Redrock Italian Eatery in Medford, The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant in Ashland and the Winchester Inn in Ashland.

— Teresa Thomas