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Taylor's Country Store is for meat lovers and more

Sausages and hot dogs in Southern Oregon often have heightened appeal if the brand is Taylor’s.

Virtually a household name regionally — represented on both grocers’ shelves and restaurant menus — Taylor’s Sausage is less known for its own store and restaurant in Cave Junction. Traveling Redwood Highway between the Rogue Valley and the coast affords an ideal opportunity to stop at Taylor’s Country Store to browse some of its meat products that fans won’t find at other retailers and try the butcher’s brand of cooking.

Taylor’s regular menu is sizable, starting with 10 of its “hot smokehouse” dogs and culminating in barbecue ribs with a choice of side. It’s for the most part old-fashioned, stick-to-the-ribs fare with concessions to lighter selections, including several salads, veggie burgers and turkey and chicken wraps. Hot dogs are priced from $3.50 to $5, while hot sandwiches top out at $14.95 for a grilled ribeye sandwich served with fries.

A spacious dining room and plenty of outdoor seating also attract locals and visitors alike. A community gathering place, Taylor’s was a hotspot for live music on Friday nights with special multicourse menus before the state imposed restrictions on public events and dining inside restaurants. Enjoying a very reasonably priced meal of sole amandine and salad a couple of winters back, I hope Taylor’s resumes the format under more favorable circumstances.

In the meantime, Taylor’s customers line up sometimes a dozen deep to order from the restaurant counter tucked behind the more prominent meat cases. The wait allows for browsing sausages, cold cuts, jerky and other cured and smoked products. Freezer cases along the exterior walls offer all manner of fish and fowl, from calamari steaks to whole capons. I like snapping up sale-priced sausages and delicacies, like Taylor’s liverwurst, that aren’t stocked at my locally owned grocer.

Fish is an appealing option, priced at $9.95 for halibut fish ’n’ chips, among the most affordable preparations of that species I’ve seen locally and even on the coast. For the same price, battered and fried halibut is served as the “sailor burger.”

Because I had savored rockfish ’n’ chips during a coastal getaway the previous day, I was more inclined toward a chicken or veggie burger. Briefly considering the mushroom-Swiss burger, I decided to get my Swiss cheese fix instead from the chicken cordon bleu ($9.95). Beef burgers number half a dozen from the barbecue sauced “cowboy burger” to the “stout burger” with roasted garlic, priced between $10.95 and $12.95.

Tempted by onion rings for an extra $1.50, I capitulated to the standard side of fries so my friend could enjoy a few. Not quite sated on our coastal sojourn’s clam chowder, he requested a bowl of Taylor’s chowder ($4.95), the day’s soup. We tacked on a side of baked beans ($2.50) from the hot case and a caramel brownie ($3.99) from the cold case.

Nearly all the cold cuts that Taylor’s retails can be ordered on its sandwiches. Build your own with a choice of meat, cheese and bread for $6.75. Half sandwiches cost $3.75. Extra meats cost $1 apiece. There also are sub sandwiches, a BLT, tuna and even egg salad.

We each requested a pint of beer ($4.25): Chetco Brewing Co. brown ale for me and Boneyard Brewery IPA for him. Taylor’s also sells Pepsi fountain sodas and stocks all manner of bottled beverages, including wine.

The staff announces orders for counter pickup but will carry them outside if customers state their preference for patio seating. We claimed chairs on the covered deck that had hosted barbecue earlier in the day.

We had time to sip our beers while waiting for the food. Collecting orders inside at the counter affords the chance to choose from Taylor’s myriad mustards and other condiments in lieu of the standard ketchup and yellow mustard at each table.

I might have enjoyed a Dijon or spicy mustard on the cordon bleu, which boasted a thick pile of ham and melted Swiss over a breaded chicken cutlet. Generous portions of onion, tomato and leaf lettuce matched the meat and cheese for heft and offered clean counterpoints to the proteins. Fries were nicely seasoned, crispy and more numerous than we needed.

Also richly larded with bacon, the baked beans were a respectable representation, neither too sweet nor too spicy. The clam chowder, however, took us by surprise. The server’s presentation of a fork, rather than a spoon, with the chowder probably should have tipped us off.

This mixture proved so thick that it almost resembled au gratin potatoes. With plenty of clam flavor and texture, the chowder also had a quality reminiscent of macaroni and cheese. My friend commented that Taylor’s must have changed its chowder recipe since he last ordered it. I theorized it had been prepared and served the day before — traditional for chowder — and wasn’t thinned enough for service a day later.

Yet we managed to nearly polish off the chowder, which suggested saving the brownie for later in the evening. Dense and chewy, it was plenty for two people.

Open at 6 a.m. weekdays and 7 a.m. Saturday, Taylor’s Country Store serves its menu from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. See taylorsausage.com or call 541-592-5358.

Tempo Tidbits

Bee- and honey-themed eats and drinks are featured in this weekend’s Hive to Table online event.

The fundraiser for Bee Girl Organization kicked off this week and culminates Friday and Saturday with workshops for kids, a “happbee” hour for adults and concert by Peter Harper. See the full schedule and sign up at beegirl.org/hivetotable

Hive to Table hosted about 80 guests at historical Hanley Farm in 2016, 2017 and 2018. A multicourse feast prepared by Jefferson Farm Kitchen celebrated the nonprofit Bee Girl’s educational and advocacy efforts. Statewide measures to limit the spread of coronavirus shifted Hive to Table online.

“We rely on this annual event to bring much-needed funds to BGO to support our work,” says founder and Executive Director Sarah Red-Laird. “We also love this opportunity to connect with our supporters, share what we do and why it’s important and, of course, highlight the importance, hard work and brilliance of our local food community.”

Participants can purchase Hive Boxes online for pickup Saturday afternoon in Ashland, Medford and Jacksonville. The boxes contain “bites” from Rogue Valley farmers, ranchers, bakers and cheese makers, paired with Bee Girl Honey for $32 apiece. Supporters also can buy local and regional wines and beers for an additional fee.

The Hive to Table cocktail recipe on Bee Girl’s website will be mixed by Red-Laird via live stream at 5 p.m. Saturday preceding Harper’s streaming show.

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Follow the Grants Pass restaurant Vinfarm on social media for a chance to win a chef’s signature charcuterie board and Wooldridge Creek wine flight.

To celebrate its two-year anniversary, Vinfarm embarked on a campaign to attain 2,000 followers on Facebook and Instagram by the end of August. Find more information on Instagram @vinfarmgp and Facebook, facebook.com/VINFARMGP. Located at 111 S.E. G St., Vinfarm is open from noon to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. See wcv.farm/vinfarm or call 541-226-2664 for takeout.

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The following restaurants in July received perfect scores of 100 on their semiannual inspections by Jackson County Environmental Public Health:

Abby’s Legendary Pizza, White City; B & D’s Eatery & Deli, Prospect; Dairy Queen, White City; Little Caesars Pizza, White City; Other Guy’s Cascade Gorge Lounge, Prospect; Picnic Basket Delicatessen, Shady Cove; Prospect Historic Hotel, Prospect; Prospect Pizza, Prospect; Subway, White City.

The county’s searchable database of restaurant and food service inspections is at healthspace.com/Clients/Oregon/jackson/Web.nsf/home.xsp

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Have a Tempo tidbit to share? Email news about the local dining, food and beverage scene to: thewholedish@gmail.com

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Sarah Lemon has relished the Rogue Valley’s dining scene for nearly two decades as one of the original contributors to Tempo’s dining column. Her palate has helped to judge some of the region’s culinary competitions and festivals. The former editor of A la Carte, the Mail Tribune’s weekly food section, she writes a biweekly column, The Whole Dish, and blogs and podcasts under the same name. Listen at mailtribune.com/podcasts and read more at mailtribune.com/lifestyle/the-whole-dish. Follow thewholedishblog on Instagram, @thewholedish on Twitter or see facebook.com/thewholedish.

Baked beans hit the mark at Taylor’s Country Store in Cave Junction.
Chicken cordon bleu at Taylor’s Country Store in Cave Junction.{ }Photos by Sarah Lemon