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Flip in Ashland offers crunchy goodness, maximum impact

Amid restaurants’ doom-and-gloom prophesies, it’s hard to imagine eateries performing better than before the pandemic.

But that’s exactly the case for a number of locally owned establishments with minimal staff, small physical footprints and concise menus featuring foods that customers simply don’t prepare at home. Among them is Ashland’s Flip.

“We’re built for takeout,” says owner Brenden Stancliff.

Occupying a 600-square-foot storefront at the gateway to Ashland’s downtown, Flip opened in 2015 under a simple concept: Quality ingredients compose a handful of dishes for maximum impact.

Beef is grass-fed certified Angus, buns are fresh brioche from founder Jamie North’s Mix Bakeshop and ice cream for milkshakes is Mix’s own organic recipe. Fries are freshly cut, patties are hand-formed and deep-fried foods are battered in-house. Designating the restaurant’s fryer as gluten-free has been perhaps the most significant change since Stancliff purchased Flip from North a year ago.

And just as business has grown over the past year, the fried foods have only gotten better for their batter in Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour, says Stancliff. Based on my experience with Flip’s onion rings, I couldn’t agree more. Quick to substitute onion rings, when available, for fries at burger joints, I can’t recall ever tasting better than Flip’s.

With superior crunch that didn’t seem to suffer a bit from transport in a cardboard takeout container, the rings ($5) were incomparably tender inside without a trace of stringy membrane or tough outer layers of onion. My partner heartily echoed my sentiments and concurred he’d be inclined to revisit Flip if only for onion rings.

Our appetites were large enough, however, for a burger apiece, plus fries and a milkshake to share. Placing our order online, we were able to determine Flip’s special burger — tempura chicken pineapple ($11) — which didn’t make the menu picture on Flip’s home page. The online ordering system, however, didn’t elaborate beyond the single word “seasonal” for its milkshake alternative to vanilla, chocolate or malt. So we gambled on a more intriguing flavor than those three.

We probably should have guessed a “pumpkin pie” milkshake ($5.95) was in store, which pleased us plenty. Because the flavor is popular enough and also a personal favorite of Stancliff, Flip has one more batch to run this month, he says, before switching over to mint-chocolate for winter’s duration.

Sipping down half the shake while making the short trek to a bench at Lithia Park, we appreciated our order’s packaging in one large cardboard box, which makes for easier handling than several small boxes. The burgers were neatly bound in paper, which could hardly contain the tempura chicken’s girth.

The battered bird protruded from the bun, layered with miso slaw, a slice of grilled pineapple and Sriracha-spiked Japanese mayonnaise. The components offered plenty of contrast between savory and salty, cut with crisp, clean cabbage and onions. A pared-down version of the chicken burger, with its standard lettuce, onion, pickles and Flip sauce, is available on the regular menu for $7.

As customers have clamored for fried chicken over the past year, Stancliff added chicken strips to the regular menu. Three pieces cost $6; five pieces are $9 with a choice of house-made ranch barbecue or honey-mustard dipping sauce. And Flip’s chicken and waffle special garners almost continual requests, although Stancliff offers it about four times per year, most recently in December, he says. Another battered and deep-fried classic, fish ’n’ chips, is the likely special for February, he adds.

First up is this month’s “gyro burger,” a patty of lamb and beef seasoned with Mediterranean spices, dressed with homemade tzatziki and garnished with marinated cucumbers and arugula. If the patty was solely lamb, my order would be guaranteed.

Instead, I most recently settled for Flip’s vegetarian “shroom” burger ($7), more modest than its counterparts and — absent lettuce and onion, per my request — pretty plain. Yet the bun was so buttery and tender, bookending the amalgam of portobello mushroom and Rogue Creamery Touvelle cheese, that I didn’t spare a thought for meat, although a slice of tomato would have taken the flavors to another level.

But Flip isn’t the place to and match from a laundry list of toppings. The three standard burgers — beef, chicken and vegetarian — all get the same fixings for $7 apiece. The burger “deal” with fries and a fountain soda costs $11.95.

Sharing the relatively wholesome composition of Flip’s other products, sodas are from Boylan Bottling, which uses cane sugar, natural extracts and oils free of genetic engineering. Flavors are cola, root beer, ginger ale, black cherry, cream vanilla and lemonade, priced at $3 apiece. Flip also sells beer and wine for $4 and $8, respectively.

Located at 92 N. Main St., Flip is open from noon to 9 p.m. daily. Several sidewalk tables are available for dining on site. Order at flipashland.com or call 541-488-3547.

Tempo Tidbits

Drive in to Wild River Brewing & Pizza locations in Medford, Grants Pass and Cave Junction for classic films and kids’ movies weekly through January.

After playing Thursday in Medford, “Jurassic Park” is set for two Jan. 25 screenings in the parking lot of Wild River’s Grants Pass restaurant, 595 N.E. E St. Showtimes are

6:30 and 8:30 p.m. “Ghostbusters” is on the schedule Monday, Jan. 18. Free hot chocolate is available for ticket-holders in Grants Pass.

In Medford, beloved kids’ movies are favored for the Jan. 19 and Jan. 26 events, but titles hadn’t been finalized, said Jesse Woodall, general manager of Wild River in Grants Pass. Check the schedule and purchase tickets — $20 per vehicle — via Eventbrite at facebook.com/wildrivermedford and facebook.com/wildrivergp. Food purchases are not required to attend the drive-in.

Starting with holiday films in December, the movie series was so well received that Wild River expanded into January with more showtimes and locations, said Woodall. The Cave Junction restaurant joined the series Jan. 8 with “The Goonies” and followed up with “Back to the Future.” Each restaurant can accommodate between 35 and 40 cars at its drive-in.

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The tasting room at Medford’s 2Hawk Vineyard & Winery was set to reopen this weekend for outdoor food and wine service.

The estate at 2335 N. Phoenix Road features appetizers, flatbreads and desserts to pair with its portfolio of 20 wines. See the menu at 2hawk.wine/tasting-room/menu

The patio at 2Hawk is heated and, weather permitting, seating also is available around the property’s two fire features. Operating hours under the state’s latest mandates for food service establishments are from 1 to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

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Savory pies stuffed with meats, vegetables and cheeses have returned to the Ashland eatery at 23 S. Second St.

Take-and-bake pies are the latest menu addition at Bird & Rye, which opened in 2015 as Smithfields Pub & Pies before owner Neil Clooney changed the format in 2019 to fried chicken and Southern cuisine. Doing a brisk business in takeout during the pandemic, Bird & Rye is preparing and freezing steak, chicken and vegetable pies and selling them for customers to bake at home.

Pies are priced at $10 apiece for chicken curry, chicken bacon or sweet potato with goat cheese. The steak and ale pie with vegetables and cremini mushrooms costs $11.

Order at birdandrye.com/order. Pickup in the restaurant or curbside, as well as delivery, are available. Hours are noon to 8:30 p.m. daily. Call 541-482-7437.

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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 @the.whole. dish on Instagram, @thewholedish on Twitter or see facebook.com/thewholedish.

Takeout orders are packaged in large cardboard boxes at Ashland’s Flip.{ }Photos by Sarah Lemon
The chicken tempura pineapple burger was a recent special at Ashland’s Flip.