Patty Groth's Morning Glory is still a delight
Sometimes the most solid cooking really can improve with age.
Ashland’s Morning Glory restaurant has been going strong for 18 years in a circa-1926 cottage, at 1149 Siskiyou Blvd., across from Southern Oregon University. Eight years since I last reviewed Morning Glory, my most recent impression suggests many more good years in store.
Restaurant owner Patty Groth announced last year that she wanted to sell the beloved breakfast spot. She also emphasized that the eatery she created in 1997 will continue to operate until a buyer comes forward.
So hordes of customers still line up within minutes of Morning Glory’s 8 a.m. daily opening. On the busiest days, some wait for about an hour for a table in the whimsically decorated dining room. An eclectic, shabby-chic array of furniture contrasts with a fantastical mural of fairies, flying fish, the restaurant’s namesake flower and a chicken roosting atop a stack of pancakes.
It’s the kind of atmosphere that captivates old and young alike, but my husband and I decided that eating nearer to 11 a.m. one Saturday would better suit our toddler. Sure enough, at the tail-end of the restaurant’s first few hectic hours, a comfortable table was almost immediately available. The restaurant closes at 1:30 p.m. Call 541-488-8636 for information.
There’s much to consider on Morning Glory’s menu, which features not a few gourmet ingredients. I briefly mulled over a croissant breakfast sandwich that seemed like a newer addition.
But my original favorite dish, rock-shrimp cakes, still holds sway over my appetite 17 years after I first tried it as a new SOU student. In that span, the price has increased by about $5. But this version is so good that I happily forked over $14.50 and probably would have paid a few dollars more.
Most of Morning Glory’s egg dishes are in the $12 range. Pancakes, waffles and such cost about $11.
The shrimp fritters, topped with perfectly poached eggs and dressed with smoked tomato chutney, were light and moist under their crunchy-fried exterior. The plump, briny crustaceans occupied a greater ratio of the cakes than bell peppers and green onions, which hasn’t been the case consistently over the years. Yet the flavors have always been compelling, particularly with Morning Glory’s white-cheddar polenta, which likewise boasted a creaminess that isn’t always apparent amid the corncakes’ griddled crispiness.
I never choose hash browns over the signature polenta, but the bites I’ve filched from friends have been very good. Toast or muffin are the second side-dish choices with breakfast items.
Shellfish, albeit in sandwich form, also tempted my husband. The Alaskan red crab that composes a popular Morning Glory omelet with artichoke hearts is just as decadent for lunch as an open-faced sandwich on sourdough with bacon, tomato and cheddar ($14). He chose a side of green salad with the sandwich, but also ordered a bowl of the day’s soup, French onion, for an additional $5.
Large portions are another Morning Glory calling card. It was only out of deference to my son’s untested palate that he merited his own order of scrambled eggs, chicken sausage and pancakes that would have fed either of his parents. Even after we all shared bites, there was food to take home.
In fact, my only quibble with Morning Glory’s expert service, unfailingly friendly and efficient, was the waiter’s suggestion of the “kids’ pancakes” instead of a single cake for $5. I appreciated the strawberries and blueberries arranged as an animal’s face on the dish, but the two cakes were way more than a not-quite-2-year-old could eat. So my husband and I claimed portions to enjoy with Morning Glory’s house-made Marionberry syrup.
Superb syrup, a seemingly small detail, is just one example of the care that Groth, a chef trained at Culinary Institute of America, has put into conceiving every dish at Morning Glory. Offering all her recipes with the restaurant’s sale, she may be ready to move on. But loyal customers can only hope that Morning Glory’s unique character prevails.
— Sarah Lemon