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Highfalutin foodies fit right in at Nunan Estate

If you told me we would be dining in an outbuilding, normally I would defer. But once upon a time, those with overflowing means built stylish homes for their horse-drawn carriages. Many of these were not mere garages, but buildings as Victorian-fancy as the residence they reflected. They often contained stables for horses and quarters for groomsmen and other servants. Some coach houses have been lovingly repurposed into fashionable, historic homes and restaurants.

We have a dandy right in our own valley, the Nunan Estate carriage house.

I frequently catch myself blankly staring at residents who have lived here for maybe 20 years and never noticed or even heard of the Nunan House, a startlingly lovely Victorian home at 635 N. Oregon St. in Jacksonville. It’s a one-of-a-kind grand dame of the housing set. Though the entire mansion is available to rent for overnight accommodations, and you may view a lovely tour of the interior on YouTube set to music, it’s the Carriage House Restaurant and Bar next door on which I want to shed the lantern light.

The building is made over into an old-world-style eatery with ample seating indoors for cozy suppers and many things to look at on the walls. A lavish patio offers a great view for enjoying meals outdoors when fine weather blesses us with perfection.

My only experience had been taking Lynn there for a birthday meal under the previous ownership, so on one recent serendipitous Friday evening, Lane and I decided to check it out when my curiosity bone throbbed as we drove past.

I stopped Giovanni the Honda, checked their menu online and found it totally doable and the selections interesting to a couple of foodies. Besides, we were sort of feeling highfalutin because Lane was preparing to leave for trucking school in Idaho (yes, really) and we wanted to live it up while time allowed.

First off, I know it’s February and not the height of tourist season, but it was a Friday night. I wondered where they hid the cars. At 5 p.m., early, I know, we pretty much had our choice of any table in the house, including a large viewing bar that sidles up to executive chef Michael Lenihan’s kitchen. Co-owner/manager Brent Monning welcomed us heartily and gave us our choice of seats.

Our server, Chris, proved friendly and attentive. He made us feel special in an unobtrusive way, as in not hovering around waiting for us to finish our appetizer, which was delicious. Anytime I see Brussels sprouts on the menu, I’m compelled to learn whether they have been treated with respect. These were braised in a cherry mustard glaze with confit of garlic, leaving it tender and mild, not overpowering.

For his entree, Lane chose an artistically plated dish of game sausage ravioli with smoked parsnip cream sauce and other goodies. I enjoyed the chicken roulade with Mornay sauce with asparagus, carrots and pickled mustard smashed potatoes with crispy skin I love. Both plates sat there for all of four seconds looking too beautiful to eat but that didn’t deter us. We made short work of them as there was zero complaint. Chef Michael and his team truly know how to put together a wholly satisfying plate of goods.

To top off our experience, these dinners were priced $10 below the place we had gone for my birthday, which shall remain nameless, and without the remotest comparison in quality of preparation, plating or taste. I don’t normally crow about restaurants or do reviews, but their parking lot should be jammed year round.

Kudos to Brent and Shannon “Sami” Monning for hiring a team of authentic professionals.

The plan is to return for their weekend brunch, offered Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer in Eagle Point. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.