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Sweet Tea Express: School meals kids are willing to wake up early for

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Breakfast sandwiches at Central Point’s Sweet Tea Express are sized right for hungry kids. Photos by Sarah Lemon
Omelets, including mushroom, bacon and cheese, come with potatoes at Sweet Tea Express in Central Point. Photos by Sarah Lemon
Breakfasts come with a side of toast, including rye, at Sweet Tea Express in Central Point. Photos by Sarah Lemon
The breakfast sandwich at C.entral Point’s Sweet Tea Express piles ham, cheese and scrambled egg on a roll. Photos by Sarah Lemon
The french toast breakfast affords two thick slices, at Sweet Tea Express in Central Point. Photos by Sarah Lemon

A robust school meals program persuades my kids to rise early for breakfast sandwiches.

Since they discovered the stacks at Central Point’s Sweet Tea Express, breakfast sandwiches aren’t just a weekday affair. And they’d vouch for these over any other Rogue Valley recipe.

Piling ham, cheese and scrambled eggs onto a pillowy roll, Sweet Tea is so confident in this sandwich’s superiority that it can stop there. There’s no choice between bacon or sausage, no biscuit or English muffin option, no egg any style, no veggie filler and certainly no pesto, chutney or sauce, other than mayonnaise, which my younger son asked to omit.

My older son had his heart set on a french toast, which he unfailingly judges against his grandma’s homemade version. Sweet Tea’s french toast plate ($12.49) boasts both two strips of bacon and two sausage links, in addition to two eggs. He requested more sausage in lieu of bacon and his eggs sunny side up.

I have an inexplicable fondness for button mushrooms folded with Swiss cheese into omelets and scrambles. While Sweet Tea’s menu advertised a pepper jack and mushroom omelet with bacon ($11.49), I didn’t see Swiss listed among the eight other omelets. But the restaurant does indeed have Swiss, the cashier replied to my question, confirming the cheese’s straight substitution.

A bacon lightweight, I figured it likely would enhance my omelet’s other two ingredients. Sweet Tea prepares classic cheese, ham and cheese and Denver omelets, along with less common chorizo and pork verde. Avocado factors into a vegetarian omelet and another with bacon. Sweet Tea’s namesake four-egg omelet incorporates home fries, bacon, ham, cheddar and peppers and onions, enriched with sausage gravy. Prices from $11.49 to $14.99 afford both toast and home fries.

I asked to substitute hash browns, listed with the menu’s breakfast plates, offering all the usual combinations of eggs and meat, as well as pulled pork, brisket, country fried steak and beef tri-tip, from $12.49 to $18.99. Burritos ($9.75 to $13.99) wrap up a variety of Sweet Tea’s proteins with home fries while “skillets” ($12.49 to $14.99) layer the meat and cheese over home fries with bell peppers and onions, topped with two eggs.

The siren song of biscuits and gravy almost wooed me to a guilty pleasure that quickly turns overly indulgent. Sweet Tea’s half order for $5 makes it easy to either sample a small portion or add this beloved staple to any breakfast. A full order costs $7, and another $1.49 adds two eggs and two sausage links. The country biscuit breakfast loads the full order with onion, mushroom, bacon, eggs and cheese for $10.49.

Meat, of course, is almost synonymous with Sweet Tea, whose steam engine-shaped smoker summons barbecue lovers for ribs, brisket, tri-tip, chicken and more. Meats by the pound and combo meals with side dishes — baked beans, coleslaw and potato and macaroni salads — plus garlic bread range from $14.49 for pulled pork or chicken to the meat trio sized to feed four people for $67.99. The menu also features an array of burgers, sandwiches and salads with options for gluten-free buns, Beyond patties and sweet potato fries, each for an extra charge.

For kids, pulled pork and chicken each come on a sandwich with fries for $6. Mac and cheese, grilled cheese, a cheeseburger, chicken strips, and mini corn dogs — all with fries — can be had for $5 apiece, along with the three breakfast selections: pancake with one egg, bacon and sausage; the same swapping potatoes for pancake; and a biscuit with gravy.

My boys’ meals, however, were sized right for them. A paper wrapper corralled the breakfast sandwich’s hearty fillings, perfectly amalgamated with melted cheese. Large enough for my younger son to offer his brother a few bites, the sandwich is a great value for $7.49.

By contrast, my older son’s breakfast seemed a bit skimpy for the price. I’m accustomed to French toast in two large slabs, each cut in half, essentially making four pieces. Sweet Tea’s toast was not standard sandwich bread, but rather two slices from an oblong loaf, soaked in a batter deliciously redolent of cinnamon. The toast was on the dark side, strangely inconsistent with his eggs, which came out a few minutes later, whites undercooked.

The kitchen likely was rushing to fill orders backed up by as much 25 minutes, staff had explained. In reality, our food arrived sooner, and I was surprised my hash browns also were dark, rather than underdone as I’d expect from less time on the flat top.

Two slices of cheese blanketed my omelet, nearly bursting with bacon and mushrooms. I would have preferred more cheese tucked inside the eggs, rather than reposing on top. But the flavors were rich, and the portion was large enough for me to split with someone else, provided we procured an extra side of toast. Substitute a biscuit for toast with any breakfast for an extra dollar.

Serving breakfast until 2 p.m., Sweet Tea temporarily has shortened its hours, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and until 3 p.m. Sunday. From modest beginnings in 2014 on Medford’s West Main Street, the restaurant, under proprietors Greg Cordova and Alex Saucedo, accelerated to its Central Point location at 1710 E. Pine St., followed by outlets on Redwood Avenue and Beacon Drive in Grants Pass.

See sweetteaexpress.com.

Tempo Tidbits

A new craft cocktail bar in downtown Medford features cuisine popularized at Over Easy.

The restaurant’s partnership with New Port Distilling has been christened On the Rocks, which offers small plates dining five evenings a week. Over Easy previously served an evening menu Thursdays and Fridays with the occasional New Port “takeover.”

Mixing cocktails with its own vodka and gin, New Port reinterpreted such classics as the “old fashioned,” “dark and stormy,” “lemon drop,” and “Margarita” for its spring menu, with prices from $10 to $14. Basic beverages including rum and Coke, gin and tonic, “greyhound” and “screwdriver,” cost $6 to $8.

Chef Braden Hitt devised On the Rocks’ cheese board, mezze plate, chef salad, and shellfish ceviche, as well as blackened, seared ahi tuna with white bean puree and Cajun-spiced fried chicken wings with bell pepper rings. Prices range from $6 to $16.

Adjacent to Over Easy on Bartlett Street, On the Rocks is at 237 E. Main St. Hours are 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Reservations are not accepted. See facebook.com/ontherocksmedford and @on_the_rocks_medford on Instagram.

Producing spirits since 2019, New Port previously operated a tasting room in Central Point that closed late last year.

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Ashland’s new Bar Juilllet is the latest venture by Hither’s Corrie and Wesley Reimer.

In the former Plaza location of Ostras, Bar Juillet aims to be a seasonally driven neighborhood restaurant with a “let’s order it all for the table” ambiance, according to its online statement. Reservations begin today through resy.com

Bar Julliet, at 47 N. Main St., focuses on natural wines with the intention of favoring quality over name recognition. Dinner will be available from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. with happy hour fare from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Schooled in the New York, San Francisco, and Portland food, wine and hospitality scenes, the Reimers opened Hither in 2017, promising “a little bit of everything.” The East Main Street coffee shop, market, bakery and bistro sells its staple ingredients in monthly “larder baskets.”

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Choose to reuse by taking durable utensils to go from the Medford Food Co-op’s Cafe.

The Co-op’s Sustainable Silverware Project is back in action, encouraging takeout customers to borrow what they need and return utensils to a bus tub by The Cafe’s front door at 945 S. Riverside Ave.

All utensils are washed and sanitized before being put out for reuse. The Co-op also encourages donations of unwanted flatware to the project.

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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.