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Morning Glory owners intend to restore legendary specialties

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Lemon ricotta-stuffed French toast with raspberry syrup and lemon butter is a signature dish at Ashaland’s Morning Glory. Photos by Sarah Lemon
Avocado can be added to Morning Glory’s croissant breakfast sandwich for an additional charge. Photos by Sarah Lemon
A green salad can be added to any savory crepe for an additional charge at Ashland’s Morning Glory. Photos by Sarah Lemon
The croissant breakfast sandwich at Ashland’s Morning Glory contains two fried eggs. Photos by Sarah Lemon
Grapefruit juice, left, and a mocha are beverages served at Ashaland’s Morning Glory. Photos by Sarah Lemon

A few hours after a long-anticipated meal in Ashland, I curled up at home with “Breakfast at Morning Glory.” Flipping through its pages, I could almost taste recipes that vacated the “little blue house” with restaurant founder Patty Groth, who published her cookbook in 2019. It’s been more than a year since Morning Glory reopened under new owners Dave and Marge Bernard, who reconfigured the menu for takeout when pandemic restrictions held sway.

The couple said they intended to restore the majority of Groth’s specialties. But the menu is about a third of its former size, consolidating breakfast and lunch into a single list.

Applewood smoked bacon, chicken sausage and seared tri-tip steak omelets made the cut, along with chorizo, pesto tofu and house-smoked salmon scrambles. Eggs Benedict and Florentine have their counterpart in crispy risotto kale cakes with Gorgonzola cream sauce. Alas, my beloved rock shrimp cakes — the first meal I ate upon moving to Ashland the year Morning Glory opened — has been retired with many of the restaurant’s eclectic, shabby-chic furnishings.

But the trio of shrimp, tomato and pepper jack cheese anchor a new section of the menu. Savory and sweet crepes, it stands to reason, were inspired by the Bernards’ experience assisting their son, Chad, at his Portland creperie. Admittedly, the concept handily straddles breakfast and lunch service with seven choices that can be made gluten-free for an extra dollar.

The crepe stuffed with au gratin potatoes, applewood bacon and caramelized onion tempted my partner. The last two ingredients I’d tasted on many Morning Glory forays over the years, so I hoped he would make a different choice, maybe with a side of the potatoes, a new item to join hashbrowns, crispy polenta and tomato slices as egg-dish sides.

The croissant breakfast sandwich ($12.95) ultimately asserted itself. Adding avocado to the stack of black forest ham, tomato and cheddar with two fried eggs cost an extra $1.95. The same price supplemented my rock shrimp crepe ($12.95) with a small green salad.

Intrigued by the “lemon pie” — the other sweet crepe option alongside classic Nutella — I still couldn’t resist the lemon ricotta-stuffed French toast ($14.95), which headlines a much tighter section of pancakes and waffles. This is a signature dish that Groth transplanted to Morning Glory from Jacksonville’s McCully House Inn.

The custardy slices drizzled in raspberry syrup and smothered in lemon butter have been featured in Bon Appetit magazine. For those who prefer Morning Glory’s sweet items, it soothes the loss of oatmeal pancakes, gingerbread waffles and other favorites. We requested a half order, which shaves $2.50 off the regular price.

The food came out much more quickly than I expected, even for a weekday, which we intentionally chose, rather than risk Morning Glory’s infamous wait that can approach an hour on peak weekend times. Seating in the garden visible from Siskiyou Boulevard isn’t for diners. It’s for all the crowds waiting for a table indoors. Groth maintained for years that the kitchen simply couldn’t serve more customers than the 70 that fit inside.

Seats in the main dining room afford views of Morning Glory’s fantastical murals of fairies, flying fish, the restaurant’s namesake flower and a chicken roosting atop a stack of pancakes, still vibrant 25 years since Laney D’Aquino painted them. For this trip down memory lane, we occupied a table in Morning Glory’s covered porch, a later addition.

A solid menu acquisition, the crepes nevertheless need some fine-tuning. Slightly dry and barely warm, the crepe suggested parcooking and a short stint on the griddle to melt its cheese. A heavier sauce applied more liberally than the housemade creme fraiche would lend some richness.

I was pleased, however, that the crepe primarily contained whole, toothsome shrimp. The quantity of crustaceans in Morning Glory’s rock shrimp cakes had been inconsistent and unpredictable over the years. The greens were fresh and vibrant with halved cherry tomatoes that lent more acid than the diced, underripe fruits inside the crepe.

The neatly folded and plated crepe contrasted with the corpulent croissant, whose eggs and melted cheese spilled out from its edges. While the crepe wanted some moisture, the croissant was saturated with richness once my partner bit into the eggs’ runny yolks and almost required a knife and fork.

The avocado, we noted, betrayed some browned bits. Given the sandwich’s fat-to-protein ratio, we agreed the fruit was almost superfluous on our palates.

Decadent but perfectly balanced between sweet and tart, the French toast compelled bite after bite — edible evidence of the playful abundance and creative energy that pervaded Morning Glory under Groth’s tenure. Classically trained, the chef also favored singular but complex dishes that stretched her kitchen’s capabilities.

With business expertise that has steered Darex, ScienceWorks and other Ashland endeavors, the Bernards have streamlined to lift their staff’s load and more readily accommodate customers. But they haven’t quite recaptured the restaurant’s pre-pandemic essence.

As the restaurant industry is reassured by diners’ return, the Bernards hopefully will find their own formula to conjure — in their words — Morning Glory’s “magic.”

Located at 1149 Siskiyou Blvd., Morning Glory is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday through Monday. See morninggloryashland.com or call 541-482-2017. Online ordering is available for pickup and delivery when staffing allows, according to the website. But the restaurant prioritizes in-house customers.

Tempo Tidbits

The Rogue Grape is back at Jacksonville’s Bigham Knoll.

The wine bar and bottle shop announced its Wednesday reopening with a special food menu. The business had been closed to the public since January but continued online sales.

Expansive options for outdoor dining prompted The Rogue Grape’s move in 2021 from downtown Medford. Owner Natasha Hopkins relocated to Southern Oregon from California in 2018.

The Rogue Grape’s “wine bites” include crudite with housemade hummus, artisan bread and olives, roasted grape crostini, a cheese board and a salami board, each priced from $12 to $24.

Also offering wines, beers and ciders on tap, The Rogue Grape is open 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 1 to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 1 to 6 p.m. Sundays. See theroguegrape.com

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Rogue Creamery’s newest cheese comes with a kick.

“Whoa Nellie!” Is a jalapeno-studded cheddar released this month on the heels of the Central Point Creamery’s Flora Nelle. Buy a block of the former and add a wedge of the latter for 15% off. The discount is good through May 31, or while supplies last, at roguecreamery.com

Released last month for the first season in five years, Flora Nelle is the Creamery’s only cheese made with natural rennet, imparting a denser texture reminiscent of European blues. Nine ounces of Flora Nelle cost $30, and 8 ounces of “Whoa Nellie!” cost $14. Both are available at the Creamery’s cheese shop, 311 N. Front St.

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Online ordering is back at Kaleidoscope Pizzeria & Pub.

The Medford restaurant offers its full menu online for curbside pickup at its To Go facility, which reopened last fall. Online orders had been suspended since last summer during an “unprecedented” staffing shortage.

Also stocking parbaked pizzas, beer, wine and its housemade salad dressings, Kaleidoscope To Go is open from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, until 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from 11:30 to 7 p.m. Sunday. Call 541-779-7787.

Place an order and view the menu at kaleidoscopepizza.com

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Franchises are available for The Chicken Shanty.

The drive-thru with three Medford locations and one in Eagle Point priced turn-key ownership of its cart and equipment with training and marketing at $99,000. Hand-breaded boneless, skinless chicken is the restaurant’s core product, served with fries, cradled inside a bun or folded into a wrap with house-made sauces.

The Chicken Shanty is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. See thechickenshanty.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.