In the past month or so my husband and I have enjoyed visits from several friends and family members. We’re always eager to share our favorite local spots with visitors, whether it be a fun spot for drinks, a good meal, entertainment or outdoor recreation. So it was that we dined at Standing Stone Brewing Company in Ashland, Oregon, twice in one month.
We first stopped in at the family-owned, full-service brew pub with our niece in late June, looking for dinner before we took in a performance of Macbeth at Oregon Shakespeare Festival‘s outdoor Elizabethan Theater. (A very powerful presentation, by the way.) Standing Stone has a great reputation in the community, not only for its beer and food but for being a great employer and community contributor. Consistently found on Oregon Business’s list of Oregon’s 100 Best Green Businesses to Work For, it offers its employees bicycles to commute to and from work and recycles the restaurant’s food waste and the brewery’s spent grain back to its own One-Mile Farm to feed the pigs and cattle raised there, which are the source for the pork and beef served on the menu.
That menu offers what I would consider a step above typical pub food, with small plates, apps and “brew food” (like brats, tacos, and fish and chips) alongside salads, burgers and sandwiches, large plates and wood-fired pizzas. Of course, several house brews (small-batch) are always on tap, along with specialty cocktails, ciders, house-made sodas (very tasty!) and other non-alcoholic options. A kid-friendly place with a shelf full of toys and books to keep the little ones happy, Standing Stone also has a kids’ menu plus a Sunday brunch menu full of hearty options. What sets the offerings apart from average pub fare are the inventive combinations of ingredients, the unique sauces and seasonings which make up each dish.
We started by sharing a bowl of “Zombie Fries” and a heaping plate of crispy, fried Brussels sprouts. The former were tempura-fried portobello mushroom strips tossed with Parmesan and chili flakes and served with a creamy, zippy aioli (not sure where the “Zombie” comes in). What an interesting concept, and what a delicious starter! As to the latter, Harry freely admits that he’d never let a Brussels sprout cross his lips until a few years ago, but this dish sold him on how good they can be, especially when dipped in the house Parm-basil aioli. He found these and a bowl of French onion soup (“Spectacular!” he proclaimed, because of the wonderfully savory, flavorful broth) were all he needed for a filling meal. Niece Alison opted for the steakhouse burger, a juicy, delicious option served with the house’s Tempest IPA barbecue sauce, and I went lighter with a house salad with chicken. I’m not generally a beer drinker, but I really enjoyed Standing Stone’s Polonius Pilsner (light, refreshing).
A few weeks ago, we stopped in to see a Green Show performance “on the bricks” at the Shakespeare Festival. These free performances, presented in a courtyard amphitheater separating two of the theater venues on the OSF campus, precede the evening plays Wednesdays through Sundays. Entertainment runs the gamut from international dance and instrumentalists to juggling and comedy routines. This evening we enjoyed a duo, Las Horas, from South America, entertaining us with Andean flutes and stringed instruments. The crowd, stretched out on the grass and sprawled across stair-stepped concrete blocks, listened appreciatively as small children danced in front of the stage.
Afterwards, we strolled a block down to Standing Stone to again start with the Zombie fries and Brussels sprouts because . . . why mess with a good thing? We enjoyed seating outside on the patio on a comfortably warm evening. This time Harry ordered the red Thai curry with chicken, a very tasty dish. I enjoyed the saffron cioppino, loaded with wild Alaska salmon and cod, Oregon bay shrimp and Puget Sound clams in a tomato-saffron broth with lots of local veggies. Friend Tim enjoyed the Basic Burger garnished his way and upgraded with the house’s delicious sweet potato curry fries. His wife, Teri, opted for the One-Mile Farm ancho steak taco plate, and we all left full and happy.
We’re always keeping our eye out for new places to dine, but it’s nice to have a reliable go-to like Standing Stone for good food, drinks and quick and pleasant service.
— Patty Vanikiotis, associate editor/copy editor
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