As the region’s dining destination, Ashland boasts breakfast and brunch aplenty. Yet the owners of Waffle Barn looked no farther than Ashland as the destination for their first foray into Oregon.
The California-based, family-owned eatery is reminiscent of The Old Farmhouse chain, which grew rapidly from Medford to Ashland several years ago only to close almost as swiftly, seemingly overextended. Most recently, the building in the Albertsons shopping plaza, 2345 Ashland St., housed the beleaguered Mystic Treats, whose Hail Mary was last year’s appearance on Food Network’s “Restaurant Impossible.”
A heavy layer of country kitsch now covers fixtures installed during “Restaurant Impossible.” But Waffle Barn’s overall ambiance is bright, airy and family-friendly. Some Ashland eateries’ cramped quarters and long wait times discourage venturing out for breakfast with a 3-year-old and 18-month-old. But a warm welcome awaits at Waffle Barn, whose menu furnishes a meal for any age, any taste and anyone’s notion of the appropriate hour for eating breakfast or lunch.
My early-rising husband, Will, prefers a sandwich when many of us are just sipping the day’s first cup of coffee. He had plenty to ponder among Waffle Barn’s 18 sandwiches, not to mention a dozen burgers and several meatloaf, chicken-fried steak and chicken parmigiana dinners. He finally homed in on the grilled teriyaki chicken with mushrooms, avocado and Swiss cheese on sourdough ($9.95). From the accompanying side-dish selections, he chose fries over soup or salad.
The children aside, Waffle Barn’s juniors menu (which also serves seniors) failed to entice. The restaurant’s namesake waffles had heightened our oldest son’s enthusiasm for brunch, and they’re offered only in one size. A plain waffle that costs $7.95 becomes decadent with salted caramel, jalapeno and bacon, candied pecans or walnuts, white chocolate and macadamia nuts or chocolate-flavored, topped with ice cream, strawberries and more chocolate. These cream of the crop waffles are priced from $8.95 to $10.95.
Highlighted in their own section of combos, from $8.95 to $11.95, plain waffles can be ordered for a single price with eggs, breakfast meat and potatoes. The smallest meal with one egg and two link sausages sufficed with an extra side of four links for the carnivorous kiddies.
Sausage links with french toast is among my guilty pleasures. And Waffle Barn filled the bill with cinnamon-roll french toast, augmented with an egg and two pieces of breakfast meat for $9.95.
For egg lovers, Waffles Barn’s scrambles and omelets number no fewer than 30 variations, from $9.50 to $12.95. Pancakes, Benedicts, a breakfast burrito, biscuits and gravy and country favorites bring more than 25 additional items to the breakfast-fare count.
Fewer than 10 minutes passed after we ordered until our food arrived. Declining an extra plate for the boys, we made quick work of portioning out waffle, sausage and egg. Such a short lapse shouldn’t have given our plates long to cool. Still, I wished for warmer french toast, although the side of hot syrup was almost an adequate remedy. More sugar, however, wasn’t strictly necessary given the cinnamon roll’s hard chunks of icing, which I excised and pushed to the side.
Served at more appropriate temperatures, the sausages and eggs were savory and satisfying. And Will’s generously layered sandwich with thoughtfully composed flavors compelled all of us to try a bite. The kids couldn’t be deterred, of course, from filching fries, which were perfectly done and amply allotted.
Breakfast and lunch are served all day at Waffle Barn, open from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday, until 3 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Call 541-482-2919.