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Photo by Maureen Flanagan Battistella There is no mistaking the love and care bestowed on the burgers at Green Springs Inn.

Green Springs Inn: lunch amid a conifer forest

Spring and summer are splendid seasons to enjoy a leisurely meal at the Green Springs Inn, located about 30 minutes east of Ashland on Highway 66. The restaurant is in a vast conifer forest in the middle of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. There’s inside seating and, in good weather, outdoor too, where colorful umbrellas shade the deck that runs along the road in front of the restaurant and beside it.

Open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., the Green Springs Inn serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in a comfortable, rustic setting that invites locals, travelers, sightseers and hikers. The menu features good, healthy comfort food without a lot of froufrou or fanfare, and that’s just what we wanted today for a late lunch out in the country.

A Green Springs Inn burger should really have some loftier appellation, but there is no mistaking the love and care bestowed on this everyday staple. There are two beef choices for a third-of-a-pound beauty — premium Angus beef sourced from the nearby Box R Ranch or Emerson ground beef, distributed by Cherry Street Meats. Box R Ranch beef is legendary in these parts — free range, grass fed and grass finished, hormone and antibiotic free. At just $2 over the choice Emerson Angus burger, Box R was a no-brainer for us.

The Deluxe Burger at $13-$15 is what to order when you want the trinity — a hamburger, fries and salad. The Box R burger was grilled to perfection: tender, juicy and beefy and topped with sharp cheddar cheese. Perfectly sandwiched, the house-made dense oat bran bun had notes of honey and was accompanied by a large slice of tomato, thickly cut red onion, lettuce and shaved sweet pickle. Nice!

Plated separately with blue cheese dressing on the side, the salad was generous and had lots of goodies: chick peas, black olives, mushrooms, chopped tomatoes and cheese. Too full for dessert, I yearned for a slice of pie, or several slices, as it would be difficult to choose from Huckleberry, Rhubarb, Coconut Cream, Apple, Blueberry at just $4 or $5 a big slice, $1 extra for vanilla ice cream. Maybe next time

The Green Springs Inn offers a respectable selection of sandwiches, salads and hamburgers on its everyday lunch menu, with daily specials scribbled on the blackboard. Steaks, chicken, pasta and fish offer a good variety on the dinner menu, the Macaroni and Cheese runs about $16 and the Shrimp and Scallop Scampi is priced at $23. Holidays, like Mother’s Day, might feature more elaborate dinner fare such as peppered filet mignon and lavender duck breast. Vegetarian options that include grilled eggplant and black bean and walnut burgers are also available on the lunch and dinner menus. A variety of appetizers are fresh made and available throughout the day: Freedom Fries with feta ($6), Zucchini with house made ranch ($7) and Mediterranean Eggplant ($12) are just a few of the small bites to choose from.

Local wines from Kriselle, Valley View, Grizzly Peak and Upper Five, and Oregon microbrews round out the beverage offerings with several summer cocktails noted on the board. The spirited huckleberry lemonade was tempting, but recalling the twisty, windy roads without guard rails between the Green Springs and Ashland, we stayed with coffee and water.

Truth be told, our lunch at the Green Springs Inn wasn’t without some downsides. The burgers and salads were great, but my fries were undercooked, and my companion’s were dark, crispy brown. The coffee was from the bottom of the pot and the cup littered with grounds.

Even so late in the day — the 1-3 p.m. mid-afternoon period — the restaurant was busy and seemed short staffed. Our order was lost, and though we asked several times, it was over an hour before our food arrived to table. We had to ask again about the salads, which arrived five or 10 minutes after the hamburgers. It was not an unpleasant wait given the setting, and the server offered to comp our meals, but we declined. We did enjoy a homemade cookie, though — oatmeal raison cinnamon as big as a dinner plate.

The Green Springs Inn is located at 11470 Highway 66, about 17.5 miles and 30 minutes east of Ashland. Reservations are not needed. For more information, phone 541-890-6435 or email info@greenspringsinn.com.

Reach Ashland freelance writer Maureen Flanagan Battistella at mbattistellaor@gmail.com.

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