The site on Second Street in Ashland once occupied by Monet now boasts a new breakfast and lunch eatery, Harper's. My wife and I and another couple had brunch there this past weekend.

Harper's is run by Kathie Chadbourne and Paul Maurer, who recently moved here from Salt Lake City, where they owned Avenue's Bakery. What they have created in Ashland is nothing short of wonderful. Their new venture is named after Chadbourne's granddaughter, who lives in Medford.

The owners brought their baker with them from Utah and secured chef Nat Dust, who previously worked at Amuse Restaurant and Lela's Café in Ashland.

Inside, the walls are painted a cheery Hansa yellow and decorated with photographs. Watermelon-red wall accents are picked up in the chair cushions and the plates. A medium-blue carpet covers the floor under the wooden chairs and distressed wood tables inset with a sheet of copper.

Overhead, simple chandeliers light the room. A peek into the kitchen reveals long loaves of bread on shelves. The attentive wait staff wears black and for some reason I want to speak a European language.

The menu offered many interesting choices. At the bottom it said, "Quality local and organic products served whenever possible."

Our friends ordered a Medford for her and a Lithia Park for him. A Medford is a choice between eggs Benedict or eggs Florentine for $10.25. Her choice was eggs Florentine. She could have added house smoked wild salmon with avocado for an additional $5. A Lithia Park is cinnamon raisin pecan french toast, fresh fruit, and real maple syrup for $8.25.

The eggs Florentine were "fabulous," she said. "The spinach was fresh. I liked the fact that fruit was the side dish rather than potatoes."

Our companion asked and the kitchen obliged, serving the hollandaise sauce on the side. She appreciated the fact that the silverware was heavy in her hand rather than light. It felt more elegant. She also appreciated the prices, finding them really reasonable.

The French toast was "excellent beyond compare," he said. "Presentation. Service. Nice colors. I eat the ambiance as well as the food." The toast wasn't soggy and had just right amount of crust. He also appreciated the generous portion of bacon he ordered as a side dish for $2.50.

Our side of the table ordered an Ashland Plaza for my wife, two eggs as you like them with avocado on rosemary toast and fresh fruit for $6.75; and blueberry pancakes for me. No cute name. Just buttermilk pancakes with blueberries and real maple syrup. My wife liked that it was two eggs instead of three.

"It wasn't too much food," she said. "Just the right amount."

She found the avocados perfectly ripe, but the eggs were just a little overdone for her taste. She enjoyed the flavor in her two pieces of rosemary toast. It wasn't overpowered by rosemary. She, too appreciated having fresh fruit with the meal.

There were lots of blueberries in my pancakes and the whole thing was not too sweet. Real maple syrup is always a treat. The extra egg over medium that I ordered as a side dish for $1.50 was cooked just right, and I also liked my serving of fresh fruit.

We all agreed that the service was excellent, the presentation beautiful and the portions just right. The coffee ($1.75) was very tasty and our cups were never allowed to get cold or empty.

Lunches include sandwiches from $9.45 to $11.45; salads from $5.50-$9.95, a hummus plate for $10.95, quiche for $7.45 and $8.45 and soups from $3.75 for a cup and $6 for a bowl.

Our bill was delivered curled up in a stemmed glass. As we were leaving, our companions bought a loaf of bread. Presumably to tide them over until they come back.

We'll be there, too.

— Richard Moeschl

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