The Station

A culinary adventure awaits diners at The Station in Rogue River. The restaurant's fare is a mix of traditional and Mexican dishes lovingly made from scratch with quality ingredients.

The last late-summer afternoon drew a friend and me out for a drive on Highway 99 along the Rogue River. We found the restaurant situated in an early 1900s home near downtown.

Seated at one of the tall cafe tables on the restaurant's front porch, we languished over the menu — and glasses of pinot gris and merlot — in the warm, dusky evening surrounded by festive party lights and other diners seated at tables on the lawn.

With so many delightful items to choose from at The Station, we yearned to sample them all. Thoughtful consideration was necessary. We decided to start our meal with a quesadilla ($6) from the list of appetizers.

This yummy flour tortilla folded over melted cheese was served with salsa, sour cream and cilantro pesto for dipping. If the menu stated it would be sour cream, the condiment more resembled a creamy queso blanco or soft, white cheese. All three of the dips were mildly flavored, which was fine for us. I'd almost bet, though, there's a bottle — or two — of spicier chili sauces on hand for those with palates for heat.

Another compelling appetizer at The Station is the cheese platter. It's a selection from Pholia Farm, a small, goat dairy outside of Rogue River, along with fresh and dried fruit, crackers and candied walnuts. The cheeses include Pholia's creamy Pleasant Creek, nutty Covered Bridge and semisoft Takelma. The Station is the only local restaurant, according to Pholia's cheesemaker, that serves a platter of the farm's cheeses.

Other appetizers on the dinner menu include mini croissants stuffed with egg, tuna, Waldorf or chicken salad, along with seasoned fries and taquitos made with chicken or cheese.

The quesadilla — large enough to fill the platter — was more than enough to whet our respective appetites. We moved on to select entrees from the dinner menu with the idea of sharing each dish.

Grilled portobello mushrooms, Salisbury and New York steaks, wild Alaskan cod, chilies rellenos and grilled chicken dishes seasoned with lemon-pepper, teriyaki, Parmesan or jalapenos and cream cheese enticed.

We chose two that tempted the most: fish tacos served with pinto beans and Spanish rice ($15) and chicken breast grilled with raspberry-chipotle sauce ($15).

Entrees are served with soup — minestrone on this particular evening — or salad, baked or mashed potatoes, vegetables and rolls. The tacos and rellenos are served with rice and beans.

The sides were nothing ordinary. The homemade minestrone was a tasty stew of tender vegetables and beans cooked in tomato broth that was perfectly seasoned. The salad was a mix of Romaine, spring greens, shredded red cabbage and carrot, cucumber, seasonal cherry and pear tomatoes and soy bacon bits topped with Colby Jack cheese and raw cashews, pumpkin seeds and honey-roasted sunflower seeds. It was a cornucopia of beautiful produce.

The tacos, made with hand-fried corn tortillas and filled with Alaskan cod, shredded cabbage and mango salsa, were light and delicate. Somehow, the beans and rice also tasted light but flavorful. My guess is that not much fat is used to prepare these sides.

Our other choice, the chicken breast grilled in a raspberry-chipotle sauce, was tantalizingly served with a plump, fresh, red raspberry on top of the tender, grilled meat. The chicken tasted great, with smoked jalapenos giving the sauce a deliciously hot kick.

Sated and with no room to spare, we ordered dessert: peach shortcake. With peaches at the peak of their season, this shortcake is on my short list of this summer's highlights. A perfectly baked, sweetened, homemade drop biscuit cut in half and layered with juicy, sliced peaches and whipped cream made the dish — so simple, yet a delicious epitome of summer.

Soups, salads, sandwiches and other lunch items are served from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at The Station. Burgers, specialty salads such as Caesars, Waldorfs, Cobbs and chefs, wraps, Mexican appetizers, onion rings and wontons are served all day. Dinner entrees are served after 5 p.m. Live music is performed outdoors at the restaurant on some evenings.

— Laurie Heuston

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