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Meat Your Maker at Smithfields

February 04, 2013

By Evan Wilson
The Rogue Valley Messenger

Not too long ago I attempted to go vegetarian… Bombarded with facts like “livestock are responsible for 18 per cent of greenhouse gases…” and “…[cows] have been a factor in the listing of 171 [endangered] species…”, the environmentalist in me decided it was time to act… to embrace our furry friends as equals and not as tasty morsels of savory goodness. My act of love and kindness would be a personal sacrifice for the greater good!

Buttermilk fried chicken, waffle, bacon butter, raisin chili maple syrup
Buttermilk fried chicken, waffle, bacon butter, raisin chili maple syrup

Things were going swimmingly for a few weeks until, two years in January, Smithfields Restaurant & Bar opened their doors in Ashland. And unable to resist the rumors buzzing about town of house-cured bacon and other juicy homemade delicacies, I decided to reward my weeks of accomplished vegetarianism with what I vowed would be my last feast of the flesh! After drooling over the menu and pints of microbrew for what felt like an hour, my accomplices and I begrudgingly placed our order (charcuterie board, cider-braised pork belly, buttermilk fried chicken and hanger steak). After a short while, our food arrived. And then it was gone… down to the last drop of saucy meat juice (I literally licked a plate when the server wasn’t looking). In the beautiful silence of our collective food comma, we individually contemplated the sacrifices these animals had made so that we might live strong and prosper – all while giving thanks for our fortunate position at the top of the food chain.

I left my new favorite restaurant that evening knowing deep down in my heart that I would forever be a carnivore, for Smithfields had reminded me that life is all about doing what makes us happy! I have returned time and again since that fateful night – when the craving for quality meat is particularly strong and, especially, when I hope to impress out-of-town guests with the culinary delights of Southern Oregon.

Cider-braised pork belly, bacon-braised collard greens, mash potato, grilled apple.
Cider-braised pork belly, bacon-braised collard greens, mash potato, grilled apple.

And while the menu certainly features an all-star lineup of meat-tastic appetizers, burgers, entrées and house-cut and cured steaks, there are plenty of green things in the mix to delight even the most diehard vegetarians: brocollini, artichokes, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts. They come as sides, making them great for sharing or, paired with a fresh and delicious salad or appetizer, a lighter meal.

To create the perfect ambiance for enjoying their meat centric creations, chef Neil Clooney and restaurateur Dee Vallentyne steer a tight ship – from their selection of the best local meats and insistence on serving fresh right down to their homemade catsup, to their vast knowledge of wines and spirits and the top-notch staff serving ’em up. Located in a beautiful old farmhouse just off the beaten path at 36 S 2nd St in Ashland, Smithfields Restaurant & Bar takes it all gourmet all the way in a warm & cozy atmosphere that is classy while down-to-earth. All of these factors have contributed to making Smithfields an Ashland classic in just two years – congratulations Dee and Neil!

Smithfields is open Tuesday – Friday, 11:30 – 2:30 for lunch and Tuesday – Sunday (5 pm – close) for dinner as well as 10:00 – 2:30 Saturday and Sunday for brunch – plenty of opportunities to catch Smithfields with their doors open. Check their website for current specials and upcoming events!

Photos by: Kayla Goldfarb & Evan Wilson

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Smithfields Restaurant and Bar is located at 36 S. 2nd Street, Ashland, Oregon. Call 541-488-9948.