ASHLAND, OR: Amuse Restaurant

Located in the heart of Ashland, Amuse (with the French pronunciation "ah-MOOZ") is a wonderful place for a full dinner or light bites.

During our June visit to Ashland, my wife and I strolled the main street and looked at many restaurant menus before popping into Amuse. Even without a reservation, we were seated quickly, though I wouldn't risk that during high season; reservations are recommended.

Service was excellent: attentive without being obtrusive, and with knowledgeable people to proffer recommendations.

We ordered one of the many local wines for our starter, the carrot and leek soup for our appetizer and decided to split a rib eye for our entree. What followed was quite a pleasant surprise indeed.

Our desire to keep calories and the budget in check didn't deter the staff at Amuse one bit. Before the appetizer arrived, they brought a plate of amuse-bouche - bite-sized hors d'Ĺ“uvre as a greeting from the Chef de Cusisine - which were absolutely delightful.

The carrot and leek soup arrived shortly thereafter. It was perfectly seasoned and presented at precisely the right temperature: neither too hot nor too cool.

The rib eye was also perfectly cooked, to our order of medium-rare. Often, restaurants slightly undercook expensive cuts of meat as undercooking can be easily fixed by a few more minutes on the fire while overcooking requires a new piece of meat. Not the case at Amuse. Sides of potatoes and veggies were equal to the protein, and rounded out the dish.

Not that we were done; the staff would have none of that. Though we opted to pass on dessert, we were nonetheless plied with more little morsels that would slake our craving for sweets without indulging in one of Amuse's luscious-looking full-sized after dinner offerings.

We left feeling both quite satisfied and well looked-after. We highly recommend Amuse and, next time we're in Ashland, we'll certainly return!

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