By Sandy Driscoll
Exterior of New Sammy’s Cowboy Bistro (all images ©2011 restaurantdiningcritiques.com & Sandy Driscoll)
New Sammy’s Cowboy Bistro
2210 S. Pacific Highway
Talent, OR 97540
Wednesday – Sunday
Lunch – 12-1:30 pm
Dinner – 5pm-9pm
Reservations – Necessary
Major Credit Cards Accepted
I’ve had the pleasure of dining at New Sammy’s many times in the past 20 years, when I first discovered them via a short
notation in Gourmet magazine. At that time, they had only a tiny 6-table restaurant.
Six years ago, they expanded the building into a larger, charming spot in tiny Talent, Oregon. Replete with cow wallpaper in the
small, sectioned (for pleasant privacy) dining room, this is always a memorable dining experience.
New Sammy’s is the love of owners Charlene (chef) and Vernon (wine expert extraordinaire) Rollins. The food, described in
straightforward terms on the menu, is organic, fresh and prepared in a way to let each ingredient shine. When the waitress
takes your order, she says, “Would you like Vernon to stop by and help select a wine?” You’d better say yes! This gentleman
knows his wines, and has one of the best cellars in the country. As is everything else about New Sammy’s, he is
congenial and unpretentious, despite his world class knowledge of wine.
When I arrived for dinner last week, Vern greeted me at the door, saying, “Are you Sandy/”, and led me to my table. After
ordering, he came by to chat about wines. I told him I was having the prix fixe menu, and would like wine with each course.
As I have in the past, I requested 1/2 glasses, which would enable me to taste more. He cheerfully complied, suggested a
Vouvray for the salad and a Red Bordeaux for the Lamb. When he poured the red, he mistakenly poured a full glass,
saying he was sorry……that he was used to pouring full glasses, but he would only charge me 1/2. Despite my protests,
he did just that. Reasonable? Yes, indeed. My three glasses of wine and a single espresso added less than $25 to the
Dinner always starts with a small bowl of warm olives, accompanied by delicious crisp homemade flatbread. Then comes
the homemade bread with a lovely tangy olive oil.
I have never seen Charlene come out of the kitchen. One of the employees (who obviously loves working there) told me they
had worked there for six months before ever seeing Charlene, and then she was sitting down, chopping vegetables!
Absolutely everything is made on the premises, much of it from the vegetable and herb garden out back. When I made my
dessert selection, I asked Vernon what a “Tayberry” was. He explained that it was a Scottish berry, a cross between a
raspberry and blackberry. I asked if they made the Tayberry Sherbet. Of course! he said. We make everything here.
We juice the tayberry in the fall and freeze the juice for later use.
For the first time, I had lunch there the following day. Starting with a glass of Champagne, my friend and I chose
the Hamburger (which the kitchen kindly split for us) and the Green Salad. Charlene’s salads are works of art, composed,
fresh beautiful ingredients, usually with a beautifully undercooked ‘hard-boiled’ egg. Makes me want to run home and
try to duplicate it!
If you are anywhere near Talent (which is between Ashland & Medford) don’t miss this special spot. Known only
from word of mouth (and now Internet posts), they neither advertise, nor do they have a website It’s worthy
of a special trip, the best dining for miles around, and as a ‘Yelper’ reviewed, and I agree, one of the five top restaurants
in the country!
Leading to the patio and entrance doorComplimentary Amuse – Chilled Sorrel Soup with Creme Fraiche and Fresh SorrelMixed Green Salad with Roasted Beets, Broccoli, Walnuts, Blue Cheese & “La Quercia” Prosciutto
Grilled Umpqua Valley Lamb Loin Chops with Spicy, Garlicky Kale, Cannelloni Beans, Purple Potatoes
and Sheep Milk GnocchiTayberry Sherbet and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Almond Meringue Torte with Blackberry Sauce
Restroom Interior with Champagne Bottles!Letter from Jane MacQuitty (wine writer, author & judge….since the 1980’s has been wine & drink correspondent for The Times of London)Bar and Lunch room
Lunch MenuComplimentary homemade hummus with crispy flatbreadGreen Salad with Broccoli, Roasted Beets, Potato, a Soft Farm Egg, & Grilled “Rushing Waters” Trout
Grilled Emerald Hills Hamburger with Sauteed Spinach, Fresh Goat Cheese, Applewood-Smoked Bacon, Aioli, Grilled Onions, Ketchup and PicklesCooked perfectly medium-rare, as requested!
Bittersweet Chocolate Layer Cake with Cherry Chocolate Mousse & Kirsch Ice CreamBehind New Sammy’s – the herb/vegetable/flower gardenNew Sammy’s well-fed cat!