In a town so laid back that pajamas and bare feet at the local Safeway barely raise an eyebrow, Hearsay is one of those places that make you want to pull your heels and LBD out of the closet, put on your favourite red lipstick, and toss on a sparkly necklace.
A relative newcomer to Ashland’s food scene, Hearsay is a rich, sexy venue with a jazzy Speakeasy vibe, and it multi-tasks like nobody’s business - we love to unwind in the cool, deeply upholstered lounge for Happy Hour, linger over Sunday Brunch in the sun-dappled garden, and impress our out-of-town guests with their outstanding Chef-driven menu in the Grand Piano-dominated dining room.
Here are some of the best reasons to love Hearsay:
· Front of the house - Owner Julie Gurwell is literally one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, voted ‘Favourite Restaurant Owner’ by local ‘Sneak Preview’ readers, if she isn’t seating you herself and making sure you’re comfy, she’ll likely drop by your table mid-meal to be sure all is well. Excellent service all around.
· Back of the house - is esteemed Chef William Shine’s domain. Although we’ve heard raves about the Citrus-Chili Short Ribs and Double R Ranch Rib Eye, our go-to with Chef Shine at the helm is always going to be the wild-caught seafood. The Tequila Prawns and Szechuan Calamari from the Small Plates menu are both must-tries, as are the ‘Shells and Chips’ and Seafood Tostada from the Medium Plates, and the Seafood Paella from the Large Plates menus – and there’s often a nightly fish special as well. While the pisciferous surely rejoice, vegetarians also have reason to embrace Hearsay’s menu: commonly relegated to just one ‘after thought’ menu item in other establishments, diners here can indulge in Saffron Vegetable Risotto, Job’s Tears Primavera, Mushroom Benedict and daily specials to satisfy their veg-loving hearts.
· Among Hearsay’s strong points, we’d be remiss if we did not include their very special Happy Hour (every day of the week, starting at 4:30). A unique, entertaining cocktail menu whispering back to an era of gimlets, sidecars, sours, mules and ‘drinking vinegars’ absolutely rocks alongside divine menu options like Lemon Ricotta Gnocchi, Bruschetta, Blackened Halibut Tacos and Ribeye Steak Frite. Six dollar cocktails, five dollar wines, two dollar beers and a plethora of tempting menu items all under twelve bucks makes this one of Ashland’s best kept secrets: a light early supper with wine or cocktail in a luxe setting can be had in Ashland for less than $25 - tip included.
· Brunch: If you were here Saturday night sipping cocktails and listening to the guy at the piano until the wee hours, then tumbled back in at 11 Sunday morning for Brunch in the Garden, you’d likely swear it wasn’t the same place. Because it kind of isn’t … ;-)
Favs for us include the Smoked Salmon Bennie and the Mushroom, Spinach and Goat Cheese Scramble, but the Cheddar Biscuits and Gravy with Fried Eggs is what you’re after to line a hungry tummy. If you dig a sweet brekkie try the Stuffed French Toast. Don’t forget the Mimosas and Bloody Marys.
Housed in the lower level of Ashland’s ‘Old Pink Church’ (still old but no longer pink), Hearsay has a secret doorway kind of feel to it. Parking can be a bitch, as it is everywhere in Ashland, but here’s our trick: pay to park in the lowest level of the Hargadine parking structure, then walk straight across the Ashland Springs Hotel parking lot, and cross the street to Hearsay’s front door. Especially helpful if you’ve got an OSF play to go to. But don’t tell ASH we told you to do that. We’ll totally deny it :-)