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‘Best place for cocktails’ also beckons for brunch

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A breakfast quesadilla is filled with scrambled eggs at Jefferson Spirits in Medford. [Sarah Lemon/Mail Tribune]
Breakfast skewers are meant for sharing at Jefferson Spirits in Medford. [Sarah Lemon/Mail Tribune]
Clockwise from top, a pineapple mimosa, cranberry juice, orange juice and gin-based cocktail with grapefruit juice can be had at Jefferson Spirits in Medford. [Sarah Lemon/Mail Tribune]
A bagel breakfast sandwich is served open-face at Jefferson Spirits in Medford. [Sarah Lemon/Mail Tribune]
Over-medium eggs are layered with chutney on an English muffin and served open face at Jefferson Spirits in Medford. [Sarah Lemon/Mail Tribune]
Breakfast skewers are meant for sharing at Jefferson Spirits in Medford. [Sarah Lemon/Mail Tribune]

Midday cocktails have a way of injecting more fun for parents into a weekend of kid-friendly activities.

After a week of schlepping kids between school and sports practices, I’m ready to kick back with an adult beverage while someone else does the cooking. Make that meal earlier rather than later.

Voted by Mail Tribune readers as Southern Oregon’s best place for cocktails, Jefferson Spirits mixes delicious drinks regardless of the time of day. Plenty of seating and typically no wait for a table during Sunday brunch made the downtown Medford establishment an ideal place to begin a recent family outing.

Serving the same menu during the evenings and weekday lunch service, Jefferson Spirits offers something different between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. I’d heard good things about this brunch menu and previewed a few dishes on social media.

Several are just different enough to woo customers from downtown’s other brunch spots while some of Jefferson Spirits’ more mainstream items please diners who prefer predictability in their mornings. Don’t come to Jefferson Spirits, though, looking for hashbrowns and eggs with bacon or sausage. Brunch, after all, should entail more flair than diner fare.

Sharing among the table is encouraged with such dishes as breakfast “charcuterie,” a platter of waffles, berry crepes, bagels with herbed cheese spread, scrambled eggs, fresh fruit and various condiments for spreading, dipping and drizzling. Priced at $25, the board is Jefferson Spirits’ most expensive brunch item.

I had set my sights on the menu’s lone appetizer, sunrise eggrolls ($12). More accurately flautas, the dish wraps scrambled eggs, black beans and cheese in flour tortillas before frying. But alas, a problem with the restaurant’s deep-fryer postponed plans to try the eggrolls.

As a consolation, the kitchen was adapting the “morning quesadilla” ($14) to accommodate the eggrolls’ filling. It seemed a minor adjustment, judging from the menu’s description of the quesadilla, which usually lacks black beans. We told the server the swap suited us fine.

I was somewhat surprised the Southwest burrito con carne ($15) didn’t appeal to my partner. But he deemed its shredded beef too heavy for 11 a.m. The bagel sandwich ($12) with tomato, feta-basil spread and sunny-side-up egg was more his speed.

The menu’s only mention of ham found favor with my older son, who requested the “English chutney” ($13), sandwiching the meat between blackberry-jalapeno chutney and an over-medium egg on an English muffin.

With half the menu devoted to sweet items, the casual reader at first may not realize at least a couple double as desserts. The Oregon wild berry cheesecake ($8) is served on a bed of chocolate. The “Greek split” ($10) replaces a banana split’s ice cream with Greek yogurt and finishes the whipped cream-topped berry melange with granola instead of nuts or sprinkles.

The promised pairing of French toast and pancakes in a single dish drew us to Jefferson Spirits’ breakfast skewers ($12). More straightforward, a single waffle is available for $5, a cup of fruit for $4.

Fruit juices — a treat in our household — made the meal festive for my 9- and 7-year-old sons. Scanning lists of 10 sparkling wine sippers, my partner selected the classic mimosa ($9), which simply tops fruit juice — orange, cranberry, pineapple, lime, lemon or grape fruit — with Champagne. He asked for pineapple.

I gravitated to a recipe with more complexity. From about 10 drinks, including margaritas, mojitos, mules and more, I ordered a gin-based drink — dubbed “Rosencrans bullets” ($14) — with my favorite St. Germain elderflower liqueur, grapefruit juice and rosemary.

The leisurely pace of service afforded time to savor our drinks with just passing thoughts for the kids’ grasp on their full tumblers of juice. Comfortable, padded booths and even couches and armchairs invite settling in with a book and a drink or two. It’s fortunate we planned to share because dishes arrived intermittently from the downstairs kitchen, which is far enough from the dining room that plates lose some heat on the trek.

The quesadilla provided four hefty slabs — one apiece — of egg-filled tortilla. Nicely crisped on the outside with a generous quantity of tender scrambled egg inside, the dish was mild-flavored even with the house-made crema carried over from the unavailable eggrolls. I did wish we’d specified an accompaniment of locally made Heavenly Fire salsa, which usually comes with the quesadilla.

Open-face presentations of both the bagel sandwich and English muffin conferred more eggs than expected and confirmed these dishes also are meant for sharing. The ruffly-edged eggs retained yolky centers, moistening and enriching the breads. A juicy mound of sprouts balanced the bagel stack and would have accomplished the same effect for the muffin, had my son not requested them on the side,

A side of syrup wasn’t quite enough for all four breakfast skewers. And the moniker of French toast seemed misplaced, given the layers consisted only of standard pancakes, fruit and little dollops of yogurt.

But my younger son was sold, regardless of what anyone wanted to call this configuration “Pancakes that taste like waffles with cream … strawberries. Ooooh, la, la!”

Count that as another vote for Jefferson Spirits, located at 404 E. Main St. Hours are 11 a.m. to midnight daily, with weekday lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. See jeffersonspirits.com or call 541-500-1349.

Reach features editor Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4494 or slemon@rosebudmedia.com