Wiley’s World is a restaurant with a mission: “to bring to the community some of the things we value most: a comfortable atmosphere where folks can enjoy quality food that is reasonably priced…and offer a choice of organic food, for the well being of our bodies, as well as taking a step toward nurturing the earth.” This small restaurant has been in the same location almost twenty years, beginning with Terry Wiley’s organic pasta entrees that are still menu staples today. When Gretchen Boylan became the new owner in the winter of 2009, she continued to honor the original mission, using all seasonal, organic or wild ingredients (like morel mushrooms in May and June) from local farmers in Ashland and Talent. Specials change daily, but customers can count on a regular main menu of pasta entrees, ravioli and lasagna, which all come with organic green salad, red-onion poppy seed vinaigrette dressing and fresh, house-made organic herb bread. For folks wanting a lighter meal, there are four house salads, ranging from $4.95 to $11.75. Two adults could also share an entrée, and for $2 extra, each person has a plate with the split entree and an extra house salad. Portions are generous, so this is a great deal if one is on a tight budget. Gretchen assured me that Wiley’s tries to cater to folks with food sensitivities (they offer many gluten-free pasta alternatives and an outstanding gluten-free apple cake!).and other special dietary needs.
This sort of flexibility and consideration for their clientele shows up in other ways, too. In one restroom there is a changing table with disposable diapers, very handy for families with babies.. Families like Wiley’s because of the kid-friendly atmosphere, flexibility and affordability.
There is also a cooler displaying pasta, desserts, ravioli, lasagna, the house salad dressing and several sauces (pesto, marinara, and alfredo), where customers can purchase the ingredients for a great, quick meal when they get home. This is a popular option with folks in a hurry or preferring to eat at home (avoids the meals tax, too). Everything is homemade on the premises, from vanilla ice cream and fruit cobblers to all the pasta (except quinoa and spelt) and sauces, like pesto, made fresh daily by the high-energy, talented staff in the kitchen.
On a rainy Saturday night, my friend Kimberly and I came to Wiley’s looking for comfort food. The atmosphere is cozy, with tiny white lights around each window, globes of colorful lights in a back wall, and live plants and a candle lit at each table. Jordon, our chef of the evening, came out to greet us and answer any questions about the specials or menu. Neither of us drinks alcohol, but Wiley’s offers a full wine and beer menu along with herbal and black teas and fresh organic lemonade. Jordon made sure April, our waitress, brought us our teas as we placed our order. A family of two young kids, parents and grandparents sat at an adjacent table, and the room began to fill as we awaited our order. When our meals arrived, April graciously took a picture of us as we began to enjoy our generous, colorful meals! Kimberly ordered the garlic caper sauce with veggies on the side from the pasta menu, substituting tri-color rice noodles for the wheat-based pastas. The whole fresh garlic is roasted for hours in olive oil, then blended with Italian capers, served with parmesan cheese, an ample house salad and the daily fresh herb bread. Kimberly, an experienced vegetarian cook herself, found her meal delicious and well-prepared. I ordered one of the daily fish specials, seared wild salmon with lemon, snap peas, scallions, and garlic, served over quinoa macaroni bathed in fresh pesto sauce. It was fabulous, and I saved some of this entrée and salad for the next day so I’d have room to sample a dessert, too! Both of our dinners came with the house salad of organic greens, tomatoes, grated carrot and red cabbage. With any meal one may add organic veggies, chicken, Oregon bay shrimp, tofu or Italian meatballs for an additional $2.00-$3.00.
For dessert I chose the gluten-free apple cake with cream cheese frosting. It was better than my best carrot cake! If you’d enjoy dessert after the movies, Wiley’s is located at 1606 Ashland Street, between the Hospice Unique Boutique and the Beanery Coffeehouse. They are open until 9:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. If you are okay with sugar, wheat and dairy, you could enjoy the double chocolate brownies, fruit cobblers or cheesecakes for under $4.00, or the homemade vanilla ice cream for $2.50.
The latest addition is Wiley’s Brunch Menu, served 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. A favorite is Eric’s Special Eggs Benedict, with Black forest ham and poached eggs served over an English muffin, topped with Eric’s homemade Hollandaise sauce, with a side of seared greens. They also have several omelets, a breakfast burrito, an egg sandwich and Natalie’s gluten-free waffles. Several couples now come weekly for brunch as a special way to start their day. With any questions, or to place a take-out order, call Wiley’s at (541) 488-0285. Be sure to pick up a fridge magnet so you have their number handy next time. Bon Appetit!