The Miami Valley Restaurant Association is giving local food hounds reason to brave the cold.
The 2016 winter Dayton restaurant week is in full swing at 40 local eateries with great meals at a bargain prices through Sunday, Jan 31.
We have you covered every bite along the way.
How Dayton restaurant week works
Diners at participating restaurants can purchase a special three-course meal priced at $20.16, $25.16 or $30.16. Some taverns offer two-for-one specials at one of those price points. A dollar from each meal goes to local non-profit organizations.
The Dayton.com is more than willing to help navigate you through yummy Dayton Restaurant Week. Follow us on Instagram (@daytondotcom) and tell us what you think using the hashtag #DaytonRestaurantWeek.
DOC’S PLACE, 12 West Mulberry Street, Lebanon
Review by Amelia Robinson
The 8-oz. Filet “Oscar Style” with Asparagus and the Chilean Sea Bass served as part of Restaurant Week at Doc's Place. AMELIA ROBINSON / STAFF
The Deal: A drink: Moscow Mule or pint of Brausch Brewery Wilmington Lager. A salad: spinach salad with strawberries, pecans, goat cheese and poppy seed dressing, or house salad with mesclun greens, tomatoes, cucumber, red apple and croutons. A entree: 8-ounce Filet “Oscar Style” with Asparagus, or Chilean Sea Bass with tropical salsa and sautéed spinach. A dessert: tiramisu or molten chocolate lava cake.
What we thought: My dinner companion and I were eager to check out the new-to-us and recently reopened restaurant. A friend arrived ahead of us and grabbed a table by the fire in the causal restaurant in downtown Lebanon that also attracts a sports crowd.
We were a little bummed that we could not order the Moscow Mule cocktail offered as part of Doc’s Place’s Restaurant Week menu (the restaurant does not have a license for Sunday liquor sales). Instead we ordered the other drink option offered as part of Restaurant Week: a pint of Brausch Brewery Willington Lager and a crisp glass of Pinot Grigio.
The disappointments ended there.
The spinach salad came packed with strawberries, pecans, goat cheese and poppy seeds, but for me, the simpler house salad with mesclun greens, tomatoes, cucumber croutons and shredded apple was superior.
Of the two entrees are offered (a filet and a Chilean sea bass), both were tasty, fresh and well-plated -- but the filet was the winner. It came out cooked a perfect medium rare and was tender and flavorful.
It was hard to choose a winner between the tiramisu and the molten chocolate lava cake. The tiramisu was well-balanced and the molten cake was very moist and so chocolatey.
Tiramisu and molten chocolate lava cake is part of restaurant week menu at Don's Place. AMELIA ROBINSON / STAFF
BASIL’S ON MARKET, 18 N. Market St, Troy
Reviewed by Michelle Fong
Pictures of some of the 2016 restaurant week options at Basil's on Market in Troy. MICHELLE FONG / STAFF
The deal: The Restaurant Week special is a trio plate that includes lobster and shells with Gouda sauce; a 3-ounce filet on top of a mushroom ragout sauce and smashed redskin potato finished off with a homemade basil pesto sauce; and crispy prosciutto next to a deconstructed pork taco on a fried wonton skin with homemade slaw. The pork is slow-cooked for 24 hours and topped with a dabble of sriracha. For dessert? Two fresh-out-of-the-oven decadent chocolate Beignets!
Cost: $25.16 for the Restaurant Week deal
Extras: My husband and I couldn’t resist and added on a $5 glass of Riesling and a bottle of Bud Light ($1.50) to drink. We decided to splurge since it was a rare date night sans kids for us and added some starters, as well. Basil’s has some pretty darn yummy apps, including Basil’s Signature Fries ($6.50) with truffle oil and grated Parmesan, and Gourmet Soft Tacos ($4.50 each) with braised short rib, blackened shrimp, shredded lobster meat, chicken or pulled pork. This time, though, we opted for the lightly breaded Fried Calamari topped with shaved Italian cheeses with a creamy lemon truffle Parmesan aioli dipping sauce ($11). It was a generous portion perfect for sharing and paired perfectly with the Riesling.
We also added two cups of Basil’s irresistibly sweet Lobster Bisque soup ($4 cup/$7 bowl). What makes this rich and creamy soup stand out from the competition is its hint of sherry and scallion-basil creme fraiche topping. My husband wasn’t sure what to think about the sweet flavor, but my enthusiasm for it trumps his uncertainty. Yum!
What we thought: Basil’s has a really impressive menu and a very comfortable atmosphere that is great for a date night, night out with friends, post-workday snacks and drinks or even a work lunch. The menu is creative -- from apps, to entrees to cocktails -- and the atmosphere is cozy and inviting. Casually elegant.
EL MESON RESTAURANT, 903 E. Dixie Dr., West Carrollton
Reviewed by Vivienne Machi
Photos of the atmosphere and entrees during Dayton Restaurant Week at El Meson Restaurant. VIVIENNE MACHI / STAFF
The deal: Your choice of soup or salad: The Asopao de Camaron (shellfish soup) is a hearty and heart-warming bowl of shrimp, rice, tomatoes and onions in a rich tomatoe-y broth. The Ensalada de Casa (House Salad) is mixed greens topped with cucumber, tomato, cilantro, onion, dried cranberries topped with a Tropical Mango Vinaigrette. Then your pick between the Cuban Pork Tenderloin Mojo, a pork tenderloin marinated in sour orange, garlic, and cumin sliced and topped with onion Mojo, the Ropa Vieja slow roasted flank steak shredded and paired with onions, tomatoes and red and green peppers, or the Grouper con Sofrito, with sauteed Grouper fish dusted in flour and a tomato, onion and garlic sauce. All entrees served with rice with peas, Jamaican Jerk Slaw, and Maduros (sweet plaintains). Topped off for dessert with Chocolate Flan.
Cost: $25.16 for the Restaurant Week deal
Extras: Who can resist a Gold Macarena Margarita on the rocks ($8) at El Meson?!
What we thought: Come hungry; El Meson will deliver! It's always a party at this bright, colorful, and ecccentric restaurant, and the Restaurant Week menu just added to the fiesta. We both chose the soup to start, rich and savory, well-balanced with tasty shrimp, rice, tomatoes and onions. The broth was begging to be soaked up with El Meson's always delish bread, but we saved room for the entrees, and good thing we did. The Cuban Pork Tenderloin Mojo was perfectly cooked and tender, and the sour orange, garlic and cumin sauce gave just a touch of tart that was really unique and delicious. The star was the melty, Ropa Viejo shredded flank steak though. We're still dreaming about it! And of course, who can resist some sweet fried Maduros? The Jamaican Jerk Slaw was a new and delicious discovery, of shredded cabbage mixed with mayonnaise, cream, lemon and jerk seasoning. It would be good on anything! Save room for the chocolate flan, sponge-y and cocoa-y, the way an El Meson dinner should end.
WHEAT PENNY, 515 Wayne Ave.
Reviewed by Kamron Taylor
Photos of menu items featured at Wheat Penny for Winter Restaurant Week. KAMRON TAYLOR / Staff
The deal: The Restaurant Week Special starts off with two takes on Focaccia, one offering olives, the other brings tomatoes. The appetizer portion is followed by your choice of meatballs or Mussels. Then make the difficult decision between a 3-option third and fourth course. We recommend bringing two or three dining partners so you don't have to choose. Simply sample off a friend.
Cost: The 4-course meal is $25.16
Extras: We had cocktails, over wine. Wheat Penny still offers an extensive drink selection, each cocktail is $9.
What we thought:
We started off with the “Prosciutto & Pancetta Studded Focaccia” and the “Black Olive and Roasted Cherry Tomato Studded Focaccia” – a delectable medley of meats and cheeses. My dining partner and I appreciated the cherry tomatoes as an added bit of sweetness.
Moving on to the second course. We tried the “Eggplant and Porcini Mushroom ‘Meatballs’ with Tomato Sauce and Parmesan,” which delightfully reminds you of your mother’s homemade spaghetti and meatballs with an 'upscale' presentation. For the second course, we also tried the steamed Mussels. They came with shallots, parsley and thyme. The roux was surprisingly bitter, but didn’t steal the show away from the course overall.
On to the third course— our favorite part. If you’re interested in fall-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth, tender-goodness, go with the “White Wine-Braised Country Style Pork Ribs,” served with polenta and Broccolini. The dish is a great selection if you’re hungry. It provided a lot more food than the "Handmade Ricotta Gnocchi." Although the dish had a little less food than desired, we savored every last bite of the Ricotta. It’s delicious entree, but could have also done well as an appetizer.
For dessert we had the “Flourless Chocolate Almond Ricotta Cake” with whipped cream and the “Tangerine Chocolate Swirl Ice Cream with a Chocolate Mint Cookie.” As you could probably guess, the Tangerine had everything our taste buds could ask for in a dessert—tangy and sweet. Dessert was a delicious ending to an already fantastic Restaurant Week expereince.
(Clockwise from top): Chicken florentine, angel hair pasta with meatball and sauce, and Tiramisu at Mamma DiSalvo's in Kettering. (ANDREW SMITH/STAFF)
The deal: Two fully-inclusive entrees that offer an exquisite beginning, middle and end to your evening. Choose from either the Mamma's Trio, which includes your choice of lasagna, canneloni florentine, chicken and spinach fettuccini alfredo, salad, bread and turtle cheesecake or Chicken Scallipini, served with a side of angel hair meatball or meat sauce, salad, bread, tiramisu and a glass of Mamma's featured wines. There is also a mozzarella and tomato caprese appetizer ($10.95) and the featured wine is Costello D'Albola Chianti Classico, available in glass ($12) or bottle ($36) portions.
Cost: $25.16 (Mamma's Trio) and $30.16 (chicken scallipini)
Extras: Not surprisingly, Mamma DiSalvo's was a busy place on Wednesday night, and after a 25-30 minute wait, my wife and I couldn't resist an order of Fried Raviolis ($8.50). Served with an ample portion of Mamma DiSalvo's famous sauce and stuffed with cheese and jalapenos, the raviolis were the perfect balance of a crispy, crunchy outside, with a warm, melted inside. Thankfully, my wife did not put up much of a fight over the last-remaining ravioli, perhaps saving room for her generously-sized entree that was about to arrive. Also, the bartender that night mixed together a fantastic whiskey sour!
What we thought: With part of our stomachs filled with soft bread and ravioli, it was time for the main course. I opted for the Chicken Scallipini entree and decided to dive into the angel hair and meatball portion first. The meatball itself was tender, floating atop a bed of the acclaimed DiSalvo's sauce. Overall, this portion of the meal was not mind-blowing in any way, but that's not to say it disappointed, either.
I bounced back and forth between the angel hair pasta and the chicken scallipini, which was the true MVP of my meal. The wine sauce, mushrooms and chicken medallions were an experience all to their own. The dish coated your taste buds and left you with an old-world aftertaste that I have never tasted before. And all this coming from a guy who really doesn't like mushrooms, either.
(Clockwise from top left) Turtle cheesecake, fried ravioli and lasagna with canneloni florentine, chicken and spinach fettuccini alfredo. (ANDREW SMITH/STAFF)
A slice of buttery-soft slice of tiramisu and a warm cup of coffee concluded my evening. It was bliss. Occasionally, I would cleanse my palate, before stealing bites of my wife's food. As divine as her lasagna was, the turtle cheesecake stole the show.
This was our first trip to Mamma DiSalvo's and, needless to say, it will be one we won't soon forget. My advice to you is to make it over to Kettering, before the week is over, and experience these dishes for yourself!
NIBBLES, 105 S. 2nd St., Miamisburg
Review by Connie Post
Photos of the atmosphere, dishes and drinks during Dayton Restaurant Week at Nibbles in Miamisburg. Connie Post / STAFF
The deal: Your three-course meal begins with a choice between Italian Wedding Soup featuring hand-rolled chicken meatballs, rainbow chard and other vegetables in a rich, flavorful broth or a Mixed Greens Winter Salad with orange, cranberry, walnuts and orange-balsamic drizzle. For entrees, choose Seared Salmon with cannellini beans and wilted salad, with lemon-olive tapenade, $25.16; Chicken Marsala with mushrooms and pureed potatoes, $25.16; or Braised Short Ribs served over creamy Parmesan polenta with thyme roasted carrots, $30.16. For a sweet finish, choose Budino Di Cioccolato (Italian chocolate pudding) made with bourbon and a pinch of cayenne, and topped with a dollop of whipped cream; or Tiramisu (ladyfingers drenched in espresso, Kahlau and rum layered with whipped cream and mascarpone cream).
Extras: The cocktails! Mixologist Eric Walusis, who placed second in last year's Battle of the Bartenders, is a master of spirits. He’s has created Corpse Reviver Z, a magical concoction of gin, Sambucca (an anise-flavored liqueur), Orange Curacao and flamed orange peel, $10. If you don't like anise (think black jelly beans), opt for the Hyde Park Cocktail, made with Makers Mark Bourbon, grenadine, maple syrup and fresh squeezed grapefruit juice; also $10.
“A good cocktail should be like a good wine. It should have complexity to it,” Walusis said. He also makes the Best. Cosmo. Ever. and Maria's Manhattan, each $9. The cosmopolitan is a very pretty girly drink — pink and zesty. The Manhattan is made with Luxardo Maraschino Cherries — they are small, dense, sweet-tart and wonderfully sensuous.
Photos of the atmosphere and dishes during Dayton Restaurant Week at Nibbles in Miamisburg. Connie Post / STAFF
What we thought: Chef Maria Walusis's Restaurant Week menu represents her unique culinary style, a mix of classical and whimsy. “Food is such a fun playground!” she said. “Every ingredient is important. I touch every dish.”
If you're in the mood for light and delicate, go with the salad – good in its simplicity — and seared salmon. The lemon-olive tapenade is a brilliant accompaniment to the salmon, and there's just enough cannellini beans for interest. Enjoy it with a cosmopolitan — “It's like drinking a summer breeze!” said Beth Meece, my dining companion.
If you want something heavier, by all means order the Italian Wedding Soup. “This is the best wedding soup I've ever had in my life!” Beth said. The broth is opaque and flavorful, and the rainbow chard is added separately, not overcooked. The melt-in-your-mouth short ribs are almost to die for and served with a generous portion of Parmesan polenta and delicious, almost caramelized thyme-roasted carrots.
While the tiramisu was delightful, Beth and I both agreed that the boozy Budino Di Cioccolato was off the charts. It's decadent and creamy, and that little pinch of cayenne flirts with the back of the throat.
As for cocktails, you can't go wrong with any of them, but the Corpse Reviver Z with the Sambucca and Orange Curacao will knock your socks off. And after you're tried Maria's Manhattan, you will never, ever be happy with a cocktail served with bright pink so-called maraschino cherries. The clear Luxardo Maraschino liqueur made with crushed pits of cherries grown on the coast of Croatia and the small, dark Luxardo cherries themselves will take you to another realm.
For Restaurant Week, reservations are absolutely essential. Tables are still available Thursday and Friday. The restaurant is intimate, seating about 32 (more in the summer when the porch is open). Looking ahead, Nibbles will be open on Valentine's Day, which falls on a Sunday this year. While a number of restaurants won't be open that day, Nibbles will have a special menu and is already taking reservations.
PARK CITY CLUB, 580 Lincoln Park Blvd., Kettering
Reviewed by: Vivienne Machi
Cocktails and the Calabrian Fried Chicken Thighs and Glutton Mushroom appetizers at Park City Club. VIVIENNE MACHI / STAFF
The deal: Park's Restaurant Week deal is a bit different than the norm: In addition to your choice of soup or salad and a starter, your pick of entree determines your price tier: for $20.16, the choice is yours of a 1/2 rack of ribs served with mac and cheese, a pan-seared sesame cauliflower dish with wild mushrooms and jus, water chestnuts, burnt carrots, and sesame and ginger broth, or Park Biscuits and Gravy, pulled chicken and roasted root vegetables over a handmade rosemary cheddar biscuits and gravy. For $25.16, your choice of pork shoulder served with apple cide sauerkraut and park potatoes, korean-style short ribs with a sesame-ginger brado and Asian slaw, or a pork tenderloin with broccolini and a maple bourbon sauce.
For $30.16, opt for a 5 oz. salmon served with Sardinian fregola salad with black olives, red onion, grape tomatoes, herbs and goat cheese, or a 5 oz. NY strip steak, served with burnt carrots, gorgonzola cream and gremolata. And finally, for $35.16, indulge in a 10-oz. prime rib served with broccolini and park potatoes, au jus with horseradish upon request. Dessert not included.
Extras: My dining partner and I chose a classic Negroni (gin, sweet vermouth, Campari), and Brown Derby (Bourbon, grapefruit juice, and a touch of honey) cocktails ($8 each). For dessert, our bellies could barely handle but we thoroughly enjoyed the Amaretto Crème Brulée ($5).
The Park Biscuits and Gravy, 10 oz. prime rib, and the goat cheese cobbler and amaretto creme brulee desserts at Park City Club. VIVIENNE MACHI / STAFF
What we thought: Park's Chef Dana Downs prepared a wonderful variety of dishes for Restaurant Week, from the ultra classic to inventive. After sipping on our delicious cocktails, we started off with the Calabrian Fried Chicken Thighs and Glutton Mushrooms: The chicken thighs are bone-in, rolled in curshed pine nuts, and have just the right amount of heat paired with a cooling avocado buttermilk dipping sauce. The Glutton Mushrooms are so smooth and butter-y, cooked with spinach and Pernod and served with garlic toast. We wanted another batch.
The soup du jour was a creamy, perfectly seasoned prosciutto and potato, and the shredded kale salad with bourbon-soaked sultanas (dried white grapes, similar to raisins), goat cheese, cornbread croutons and a cider vinaigrette was refreshing and tasty. The vinaigrette ratio was perfect to counterbalance kale's naturally bitter state. We both loved our entrees: The Park Biscuits and Gravy just falls apart in your mouth, and the rosemary cheddar biscuit flavor really comes out in a delicious way. The roasted root vegetables (carrots, celery) were a great touch. And of course, how can you go wrong with a huge slab of prime rib, cooked to a perfect medium-rare? The park potatoes were crispy on the outside, soft and steaming on the inside, and delicious paired with horseradish.
Again, we barely had room for the Crème Brulée, but we were happy we did as the amaretto flavor was delicious. If it wouldn't look uncouth to lick the plate in Downs' classy Kettering establishment, it might have happened. Since we dined with friends, we also got to try their Goat Cheese Cobbler, served a la mode with vanilla ice cream, and that too was creamy, flavorful, and delightful.
Reservations are highly recommended for Park anytime, and especially during Restaurant Week.
CHAPPYS SOCIAL HOUSE, 7880 Washington Village Drive, Washington Twp.
Review by Mark Fisher
The spicy tortilla soup and chocolate Texas sheet cake from Chappys Social House. MARK FISHER / STAFF
The Deal: FIRST COURSE: Spicy Tortilla Soup or House Salad
SECOND COURSE: Southern Style Cornmeal-Crusted Catfish with Creole Crawfish Sauce, served over Asparagus and Potato Casserole OR Warped Wing 10 Ton Oatmeal Stout Beer Brined Pork Chops and 4 Bones of Slow Smoked BBQ Ribs with Southern Style Fresh Green Beans and Cheesy Potato Casserole OR 6-ounce Chargrilled Pub Steak with Roasted Garlic Blue Cheese Butter with Vegetable Medley and Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
THIRD COURSE: Chappys Chocolate Texas Sheet Cake
Extras: This is a beer restaurant, and I had a designated driver, so I opted for two beauties: Dark Horse Double Crooked Tree IPA, $7.25/13-ounce glass, and the Breckenridge Whiskey Barrel Aged 72 Imperial, also $7.25 for a 13-ounce glass
What we thought: The “second location” of Chappys has been open for less than six months (the original at 2733 West Alex-Bell Road near Springboro Pike in Moraine opened in 2007), and owners Dave and Lori Camplin have resurrected a former Champps space that had been vacant for more than a year and a half. The place was certainly hopping on Friday night, with hungry diners waiting in the lobby for seating by 6:30 p.m. when we early birds departed.
The kitchen excelled in its execution of Restaurant Week. The salad was fresh and well put together, and the creamy garlic dressing with a touch of sweetness was spot-on. Creamy, cheesy, decadent tortilla soup, with chunks of chicken and a touch of heat, was also a hit.
Southern Style Cornmeal-Crusted Catfish with Creole Crawfish Sauce and Warped Wing 10 Ton Oatmeal Stout Beer Brined Pork Chops with Ribs from Chappys Social House. MARK FISHER / STAFF
From the entrees list, the catfish with creole crawfish sauce had a robust and appropriate kick of heat to it, and the succulent, tiny, genuine crawfish added to the dish. The asparagus spears gave their lives for the dish almost as much as the crawfish did, but provided visual appeal.
The pork option was a generous, satisfying meal on a plate (well, multiple plates). The stout-brined pork shop was cooked perfectly to medium and was quite flavorful (I may have to start using more beer in my marinades!). The four ribs had some heft to them and also were prepared well — sauced but not overly so.
The Chocolate sheet cake provided a fine end to the meal, enhanced by dueling ribbons of chocolate and caramel sauce with a dollop of whipped cream to the side. Where was this gem all the other times I had Texas sheet cake?
Overall, this was a fully satisfying meal, a fine experience and an incredible bargain for $20.16 — and that’s what Restaurant Week is all about.