Most succulent dishes at Restaurant Week Sneak Peek

The Miami Valley Restaurant Association's Sneak Peek to Summer 2016 Restaurant Week test-drove a new venue at The Park at Austin Landing on Thursday night, but one aspect of the event remained unchanged: great food.

About one-third of the 50 restaurants that will offer special pricing on three-course meals as part of the MVRA Restaurant Week promotion served up their “sneak peek” offerings at Thursday night’s event. But the quality and variety of those offerings strongly suggest that next week’s main event will leave diners full and happy.

Summer Restaurant Week starts this Sunday, July 24, and extends through the following Sunday, July 31. Most participants are serving special three-course meals at $20.16, $25.16, or $30.16. A list of participating restaurants and their menus can be found on the Miami Valley Restaurant Association web site.

We found plenty of dishes to like — some with many elements and layers of flavor. But one of the winners of the night was comparatively simple: the barbecued ribs from Chappys Social House (its companion restaurant, Chappys Tap Room, also will offer the ribs as part of a menu option). The ribs were cooked perfectly, barely anointed with sauce, and seasoned just right.

"When you do simplicity well, the result can be outstanding. I would eat a platter of these ribs."
Connie Post, food writer

Connie's words also describe Nelly's restaurant's signature charcoal rotisserie chicken — smoky, succulent and addictive. I could eat a platter — but settled for a sample on Thursday night.

Salar Restaurant & Lounge offered samples of one of its Restaurant Week entree options: Peruvian-Style Braised Lamb Shank served over a chilled lentil salad and topped with crispy, fried leeks. The salad was enhanced by a fresh- herb-infused vinaigrette, and the buttermilk-soaked, crispy-fried leeks added a texture and crunch. It's a successful, satisfying and distinctive dish.

The El Meson food truck represented the West Carrollton restaurant, serving Andalusian Gazpacho alongside a Beef Tenderloin Salad, the beef served on a bed of mixed baby greens, garbanzo beans and red quinoa, enhanced by a mango avocado Salsa. The intensely flavorful and satisfying chilled soup was topped with sliced toasted almonds for texture. It was refreshing and delicious.

Basil's on Market in Troy, which is poised to open its second location in downtown Dayton the day after Restaurant Week ends, presented smoked, meaty St. Louis-style ribs atop Grilled Pineapple Pepper Jack grits. And relative newcomer Doc's Place in downtown Lebanon — the restaurant opened in November 2015 — prepared samples of its marinated beef tenderloin with a rich Mushroom Bordelaise sauce.

Those menu items represent just a sampling of the fine offerings from 16 restaurants that came out for the Sneak Peek. Next week is the main event for the twice-a-year Restaurant Week promotion, it’s already shaping up to be a strong one.

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