The Amber Rose restaurant on Valley Street near Dayton Children’s Hospital oozes history and charm. With a menu to match, this makes it unquestionably one of our local Dayton dining gems.
WHY IT’S SPECIAL
Built in 1910 by Sigmund Ksiezopolski, the business operated as a general store and deli named Sig’s up until the 1980s. Elinor Sluzas acquired the building in 1989 and opened her restaurant in 1990 after rebuilding it when it was devastated by a fire. For the last 18 years it has been lovingly tended to by its current owner, Joe Castellano who continues to use many of the recipes Sluzas perfected.
The building is steeped in as much tradition as the old world Eastern European menu, with features like a vintage tin ceiling, a Turkish marble bar and stained glass windows. It’s stepping back into time in the best way that only a really good authentic restaurant can do.
It was written up in Chris Woodyard’s 1994 book, “Haunted Ohio III,” thanks to spooky, paranormal events that have taken place inside the building over the years.
In that spirit, the restaurant is hosting a Ghost Hunting Food Adventure on Friday, Oct. 21, limited to 40 guests. This is a great way to have some pre-Halloween fun and get to know this wonderful restaurant if you can secure a spot.
The party starts at 9 p.m. and will feature a tour of the restaurant and basement with paranormal experts and beers on hand along the way. After the tour, guests are welcome to explore on their own and enjoy a cash bar and drink specials until close.
The menu will ensure that the group maintains their energy and wits.
1st course: Beck’s Oktoberfest deluxe potato pancakes and Bavarian pretzels with beir cheese dip.
2nd course: Erdinger Dunkel bratwurst encroute and hunter schnitzel sliders.
3rd course: Vanilla porter and pumpkin spice cheesecake.
ALWAYS ON THE MENU
If you can’t make it, don’t worry. There’s plenty on the menu during regular restaurant hours to keep you occupied and very, very happy.
If you’ve never been before, start out strong with the Amber Rose sampler ($15) featuring traditional favorites from the appetizer menu — a cabbage roll, pierogies and sautéed caramelized onions, deluxe potato pancakes, and bratwurst with sauerkraut.
Elinor’s Signature Turtle Soup ($4.50 for a cup, $6 for a bowl) is a classic Amber Rose dish packed with flavor made from scratch with freshwater snapping turtle.
For entrees, you can’t go wrong with the Lithuanian cabbage rolls ($13 or one for $10), made with ground beef and pork, rice and special seasoning rolled and roasted in cabbage leaves and served with mashed potatoes, gravy and fresh vegetables.
One of the restaurants sampler platters is also a great way to try more dishes. Options include a three sausage sampler ($16) featuring a Knockwurst, Bratwurst and Lithuanian sausage with triple mustard sauce, homemade sauerkrau, and smashed potatoes; the Lithuanian sampler ($19) featuring homemade sausage and sauerkraut, cabbage roll, and meat filled virtinai dumplings topped with bacon; or the Warsaw Medley ($19) featuring a cabbage roll, savory homemade sausage, tangy sauerkraut, and potato-filled pierogies.
The restaurant’s homestyle pot roast ($16) is cooked for 12 hours and melts in your mouth — it’s one of the best you will find around. The Hunter Schnitzel ($16), a pretzel crusted pork loin, sautéed and topped with Dijon cream sauce served with potato pancakes and house sauerkraut, is something off the beaten path that we very much enjoyed.
I’m a sucker for Sauerbraten ($19), a traditional German pot roast dish, and the Amber Rose version does not disappoint with a hand-cut, eight-ounce grilled flank steak marinated in German spices served with herbed spaetzle and homemade sauerkraut.
If you like Eastern European food you will be very glad to have found this restaurant. If you haven’t tried it before, it’s flavorful and hearty, perfect for cold weather and the holiday season, so it’s no surprise that business is starting to pick up.
And remember Sigmund Ksiezopolski, who built the building? The polish sausage recipe is his, so you might want to add that to your list of dishes to try.
If you still have room after the eating bonanza that is the Amber Rose, the bread pudding is out of this world made from croissants and donuts with almonds and cherries on top. It’s sinful and worth it.
WANT TO GO?
What: The Amber Rose
Where: 1400 Valley Street Dayton
More info: www.theamberrose.com or 937-228-2511
Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Mondays, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays and 4-10 p.m. Saturdays.
What a deal! Though Nov. 5 your first 12-ounce draft beer is .10 cents and every beer after is just $2. You can’t beat that at any happy hour in town!
Did you know? The Amber Rose has two banquet rooms — one seats 25 and the other, 100. There is no charge to use them when you are catering through the restaurant.
Allergies? A gluten-free menu is available upon request.
Vibe: Historic and cool with staff wearing T-shirts that say “Keep calm and get your shnitzel on!”