I fell back in love with the Ohio Renaissance Festival last year.
I hadn’t been in a while and had forgotten just how much fun a day spent time warping to a re-created 16th century English village could be.
In 2015, three investors came together to purchase the festival and since that time have made many fantastic improvements. If you haven’t been in a while, the grounds has seen some upgrades — major landscaping projects, new structures such as the 1572 Roadhouse Bar-B-Q, seating arbors and even flushing toilets.
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Just as they’ve elevated their entertainment and festival grounds, owners are working steadily to elevate their food.
They still have the roasted two-pound turkey legs that will make you feel like a real barbarian and the obligatory burgers, chicken fingers and fries, but they also have authentic Middle Eastern cuisine like chicken shawarma, falafel, and stuffed grape leaves; they have European specialties like scotch eggs and haggis, Cornish pasties and Irish bangers and mash.
With more than 20 food spots, pubs and food carts scattered around the grounds, it’s a great place to hang out and eat your way through the afternoon.
The crown jewel in the festival’s food lineup is 1572 Roadhouse Bar-B-Q located in front of the Ohio Renaissance Festival.
With roughly 200 seats on a 3,200-square-foot covered deck, it’s a rustic, outdoor covered patio that is one of the best in our region.
Pitmasters Chris Cavender and Erin Kozac slow smoke all of the traditional BBQ meats using apple, cherry and hickory wood for a clean balance of flavor after they have given it a generous dry rub coat.
Combo platters are the way to go. Choose from meat including turkey, pulled pork, tri tip, hot link or smoked wings. Options are a two meat combo with two sides ($12), Roadhouse combo (four ribs plus any choice of meat and two sides, $15), the norm (any four meats with two sides, $17) and Pit Girl’s Deluxe (four ribs plus four meats and two sides, $27). Sides include mac and cheese ($3), smoke’n green beans ($3), Roadhouse beans ($3), creamy cole slaw ($3) and cornbread ($2). Portions are generous and filling. The Pit Girl platter is plenty for two people to share, maybe even three depending on hunger and capacity to eat in a given meal.
Cavender has been running the food-service operations the festival for more than 20 years now and has an impressive restaurant resume including working as the executive chef at Jay’s Seafood Restaurant for a time.
With his focus on 1572 Roadhouse Bar-B-Q and his UrbanQ Smokehouse business that sells sauces and rubs, Cavendar is putting the focus on some grilled, smoky goodness and it’s paying off. Earlier this year his UrbanQ Smokehouse Bayou Classic Creole Q Sauce was named the No. 1 “Cooking Sauce” in the 2019 Fiery Food Challenge ZestFest.
A visit to this seasonal restaurant is worth the trip alone. That topped with a festival that steps back in time with tons of shopping opportunities, almost 100 shows on 11 stages and plenty of food and beverage options makes this a trip worth taking this fall.
Dayton Eats looks at the regional food stories and restaurant news that make mouths water. Menu updates, special dinners and events, new chefs, interesting new dishes and culinary adventures. Do you know of new exciting format changes, specials, happy hours, restaurant updates or any other tasty news you think is worth a closer look at? E-mail Alexis Larsen at firstname.lastname@example.org with the information and we will work to include it in future coverage.