A release from the Cooking Channel last October about the episode of "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" did not identify the Dayton restaurant that Cleveland chef, restaurant owner and former University of Dayton student Jonathon Sawyer singled out as serving a ribeye steak "so incredible, it's fit for a king."
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But David Hulme, whose restaurant has served steaks in the shadow of UD more than 70 years, confirmed at the time that the episode will spotlight his restaurant. A video crew shooting on behalf of the Cooking Channel spent a full day at the Pine Club earlier in 2018, focusing on the bone-in ribeye, Hulme said.
“This represents confirmation for those long-time customers of the Pine Club, both locally and from out of town,” Hulme told this news outlet last fall. “It reflects well on the choices they’ve made. We’ve had nearly 72 years of wonderful customers here.”
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The Pine Club is no stranger to national and international recognition — and neither is its bone-in ribeye menu item.
In June 2015, the Pine Club was included in an episode of the Food Network's "Top 5 Restaurants." The network declared the Dayton icon the #2 steakhouse in America. The piece raved specifically about the restaurant's bone-in ribeye.
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David Hulme, owner of The Pine Club. 2015 file photo by Ty Greenlees
In December 2013, the Pine Club was included in a list of “10 of the World’s Greatest Old Dining Institutions” by a writer for T Magazine, the New York Times Style Magazine, joining restaurants in Paris, London and New York City.
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Six months before that, Michael Stern, co-author of “Roadfood,” identified the Pine Club as his favorite steakhouse in the country in a USA Today story. The Pine Club has also scored shout-outs from Gourmet Magazine and Tastingtable.com, among others. The steakhouse opened in 1947 at 1926 Brown St.
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The Cooking Channel news release describes the “Steak Out” episode of “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” this way:
“We're paying tribute to the best styles, cuts and steakhouses serving up the best steaks. Chef Jonathon Sawyer takes us on a trip to Dayton for a ribeye cut so incredibly, it's fit for a king. Jaynard Wells travels down to Atlanta for the best of both worlds -- the sea and land -- in a surf-and-turf combo of steak and shrimp. And Duff Goldman drools over a butter steak that melts in your mouth ... like butter!”
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2008 file photo by Lisa Powell
Hulme said the Pine Club experienced a surge of business following the 2015 Food Network recognition that is still felt at the restaurant.
“I had no idea. Sales jumped by 35 percent. I expected it to last a few months, six months at most, but it hasn’t stopped,” Hulme said. The popularity of the bone-in ribeye has rubbed off on other menu items, including a bone-in filet and a thick-cut porterhouse steak for two, he said.
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Sawyer is the owner of The Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland, and has won many awards himself: he was among Food & Wine magazine's "Best New Chefs" in 2010, and in 2013, was named a finalist for the James Beard Award's "Best Chef: Great Lakes region."
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Sawyer attended UD for two years before deciding to go to culinary school in Pennsylvania and pursue a career as a chef. The film crew told Hulme that Sawyer had eaten at the Pine Club with his family during his UD days.