The corner of Wayne Avenue and East Fifth Street isn’t a blemish anymore — it’s a sight for sore eyes.
Corner Kitchen is open for business at 613 E. Fifth St.,where co-owners Natalie and Jack Skilliter have transformed the industrial space into a minimalist French-inspired “finer diner,” with blue and white napkins and intriguing wooden wall art by Wright State University Fine Arts Technician Landon Crowell.
Until now, the Fifth Street restaurant scene has largely rested between two eating experience extremes: from the delicious but pub and tavern-heavy atmosphere of Blind Bob’s, Lucky’s Taproom and the Trolley Stop types, directly to the white napkin fine dining experiences at Roost and Salar. Corner Kitchen helps fill that middle ground, with a mixture of down-to-earth plates with unique and gustatory twists at reasonable prices.
We tried the tasting menu, a six-course menu coming in at $34, or $58 with wine pairings. Each course item — with the exception of the Chef’s Choice amuse-bouche — is available in a full serving on the menu, and you’ll want full portions once you try each bite-sized morsel. But don’t fill up too quickly — it’s a packed tasting menu!
Chef Jack Skilliter’s amuse-bouche du jour was an avocado-tomatillo salsa-topped toast garnished with a sliver of radish. Perfectly refreshing, and though you (unfortunately!) can’t order it on the menu, the salsa does come on the pan-seared salmon dish.
Fish tacos are always a hit, and the first true course delivered with a fresh slice of white halibut topped with crispy shaved cabbage, tangy habanero aioli and onion salsa ($8 on the menu, and you can substitute tofu for the fish for a $6 plate).
When your eyes get to the BLT on the menu, don’t scoff and move on: This is not your homemade BLT. Substitute the Oscar Meyer in your fridge with braised crisp pork belly that melts in your mouth, bibb lettuce and housemade tomato jam open faced on toast. Yup, definitely can’t make that in your kitchen. The small dish goes for $6 on Corner Kitchen’s menu.
Don’t slow down yet, the Rigatoni Boo Boo (named as such for Natalie, they say!) is next: This pasta dish ($9/$16) is smooth and creamy and tomatoe-y in all the right ways, with a slightly spicy meat sauce topped with peas and fresh ricotta that blended amazingly.
Last of the main courses was a real treat: A NY strip steak cooked beautifully to medium rare, topped with a delish cognac peppercorn cream sauce and served with smooth mashed potatoes and a vegetable ($25 on the menu). Simplicity at its finest, and at a reasonable price considering the beef is all-natural and grass-fed.
Save room for dessert, especially when it’s light and tasty chocolate mousse served with housemade whipped cream and raspberries($6). How can you say no?
Natalie Skilliter also selected several of the restaurant’s more unknown wines to pair with these plates.
“I wanted to highlight some of our wines that you may not typically choose,” she said.
Our personal favorites were the JCB Brut Rosé served with the amuse-bouche, a light and crisp French sparkling wine that is perfect for summer ($12/glass; $42/bottle), and the Vina Eguia Tempranillo, a full-bodied red that went with the BLT ($8/glass;$28/bottle). We were also impressed by the Revelry Riesling they paired with the fish tacos — we’re not big on sweet wines, and this was refreshing and not at all overpowering. Though we weren’t completely stuffed at the end of the tasting menu, this is definitely not for someone looking for a fast and light meal.
The Skilliters put together a menu where you can feel comfortable no matter what you order: Whether you’re the guy grabbing a burger and beer at the bar or you’re planning a night of fine dining, the simple but classy setting and variety of their menu makes Corner Kitchen a place for all occasions.
Want to go?
WHAT: Corner Kitchen
WHERE: 613 E. Fifth St., Dayton
HOURS: 4:30-10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 4:30-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday