Oregon District eatery delivers fine dining and atmosphere
By Brian Sharp
Some nights, after a long day at work, you painfully pour over the options for where to have dinner… because cooking just isn’t an option. This particular evening was such the case. However, it was a beautifully clear, warm evening and the thought of dining al fresco seemed a great option.
I had been hearing great things about Roost, located in the Oregon Historic District in downtown Dayton, so I gave them a call. The phone was answered by a cheerful hostess. Not only did she tell me that they were open, but she told me they had FREE valet service for their patrons, there was a casual dress code, and that they would be happy to take our reservation (or we could just come in). Wow – an informed, cheerful, and genuine hostess. I was already impressed!
So, we hit the road (yes, we drove – instead of walking the 5 blocks from home) to Roost. We were greeted at the curb by a friendly valet that took the car and assured us that if he were leaving before we were done, that he would bring us our keys…and move our car close to the door. Again, impressed!
The hostess greeted us asked us if we preferred indoor or outdoor dining – we chose outdoor. She took us to a table gave us the name of our server and assured us she would be right with us. In fact, when she arrived she asked if we had dined with them before – after we said no, she explained the menus (both food and wine) and asked if we’d like a moment. After selecting a couple of wine offerings we began to pore over the menu. While doing so – we had some questions. A charming woman in a chef’s coat approached the table and asked if we had questions – while reading the embroidery on her coat I realized this was the Executive Chef – out walking among the guests chatting and ensuring the best of quality and service. The impressions that I was getting were only continuing to improve. After a brief discussion with the Chef, we had our decisions pretty well wrapped up.
Our server came back with the wine – took our orders and brought us bread to enjoy while waiting. At this point…if the food were anything like the service…we were set for an amazing evening.
We chose two appetizers. The first: mussels in a clear broth – with garlic and wine. Fresh mussels – beautifully prepared – not heavily dressed… just delicious. I am always worried about seafood in Dayton…it’s not like we have a shoreline for catching fresh fish…but these were superb. The other appetizer was a risotto fritter (2) – fried ciabatta crusted – filled with mozzarella and pepperoni and served on a bed of marinara sauce. Lightly fried – great texture – perfectly finished – the flavors rich and full. There are other appetizer options on the menu that vary from a crab gratin, marinated olives, garlic butter mushrooms or even a fresh soup of the day. Appetizers range in price from $6 to $10.
Next was the salad course. I chose the Roost chopped salad, which was a mix of mesclun greens, applewood smoked bacon, tomatoes, croutons, and dressed with a “Vampiro” vinaigrette. Steve chose the Caesar salad – served with capers, ciabatta croutons, and parmigiano on a bed of romaine. The salads were lightly dressed so as to enjoy all of the flavors on the plate. Salad prices range from $4 for a meal accompaniment to $8 as an entrée, with the addition of chicken or shrimp options at an up charge.
At this point…I should have been full… and I was… but I couldn’t wait for my entrée.
Steve’s entrée selection was a braised lamb shank – prepared osso buco style with a side of boursin mashed potatoes. I chose the herb roasted beef tenderloin served with gorgonzola-layered potatoes and grilled zucchini. The smell as these entrees were placed at our table was enough to delight – but then there was the taste. Steve’s lamb literally fell from the bone – tender and moist. The tenderloin was tender, thinly sliced and crusted and seared. The potatoes (both) were a great mix of mellow potato and cheese with a kick. I really didn’t want to share…but I gave in. The entrée choices are plentiful and range in price from $16 to $29.
Coffee was served after, while we looked over the dessert offerings – knowing we shouldn’t… we did anyway… because that’s how I roll! Steve chose the daily crème brûlée offering – which was a rosewater crème brûlée- while I selected the tre cannolis filled with rich cream and topped with shaved dark and white chocolate.
Thank heavens we didn’t walk – though we should have. I would have needed to roll home. I simply can’t say enough good about this delightful downtown Dayton restaurant. You really must give it a try. I also hear they have an amazing Sunday Bruch – with offerings like a fried egg sandwich, blt benedict or “eggs in hell” – which seems like a lovely post church option!
Who wants to join me for dinner OR brunch at Roost? I can’t wait to go back!
BRAVO! Dana and Beth – a job well done!
Reach DCP food critic Brian P. Sharp at Theatre@DaytonCityPaper.com