Cozy up

Cozy’s Cafe is worth a trip south


Cozy’s Cafe Dry Aged Bone in House Ribeye

By Paula Johnson

Liberty Township is a little far afield from the usual DCP territory, but when we hear tell of a place that sounds like something special might be going on, we like to investigate. If it’s worth it, we suggest it to our readers as a road-trip-destination dining idea. I had been hearing about Cozy’s Cottage and Cozy’s Cafe on Cin-Day Road, which began as a small breakfast and lunch place (that’s the Cottage), and expanded in another building, Cozy’s Cafe, a small house on the property, which offers dinner. Both are overseen by owner, Jan Collins and chef, James Gadd, formerly of Cincinnati’s Rookwood.

In The House

The small house is actually quite deceiving, as PIP (Palate In Progress) and I found out as we crossed the small porch and entered through several farmhouse themed dining rooms, to a spacious area which has a rustic barn feel boasting vaulted ceilings, warmly lit with twinkling chandeliers. The room is lined with tables and booths, featuring long communal tables in the center. We ended up seated at the bar at this room’s far end, since we arrived without a reservation. While I normally prefer eating at a table, especially since this bar was quite small, I reconciled quickly to dining there after listening to the two bartenders, who described the menu in a way that was comprehensive and well-informed.

The impeccable service we received is worth remarking upon. Both bartenders, Eric and Dave, introduced themselves and asked our names, which they used regularly. Had we been at a table, I might not have liked this, and probably would have felt it overly familiar. But dining at a bar is a different animal, and levels of familiarity are relaxed. This felt, well, downright cozy.

Angel or Devil?

As we debated which option to begin with, we were furnished with delicious, fluffy, house-made biscuits and offered a recommendation to try one of the appetizers offered: Angels on Horseback. Cozy’s interpretation is a nice twist on the more traditional skewered presentation of this classic hors d’oeuvre, made with oysters wrapped in bacon and grilled. Here, they’re served in the shell, and topped with grilled shrimp. [They’re not to be confused with Devils on Horseback, which are made with dates or figs instead of oysters.] This was a $19.00 appetizer, but it was worth it. Six large shrimp with smoky, salty bacon, the luxuriously slippery mouth feel of the oyster, and a touch of pepper in the veloute sauce combine for a richness that makes this a dish to split. Other appetizers sounded interesting, and I witnessed a few being served around the bar. The Charcuterie Board and duck fat Short Rib Fries looked notably appealing, and I plan to try them both on my next visit.

We chatted with the bar staff about which dishes best express what Cozy’s kitchen is about. High quality, from farm to table, and local when possible, is the vibe here. We learned that the steak offering is an 18oz dry-aged House Bone-In Ribeye, priced at $49.00. What makes this steak special and worth ordering? It’s from Chicago’s Allen Brothers, founded in 1893 and specializing in highest grade USDA Prime (the top three percent of all graded American beef). Cozy’s serves it with its own tangy, barrel-aged Worcestershire. We tried it and found the meat almost fork-tender and ridiculously marbled. Maybe not the steak for those who prefer leaner cuts, but it’s definitely for those who like a wagyu style taste and mouth feel. The Caesar salad with anchovies we began with were also a strong offering, redolent with garlic and pepper, and lots of buttery, freshly-made croutons. 

The Shank Ranks

Also recommended was the braised Twelve-Hour Pork Shank with Carriage House Farm grits, root vegetables, and wilted greens ($31.00). Recommended with caution, I should say. I was warned, “It’s probably the heartiest entree we offer. You might not be able to finish it.” I was up to the challenge, or so I thought. The monumental slab of rich, savory (also fork-tender) meat resting atop a generous mound of creamy polenta bested me, I’ll admit. The remainder was enjoyed the next morning as a hearty breakfast.

However, I still had room for dessert [I’ve often posited the “Dessert Stomach Theory,” which claims the existence of a separate stomach for desserts alone, explaining no matter how full you are, you can still go for the ganache.] Anyway, as monumental as the pork shank was, it didn’t hold a candle to the size of Cozy’s Carrot Cake ($8.00), a slab of epic proportions nearly the size of a small Volkswagen. But was it all size and no substance? Nope—totally delicious, with ample cake left to complement and complete the next day’s pork shank breakfast. A silky-smooth Butterscotch Budino ($8.00) was also sampled. We took turns extracting as much from the glass as we could with our spoons before furtively using our fingers to get the rest.

When I return, I’ll be tempted to sit at the bar again, but I probably won’t. I’m curious to see if the rest of the waitstaff is as professional and gracious as what we experienced from the men at the bar on our first visit. I will certainly find out before too long, because Cozy’s Cafe is a place I want to get cozy in again soon.

Cozy’s Cafe is located at 6440 Cincinnati Dayton Rd. in Liberty Township. For more information visit CozysCafeAndPub.com or call 513.644.9365.

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Paula Johnson
Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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