Down Underful

Zetland Street offers fresh favorites from Down Under

By Paula Johnson

Photo: Pavlova at Zetland Street

Food philosophy
“We all eat, and it would be a sad waste of opportunity to eat badly.” —Anna Thomas
“Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” —Harriet Van Horne
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, unless one has dined well.” —Virginia Woolf
These are the three quotes you’ll see when you go to Zetland Street’s website, and based on my recent visit, they are aptly chosen. They express the commitment and philosophy shared by owner Kim McCarthy and Chef Don Warfe to food that is creative, well prepared, humanely raised, organic and beautifully presented.
Zetland Street, located in Bellbrook, took over the space that formerly housed Amelia’s Restaurant. The name refers to the street McCarthy grew up on back in her native Australia, and there are several menu items traced with some Aussie touches. I had sampled Chef Warfe’s cuisine at a recent tasting event and was looking forward to sampling more. PIP (Palate In Progress) and I set out with empty stomachs and eager expectations on a recent Friday evening to see what was up down under.
Appetizing ambience
We arrived and were offered patio seating, but, unfortunately, it was just a bit too chilly for that. We were given a choice of two dining areas on either side of the bar area but allowed our hostess to select a table in a cozy dining area. The space is tastefully done and comfortable, intimate without feeling crowded. I began with a nice Sirius White Bordeaux ($8) and some appetizers while we considered our dinner selections. The appetizers, Spring Rolls with barbecued chicken (also available without chicken) for $10 and Seared Scallops ($13) were well-executed, attractively plated and delicious. The scallops, topped with a cube of pork belly and resting on a bed of fresh strawberry and cilantro chutney had a perfect sear. The spring rolls were bursting with freshness, and the Aussie barbecue sauce added a tasty twist.
As we read the menu, I noticed Zetland Street also offers some really nice looking brunch options including a breakfast burger and something called “The Big Aussie Breakfast.” It features KJB Farms bratwurst, bacon, egg, spinach, mushroom, tomato and smashed avocado on farmhouse toast. There’s a meat-free version of this as well, adding a wild rice pancake. A lot of the menu, both brunch and dinner, showcases gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options.
Chip shot
I had my heart set on the Australian Lamb Chops, which I ordered along with PIP’s Fish and Chips ($18). PIP wrestled with the choice between two of his favorites, the fish and chips or a burger. Zetland is known for its hand-pattied, grass-fed burgers, among them The Stuffed Italian Burger and The Reuben Burger, ranging from $13-17. Our server made us aware that the Fish and Chips wouldn’t be on the new menu (Zetland changes its menu seasonally), so PIP decided based on that. Curiously, I found after looking online that the fish does still appear on the updated menu.
Served with house fries, Asian slaw and a fried potato scallop, the panko-crusted cod was the least successful of all that we tried that evening. Though deep-fried like traditional fish and chips, the panko didn’t lend itself particularly well to this treatment. We found ourselves wishing for more of the typical battered version. While I found the fries to be sweet and homemade tasting, PIP was unhappy at their lack of crunch. The Asian slaw was a standout, but in the end, PIP would have preferred the burger. However, he was quite pleased with the Caesar salad ($7) he started with, appreciating the hand-torn fried croutons and white anchovies, as well as the sharp garlicky dressing.
Hot mess
I was disappointed when our server informed me they had run out of the lamb chop entree. As an alternative she recommended the Mixed Grill Platter ($32), which included a lamb chop, as well as a generous sampling of meats including beef chunks and sausage. Crowning this savory bounty was a fried egg. Served with fries and a juicy grilled tomato, the runny yolk and tangy BBQ sauce served alongside made this a messy, drippy plate of yum. It paired perfectly with the spicy Edmeades Zinfandel ($12) I ordered. Sadly the Mixed Grill is not on the current menu, so I’m casting my vote for its future return.
To close, we opted for Zetland’s flourless chocolate cake and that most Australian of desserts, the Pavlova (each $6). The Pavlova is named for the famed Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova who performed in Australia and New Zealand in 1926. Both countries laid claim to its invention, and it’s still an ongoing controversy. What is a Pavlova? It’s pretty much a crunchy, fluffy, frothy, fruity bowl of heaven. The bowl, made of baked meringue, is filled with fresh whipped cream and topped with seasonal fruit. Zetland used peaches, strawberries and blueberries and finished it with a fruity syrup. All of the elements of the Pavlova are delicious on their own, but combined together they equal a dessert that is absolutely heavenly. Easy to see why two countries are still squabbling to lay claim to this deliciousness.
Food > fuel
Why do people dine out? For some, it’s to fill the tank, another chore off the checklist or, at the very least, it’s something given little thought. These are the diners who are content to accept the food they know and have always eaten and are not concerned with the sustainability or source of that food.
If you don’t fall into this category, a restaurant like Zetland Street should be on your radar. Nothing is processed or pre-made here, and the chef’s preparations let fresh ingredients shine. That, along with the care and attention to detail in plating and presentation made this one of my favorite dining experiences here in Dayton this year. It’s well worth a try—and don’t skip the Pavlova!

Zetland Street is located at 129 W. Franklin St. in Bellbrook. For more information, please call 937.709.9055 or visit

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

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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

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