Duck, duck, ribs

All’s Well at The Wellington Grille

By Paula Johnson

PIP (Palate In Progress) and I found ourselves in Beavercreek on a Friday night with no place to go, when he remembered The Wellington Grille was nearby. “It’s been a while, but I remember the place as being pretty good,” he said. “Well, we’ll soon find out,” I answered as we parked and went in to see if his memory was accurate.

The interior space of Wellington Grille’s dining room is comfortable and attractive, flanked with rows of upholstered floral tapestry banquette booths with high backs and cushy seats. The decor of the space is not glitzy or trendy, rather traditionally pleasant with its restrained mauve and teal palate and light contemporary banquet room kind of feel. Similarly, the restaurant’s menu is neither glitzy nor trendy, instead rounded out with standard favorites like prime rib, crab cakes, French onion soup and shrimp cocktail.

Music to my ears

A singer and guitarist (whose name I regretfully forgot to find out) added to the dining room’s ambience. PIP, ever the curmudgeon, was initially not in favor of being serenaded, thinking it would be a distraction from dinner conversation. However, he was won over almost immediately. The musician played at just the right volume conferring a relaxing and enjoyable mood, allowing us to notice without it being obtrusive. Though subdued, it wasn’t simply “background.” Indeed, applause punctuated the course of our meal several times from appreciative diners, and I even busted PIP humming a few bars a time or two.

We quickly zeroed in on what we wanted to try—the Prime Rib Dinner ($29) for PIP and Indiana Duck with Lingonberry Sauce ($29) for me. But first, appetizers. Shrimp Cocktail ($10) and Bleu Chips ($8.50) got the nod, and began to clue us in on how things go at The Wellington Grille. Shrimp cocktail is one of those safe bets to order when you’re unfamiliar with a place—I mean, how bad can it be? Usually, fair sized shrimp with bright red, too sweet bottled cocktail sauce is expected. In this case, four nicely large shrimp rested alongside a very pale looking sauce, which turned out to be the indicator for a whole lot of heat. The sauce’s color came from a copious amount of sinus clearing horseradish, elevating a ho-hum standard to a kicked-up surprise.

Heapin’ helpin’

“Did we order the glutton’s portion?” was PIP’s comment upon seeing the Bleu Chips. A heapin’ helpin’ sums up the giant mound of crunchy house made chips dressed with a creamy cheese sauce, topped with tomato, bacon and a confetti of red onion. Both of us commented on the freshness of the tomato and the generous amount of good quality bacon as we ate. Every. Last. Chip. (The plan was to take most of them home, but our server Tom reassured us we made the right choice, saying, “They probably wouldn’t reheat that well anyway.”) Let’s go with that.

A nice touch was the basket of two kinds of fresh bread brought by a bread server. That night’s selection was focaccia and PIP’s favorite, salt rye. We both liked the Caesar salad PIP ordered. While the dressing was not particularly garlicky or assertive, it did have a nice bright homemade taste, and the house-made croutons were crunchy and tasty. My tomato bisque with dried basil had a rich body and tanginess to it as well.

Stick to the rib

The Prime Rib was a thick-cut slab coated with a savory salty spice rub—a little too salty for my taste, but perfect for PIP. The scalloped potato side dish certainly warrants a shout out. I had to persuade a grudging PIP to veer from his usual baked potato, and he thanked me as he spooned up the gooey cheddar goodness, saying, “I don’t really like scalloped potatoes all that much, but I’m coming back here for these!” Served alongside a corn casserole, PIP was one happy diner.

The skin of my Indiana Roast Duck was crispy crunchy perfection, making this a dish I want to eat again. Served with wild rice and fresh springy grilled asparagus spears, the downside for me was the lingonberry sauce. I would ask for it on the side as its sweetness overwhelmed the flavors of the savory rice and asparagus.

Service with a smile

A note about Wellington’s servers, including the efficient and very engaging Tom, who did an excellent job of “reading” us, not rushing the food and allowing ample time between courses. PIP and I both noticed and remarked upon the professional look (they wear dark pants and tailored shirts with ties and half aprons) and friendly demeanor of the service staff, as we observed them interacting with nearby tables. We got the sense that there had been some training going on here, and that deserves recognition. Well done, Wellington!

As summer approaches, The Wellington Grille’s inviting patio will most definitely be on my radar for al fresco munching. I look forward to returning to a place where they’re paying attention to detail and doing it right. All is indeed well at The Wellington Grille.

The Wellington Grille is located at 2450 Dayton-Xenia Road in Beavercreek. For more information, please call 937.426.4600 or visit thewellingtongrille.net.

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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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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