Experience an Excellent Dining Option Downtown
By Brian P. Sharp.
Another great white tablecloth restaurant option exists right in the middle of downtown Dayton! As a downtown resident it always humors me when people ask … “what is there to do downtown?” Obviously, these are people that are so absorbed in suburbia that they have forgotten how to find the great offerings of downtown Dayton.
On a night when there were three live theatre options downtown … and, of course, fantastic movie options at the Neon … I decided on dinner before a show. I wanted something different — and shame on me — I had not been to De’Lish Cafe yet. De’Lish is located on the first floor of the Barclay Building, directly across from the Victoria Theatre. As we approached, I thought my eyes deceived me … was that a doorman? Yes it was! I was impressed already as we were entering the door.
Immediately greeted and taken to a table in the quaint dining room — though there is bar seating at the back of the dining room and some tables in the loft area upstairs. We were greeted by Brittany our server who asked about a drink while we looked over the menu. In fact, she noted that it was before 7pm when we arrived so there were still some Happy Hour specials (how kind of her to offer). We took in the Happy Hour offers, noting they offered $1 off wine, beer and drink selections as well as $5 appetizer offerings. We decided on wine and an appetizer of Asparagus Fries.
While waiting on the asparagus fries, the host, Justin, came to our table to see if we had been to De’Lish before. When we said no, he offered up some information, came back to the table with a flyer for the restaurant and explained that each night there is a Happy Hour, there is live jazz on Friday and Saturday nights (with a cover) and there is also a Sunday Brunch — and if you bring your receipt from dinner you get to enjoy 10% off Sunday Brunch. He couldn’t have been nicer, and sincerely wanted to ensure that we knew about the restaurant and all it had to offer to downtown Dayton.
The menu has plenty of options that vary from classic American cuisine to Cajun items. The appetizer choices offer three types of egg rolls — De’Lish Soul Rolls, Jerk Chicken Egg Rolls and Buffalo Egg rolls. Wings, Asparagus Fries, Fish Tacos, Calamari and Creole and Cajun are also available options. There is a sampler platter as well, and while it offers a nice mix, I would love to see an egg roll sampler offering a mix of the Soul Rolls, Jerk Chicken Rolls and the Buffalo Rolls. Appetizers range in price from $9 – $14, with the sampler platter offering at $24, which serves 4 people. Remember, during happy hour some of these options are only $5.
The Asparagus Fries were served: six spears — plenty to share — breaded and deep-fried to a golden brown, full of flavor and served with a mustard sauce. This was a perfect start to what would be a fantastic meal.
There are three salad options: House, Caesar and De’Lish, ranging in price from $7-$12 and all offer the option of adding chicken or salmon for an up charge, making these great entrée options a well.
The entrée options are a more involved, ranging from a Deep Dish Vegetable Lasagna to Steak Au Poivre, with in-between items like Southern Fried Chicken, Seafood Gumbo, Cajun Lobster Tempura, Chicken Marsala, Grilled Center Cut Pork Chops, Chili Crusted Pan Seared Salmon, Lamb Chops and even BBQ Baby Back Ribs, all ranging in price from $15 to $26. They even have a Thai Vegan Bowl option. Most of these entrees come with sides already paired, yet there are alternative side options like Au Gratin Potatoes, Sweet Potato Souffle, Greens and even Mac N Cheese. It’s almost impossible to pick!
We decided to split a De’Lish Salad to start, a mixed greens option tossed with dried cranberries, red onion, carrots, cucumber, and apple slices dressed with an apple cider vinaigrette and topped with candied pecans and crumbled bleu cheese. Amazing mix of flavors!
I had decided on Steak Au Poivre and my friend ordered the Lamb Chops. Timing of the service was excellent. We were not rushed and we had the right amount of attention from Brittany.
The entrees arrived beautifully presented. The Steak Au Poivre was nicely crusted in crushed black pepper and topped with a whole grain mustard brandy cream sauce, and accompanied by a salted baked potato and grilled asparagus spears. The Lamb Chops were rosemary-crusted accompanied by corn risotto, julienne mixed vegetables and topped with a red wine mint infused demi glaze. The tastes were superb, the pairings ideal to the entrées. This Chef knows what he’s doing, and to ensure your happiness he goes table-to-table visiting with guests and ensuring their satisfaction.
If these entrees sound too heavy for you, there are also sandwich options on the menu including four kinds of burgers: Turkey, Vegetarian, Seafood and De’Lish, ranging in price from $10 to $16 and served with De’Lish or Sweet Potato Fries.
The really nice thing about De’Lish beside the fabulous food and great service was the close proximity to the arts in downtown Dayton. It is a perfect match for dinner and a show, either across the street at the Victoria Theatre or The Loft Theatre or next door at The Schuster Center.
With all of the shows going on right now downtown – Red at The Loft and Jersey Boys at The Schuster — why not give De’Lish a try? It will make the evening even more perfect!
De’Lish is open Tuesday thru Friday for lunch from 11am till 4pm, and for dinner Tuesday thru Thursday till 10pm and Friday and Saturday till 2am (with a cover late for Live Jazz). Sunday Brunch is served from 11am till 4pm. De’Lish is located at 139 N. Main Street in downtown Dayton across from the Victoria Theatre. Give it a try!
Reach DCP food critic Brian P. Sharp at Theatre@DaytonCityPaper.com.