50 Years of Fine Dining at The Oakwood Club
By Brian P. Sharp
There aren’t many restaurants (privately held) that have the honor of celebrating 50 years of providing great food and outstanding service. The Oakwood Club is one of those restaurants. It’s hard to be a loyal Daytonian and not spend some time at The Oakwood Club – whether you are meeting friends for drinks and letting Corky take perfect care of you, or enjoying dinner and experiencing the service standards of ladies like Amy, Jennifer or Dana–you will never be disappointed. Consistency is key, and The Oakwood Club has mastered it, although there hasn’t always been fine dining at 2414 Far Hills Avenue.
Oakwood Club History
-1919: A grocery is operating at 2414 Far Hills Ave., and later adds a bar and restaurant.
-1944: Winfield Kinney buys the restaurant, transforms it from a sandwich menu to a family restaurant serving lunch and dinner.
-1950: After three more ownership changes, the eatery becomes the Oakwood Bar and Grill.
-1962: Ray Stewart and a partner purchase the bar, renovate it and turn it into a fine-dining restaurant known as the Oakwood Club.
-1992: Ray Stewart dies; his son Lance becomes owner and manager, and daughter Tina Stewart Cass serves as office manager.
-2012: Oakwood Club celebrates its 50th anniversary.
Lance Stewart does his family proud by continuing a legacy started 50 years ago. After the death of Ray Stewart, Lance was pulled outside the kitchen to run the restaurant. It is rare to be in the restaurant and not see Lance going from kitchen to dining room, checking on things, visiting with guests and ensuring consistency.
One of the nice things about The Oakwood Club is the diversity of the menu. Certainly this is one of Dayton’s great steakhouses, but it’s not just about steaks. There are great seafood and pasta options as well as an amazing hamburger!
On the night I chose to visit recently…I had decided to take an Oakwood Club “virgin” with me. I know, it’s hard to imagine, but this gentleman was visiting from out of state and I just felt that he needed to experience The Oakwood Club. We were greeted by John and quickly (well, as quickly as possible – considering the crowd) taken to a table. Very quickly Dana greeted us and offered drinks. Dana returned quickly and informed me. Corky asked, “Is that drink for Brian?” Wow! Either I am here too often or I drink too much! Either way…it’s nice to be familiar! Dana told us about the specials of the evening and we began to consider our options. As I mentioned, the variety on this menu is superb. Whether to get the potato crusted sea bass, the filet mignon, the crab cakes, the walleye or the petite surf and turf? My guest had already decided on the pork chops.
Dana brought the bread to the table – dark salted rye…and their signature rolls (made locally). There is just nothing like the herbed roll – warm – with plenty of butter. After the bread was served, I was served the French onion soup au gratin. This soup a perfect blend of beef base, cooked onion and a topping of bread, cheese and then broiled and topped with grated parmesan.
The soup was quickly followed by the salads. Both of us chose the house salad- mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, julienne carrots – dressed with the house sweet/sour garlic dressing and mine was topped off with bleu cheese crumbles. A pepper grinder is on the table to add freshly ground pepper to this amazing salad. One of the pluses of this salad, besides everything I have already mentioned, is that there is just enough dressing to have to soak up after with one of the delicious herb rolls.
The entrees were served – the pork chops seasoned perfectly, moist, grilled, and served with a side of applesauce. I chose the petite surf and turf. With my selection including twin filets grilled to a perfect medium and for a small up charge a piece of walleye – pan fried. The surf and turf comes served with both sauce béarnaise and tartar sauce, again with additional side options. While there are traditional vegetable and potato offerings, there is also the timeless classic of stewed tomatoes.
The menu at The Oakwood Club gives every diner plenty of options from lighter fares to bone in filet mignon with pasta and sandwich options as well. The experience at The Oakwood Club hasn’t changed. It is a steady pace never rushed and always consistent! The staff is always attentive but never overbearing.
This is a dining experience. In a time when we rush from event to event…rarely sitting down for a quiet meal…this is a refreshing change of pace. An option that for 50 years has delighted diners from all over Dayton, the Miami Valley and beyond.
If you haven’t been there lately…you need to go! Lance has ensured that while this was once known as a steak house only…his menu options and his skills in the kitchen give us dinner options that are far from ordinary.
Keep up the great work Lance…and congratulations to you and the Stewart family on 50 great years!
Who wants to join me for a great dining experience at The Oakwood Club?
Reach DCP food critic Brian P. Sharp at Theatre@DaytonCityPaper.com