Something triggered my nostalgia gene over the holidays (Wait a minute — since when did I get old enough to get nostalgic about ANYthing? Harrumph), and I started pondering a few of the things I missed most from the Dayton dining scene.
By its very nature, this list is highly personalized and skewed to the geographic areas where I lived and worked. But I’d like to hear some of the dishes and restaurants you pine for from a bygone era. Post a comment, and we’ll likely assemble some of the reminiscences into a story we’ll publish in the Dayton Daily News.
I’ll wade into the nostalgia pool first:
Armando’s bread: Armando’s Deli operated briefly on East Dorothy Lane in Kettering, and made one of the finest baguette-style Italian loaves I’ve ever dipped in olive oil, here or in Italy (although the baguettes from Boosalis Bakery in Miami Twp. may have him beat). Armando sold all kinds of goodies out of the deli, but it was the bread that kept me coming back with alarming frequency.
Chin’s Oriental Grill: Yes, Art Chin still operates the very fine Chin’s Ginger Grill in Tipp City, but I still miss his Chin’s Ginger Grill that operated for a decade or so at Fifth and Jefferson streets, and I bet I’m not the only one. Perfectly stir-fried chunks of fresh fish such as salmon or escolar with a mound of seasonal vegetables was lunchtime heaven for downtown Dayton workers.
Rinaldo’s Bakery in The Arcade: Yes, Rinaldo’s is still baking bread and operating its Fairview Avenue bakery, but when I could sneak across the street from the newspaper’s former offices at Fourth and Ludlow and purchase a picturesque Challah from the display case, I knew the bread would make anything else served at the dinner table seem like a fine meal.
Other downtown Dayton restaurants that served as delicious lunch stops: the too-brief life of the African Star restaurant with its flavorful little fish cakes and thick, tart tomato sauce, and before that (I believe), Izzy’s deli with its overstuffed sandwiches and the best potato pancakes around. And what about Charley’s Crab when it was upstairs in the Arcade? Those addictive, warm, butter-drizzled rolls, and a perfectly cooked chunk of garlicky bluefish (sigh). Charley’s Crab is also where I once overheard a diner insist to his server he wanted his tuna steak cooked medium rare, then sent the plate back to the kitchen because the fish wasn’t cooked through.
Lunch at Rike’s downtown and Elder Beerman downtown: Were those not the finest waitresses — and yes, they were waitresses back then, not servers — on earth? The most efficient, friendly restaurant service anywhwere.
Blue Moon: The fine-dining restaurant that had a nice little decade-long run in the Oregon District had some memorable wine dinners. It also had a wonderful bar, great service and a fine atmosphere.
The Savory: Reaching back into history just a bit, this long-defunct restaurant on Smithville Road in Dayton offered an amazing rack of lamb with ever-changing sauces, and it too hosted some amazing wine dinners.
Vito’s Venice Inn: The long-gone restaurant on East Dorothy Lane in Kettering served a dish I believe it called Roman Spaghetti that boasted a robustly spicy, and highly addictive, tomato sauce.
Steve Kao’s Asian restaurant in Miami Twp.: The man could coax a lot of flavor from a few ingredients and set a high standard for Asian fine dining. He also was something if a pioneer in pairing fine wines with Asian dishes.
And finally, blowing the dust off some very old childhood memories, a restaurant called Guenther’s or perhaps Guenther’s Seafood House on Linden Avenue near Smithville (I think) offered a Friday night all-you-can-eat seafood buffet that included whole lobster. Yes, whole lobster. This was sometime in the mid or late 1960s, I believe, and even though lobster was, I’m sure, far less expensive then, I still feel a bit guilty that my childhood lobster appetite may have helped doom a restaurant’s financial health. But it was fun while it lasted.
What about you? What do you miss most about bygone-restaurants and dishes from the Dayton-area dining scene?Tweet