Review: The Golden Lamb
The Golden Lamb is Ohio’s oldest hotel. Its guest register is a veritable who’s who in US history– twelve presidents (including locals like William Howard Taft and and Ulysses S. Grant, and recent presidents Reagan and George W. Bush), Henry Clay (you haven’t driven over his bridge, I’m guessing– as the bridge is named after Clay Wade Bailey. My high school history teacher would shoot me for that one– thanks, readers!), foreign dignitaries including an English Prime Minister and presidential candidates (McCain/Palin stopped there in 2008). Clement Valandingham (a controversial politician in his time) killed himself there. Other famous visitors include Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain, and, most famously, Charles Dickens.
That’s a lot to live up to.
Now, the inn is still operating– with rooms named after famous guests, as recent as George W. Bush– and the restaurant is a favorite in the region.
This food is not really to your typical foodie’s taste– it’s very traditional, in the way your grandparents may have dined on special occasions. Dishes like Chicken Oscar, prime rib, leg of lamb with mint jelly remind me of a lot of meals I had at Shuller’s Wigwam, Habig’s and The Window Garden as a kid. A lot of the other dishes feature a beurre blanc, which you don’t see often on many “trendy” menus. Sides include chunky applesauce, hot slaw, and pineapple with cottage cheese and celery seed dressing. Pineapple and cottage cheese was a frequent side dish in my childhood dinners (arranged in a pretty flower-shape with a cherry in the middle of the cottage cheese, of course) so just seeing that on the menu was a trip down memory lane.
Each entree is served with your choice of two sides– I didn’t get the pineapple, I instead chose the hot slaw. I love hot slaw (again, a real childhood favorite) and though this one had a ton of bacon and a very nice vinaigrette, the cabbage didn’t get a chance to wilt properly before it arrived at my table– by the time I got to the bottom of the bowl, it was fine, but the first few bites were a bit too crunchy. I really need to make hot slaw at home more often.
Look at those plates! It really does feel like dining in your grandma’s house, and I mean that in the most complimentary way.
Next up was roasted duckling with Grand Marnier sauce, and a baked sweet potato.
Longtime readers of wine me, dine me know how much I love duck. My favorite part of duck is the crispy skin. Unfortunately, this skin was soft, and the fat hadn’t rendered, so a thick layer of fat separated the skin from the duck (if cooked properly, the fat renders, making the skin crisp and the duck less greasy tasting). The duck itself wasn’t bad– tender and flavorful– but the skin ruined the effect. The Grand Marnier sauce was just a little too sweet, but I love orange and duck– essentially, this was a twist duck l’orange, without the flambeeing. I don’t think I’d order it again, simply because of the skin.
Will I rush back? Probably not. Is it a good option for an afternoon out with, say, my mother? Absolutely! She’d appreciate the surroundings and enjoy, particularly, Afternoon Tea, which they offered in May (and I hope they’ll bring it back!). I’d also stop in for lunch or dinner before a show at Lebanon Theater Company (their next show opens on Friday night). You can make reservations via opentable.com, or by calling the restaurant.
(By popular demand, I’ve switched to the UrbanSpoon tag that includes phone number and address. Hope that helps!)