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.

Rose's Birthday at The Golden Lamb

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.

Rose's Birthday at The Golden Lamb

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!)

Golden Lamb on Urbanspoon

  • CincyCapell

    Wow, it’s been at least 20 years since I’ve been to the GL. I used to go there (of course) my late Grandparents. It’s just too far away for us, I don’t like driving that far after I have had a glass or two (or three…) of wine with dinner. The Comisars ran the GL for decades, but I think that they are completely out of the business now. Any idea who runs the place now? There’s certainly nothing wrong with that type of traditional cuisine, as long as it’s well prepared. Somehow trendy cuisine just wouldn’t feel right at a historic inn like the GL.

    By the way, if the bridge that you are referring to is the Clay Wade Bailey, it was named after a newspaper reporter, not Henry Clay.

  • Jonni Lynch

    Justin and I had dinner at the Golden Lamb on our wedding night (because it’s true–you really don’t get to eat at your reception!) and we sat next to a couple celebrating their 50th anniversary.

    I don’t remember the food, though…I think the atmosphere is lovely, and indulgent of another time, but the food somehow misses the mark, as you’ve said, and I am a home cookin’ kinda’ girl.

  • http://www.floridagirlmidwest.blogspot.com Tina Lane

    I have not heard good things about this place.

  • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com julie

    Sadly, Tina, the surroundings are better than the food.

  • Selden

    Are you confusing Henry Clay and Clay Wade Bailey?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clay_Wade_Bailey_Bridge

  • Jen

    I remember the last time I was there b/c it was on 9-11 (yikes!) The food really wasn’t anything special, at least at lunch. I expected something better from the Comisar family but then again, they were catering to an audience of little old ladies. I read that the new owners spent quite some time renovating the place (it was getting very run down). There are some little places on and near Broadway that have suprisingly good food that are very affordable. Not that the Golden Lamb was/is awful, it’s just a place that you should visit once if you live in Cincy to say that you’ve been there.