Review: Meadow Lark, Dayton
Restaurant Week in Dayton just came and went, and I managed to get up there to try one restaurant– Meadow Lark. It’s sandwiched in a strip mall near the Dayton Mall, and easy to miss if you don’t pay attention. We went on Friday of Restaurant Week with two friends from Dayton– and it was packed!
This is a chef-owned restaurant, owned and operated by Elizabeth Wiley (though according to Dayton Most Metro, everyone calls her just Wiley), who is possibly one of the nicest chefs I’ve met (and I’ve met a lot). She was incredibly down-to-earth and self-effacing, and even provided the recipe for one of her dishes when we raved to the waitress about how much we liked it.
And this was the dish– a “group amuse” (something she’s konwn for) of dates in beurre blanc, topped with toasted almonds and goat cheese. Yes, that’s the recipe. It was so simple, yet interesting– which is essentially this restaurant in a nutshell. The decor is simple and homey, but with bright accents that add some interest. The food is simple– but prepared carefully and with obvious passion. The service is warm and friendly, but not overbearing. It’s an overall great experience, particularly during Restaurant Week– from what my Dayton friends tell me, Restaurant Week is taken quite seriously, and they’ve generally had great experiences– and this was no exception.
The Restaurant Week deal included the group amuse and three dishes: starter, entree and dessert. Terry and I both chose the house-made sausage, served in a brioche bun, with some coarse mustard. I love homemade sausages– and this was no exception. That picture makes it look huge, but in reality, it was about three bites’ worth– just enough for a starter.
As an entree, I got pork, wrapped in bacon, with a “hash” of potato, spinach, and carrot, topped with some sweet potato mash. Heavenly! The pork was juicy, and I loved the hash– again, some simple flavors, things you’d definitely cook at home, but prepared with artistry. I think that’s the key to a good dining experience, to me– using good ingredients properly, and with some creativity.
Terry got the trout, which also included spinach, crispy onions, capers, and lemon butter– traditional (lemon and capers? Of course!), but not boring. His only complaint was portion size– it was a small portion, which I assume can be attributed to Restaurant Week.
Then came dessert– Terry picked the “tiramisu crepe”, which was probably the most underwhelming dish of the evening. The filling wasn’t the marscapone/coffee he expected, and was a bit uninteresting.
That’s okay– the grilled pineapple, creme anglaise and gingerbread more than made up for it. The gingerbread was perfect– moist, heady with ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. The creme anglaise and grilled pineapple added some creaminess and tartness to what was already a very good slice of gingerbread. It was a perfectly balanced dessert, and a total “win”.
This is a place I will definitely make a point to visit again– a quick look at Wiley’s menu shows a lot of great ingredients, like Niman Ranch pork, and a distinct Asian influence (which wasn’t noticeable in her Restaurant Week menu)– I’d love to try some of her Gong Bao tofu.