Wining and Dining in the Midwest

Catherine Caldwell and Caroline Ryan

Wining and Dining in the Midwest

A mini guide to Southeastern Ohio’s underrated eateries.

An overlooked state full of hidden gems, Ohio’s culinary scene is progressing—bottle- and plate-wise. A short voyage south for Quebec-residing Canadians, throughout Southern Ohio—particularly in Dayton and in Cincinnati—one can find local cheese, farm-to-table cuisine, and charming wineries. Catherine Caldwell, one of V&V’s correspondents, hails from the Dayton area. She flew home for the holidays, and wished to share some of her favorite spots to drink and dine in the Buckeye State. Here is the first installment of Midwest spots to sip and savor in “the Heart of it All”:

Brace yourself for an appetizing feast for the eyes…


This eclectic, cozy restaurant’s philosophy? Per owner Elizabeth Wiley: “We cook what we like to eat, and what’s in season. Food we think our customers will enjoy. That means good quality. Proper seasoning, and attention to technique and details. From the coffee to the cauliflower to the condiments, that’s our approach. It’s simple, but you have to be vigilant.” And vigilant they are.

The Dayton eatery’s offerings change seasonally, while wine specials jazz up the menu’s regular standouts. A creative play on all-American and international flavors, the neighborhood joint’s exposed-brick setting only heightens its appeal. Below, savor perfectly paired recommendations from Catherine’s memorable visits:

Bedrock Old Vine Zinfandel

A blend from the Golden State’s legendary Sonoma County dating back to the 1880s, this zinfandel is arguably the best available in its class—at least on this side of the Mississippi. The generously flavorful grape supersedes any notion of superficiality with well-balanced tannins, baking spices, and a top-of-the-line French oak treatment, making it worth every penny. It’s perfectly paired with Trout Saltimbocca, a classic Italian veal dish (made anew with seafood), that’s wrapped in a transparent slice of salted speck from the Italian Alps. Meadowlark’s master chefs tuck a leaf of fresh sage under the speck for mouthwatering delight. The fish is then seared on a hot griddle, and the ham crisps, enveloping the juicy trout like a warm blanket. A splash of lemon vinaigrette brightens the satiating sage perfumes. Pair with sautéed broccolini, and this is a swoon-worthy meal you’ll want to eat again and again. The zinfandel balances out the dish’s spice, complementing its rich flavors, for a heartwarming meal by the fireplace on a chilly winter night. The berry-forward, peppery wine also suits moderately spicy meat dishes and casseroles.

Slo’ Down Wines, Stand Out Red

Brandon Allen, owner of Slo’ Down, which is famed for its Sexy Chocolate wine, released what the restaurant refers to as a “rich, dark, alluring red blend” bursting with berries and sweet spices. A Bordeaux grape blend with a base of cabernet and merlot, dark cherry, vanilla, and clove notes seduce the senses. Supple and lush, it’s worthy for winter fare, and especially delicious when paired with trout wrapped in salted and aged Italian ham (with a luscious leaf of sage for added flavor), or buttery salmon Picatta, a classic Italian sauce of white wine and butter, infused with mushrooms, lemon and capers. “One of the greatest Italian pan sauces of all time.” The sauce is a sophisticated partner for the thick salmon filet, or try with lamb or beef for a more traditional combination.

Who said you can’t pair red with fish? These uncommon combinations make a noteworthy statement in their own.

If you can’t seem to locate these exact bottles, L’Ostal Cazes, from France, is also available on Meadowlark’s menu. We recommend their Estibals 2013 and Grand Vin 2014, two reds, available at SAQ. As for other stars from Sonoma or Zinfandel blends, you can also find Napa Cellars Zinfandel 2014, Arrowood, and Lake Sonoma at SAQ.

Look out for our next Ohio destinations. Coming soon!

Plan your visit: