When it comes to fine dining, Daytonians historically choose to gather in dimly lit spaces with few if any windows.
Far from "seedy", candles or low light create a romantic atmosphere. In the early days of dimly lit dining rooms, people "dressed" to go out for dinner. Diners were encouraged to relax, take their time and savor the experience. Need another reason to dine in the dark? A Cornell University study reports that "Dining in dimly lit restaurants has been linked to eating slowly and ultimately eating less than in brighter restaurants".
Restaurants such as Jay's Seafood, The Pine Club, Oakwood Club, Paragon Supper Club (pictured above), Joe Kiss's Hickory Bar-B-Q, Treasure Island, Buckhorn Tavern, and Carvers are often chosen for special occasions. All are known for great steaks and chops. Yes, that includes Jay's Seafood! I have many cherished memories in each of them. If you've been in Dayton for a while, you probably do too.
Jay's Seafood, revered for their Spiced Bourbon Salmon, Tuna, Lobster, Crab, Scallops, and seasonal fish also puts forth delicious steaks and burgers. Be sure to ask for the tasty Roasted Lemon Vinaigrette on your salad.
House Salads, French Fried Onion Rings, and stewed tomatoes are staples at Pine Club, Paragon, and Oakwood Club. Though known for steaks and chops, you'll find expertly prepared fish in these locations too.
Joe Kiss's Hickory Bar-B-Q is known for barbecued and broasted chicken, ribs, and steaks. You can watch whole chickens rotate through a window facing brown street. The Grilled Pork Tenderloin is amazing.
If it's sunny outside, watch your step when you walk in. It will take your eyes a couple minutes to adjust. Treasure Island, Buckhorn Tavern, and Joe Kiss's Hickory Bar-B-Q, are open for lunch.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention some of the dark dining spots that have closed: Grub Steak (original Main St. location), Old Hickory Bar-B-Q, Dominics, Barnsider, Shuckin' Shack, Peerless Mill Inn, The Colony Club, Sutmiller's, Neil's Heritage House, The Chateau Club, Annarino's, Anticoli's, and The Tropics among others.
Grub Steak was near where I grew up and a family favorite. Royal Ribs, French Fried Onion Rings, Peppercorn Ranch Salad Dressing, and salted rye rolls were some of our favorite foods. The Royal Ribs were boneless and grilled on wooden skewers making them much easier and less messy to eat than bone-in ribs. We still talk about and search for Peppercorn Ranch dressing.