5 things you should know about The Pine Club

BY: Lauren Rinehart By Lauren Rinehart, Contributing Writer - December 12, 2012.
last updated 12/12/2012
5 things you should know about The Pine Club

The Pine Club is one of Dayton's greatest treasures, harkening back to a very different time.

5 things you should know about The Pine Club

The Pine Club is one of Dayton's greatest treasures, harkening back to a very different time. Being in my mid-twenties, I had to rely on my anthropology training of participant observation to not make a complete fool of myself. So let's think of this as my field report. Here are 5 things you should know:

1. No reservations - not even for the President

The Pine Club - BarThe Pine Club does not take reservations because they have never taken reservations. This rule applies to everyone. There's even a famous story about the time George H.W. Bush came to Dayton and when he went to The Pine Club, they told his men that the current wait is around 30 minutes. When the Secret Service reminded them that it was the President waiting for a table, the staff reiterated that the wait would still be 30 minutes. This just goes to show how The Pine Club feels about their customers – we're all equally cared for, whether we're powerful or not. I think that's why so many people celebrate their life events at The Pine Club – you want to feel special on your special day.

That being said, you can always wait at the bar. This isn't just any bar, it's a gorgeous, glimmering beacon in the middle of the very dark restaurant. The wine list is outstanding and is even regularly voted one of the best selections for a restaurant in the world by Wine Spectator. I loved that they keep track of your order by writing it down on notepads that they update as you order additional drinks. In fact, small touches like this makes The Pine Club such a unique dining experience full of charming bygone traditions.

2. Cash only - but they do have House Accounts

Speaking of which, since they lack modern restaurant computer tools, The Pine Club is cash only. If you know you won't be able to adhere to this rule, they have the ability to set up a "House Account" for you (again, something that I have to assume is from another time when people trusted each other a lot more). I would advise calling ahead to set up the account.

3. Full of charm - since 1947

The Pine Club has been in existence since 1947 and part of its charm is the original dark, knotty pine wood interior that covers the walls and bar. The lights are also very dim, creating one of the darkest ambiances I've ever seen. If you are visiting The Pine Club during the day, you'll probably need to give your eyes a chance to adjust once you get inside.

4. Incredible food - with a menu twice my age

The Pine Club - FoodThe food is incredible and apparently this has been the case for a long time. People come from all over the United States to visit The Pine Club for this reason. It's considered one of the grand old steak houses still doing everything right even with a menu that's probably twice my age. They know what works and they stick to it. My husband ordered a filet mignon and it was perfect. My husband hates steak, but because of his experience eating a steak at The Pine Club, he is considering throwing it into the summer grilling rotation. This restaurant has converted my husband into a red meat enthusiast.

I don't eat red meat, poultry, etc. so I tried the rainbow trout. I couldn't believe that they gave me the entire fish or that something cooked so simply could be so delicious. The stewed tomatoes are perfect and the garlic mashed potatoes are worth the extra $2 – I've never had mashed potatoes this creamy and flavorful before.

For people who can't make it to The Pine Club, they offer many items for sale in their online shop. They also sell their salad dressing, which has a following of its own, as well as their stewed tomatoes in retail stores all across the country.

5. No desserts - but you probably won't care...

While they can offer you an after-dinner cup of coffee, The Pine Club does not sell dessert. If you are eating there early enough, there is a Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Shop next door and lots of great options for dessert throughout Dayton.

Visiting The Pine Club is akin to stepping back in time for a moment to enjoy some of the wonderful aspects of dining in the past – namely warm, friendly customer service, careful adherence to an older aesthetic, and impeccably prepared gourmet food.

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The Pine Club.

The Pine Club - Since 1947, the Pine Club has developed a national reputation as one of the great steak houses in the country and a tradition in Dayton.

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