The Winans family has been making lives a little sweeter for more than a century. During the Great Depression, townspeople would flock to the family?s bakery in Piqua with their sugar rations. Owner Wayne Winans would take that sugar and turn it into freshly baked cookies?a small pick-me-up at a time when even small pick-me-ups were a luxury. Years later, Wayne?s sons, Max and Dick, carried the family torch into the 1960s, when the first Winans Fine Chocolates & Coffees was born.
Today, the Winans family continues to do what it does best at three Ohio locations. All of the business?s chocolates are handmade, with no preservatives or fillers, and never cryogenically frozen. The family?s emphasis on freshness carries over to their coffee, too, which has frequently been named the area's best by the readers of the Dayton Business Journal and the Dayton Daily News. The secret is in their roasting process?their small, 15-pound roaster requires them to roast the beans in small batches, which leads to a more consistent product. Once the beans are ready, coffee artisans carefully combine them with other roasts to create a vast assortment of flavors, which includes 11 house coffee blends, 12 flavored coffees, and even more seasonal selections.
Taking its name from the symbolic plant of Lebanon, Cedarland Bakery & Restaurant excites palates with the sweet and savory delicacies from the Levant. Fluffy loaves of pita conceal treasures of crunchy-chewy falafel and tender chicken shawarma, and meat- and spinach-filled pastries challenge apple pie for its coveted spot in the American psyche. A handsome mural of rustic Mediterranean scenery fills the space, complementing relaxing hookah sessions or feasts of baklava, hummus, and baked kibbeh.
Classic oldies waft through the air at The Root Beer Stande, a drive-in eatery dubbed "a Dayton summertime staple since at least the 1960′s" by Dayton Most Metro. Carhops step out to vehicles to take orders for Coney Island–style hot dogs, grilled sandwiches, and other satisfying American food, and then serve the victuals on metal trays that attach to drivers' windows. For a sweet pairing, try a malt, a sundae, or a mug of housemade root beer.
From its humble origins as a small, old-fashioned ice-cream parlor operating out of a renovated gas station in Burlington, Vermont, Ben and Jerry's now delights taste buds in locations across the U.S. and 25 countries. Their brand easily attracted customers??homemade ice cream churned from wholesome, high quality ingredients and blended into creative flavors. Some of their popular scoops include Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey, and Chocolate Fudge Brownie.
Ritter's Frozen Custard satisfies sweet teeth with a menu of more than 90 rotating custard flavors and an array of sundaes, shakes, and smoothies. A Glacier, a custard cup served upside down to demonstrate its thickness, sends gustatory explorers trekking through a candied landscape studded with myriad toppings including nuts, fruit, and candy ($5.82 for a regular). Besides classic treats, such as banana splits ($6.49 for a regular) and milk shakes ($4.55 for a regular), the custard counter whips up decadent specialty blends including the Mud sundae ($5.82 for a regular), a mélange of chocolate custard, syrup, crushed Oreos, and a plop of real marshmallow that makes mouths feel richer than eating Scrooge McDuck à l'orange.
Although the walls of Meadowlark Restaurant feature brilliant hues, they are nothing in comparison to the eatery's contemporary American cuisine. The trio of chefs at the restaurant's helm starts with high-quality ingredients, including locally grown oyster mushrooms, sustainably farmed steelhead trout, and naturally raised beef. Then, using everything from a Vietnamese dipping sauce to Italian and Spanish cheeses, the chefs elevate the classic American flavors. The result is a rotating seasonal menu that is both familiar and creative.
Culinary Passion that Shows
At Meadowlark Restaurant, the chefs make no effort to conceal their pride in their cooking. The menu's entree descriptions span paragraphs, providing rare insight into the chefs' unbridled enthusiasm. Here are a few choice excerpts:
Roast-chicken thighs with Jamaican sweet spices
"I learned this recipe from a Cuban cook when I spent a season cooking in Key West. I felt like I had found my food soulmate. [. . .] The burnished chicken emerges from the oven crisp and heady with the smell of citrus and spices, and the juices are to die for."
"Have you tried DLM Italian chicken sausage? It is the best chicken sausage I?ve ever had. The taste, and perhaps more astoundingly, the texture, is almost indistinguishable from pork sausage."
Blackened salmon with shrimp-corn butter
"When considering new menu items, we often talk about what we?d like to eat at this moment in the season. Two out of three of us said we were craving blackened fish, and so, throwback to the '80s, here it is."
A Well-Tended Bar
Maintaining a curated selection of drinks from craft breweries, small-production wineries, and artisanal water factories is only part of the bartenders' jobs. They also squeeze fresh fruits and vegetables for juices, prepare ginger, hibiscus, and black-pepper syrups from scratch, and make bitters in-house.