Park City Club? Where’s that. Dayton City Paper demystifies our new restaurant and why it’s here to stay.
Up in the Club
Here’s what I knew about Park City Club before I went: it’s the second restaurant opened by Dana Downs, chef and owner of the successful and well regarded Roost Modern Italian in the Oregon District. Downs opened it in a space that seemed cursed—in the first floor of an office complex a stone’s throw from the Fraze Pavilion. Just ask the five or so places that tried and failed before Park, as it’s come to be called. “Have you been to Park?” I was asked countless times, but I hadn’t, until last week. I was looking forward to investigating, and to offering my thoughts on whether the curse has been broken.
Think Outside the Office Building Box
The space is a bit of a surprise from the exterior and entrance, because it is an office building. But it’s in the loveliest of settings, beautifully landscaped Lincoln Park Drive. The outdoor patio is where PIP (Palate In Progress), Wily Banker Tom, and I chose to enjoy the still temperate early fall (though heaters were fired up before we left, meaning patio dining isn’t through just yet). The decor and design style of the interior dining spaces are restful, contemporary, and tasteful with clean lines and earth tones.
Park’s menu is varied, with a focus on combining seasonal fresh ingredients in interesting ways and employing cooking techniques not seen on every menu. Butter poaching, for one. Downs lists three different menu options using this method: a filet, Korean style ribs, and crab. I noticed duck fat frying, as well. Butter and duck fat? Let the games begin.
And, they did, with lots of butter, namely in the Glutton Mushrooms ($7), a heaping mound of various mushrooms and baby spinach over garlic toast and Pernod—and BUTTER, which is written in all caps on the menu, cluing you in that this dish is going to be rich. And it was, especially owing to the toast, which acted as a sponge for the savory butter broth. Earthy woodsy mushrooms and the clean bite of fresh spinach would be pretty good alone. Eaten together with a drippy garlicky crouton is why it’s better than good.
We were on a “rich roll” with the Mac and Cheese ($6 alone, add $11 with butter poached crab). We ordered this dish with the crab upgrade because I was curious. Crab is so very delicate in flavor and also mouthfeel (compared to shrimp, let’s say). I couldn’t imagine it would work well in combination with the assertive flavor of the mac and cheese. And while the mac and cheese was delicious (we added a hint of salt) with a rich velvety sauce over the cavatappi topped with crunchy cornbread crumbs, no justice was done to the crab. It melted into the background. Order the mac and cheese by all means, but skip the upgrade.
We finally tried something without butter, (though there was some crème fraîche involved): Burnt Carrot Salad ($10), a lovely composed square woven together with tri-color heirloom carrots, avocado, carrot top gremolata, pepitas, balsamic reduction, and crème fraîche ($10). Though I might like a little more firmness and char on the carrots, the combination, especially the crunch of the pepitas and just slightly tangy edge of the crème fraîche was a good counter to the overall sweetness of the carrots. Another well-received offering from Park’s kitchen, making us look forward to our entrees, Grilled Swordfish and the evening’s special, Osso Bucco.
The Grilled Swordfish ($26) made me think of the movie “Ratatouille,” with the little chef combining flavors and disparate ingredients to reinterpret them in a new way. This dish had surprises—colorful coins of crunchy radish and blue chess on swordfish? Not what I was expecting. The fish was perfectly done, cooked through and mild in flavor, resting atop a bed of rice stained rosy from the ribbons of raddicchio throughout it. The rice had a nice firmness, almost a nuttiness to it. Small pebbles of blue cheese—just the right amount—added some deep salty savoriness and proved to be a satisfying accent to the fish’s mildness.
Using a spoon to get a mouthful of the sauce of the Osso Bucco Special ($28.00) without the meat and vegetables makes you aware of time—the time spent roasting onions, carrots, tomatoes, and garlic to achieve a flavorful richness The meat grew more tender with a deeper flavor with each bite closer to the bone. This is a dish to welcome fall. We added on the Duck Fat Yukon Golds ($4.50). These could also be billed as little discs of duck fat joy, not to be missed. Salty, sweet, crunchy – they hit on all cylinders, and we shamelessly mopped up the fat from the serving ramekin with our fingers till there was nothing else left.
Thus far, we had agreed Park City Club was a more than pleasant dining adventure. But there was a little more adventure to come, in the form of dessert. The Apple Berry Cobbler ($9), the perfect segue into the new season, featured plump late summer berries in combination with tart apple cubes. The adventure came with the whimsical nod to everyone’s campfire experience, Campfire S’mores ($8.50). Cleverly presented covered by a glass cloche with smoke swirling around, this was a charmed Harry Potter delight of a dessert. Lifting the cover and inhaling, you are back at the fireside, except that stick is now a spoon, and this dessert is now an artistically composed take on the hot gooey mess from your childhood.
And speaking of magic, I think the curse of the restaurant’s space has been lifted. However, magic doesn’t have anything to do with it; it’s the vision and skill of Dana Downs and the Park City Club staff.
Park City Club is located at 580 Lincoln Park Blvd., Suite 105 in Kettering. It is closed Mondays. For more information, please call 937.949.3048 or visit ParkDayton.com.
Article from Dayton City Paper.