DAYTON EATS: Sneak peek offers first taste of Winter Restaurant Week

The event is set for Jan. 18 at the Steam Plant.

A new year is the start of an untapped reservoir of potential bursting with fresh things to look forward to and wrapped in hope for what lies ahead.

On Jan. 15, 2020 I wrote a review of the dishes that were served up at the Miami Valley Restaurant Association’s (MVRA) Sneak Peek to Winter Restaurant Week event that was held the day prior.

It made me feel all of those new year feels about food. All of the potential. All of the things to look forward to. It was a wonderful evening filled with amazing food and so many faces from the restaurant community that so many of us know and love.

Little did we know that just a couple months later the world as we knew it would come to a grinding halt. When we thought that night about what was to come, that was certainly not a scenario that was envisioned.

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

The MVRA sneak peek event has always been about sampling the dishes and flavors that will be featured by local restaurants during the week-long Restaurant Week promotion to give foodies a glimpse into what they can expect and what they might want more of.

My favorite dishes that night were a beef brisket rubbed and marinated in jerk sauce and smoked over pimento wood until juicy and tender from Calypso Grill and Smokehouse in Yellow Springs. The meat masterpiece that emerged was served on a bed of local organic collard greens cooked with coconut milk, rum and aromatics accompanied by creamy mac n’ cheese made with fresh sweet corn and fire roasted bell peppers.

elé Bistro and Wine Bar at Austin Landing had a warm mushroom salad with mascarpone, pancetta and toasted hazelnuts on a bed of arugula that was warm and rich and satisfying.

Basil’s on Market offered sesame crusted seared ahi tuna served on top of a fried wonton on a bed of sautéed vegetables drizzled with Asian dressing. Light, refreshing and flavorful, it was a treat that was executed to perfection at the event thanks to quality product and talented staff.

Salar Restaurant and Lounge had pan seared strips of filet mignon with sautéed onions, tomatoes, yellow Peruvian peppers and spices tossed with French fries over Jasmine rice. Tavern at the Greene served a bourbon chocolate ganache campfire ice cream. The creamy chocolate ice cream topped with a bourbon chocolate ganache graham cracker, chocolate bar and a toasted marshmallow seared with a butane torch was well executed, pretty to look at and absolutely delicious.

Much has changed since that promising 2020 sneak peek. Most notably the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Locally changes took place with the participating restaurants in the last Winter Restaurant Week that we had. Fairborn’s Tavern at the Greene, which was so full of that new year potential, is closed. Basil’s on Market has closed its downtown location, while still operating locations in Troy and Beavercreek. And none of the restaurants with the dishes I most admired in 2020 will be back at the sneak peek this year.

One thing that has stayed intact is the location — the event will return to the Steam Plant on E. Third St. after a long hiatus, but the faces and businesses will be new, signaling the significant changes that the local restaurant industry has weathered.

The Sneak Peek on Jan. 18 will once more offer the opportunity to sample some of the best dishes that will be rolled out at Winter Restaurant Week happening Jan. 22-29 from some of our local restaurants.

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Participating restaurants this year include Amber Rose, Backwater Voodoo, The Bar & Bistro, Coco’s Bistro, Condado Tacos, Greek Street, The Last Queen, Loose Ends Brewing, Smith’s Boathouse and Wheat Penny Oven and Bar.

General admission tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door with a start time of 6:30 p.m. VIP tickets are $50 and include one drink ticket and early entry at 6 p.m.

Proceeds will benefit the Miami Valley Restaurant Association.

More than half of the restaurants that will be on hand serving food have never participated in the sneak peek event — Backwater Voodoo, Bar and Bistro, Loose Ends Brewing and Smith’s Boathouse. Condado Tacos and Greek Street are new to both the event and to restaurant week.

According to Amy Zahora, MVRA executive director, the menus are still being finalized as the event nears, but one thing is for certain — once again it will showcase the great potential that a new year holds ahead for our local dining scene.

Dayton Eats looks at the regional food stories and restaurant news that make mouths water. Share info about your menu updates, special dinners and events, new chefs, interesting new dishes and culinary adventures. Do you know of exciting outdoor spaces, new exciting format changes, specials, happy hours, restaurant updates or any other tasty news you think is worth a closer look at? E-mail Alexis Larsen at with the information and we will work to include it in future coverage.

How to go

What: Sneak Peek to Winter Restaurant Week

When: 6:30-9:30 p.m. Jan. 18

Where: The Steam Plant, 617 E. Third St., Dayton

Cost: $35 for general admission, $50 for a VIP sneak peek ticket that includes early arrival at 6 p.m. and one drink ticket with only 75 VIP tickets available. Sneak Peek tickets can be purchased at

More info: 937-461-MVRA or

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