5 things we loved about the Winter Restaurant Week Sneak Peek

Bill Castro of El Meson serving up Mayan Chicken Enchilada Soup during the Sneak Peek to Winter Restaurant Week on Jan. 18, 2017, at White Allen European Auto Group. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

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Bill Castro of El Meson serving up Mayan Chicken Enchilada Soup during the Sneak Peek to Winter Restaurant Week on Jan. 18, 2017, at White Allen European Auto Group. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

Each year the Miami Valley Restaurant Association (MVRA) offers a special "sneak peek” to its Restaurant Week event giving restaurants the chance to sample the best of their menus and hungry diners the opportunity to gobble them up.

>> RELATED: Your guide to Winter Restaurant Week

On Jan. 18, they did just that with 15 restaurants on hand.

Basil’s on Market, Chappys Social House, Coco’s Bistro, ele Cake Co. Bistro & Wine Bar, El Meson, Firebirds Wood-Fired Grill, Lily’s Bistro, Meadowlark, Nibble’s Restaurant, 937 Grill and Taproom, Park City Club, Roost Modern Italian, Station House, Wandering Griffin and Wheat Penny Oven & Bar were all on hand at White Allen European Auto to give guests a taste of what's to come next week.

Here are a few things we loved about this year's event:

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Our favorite dish of the evening was courtesy of ele cake co Bistro & Wine Bar, which served up beef short rib ravioli provencale served with fresh peas, cherry tomatoes, carrots, garlic, onion and topped with a creamy tomato basil sauce. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Our favorite dish of the evening was courtesy of ele cake co Bistro & Wine Bar, which served up beef short rib ravioli provencale served with fresh peas, cherry tomatoes, carrots, garlic, onion and topped with a creamy tomato basil sauce. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Alexis Larsen

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Our favorite dish of the evening was courtesy of ele cake co Bistro & Wine Bar, which served up beef short rib ravioli provencale served with fresh peas, cherry tomatoes, carrots, garlic, onion and topped with a creamy tomato basil sauce. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

1) THE VARIETY

Different cooking styles, ingredients, flavors and presentations were on hand, highlighting some of what diners can expect when they head out to eat during Restaurant Week.

If you are looking to eat a medley of more than a dozen dishes for the price of one meal, the sneak peek event is a winning proposition.

Our favorite dish of the evening was courtesy of ele cake co Bistro & Wine Bar, which served up beef short rib ravioli provencale served with fresh peas, cherry tomatoes, carrots, garlic, onion and topped with a creamy tomato basil sauce.

We would definitely like to have more of that soon.

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Firebird’s Wood Fired Grill made a healthy tequila glazed shrimp over a red quinoa and kale pilaf salad for the Sneak Peek to Winter Restaurant Week on Jan. 18, 2017. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

Firebird’s Wood Fired Grill made a healthy tequila glazed shrimp over a red quinoa and kale pilaf salad for the Sneak Peek to Winter Restaurant Week on Jan. 18, 2017. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

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Firebird’s Wood Fired Grill made a healthy tequila glazed shrimp over a red quinoa and kale pilaf salad for the Sneak Peek to Winter Restaurant Week on Jan. 18, 2017. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

2) THE NEWCOMERS

New participants to the Restaurant Week, which began 12 years ago, include Firebird’s Wood Fired Grill, Mills Park Hotel, 937 Grill & Taproom, Smith’s Boat House, The Wandering Griffin and Caddy's Taphouse in Beavercreek and Miamisburg.

Three of those were on hand for the sneak peek:

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Firebird’s Wood Fired Grill made a healthy tequila glazed shrimp over a red quinoa and kale pilaf salad for the Sneak Peek to Winter Restaurant Week on Jan. 18, 2017. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

Firebird’s Wood Fired Grill made a healthy tequila glazed shrimp over a red quinoa and kale pilaf salad for the Sneak Peek to Winter Restaurant Week on Jan. 18, 2017. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

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Firebird’s Wood Fired Grill made a healthy tequila glazed shrimp over a red quinoa and kale pilaf salad for the Sneak Peek to Winter Restaurant Week on Jan. 18, 2017. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

Firebird's Wood Fired Grill: A healthy tequila glazed shrimp over a red quinoa and kale pilaf salad that tasted fresh and bright.

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Wandering Griffin handed out beef and IPA chicken sliders during the Sneak Peek to Winter Restaurant Week on Jan. 18, 2017. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

Wandering Griffin handed out beef and IPA chicken sliders during the Sneak Peek to Winter Restaurant Week on Jan. 18, 2017. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

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Wandering Griffin handed out beef and IPA chicken sliders during the Sneak Peek to Winter Restaurant Week on Jan. 18, 2017. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

Wandering Griffin: Beef and IPA chicken sliders that were very generously stacked with meat.

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You had us at tots. Here is the tater tot bar courtesy of 937 Grill at Sneak Peek to Winter Restaurant Week on Jan. 18, 2017. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

You had us at tots. Here is the tater tot bar courtesy of 937 Grill at Sneak Peek to Winter Restaurant Week on Jan. 18, 2017. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

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You had us at tots. Here is the tater tot bar courtesy of 937 Grill at Sneak Peek to Winter Restaurant Week on Jan. 18, 2017. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

937 Grill: A tater tot bar! Complete with homemade chili, cheese, tomatoes, onions, jalapeños and sour cream. It's simple, but effective and ran strong all night long.

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Mayan Chicken Enchilada Soup by El Meson was a hit at the Sneak Peek to Winter Restaurant Week event on Jan. 18, 2017 at White Allen European Auto Group. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Mayan Chicken Enchilada Soup by El Meson was a hit at the Sneak Peek to Winter Restaurant Week event on Jan. 18, 2017 at White Allen European Auto Group. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Alexis Larsen

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Mayan Chicken Enchilada Soup by El Meson was a hit at the Sneak Peek to Winter Restaurant Week event on Jan. 18, 2017 at White Allen European Auto Group. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

3) THE SOUPS

Soups can prove challenging to eat at events like these, but when they are this delicious, they are worth it.

El Meson's Mayan Chicken Enchilada Soup, a hearty soup of chicken, rice, tomatoes, chiles, carrots, corn, celery, black beans, sour cream and cheese was spicy and delightful with flavors that warmed and tantalized the tastebuds.

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Park City Club's French Onion Soup was a hit during Sneak Peek to Restaurant Week on Jan. 18, 2017. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

Park City Club's French Onion Soup was a hit during Sneak Peek to Restaurant Week on Jan. 18, 2017. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

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Park City Club's French Onion Soup was a hit during Sneak Peek to Restaurant Week on Jan. 18, 2017. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

While Park City Club's French Onion Soup, which was made with caramelized onions slowly over 48 hours, was a rich, savory, salty surprise.

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Wandering Griffin handed out beef and IPA chicken sliders during the Sneak Peek to Winter Restaurant Week on Jan. 18, 2017. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

Wandering Griffin handed out beef and IPA chicken sliders during the Sneak Peek to Winter Restaurant Week on Jan. 18, 2017. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

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Wandering Griffin handed out beef and IPA chicken sliders during the Sneak Peek to Winter Restaurant Week on Jan. 18, 2017. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

4) THE MEAT

Basil's on Market had short ribs, Chappy's had beer brined grilled pork chops, Meadowlark had el pastor tacos, Station House had short ribs, the Wandering Griffin had sliders piled high with your choice of chicken or beef and Wheat Penny had pork tenderloin. There was enough meat onhand to set the stage for a good meat sweat if you went back for seconds.

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Don't forget dessert! Here's "Steve's Favorite Carrot Cake" from Nibbles up for sampling at the Sneak Peek to Winter Restaurant Week event on Jan. 18, 2017. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

Don't forget dessert! Here's "Steve's Favorite Carrot Cake" from Nibbles up for sampling at the Sneak Peek to Winter Restaurant Week event on Jan. 18, 2017. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

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Don't forget dessert! Here's "Steve's Favorite Carrot Cake" from Nibbles up for sampling at the Sneak Peek to Winter Restaurant Week event on Jan. 18, 2017. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

5) THE DESSERTS

From soups to salads to the main course, there wasn't a part of the meal that wasn't covered by at least one of the restaurants at this event. And that was true for desserts as well. Coco's Bistro had a Creme Brûlée on hand, with quite a line toward the end of the evening to get it, and Roost Modern Italian had a chocolatey Tiramisu Bread Pudding.

Nibble's rolled out Steve’s Favorite Carrot Cake, made with pineapple and walnuts and topped with whipped orange-cream cheese frosting. We can see why it's his favorite and now it's ours too.

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Buckeye Vodka's cocktail station during the Sneak Peek to Winter Restaurant Week on Jan. 18, 2017. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Buckeye Vodka's cocktail station during the Sneak Peek to Winter Restaurant Week on Jan. 18, 2017. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

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Buckeye Vodka's cocktail station during the Sneak Peek to Winter Restaurant Week on Jan. 18, 2017. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

BONUS: THE DRINKS

You don't go for the drinks, but it sure is nice they have them. We loved the specialty Buckeye vodka cocktail they cooked up called "The Vixen" made with fresh squeezed grapefruit and rosemary simple syrup. It was definitely a winner and paired nicely with many of the dishes.

RESTAURANT WEEK

Mark your calendars for next week! Winter Restaurant Week runs Jan. 22 through Jan. 29 at various Dayton-area restaurants. For more, visit the Miami Valley Restaurant Association's web site at dineoutdayton.com.

Contact this contributing writer at alexis.e.larsen@hotmail.com.