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Ed Ruhe

August 19, 2018
 

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An Icon restaurant review: May I take your coat, madam?

The Inn at ONU offers more than just a meal out

The first in a series of Icon restaurant reviews. This series features restaurants that advertise on the Icons.

The Inn at ONU
401 West College Avenue, Ada
419-772-2500
Reviewer: Liz Gordon-Hancock

The Dining Room at The Inn at ONU has all the hallmarks of a really good meal out: a comfortable atmosphere, good-tasting food, and excellent service.

The  decor is what you'd expect from a clean, well-furnished restaurant in a hotel. The Dining Room doubles as the hotel's breakfast room, complete with good lighting, comfortable seating, and fresh flowers on every table. The acoustics of the room are good, so your dinner conversation is not going to be interrupted by the next table's discussion.

You have two menus to choose from: the more casual Pub menu or the Dinner Club menu.

• The Pub menu sports finger food, soup, salads and sandwiches, ranging in price from $5-$15. 

• The Dinner Club menu gives you a two-course meal for a highly affordable $14.75 per person.

However, please note, the Dinner Club menu is only offered on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. With the Dinner Club menu, you have your choice of soup du jour, salads or fruit (plus the obligatory bread basket) to start, followed by one of five main dishes. You then fill the rest of your plate with your choice of two side dishes, such as their signature mac n cheese or broccoli.  There's both vegetarian and fish options. The menu even supports the gluten-free and paleo diets. And if you enjoy alcohol with your meal, there is a wine menu (in addition to the pub's beer and liquor) which includes suggested wine pairings.

I opted for the grilled salmon with tarragon buerre blanc (or herby butter, in layman's terms), with a twice-baked potato and Chef's choice vegetable blend. (See picture.)

My husband, Bob, ordered the balsamic marinated flank steak, with twice-baked potato and asparagus. (See picture.)

Everything tasted good. My salmon was a healthy portion and not dry. The Chef's choice of vegetables was a lovely mix of snow peas, carrots, broccoli and red bell peppers, all cooked to perfection. The twice-baked potato was of such smooth consistency that it literally melted in my mouth.

Bob declared the balsamic marinade a simple but delicious flavor for his steak, and the asparagus were cooked just right. (I find asparagus easy to overcook.) Portion sizes were just right.

I finished my meal feeling satisfied, but with potential room for dessert if I so desired. The staff brought over a plate showcasing my dessert options. In addition to the cheesecake or chocolate brownie showcased, I could have chosen from multiple flavors of Dietsch's ice cream.

The staff are considerate and well-trained. By well-trained, I mean they bring you what you need before you ask for it, and they don't interrupt your dinner conversation, while doing so. That is my definition of excellent service.

Having lived abroad for a decade, this meal reminds me of fine-dining in Europe. The whole pace of the two-course meal was much more leisurely, which encourages conversation.

But the Dining Room at The Inn at ONU has managed to go the extra mile and conquer the little touches. The wait staff offered to take my coat upon arrival at my table. My chair was pulled out for me. Plus, cloth napkins, real tablecloths, and fresh flowers add a certain something to your table. The dessert plate is presented to you, as if you were the Queen.

These touches are small but significant. When present, they transform your experience from just another meal out to a culinary event. Both the atmosphere and the food are savored.

As a mother of three young children, eating out (sans children) is rare. But if I am going to take the trouble of finding a babysitter, and dressing to go out, then I want my experience to be more than just a meal.

I am pleased to say that The Inn at ONU delivered. And even though we had a leisurely meal, we were still paying the check within an hour and a half of our arrival. I would usually have to go much farther afield to find the quality of food and atmosphere that The Inn provides.

With Valentine's Day coming up, you may consider booking a table for two and treat that special someone to a two or three-course meal that won't break the bank.

But I suggest you reserve your table in advance, as there are only ten tables available. The Inn serves dinner in the Dining Room on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 5-7 p.m.

Plus, the piano in the foyer is not just for decoration. On Friday nights, there is live music from 5:30-7:30 p.m. by the foyer fireplace. Performers include an eclectic mix of classical piano, jazz and folk music. ONU staff's Dean Altstaetter will be performing on Friday, 16 February.

Additional info:
• The Dinner Club menu changes quarterly.
• The Pub menu is served daily.
• Enjoy live music every Friday by the fireside. Check out whose performing next here.