Sometimes a restaurant has an uncanny ability to teleport us back in time. Meadowlark, a cozy new American bistro on the outskirts of Dayton, fits that bill with rustic dining tables, colorful mix-and-match cotton tea towels for napkins, and rotating local artwork. The overall effect is very boho-college town, say, Bloomington, Indiana, circa 1995. The food follows a well-trod multi-culti, scratch-made path as well, with plenty of local farms and purveyors represented. Evidence: I practically licked the bowl of a soothing Indian spiced beet soup laced with cilantro coconut cream. (Also evident: They care about your choosy kids. See the all-beef hot dogs, tasty spaghetti with marinara, and colorful fruit and cheese plate on the non-processed kiddie menu.)
But back to my time machine. The veggie burger was a delightful griddled vegan patty packed with tender grains, nuts, and vegetables, the perfect vehicle for the house-made ketchup. The salmon and strip steak entrées were cooked precisely. Service was warm and exceedingly gracious, with one exception: A waitress attempted to literally place our entrée plates on top of our appetizers. Not routine procedure, surely. Fortunately, all was forgiven as we dug into a generous dish of soul-comforting peach and raspberry crisp with a dark, not-too-sweet streusel and a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. The epitome of a happy ending.
Meadowlark, 5531 Far Hills Ave., Dayton, (937) 434-4750, meadowlarkrestaurant.com. Lunch and dinner Tue–Sat, brunch Sun.