When Emily Mendenhall announced she was shaking things up and changing the menu at her family’s restaurant, we were expecting something good.
As it turns out, the changes are more like great.
Lily’s Bistro, 329 E. Fifth Street in Dayton’s Oregon District, has detoured from the norm with a menu sprinkled with imagination.
As Mendenhall explained in a Facebook post earlier this month, Lily’s wanted to do things differently at lunch and dinner.
“There will be updates based on what is tasting the best, what our farmers have available, what products are in season, and what our chefs are feeling creatively,” she wrote.
Don’t worry, you’ll be happy to see some of your familiar favorites, like deviled eggs and fried chicken.
The fun new menu allows for more food sharing. As we all know, sharing is caring.
Featuring old-school hip-hop-inspired designs from Dayton artist Christopher "Etch" Weyrich of the Mural Machine, the menu itself is broken up in five self-described sections: “Bites and Soups and Sides,” “Charcuteries and Cheese,” “Foraged,” “Small Plates,” “Medium Plates” and “Supper.”
We bounced around the menu, ordering something from most sections.
On our visit, the charcuterie board included a choice of three of the following for $15: black forest Schinken (German ham); dry age chorizo; Tuscan porchetta, Abruzzese Salami or speck.
We went with the porchetta, chorizo and salami. The ample board came with pickles and mustard worth raving about.
For an additional $14, we ordered a cheese board and had the choice of three of the following: Point Reyes Farmstead blue, aged manchego, Middlefield Coop Goat’s milk cheddar, Cypress Grove Truffle Tremor and mustard beer cheese.
We selected the beer cheese, blue cheese and the creamy goat’s milk cheddar.
We hit the small and medium plate sections hard, ordering the delicious seared scallops with carrot ambrosia and pesto; sweet, savory and plentiful pork belly and sweet potato tacos; wholly satisfying kielbasa and cabbage and Latin Carbonara, linguine with peas, sofrito and dry aged chorizo.
Items in these sections range from $7 to $17.
The red wine braised oxtail was a highlight from the Supper section that were glad we did not pass up.
Chunks of tender meat were served over wild rice, black barley daikon radish seeds and topped with wilted greens for $22.
Other offerings from the Supper section include fried chicken, pork shank cassoulet, coconut curry swordfish and vegan pot pie ranging in price from $16 to $21 per dish.
Lily’s has consistently updated its menu offerings seasonally since it opened in April 2013, but this new concept turns things on their head.
We are looking forward to see what the eatery comes up with next.