A few weeks ago, I was determined to find a restaurant in Dayton that I had never been to before. I wanted to go somewhere that made me feel like I was on vacation. You know those restaurants? The ones where you forget where you are until you walk back out to your car? I love those.
Sean and I went to Wheat Penny on a whim back in March. My parents had talked about it, and so had a few of my co-workers. We made a late reservation on a Saturday night, and brought our nice camera just in case it turned out to be as great as everyone said it was. Honestly? It was amazing. Not only was the food delicious, but the people were so lovely. It was one of the best restaurant experiences I’d had in a long time.
A few days later, I reached out to Chef/Owner Elizabeth Wiley to tell her how much I enjoyed her restaurant. I wasn’t sure if I would hear back from her or if she would read my email, but she did almost immediately and was so, so kind. We got to talking and I asked if she would let me come in and take pictures for my blog and she instantly agreed. One of the best parts about Wheat Penny (in my opinion) is their bar and drink selection, so I knew I wanted to meet with one of the bartenders. Wiley told me to stop in between 11AM and 1PM the following Saturday, ask for a guy named Brock and learn more about their signature cocktails.
Brock – the epitome of a good bartender. Quick, knowledgeable and patient. He walked me through two of their most famous drinks: the Wheat Penny Manhattan, and homemade ginger lemon soda.
I have to be honest and admit that I’m not the biggest fan of whiskey. It reminds me of high school and not in a good way. However, I told Brock to make me their most popular drinks and he delivered. Their version of a Manhattan is a mix or aromatic bitters, orange bitters, Bulleit rye whiskey and a “beer jam” that I wasn’t able to get the recipe for because duh, it’s a secret, but this jam adds magic to the final drink. It’s topped with a cherry and served on the rocks. I didn’t think I liked whiskey before, but I fell in love after this drink.
The second drink Brock made was a ginger lemon soda. It included a ginger syrup that they make in house, aromatic bitters, lemon juice, lemon zest and a bit of soda water. I could have chugged 10 of these in a row. Super refreshing and totally different than your typical soda.
If you’re ever in the Dayton area, I highly recommend Wheat Penny Oven & Bar. I fell in love with the food and drinks the first time I went, and fell in love with the spirit and attitudes of the people who work there on my second visit.
When I emailed Wiley to thank her for letting me come in, take photos and meet her staff, this was her response: “The restaurant really comes alive through the personalities of the people who staff it, and they keep me going too.”