The Pine Club: Pairing wine with pine at Dayton’s premiere Steakhouse

“That bar has supported 66 years of good friends’ elbows,” said David Hulme, owner of Dayton’s venerable steakhouse, The Pine Club. He was talking about the gleaming pine bar in the cozy restaurant that’s been operating since 1947.

“After WWII, restaurants were often called supper clubs and pine was inexpensive, so that’s how it got the name,” he explained. If the décor evokes nostalgia, the menu and value-laden wine list delight first-time diners.

The Pine Club serves fresh beef that’s been aged, then cut and trimmed on-premise. “I don’t have a chef in the traditional sense. I have two fabulous, long-time, great friends who are butchers and broiler guys,” said Hulme. Every steak comes with delicately battered onion rings and stewed tomatoes so sweet, they could be dessert. Like most things at The Pine Club, that recipe is time-honored. “I inherited it 40 years ago. It’s very compatible with steak and onion rings,” Hulme said.

Compatible beverages include a wine list impressive for its depth and lack of pretense. With a focus on domestic reds that complement a steakhouse menu, the list begins with their private label Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. While Cabernets and Meritages reign supreme, there are interesting Barolos, Brunellos, Chiantis, plus Burgundy and Bordeaux selections. “We have to react to customers’ demands, but I’m a major Burgundy fan.” Hulme is adding more Australian Shirazes to the mix and most bottles are priced under $45.

The Pine Club takes no reservations and there’s usually a wait – apparently no matter who you are. Urban legend has it when former President George H.W. Bush visited, he had to wait like any other patron. Hulme says the truth is, “He was kind enough to wait.”

It’s a classic Midwestern tale for a vintage steakhouse that knows how to pair wine with pine.

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