If it can be wrapped, stuffed or fried, you'll find it here and it's really good.
If you haven't heard of Dine-n-Dash Restaurant it won't be long before that's all you'll be hearing about. Located inside The Dash Inn on the corner of Schenley and Mahoning Avenues since last October, Rick Lohr is making a name for himself with some pretty unique food. He's got some great ideas and is always trying something new. When I asked Rick how he got started in the restaurant business he replied, "this is my baby, my first one."
I took one look at the menu and was glad I checked my diet at the door. This is the kind of food I dream about eating on a daily basis, lots of burgers, lots of cheese and lots of stuff.
I knew I was in for a treat when Rick brought a half-dozen napkins to my table before bringing a bite of anything. We talked a bit about the menu as I came across his Signature Bites. He said the Mac-n-Cheese Bites and the Pierogi Bites are very popular, "I hand roll them myself. Everyone loves them". I love them too and was surprised at how light they were. The ingredients are shaped into a ball, rolled in seasoned bread crumbs and deep fried to a golden brown. I cut into the Mac-n-Cheese Bite and it was piping hot. The mac-n-cheese is homemade using smoked gouda and sharp cheddar cheeses. Elbow macaroni coated in the thick cheese sauce oozing from that crunchy exterior. Kids will go crazy over these. The Pierogi Bites are made the same way using diced potatoes, onions and cheese. Served with a side of ranch dressing for dipping, these one-of-a-kind starters are pretty addictive.
Next plate. Wings. I've had many wings and I've probably said before that they were the best wings ever. I may have to retract that statement because I now have just eaten my most favorite wing ever. Forever, ever. Rick brought out three of his favorite signature sauced wings from a list of 21. The plate looked great. Three completely different sauced wings, a side of carrots and celery and some really good blue cheese dressing. Wing number one: Blackberry Chipotle. The menu describes this sauce as sweet, tart, smokey and hot. The sweet, smokey is right on and then the heat comes in. A nice fragrance of blackberries and then the chipotle gives it a surprising kick. It's the perfect combination of sweet and hot. The sauce is thick and it sits on a nice crispy fried wing. No flabby skin on these wings. They are fabulous. The crispy outside keeps the sauce clinging and inside is a delicious juicy wing. I next moved over to the Southwestern Ranch. The one thing I love about these wings is they are loaded with sauce. This one taste like a regular hot wing that's been blended with a good ranch dressing. It's got a cool, warm thing going on. Again, that crispy wing with the smooth sauce, you will be licking your fingers with these. I think I saved the best for last and I do mean the best. The Garlic Parmesan with Cracked Black Pepper is, hands down, THE BEST WING I HAVE EVER EATEN PERIOD. It's a buttery garlic sauce loaded with bits of garlic, good parmesan (not some powder cheese) but really good bits of cheese, and then this is what puts this wing over the top; cracked black peppercorns. AMAZING. I can't say enough about this one. Killer wings. I will be back for those Garlic Parms.
Next up: "the Texas Dog", Rick grins. One look and I see what the grin is about. This isn't a typical dog, it's the whole dogpound. "Quarter pound", according to Rick. That's right, A quarter-pound hot dog that's dressed and ready for the Culinary Westminster Dog Show. This wiener is dressed in bacon, that's right, Rick wraps it in bacon, then deep fries the dog. Top that with cheddar cheese, crispy homemade onion straws, a delicious BBQ sauce and it's served up on a nicely toasted bun. I took one bite and knew immediately I was going to have to eat the whole thing. The hot dog is juicy, the bacon is crisp. The onion straws are sweet and that BBQ and cheese are killer. There's so much going on with this one but all the textures, the smokiness from the bacon, the cool BBQ, the sweet onions. Served with a large portion of hand cut fries, this one wins Best in Show.
As much as I loved the dog, I knew Rick had something else up his sleeve. I'd heard about these stuffed burgers he makes and was quite curious when a sign on the wall promotes one of his latest creations; The Quadruple Bypass Burger. You know I love burgers so I was ready for anything. Out came my burger. It wasn't the Quadruple but one look at the Steak-n-Bleu and my heart skipped a beat. Rick's burgers are so big a normal bun just can't handle them so he's moving toward pretzel buns which I tried today. What a great call. It stands up to all the ingredients without being just a bunch of bun. The Steak-n-Bleu comes out and it's a big as the plate stacked so high that a big steak knife is driven through the top of it just to hold it all together. I cut into it as Rick tells me how it's all put together. It starts off with 6 oz. of ground beef that's stuffed with bleu cheese and bacon. "Then we take beef shoulder that's shaved thin, that's our Philly steak, and we wrap it around the burger." Add some portabella mushrooms, grilled onions, a nice slice of tomato, lettuce, pickles and then top it all with swiss cheese that is thick and melting down over the sides. My first thought was how will I taste anything with so much going on. To my surprise, the meat is the star. So juicy and delicious. Then you taste the bacon, the two cheeses, the mushroom, everything is there in every bite and that toasted pretzel bun does its job well by holding it all together. I ate a quarter of this one while I was there and finished it later that night. Served with Rick's own seasoned fries, another one hit out of the park.
There was one more thing I had to try. The fried desserts. Rick wanted me to try the Fried Nutter Butter with his own Triple Berry Sauce so he brought me two plus two Fried Oreos as well. Hey, at this point why not. The cookies are dipped in a batter and, of course, fried. Dusted with powdered sugar and served piping hot. The Nutter Butter with the berry sauce tastes like a gourmet PB&J. Love it. It's soft, warm and sweet and that thick sauce is so good loaded with chunks of berries. The oreos were just as good and tasted like a chocolate filled donut hole. A plate of these and a cup of coffee at night would be the perfect ending to any day of the week.
Rick also mentioned that he does a mean fish. Every day he serves the "It was TH-------------IS Big Fish Sandwich" which he uses Tilapia and on Fridays they have an "Over the Plate Haddock" Fish Dinner that comes with two sides. Everything I ate today was great so I can only assume the fish would be just as great. I would suggest choosing the mac-n-cheese as one of your sides but Rick did a little bragging about his cole slaw as well.
Between the wings, the dog and the burger I now know why I had so many napkins on my table. As Rick mentioned earlier, he learned how to cook from his mom. All I can say is, "thank you Rick's Mom."