A decade or two ago, Jay's Seafood was undoubtedly one of Dayton's finest restaurants. But on a recent visit, we found that the current conditions don't quite live up to the heralded past.
Tucked in the up-and-coming Oregon District, Jay's has been around since 1976. It's a bit hard to find; a sign is painted on one side of the old brick building in faded, curly lettering. That saloon-style touch echoes the interior, where flourishes such as antique chandeliers, rustic exposed beams and ornate stained-glass windows recall an old-timey elegance. Bartenders behind a circa-1882 mahogany bar even sport bow ties and vests. But in an era when other chefs are serving creative plates to enthusiastic palates, this place has some catching up to do. The menu's standard offerings are a bit boring for a high-end seafood restaurant (think lobster tails, filet mignon and lots of crab). Most entrees are between $20 and $40. We enjoyed well-prepared river salmon, but found the sides (red potatoes, mixed veggies and salad) only average. Diners would do well to fill up on seafood highlights such as Jay's Poke and Oysters Rockefeller.