The primary dining option for the Dayton Art Institute just north of downtown Dayton, Ohio, Leo Bistro has expanded far beyond the concept of the standard museum cafeteria and is now a full service place to eat, from the same basis as Elite Catering, the museum’s large-dining operation. Dayton Art Institute has a lot of events by itself, but it’s also host to a lot of cultural happenings of various groups around the city. Because of that, it’s likely a Dayton resident will try far more than the items on the standard menu when stepping into the DAI.
The bistro’s normal menu offers sandwiches and other light cuisine, though it has recently been changing and refining this cuisine over several new iterations. Among them, it’s got some salads and sandwiches, as well as a few other things which are pretty good. I had a few of the paninis which I liked, among them the mushroom and cheese option, which is topped with some smoked cheese and plenty of mushrooms. It’s light food, but it’s filling to be sure. I also liked the Roasted Apple & Pear Ring Salad. What makes that really shine is the pears themselves, paired with the vinaigrette it adds a nice acidity to the food. I was also able to try these dishes in a “box lunch” during a performance at the DAI, which was great.
I’ve also been out to a few events hosted by Elite Catering…now that Leo and Elite are more closely intertwined, I’ll talk about the experiences together. Elite hosts great large meals, often for special occasions and aimed at families, such as mother’s day. I was a fan of the Mother’s Day breakfast I had there earlier this year, which hosted a huge variety of foods for just about every palette; from eggs and bacon for the standard meat eater to vegetarian options, a lot of sweets, pulled pork and vegetarian options. A wide selection of items, done very well. The quality of the ingredients are apparent in the cuisine, and they are treated well. That seems to be what really drives this place. A wide variety of foods to be tasted, but still it feels very much like an upscale dining experience.
There’s a lot of good dining experiences to be had at the Art Institute, whether you’re sampling the lunch items at its bistro during the week or visiting for the events during the weekend, this is a great place to be. Wondering how it will change in the future, but excited to see what it might cook up next.
- There are a lot of events that might draw you to this place, whether it’s the performances done by Zoot Theatre Co. that took place over the summer, or the annual Mother’s Day Brunch.
- The actual bistro has pretty restricted hours, basically a light menu Tuesday through Friday and some weekend events.
- Consider the sandwiches the best thing on the menu, whether the turkey club or the mushroom-swiss option.