If Washington hosts the White House, and Palm Beach, Fla., the supposed “Winter White House,” then perhaps The Whitehouse Inn can serve as Lucas County’s contribution.
This version is not where you wine and dine foreign dignitaries over lavish dishes. Its approach to standard beef and seafood entrees, however, is likely as American as it comes.
My dining companion and I visited this restaurant in the village of Whitehouse, about 25 minutes from downtown Toledo, for a pre-Presidents’ Day lunch. The outside is a quaint, rustic picture with a build of wooden logs. Its dining room inside is charming in a fully presidential theme.
Address: 10835 Waterville St., Whitehouse
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. through 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays.
Wheelchair access: Yes.
Average Price: $$
Credit Cards: MC, V, D, AE.
Web site: thewhitehouseinn.net.
The server seated us alongside a wall of mounted photographs from past commanders in chief. President Trump and his predecessors looked on as we reviewed the large menus.
We started with orders of French onion soup ($3.99 for a cup) and black and bleu chips ($6.99). Both were excellent. The soup had plenty of cheese clinging tightly over a container of delicious broth. It was the highlight and mainstay of our two trips. The chips were flavorful on their own, and made even better with creamy bleu cheese dressing and monterey jack cheese.
Next came the open face prime rib ($12.99), a 6-ounce cut of tender beef cooked medium rare over a large piece bread. It was enjoyable and filling, though not particularly comparable to similar offerings at upscale steakhouses. American fries and coleslaw rounded out the hearty dish.
The wedge salad ($6.99), a senatorial salad per the menu, lacked the gravitas of Congress’ upper house. An adequate salad overall, it had plenty of croutons, but fell short in topping quantity of bacon, bleu cheese, and tomatoes.
Our appetizers were creative setups for entrees of ultimately solid, traditional fare. It reminded us of a famous political maxim that politicians campaign in poetry but govern in prose.
Dinner was a slight disappointment. The queso dip ($5.99) was just as queso should be, hot and dripping. Much of it went to waste, unfortunately, because our basket of chips was too small for four patrons, but no offer was made to refill them.
One dining companion opted for the “porked” out baked potato ($12.49), a massive baked spud with toppings of pulled pork, sour cream, and cheese. It was a challenge to work through and yielded mediocre results.
Another friend selected the petite portion of Lake Erie perch ($13.99) with broccoli. Its breading light and crispy, the fish was fried just right. The pieces were of perfect size as well. But the broccoli — bland, mushy, and stringy — proved lackluster.
The smothered chicken entree, alongside with mashed potatoes loaded with cheese and bacon ($16.98), was of generous portion. My friend found the side dish flavorful but not particularly creamy. The chicken, which features sauteed onions and mushrooms as well as melted mozzarella cheese, comforted and filled. Though a touch dry, the meal was enjoyable and yielded substantial leftovers.
My half portion of meatloaf ($10.99) came with a surprising char to the meat and a side of mashed potatoes. This meatloaf seemed too reminiscent of a hamburger and not the moist, textured entree typically differentiating the two plates. The gravy was of little note, either. But even the regular mashed potatoes were excellent in taste and consistency.
I struggled to finish my large (and apparently lesser-sized) meal.
Servers on both the quiet weekend lunch shift and busier mid-week dinner hour were attentive, friendly, and helpful. Noise in the restaurant was mostly limited to families out sharing a meal.
The Whitehouse Inn is certainly no James Buchanan, but it’s not Abraham Lincoln, either. There were few surprises to be had on the entree menu. Sometimes a steady hand is what the people want.
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