A vintage hotel in the old Quaker town of Lebanon, the Golden Lamb is a unique place to stay (eighteen rooms), and a nice place to have a square meal for lunch or dinner. It is a popular destination on a well-trod antiques-hunters’ route, and during the summer you will compete with tourists for a table. But there are a handful of items on the menu that are worth the inconvenience.
Sauerkraut balls — a south Ohio favorite — have been a specialty of the house for decades, and they are wonderful. An appetizer is a huge portion: Ten spheres, each the size of a golf ball, deep-fried until dark crusty brown, surround a cup of cocktail sauce for dipping. The sauce is irrelevant, but the balls are delicious, their insides a creamy consistency reminiscent of potato filling, but with a nice pickly tang. One friend describes them like crab balls without the crab.
Entrees include Amish free-range chicken, prime rib, and braised lamb shank, and at lunch there are good hamburgers as well as lamb burgers. Desserts include banana bread pudding, lemon curd cheesecake, and fresh-fruit sorbets, but the mandatory one is Shaker sugar pie. It is a simple pastry, and rather homely – a thin layer of molasses-flavored custard that is sweet, faintly spicy, and impossible to stop eating.