New owners' efforts to ready a 35-year-old kitchen and dining room for business couldn't be more apparent at Beau Club Grill, formerly Geppetto's.

New owners' efforts to ready a 35-year-old kitchen and dining room for business couldn't be more apparent at Beau Club Grill, formerly Geppetto's.

It took three months for Ashland's Dreiszus family to scrub away decades of restaurant grime next door to their Beau Club bar. Seats were reupholstered, the kitchen and bathroom were updated and faded frippery was taken off the walls.

Reopened under the new name in May, the storied eatery likely hasn't looked this good since Geppetto's founder Ron Roth completed a major remodel in 1978.

With the support of longtime Geppetto's cook Bob Ellis, the new owners also made over the core menu of burgers and sandwiches, dispensed with breakfast but kept a few Geppetto's favorites, namely the cheese wontons and eggplant burger, the latter still absent from the printed menu but available nonetheless.

The resulting dishes stay true to the eatery's roots as a casual joint and provide lower-cost dining options for locals and tourists alike. Most selections are in the $7-to-$8 range. The only item priced over $10 is the 8-ounce New York steak with vegetables, house-baked herb bread and choice of brown rice or red potatoes for $11.99 — commendable in this town.

Stopping in for lunch, I was drawn to one of the more interesting panini, avocado and bacon with apple ($8.49). While the first two ingredients keep good company on many sandwiches, I had never seen apple in the mix.

Because my co-worker wanted the same sandwich, we agreed to split it, as well as the turkey melt with Swiss ($6.99). I upgraded french fries to sweet-potato fries for an extra 75 cents, and my colleague substituted a green salad for $1.

That still left plenty of room in our budget for an order of the famed wontons ($7.49) with the traditional accompaniment of mustard. These did not disappoint, as later confirmed by an erstwhile Geppetto's customer who insisted we save one for her to try back at our office.

Yet I wasn't convinced that the wontons couldn't be improved, which is exactly what Beau Club Grill is trying to do, according to manager Andy Dreiszus. I think that dipping them in the delicious honey-mint dressing my co-worker requested with his salad is a great start.

I was less impressed with the sandwiches. Although the fillings were generous for the price, the ratio of apple to avocado seemed off in the bacon panini. Thinly sliced apple clearly is appropriate on a sandwich, but it just needed more fruit flavor — or maybe some honey-mint dressing.

Despite making all its soups and sauces from scratch, as well as proclaiming its beef "natural," Beau Club Grill apparently isn't catering to many diners' desires for organic, locally grown or, more recently, gluten-free foods. Although it would doubtless raise prices, they may do well to adopt some of the values pioneered locally by Roth, who practiced farm-to-table cooking long before it was trendy. Seasonal harvests from Roth's Eagle Mill Farm were showcased in Geppetto's popular dinner specials.

Lacking the imagination of Roth's entrees, Beau Club Grill nevertheless offers something for everyone at a good value, whether at lunch or dinnertime. In addition to the steak, there are barbecue pork medallions, herb chicken, meatloaf, sesame-crusted tilapia, "cheddar cheese mac" and fish and chips.

As its name implies, the last in that list is the only dish that doesn't come with two side dishes and the bread. But the macaroni and cheese would benefit by diverging from the standard entree formula, too. Serving pasta with a side of starch, not to mention a slice of bread, seems like a misstep.

The minds behind Beau Club Grill's menu should consider adding soup and salad to the entree's side-dish choices, or at least selling the macaroni a la carte. But because I'm practically addicted to mac and cheese, I couldn't pass it up.

Maybe it was a small safeguard against carbohydrate fatigue that my mac lacked the topping of breadcrumbs advertised on the menu. Still, I missed their promised crunch, particularly against a cheese sauce as creamy as this one. It was so homogenous in texture with the bright-yellow hue of packaged sauces, however, that I suspected it isn't among Beau Club Grill's house-made specialties.

Next time, I'll get my cheese fix with a double order of wontons.

— Sarah Lemon