’07 Pub

We’re baaa-ack!

Since one of us (Wendy) lives in the 46807, one of us (Wendy) has been eagerly watching and waiting for the opening of the ’07 Pub, near one of our (Wendy’s) homes. This is not to suggest that Beth, a recent immigrant from “Canada” (north of Dupont) hasn’t shared in the excitement. Unfortunately, a lot of people have been anticipating its arrival, and the first time we tried to check it out, we were completely shut out — and on a Tuesday, no less! (Trivia night, it seems.)

The first time we tried to go, it was a seat-yourself free-for-all — not the most customer-friendly set up for a joint filled to capacity. Since then, they’ve adopted a please-wait-to-be-seated policy, which should eliminate the potential for battles over open tables (The Hangry Games?).

Our second attempt was on a Sunday evening and while not full, it was far from deserted. We sat in the back booth, and it was a bit on the dark side, but the atmosphere is generally that of a comfortable neighborhood watering hole — kind of what they seem to be going for, so good job.

We were both feeling the call of the ’07 Pub Burger (1/3 lb. Angus, sautéed onions, mushrooms, bacon, beer cheese, onion ring, lettuce, tomato, $10). Since we have a general rule (mostly) not to order the same thing, we decided to split it (with a side of fries) and also the Southwest Chicken Wrap (fajita grilled chicken, sautéed onions, bell peppers, Roma tomatoes, black beans, cheddar, jack cheese, lettuce, southwest ranch dressing, salsa, $9) (with a side of onion rings, +$2 for upgraded side).

The Wrap

wrap

Southwest Chicken Wrap and onion rings

Wendy: I feel bad for the wrap because we both wanted the burger, so it was definitely the runner-up. But I found it a decent version of a type of sandwich I would eat lots of places — I like southwest chicken things. The chicken was flavorful without being spicy (regular readers know I’m a wuss). Nothing knocked my socks off about it, but I liked it fine. And the onion rings — hello! I’m not usually a big onion ring eater — one or two will hold me. I thought these were a mighty tasty specimen of rings. They had yummy beer batter, and they weren’t overly greasy, and you could actually bite through them and not have all the onion slide out (if you eat onion rings, you know what I mean). And the southwest ranch that came with the wrap made a good dipping sauce for the onion rings.

Beth: I’m a burger person, and I don’t get to eat a lot of burger/fry combos because, well, diabetes. When Wendy and I venture out, I give myself a bit of a break and order things I like. Splitting these dishes was a good option and I liked everything. Bar foods are some of my favorites because they don’t try to be things that they’re not. The Wrap was very good. The onion rings, which aren’t a personal favorite of mine, were also quite tasty.

The Burger

Beth: I know that until recently, the 46807 zip code has suffered from a lack of worthy places, so I was looking forward to giving ’07 a shot. I actually had a burger the night before at a “fancier” establishment, but I just can’t turn a good burger down. And, it was a good burger. See Wendy’s comment below for an accurate description of said burger.

burger

’07 Pub Burger

Wendy: Mmm, burgerrrrr….mmmm. Uh, yeah, I liked it. Often I think there’s too much crap on things these days, but nope, I liked all the things. Bacon was crispy, there wasn’t too much of any one thing so it  didn’t become a huge mess, everything tasted great, and the bun held up, which is always a nice surprise. I’ve already been back to have it again. The fries…meh. They were totally ordinary, nothing special at all (Beth here — agree about the fries. I mean, they were fine fries, but nothing super).

Service was a little sketchy the night we were there. The server didn’t know what beers they did and didn’t have when Beth was ordering, and once our food came she never came back to check on us or refill beverages. Hopefully, that was just an off-night/new restaurant glitch. Parking is also a bit of a pickle, in that they don’t have any – maybe. There are a few spaces on the north side of the building that might be theirs to use – we should have asked, oops. There’s street parking not far away.

The verdict:

Wendy: “You had me at ‘hello.’” Neighborhood pub in my neighborhood? I’m there. I wish them continued success. And I look forward to trying the pizza, which I’ve also heard is delicious.

Beth: I second Wendy’s “You had me at ‘hello.’” Since I moved to the downtown area, I will have more opportunities to visit this fun addition to Wendy’s neck of the woods.

’07 Pub
3516 Broadway
Fort Wayne, IN 46807
(260) 456-6807
07pub.com
www.facebook.com/07pub

 

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Banh Mi Pho Shop

You may have noticed that the look of our blog has changed. When we recently visited it to see how it looked on mobile devices, it was with much chagrin that we realized we have not written any new posts since February. We had to address that right away!

We decided to check out the new ’07 Pub and picked a date. When the day came, we discovered that a trivia contest would be taking place that night, which we didn’t think would be conducive to dinner. So, we changed our plan and headed for Trubble Brewing, which we also have not yet reviewed. When we pulled up we saw nary a car in the lot or patron on the patio. After a quick search, we learned it is closed on Monday and Tuesday. So, off we went to the trivia game. After some parking mishaps (those who know Beth know that her directional skills are not the best), your faithful reporters ventured in, only to find that the last table had just been taken. It didn’t look like anything would be opening up soon (see also: trivia contest), so we headed back to the car. After momentarily drawing a blank, it occurred to us that we hadn’t yet been to Banh Mi Pho Shop.

This spin-off of Banh Mi Barista opened in mid-June. When we pulled into the parking lot, we were happy to see that the shop was indeed open, and had ample parking. Once inside, the decor was bright and colorful and cute little terrariums were hanging about.

Although the menu is somewhat limited, everything on it is available as a vegetarian option.

 

chickenpho

Chicken Pho

Beth: I read somewhere that they offered a substitute for rice noodles, but couldn’t remember what it was. One of the very helpful employees clarified that bean sprouts were the option I was thinking of. I was super excited for this, as pho is typically a high-carb soup. I chose the Chicken Pho ($8.50) with bean sprouts. Because I was so responsible, I guess, I felt the need to give myself some leeway and decided to splurge on a Bubble Tea. I chose the small creamy Thai Tea with Boba ($4.25).

 

 

ricenoodlechicken

Rice Noodle Special with Chicken

Wendy: I had been to the north location once, several years ago, but wasn’t familiar with the menu. The menu was listed on the wall, but there wasn’t much going on by way of descriptions. Fortunately, the friendly woman who took our order gave us a quick run-down and answered all our questions. I ordered the Rice Noodle Special with Chicken ($7.50). I also found ordering a beverage to be intimidating at first, but again the helpful woman walked me through it. Did I want something creamy? Something sweet? I wish I could recall the entire series of questions, but it pointed me toward a blended peach tea ($4.25), sans Boba – I’ve had them once and they freaked me out a little.

 

Beth: The bowl of pho was giant and was very hot, just like one wants a bowl of pho to be. The bean sprouts ended up being an amazing addition. Chicken pho is like your grandma’s chicken noodle soup — comforting, tasty and filling. I like a little kick to my pho, so I added in some Sriracha, which did the trick.

Wendy: What is a Rice Noodle Special? I’m so glad you asked! It was a generous portion of rice noodles topped with lettuce, strips of carrot and cucumber, cilantro, and chicken, served with a small bowl of fish sauce and a pot of chili paste so you can control your own level of spiciness. I only used a tiny dab of the chili paste because of my previously mentioned aversion to hot & spicy. But the fish sauce was a little sweet and brought everything together. This is a little detail, but the chicken (and everything else) was in small, bite-sized pieces, which I really appreciate when I’m eating something with chopsticks. And it was delicious.

 

Thaitea

Thai Tea with Boba

Beth: I love bubble tea. I first had it in California about 15 years ago and anxiously awaited its arrival in the Midwest. The Thai Tea that I ordered was delicious. The only thing I would have changed about my order is that I would have ordered it blended instead of iced. Those crazy beads of tapioca still amaze me after all those years. Regardless, it was well worth ordering and I’d have it again. And again.

 

peachtea.jpg

Blended Peach Tea

Wendy: You know what else was delicious? My peach slushie, because let’s be honest, that’s what it was. I did love that when they brought our beverages to the table, we had the presentation of the straws – we got to select our own giant straw from a rainbow of colors (extra-wide to accommodate Beth’s Boba). It was kind of ridiculous how much I enjoyed it – but why not, it’s summer, it was cold, it was refreshing, I loved it.

The verdict

Beth: A welcome addition to the central part of the city, I give Banh Mi Pho Shop a solid, “You had me at ‘hello.” Everything about my experience was good. The food, the service, the little terrarium things and that “Don’t Stop Believin'” was playing as background music.

Wendy: This place is very close to my home – I can see it being almost too convenient to stop and pick up take-out in the future. I’m always excited when something new opens up nearby, especially when it goes into a recently vacated location (this was a former doughnut shop). And while I thought the tea was a little on the expensive side, I thought the food was a great value. They definitely “had me at ‘hello.’” I’ve been daydreaming about going back pretty much since we were there. Rice noodles, I hear you calling me!

Banh Mi Pho Shop
1925 Fairfield Ave. 46802
260.745.4388
www.BMB-1.com

 

 

 

Queen of Sheba

Savor Fort Wayne season came around again, and it’s one of our favorite times to go out to eat. It can be a chance to eat at what is usually a big splurge restaurant, or to get a great deal at a tried & true favorite, or to try something new to you, which is what we did this time, heading to Queen of Sheba. The fixed price menu seemed like an opportunity to try several different options at the Ethiopian restaurant.

(Note…I really want to have a movie clip here, but I can’t find the right scene, probably because there are so many more famous scenes from “When Harry Met Sally,” so instead you’ll just get the quote.)

Harry Burns: We’re talking dream date compared to my horror. It started out fine, she’s a very nice person, and we’re sitting and we’re talking at this Ethiopian restaurant that she wanted to go to. And I was making jokes, you know like, “Hey I didn’t know that they had food in Ethiopia? This will be a quick meal. I’ll order two empty plates and we can leave.” Yeah, nothing from her not even a smile.

You kind of want to watch “When Harry Met Sally” now, don’t you? That’s cool, you can do that, this will still be here when you get back.

Oh hey, you’re still here. (Or you’re back. How was the movie?) Want to hear about our dinner? Dig it.

One of the first things we noticed at Queen of Sheba was that there was a bit of an adorable language barrier, in that the special menus they gave us proudly declared, “Save Fort Wayne” at the top. But if eating Ethiopian food is what it takes to save our city, we were willing to give it a shot. There weren’t any descriptions of the menu items, but the server covering the dining room patiently walked through all of it with us, making note of spicy things and directing the lightweight (Wendy) to non-spicy selections. For $30, we each had our choice of an appetizer, soup, entrée, and dessert.

Maybe we should explain why all of our food looks green. The dining room has fluorescent lights, and each fixture had a different colored filter or lens or cover or whatever they’re called. (Beth and Wendy like food, not lighting.) So overall the room had a bit of a festive rainbow vibe, but our table had a greenish hue. Perhaps not the best lighting for eating.

2017-01-21-19-26-27

Sambussa

Wendy: I started with the Sambussa, a triangular pastry stuffed with beef, and boy did it start the meal off on a high note. The pastry was crispy but still flaky, and not at all greasy. The filling was savory and delicious and I knew I should pace myself because more food was coming, but I ate every last bit of it.

 

falafel

Falafel

Beth: I opted for the Falafel, which came with a side of Hummus. It was good. Honestly, I always think I like Falafel more than I actually do, so I can’t accurately speak for whether this Falafel was better than other Falafel. And since we are quoting “When Harry Met Sally,” I’d think I would have liked to look over at Wendy and say, “I’ll have what she’s having.”

 

 

tomatosoup

Fresh Tomato Soup

Beth: Second course was soup. And as we know, soup is good food. At the moment I have a bit of an obsession with tomato soup, and so I decided on the Fresh Tomato Soup. It was not what I expected. It came with mint on top and that was the overriding flavor. I like mint, but didn’t expect it and therefore it seemed kind of off-putting. I guess I should have chosen foods that I had no familiarity with so I wouldn’t have been disappointed.

lentil

Ezekiel Soup

 

Wendy: I opted for the Ezekiel Soup, with sixteen kinds of beans and grains. I’m not usually big on bean and/or lentil soups, which I think is a mental block stemming from the lentil soup of my childhood (sorry, Mom). But this was quite tasty, with lots of flavor and so many beans and a slight creaminess to it. The bowl was enormous and again I ate too much of it.

2017-01-21-19-47-45

Chicken Tibs

Beth: They call me Chicken Tibs. Okay, if you’re not old enough to have seen “In the Heat of the Night,” you’ll not get that joke. And even if you are, I admit, it’s pretty lame. However, when I ordered Chicken Tibs, I knew I’d be using that reference in this review and since we’ve been quoting movies, well there you go.

Because I am diabetic, I’m always looking for dishes that are protein heavy. This one was, and it was, wait for it… delicious! It was spicy, tasty and filled with Ethiopian goodness. In addition to the chicken, onions and peppers, the sauce was comprised of Berbere, a common spice mixture usually made from chili peppers, garlic, ginger, basil, korarima, rue, radhuni, nigella and fenugreek, commonly found in Ethiopian food. I sound like I know what I’m talking about, right? Yes, thank you Wikipedia. Anyway, it made my nose run, which is always a sign that a spice has done its job. Excellent!

2017-01-21-19-49-20-copy

Siga Alicha Wot

Wendy: For my main course, even though I was by now plenty full, I had the Siga Alicha Wot (I think…omg…I forgot to write it down), a thick beef stew with peppers and onions, served with traditional Ethiopian flatbread. I thought I had ordered the chicken version, but apparently I ordered beef, which was cool. The beef was really tender, and not fatty or chewy at all, which is why I would normally order the chicken version of something: beef pickiness. I really enjoyed the dish, and the leftovers made a mighty fine dinner again a few days later since I went to town on the first two courses. It finally happened, though: I found a bread I don’t care for (Beth here — totally agree with Wendy on this). I’m not a fan of the flatbread. I’ve had it once before at another Ethiopian restaurant, and the spongy texture does not do it for me at all. It doesn’t have a lot of flavor and I know it’s traditional to eat with one’s hands and use the bread to do so, but I’ll stick with my fork.

baklava

Baklava

Wendy: By this time I was stuffed, but since dessert was included, we had the server bring them out for tasting purposes. The menu indicated banana fritters as an option, but I was told no, they didn’t actually have them, but they did have baklava, so I ordered that. It was related to the baklava we know, but instead of layers of pastry and chopped nuts, it was more like a little nut turnover, with yummy honey-cinnamony gooeyness. It was heavy on the nuts for my personal preference, but the sweet goop was quite tasty. There’s probably a better way to say that.

Beth: I know, I know. Dessert is included, but it’s hard enough to try to figure out how many carbohydrates are in a typical U.S. dish that I opted out of dessert and lived vicariously through Wendy as she oohed and awwed over her Baklava.

Service was a little on the slow side. It took a long time for the appetizers to come out, considering at that time there was only one other table of diners and they were already midway through their meal. There were some peculiarities as well, for example clearing our dishes and placing them on a nearby table in order to serve the next course. That wouldn’t really fly if they had been busier.

The verdict:

Beth: Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. It’s my own fault for choosing dishes that are common. The tibs were really good, but not enough to move this to the top of restaurants that I love.

Wendy: You had me at I don’t give a damn. Sometimes I feel like we need to revamp our rating system because I can’t figure out where something fits. I liked the food; I definitely want to eat it again. But atmosphere and service were kind of meh. And the rating mash up I picked sounds negative, so maybe I should have said, “Frankly my dear, hello.” Either way, I’m somewhere in the middle. If you’re looking for an ethnic eating adventure, go for it.

Queen of Sheba
2805 E. State Blvd.
Fort Wayne, IN 46805
260-498-7862
Queen of Sheba Facebook page

 

Pickles Café

picklesAt long last, we made it to Pickles Café, a little off the beaten path in the bustling town of Dunfee (you’ll get that reference if you listen to the Columbia City high school radio station, which you should, because it’s very good). We’ve been eager to check out this reportedly hidden gem, located on County Line Road on the eastern edge of Whitley County. They’re only open for lunch, with breakfast foods also available on Saturdays.

To reach the dining room and outdoor patio you first pass through a room with antiques and food items for sale. It’s like Cracker Barrel, if Cracker Barrel actually were a small country store and restaurant. The café is cozy, with only 10 or 12 tables, but comfortable and charming (Today’s post is brought to you by the letter C). Upon arrival, Beth (who had been to Pickles before) informed me that the upstairs houses a tack store, but since we weren’t in need of jodhpurs or riding crops, we took a pass.

chickensalad

Chicken Lickin’ Salad Sandwich

Wendy: The menu was full of yummy sounding options. After asking the waitress for some of her favorite recommendations, I opted for the Chicken Lickin’ Salad Sandwich ($7.25), which is one of the things they’re known for, and with good reason. Chicken salad is chicken salad is chicken salad, right? Wrong! This was quite possibly the best chicken salad I’ve ever had, with just enough dill to be interesting and flavorful, without overpowering it. And there were small pieces of mandarin orange which added just a little bright sweetness. It was delicious. The sandwich was served with small melon wedges and potato chips. The chips were basic, but I’ve since heard that they generally have good side salad options, so either I missed that somewhere, or they don’t have them on Saturdays when they’re also serving breakfast.

 

gravy

Hot Mess Hash

Beth: Okay, I admit it. I’m a Pickles fan, and when Wendy mentioned that she hadn’t been I agreed that it should be on our list of places to visit. Now, for those of you that know my health history, I warn you — this next part is not pretty. Tuck your judgy notions in your pocket and enjoy along with me the yumminess of my selection. Wendy opted for lunch and I for breakfast. It is the most important meal of the day, after all. I chose a concoction known as Hot Mess Hash ($7.95). This decadent mix of hash browns, onion, cheddar cheese, Honey Ham, homemade horseradish sauce, scrambled eggs and sausage gravy was as comforting as a soft blanket and pjs. Every once in awhile one needs to indulge, and this was such a day.

Wendy: I liked the atmosphere, with mismatched plates and mason jars for drinking glasses. And speaking of drinking glasses, the water was served with a tiny fresh mint leaf, another fresh little surprise.

Beth: Pickles reminds me of a one of those places that you see on a road trip and say to yourself, “that place looks like it would be good,” and so you stop and fall in love and make a pact with yourself to always stop there every time you travel that direction. And the fact that it is in a place called Dunfee, which seems to have only a couple of houses and a church, makes it seem even more so.

The wall in the dining room sported a chalkboard listing the day’s pie offerings. And where better to have pie than at a small country café?

 

blueberry

Blueberry pie

Beth: Since I’d already given myself permission to fall off the proverbial healthy food wagon, pie seemed like a good idea. And, of course, it was. Blueberry pie was my selection and it was delicious. Like melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Regrets, I’ve had a few, but this was not one of them.

peanutbutter

Peanut butter pie

Wendy: I had a slice of the peanut butter pie, which was basically like eating a plate of really scrumptious buckeyes. Creamy, peanut buttery, chocolatey goodness.

The verdict

Beth: “You had me at ‘hello’. For some reason, people in Fort Wayne sometimes think that certain areas of Allen County are just too far away to visit. If you can’t get there in less than 10 minutes, well, let’s forget it. I’m here to tell you that Pickles is worth the extra gas it takes to get to Dunfee (which is actually just a teeny-tiny bit north of Hwy. 14 on County Line Rd.)

Wendy: “You had me at ‘hello’.” Right on, Beth – definitely worth the small drive. I want to go back soon and have that chicken salad again, and also try more things. It’s too far of a hike for me to make it out there on a workday, but I will look forward to any excuse to head toward Pickles again.

Pickles Café
5310 S 800 E-92
Fort Wayne, Indiana 46818
Phone: (260) 625-5082
Located on the Whitley/Allen County Line Rd between State Rd 30 and State Rd 14, approx 7 miles from I-69
plumtickledjunction.com

 

Junk Ditch Brewing Company

Well, another day, another farm-to-fork restaurant opening in Fort Wayne…it’s kind of old hat by now, right?

(record scratch)

Wendy: Hold the phone, Beth. What’s going on around here?

Beth: I know! It seems like every time we turn around, there’s a hot new place opening up. And it is our obligation to you, readers, to check these places out as fast as our wallets can handle it.

The team behind the Affine food truck has expanded (the truck still exists, this hasn’t replaced it) into a full-fledged restaurant, with their own (and other) craft beers and an ever-evolving menu of small and large plates designed for sharing (yay for getting to try lots of things!).

We were going to mix things up a little and check out their brunch for our official review, and assembled a crew to go with us, but at the last minute Beth had a conflict, so Wendy and crew went anyway, and we’ll share a little about that with you also.

Our official outing was Saturday night dinner. We arrived around 7:00, and the parking lot outside the converted warehouse space was overflowing. Junk Ditch does not take reservations, and clearly we were not the only people wanting to check it out. The friendly hostess took our name and phone number, and said she’d call us when our table was ready, which conveniently allowed us to wander about outside for a while. She suggested it would be around 45 minutes. It was actually more like 46.

We weren’t sure how much food to order, so we consulted with our server and asked for his recommendations as well. He suggested that if we were just normal amounts of hungry (versus I could eat a large land mammal hungry), 2-3 small plates and one large plate would probably suffice, and he was correct. All of the large plates sounded good to us, but a number of the small plates sounded…maybe a little intimidating? Pig ears, veal tongue, sweetbreads…we’re open and adventurous, so we decided we had to try at least one out of the box offering.

Our waiter’s first recommendation was the Panzanella, a new item on the menu, featuring baby octopus that he said was beautifully cooked and tender, and he did such a nice sales pitch that it was one of our selections.

We ordered:

Panzanella ($7): heirloom tomato, basil, arugula, crispy baby octopus, green beans, and GK baguette in balsamic vinaigrette

Green Tomato Caesar ($8): green tomato, oyster Caesar, red onion, pepitas, lardons, cured egg yolk, kale

Chuck Roast ($34): herbed Anson Mills polenta, Joseph Decuis Farm Wagyu chuck roast, gochujang, scallion, sesame seeds, cilantro, slow egg

Let’s talk about the small plates first since those came first, shall we?

Panzenella

Panzanella

Wendy: I’ve only had octopus once before, and I did not care for it at all then. It tasted too…octopussy. It was kind of chewy and bleh. Pretty much the opposite of the deliciousness presented on the little plate of goodness we got. That panzanella was fab. I was talking yesterday to someone else who had it recently and all I could think about was wanting to taste that balsamic vinaigrette again.  And the octopus was anything but chewy – it kind of melted in your mouth, which became a theme for the evening for me. It would not have been a bad thing if there had been more octopus on that plate.

Beth: I’ve never had octopus before. I was a little nervous about ordering it, as I don’t typically like to eat food that resembles what it was when it was alive. However, this was described as “crispy” so I assumed (correctly) that it was fried. It was delicious. I was still somewhat put off by the thought of baby octopus, but that’s a Beth thing. Also, because Junk Ditch is a brewery, I opted for a 4th River American Pale Ale, brewed by Junk Ditch. It was tasty and a very nice start to what ended up being an exceptional evening.

greentomato

Green Tomato Caesar

Wendy: The Caesar deal-io was fine, but didn’t really excite me much. I continue not to understand the world’s fascination with kale. But I enjoyed the green tomato, and the lardon was bacon-y cubes of happiness. I did think the teeny, tiny plates they brought us to eat off of were too wee to be practical. I felt like I could only put one or two bites of food on my plate at a time. I appreciate the “small plate” aspect, but the logistics don’t have to be quite so literal.

Beth: I agree with Wendy on the Green Tomato Caesar. I suggested ordering it as our “safe” dish, considering how creative the rest of the small plate menu seemed to be. It was good, but definitely the weak link of the evening.

And then came the chuck roast…

chuck

Beth: All of the large plates sounded amazing, but the stand out for me seemed to be the chuck roast. When I think of roast, I think of tedious Tuesday night dinners when my mom would top a pot roast with Lipton Onion soup. Imagine my surprise to see a chuck roast on the menu and have it sound so very intriguing. And, as a result, was happy to see that our gamble paid off — it was AMAZING. Such a unique blending of flavors and a roast that was like none that I’ve ever had.

I’m going to veer off-topic for a second here and say how pleased I am to see restaurants of this caliber springing up in Fort Wayne. Once upon I time I swore that Fort Wayne would only support chain restaurants and that anything upscale didn’t have a snowball’s chance. That is no longer true. And, what’s even more impressive is that Junk Ditch has a very casual vibe. I wore a T-shirt and jeans and felt very comfortable there.

Wendy: Chuck roast is not something I would ever order – it doesn’t seem like “going out to eat” food. Maybe that’s one reason I wanted to try it – as in, how’d it make it onto this menu?  Let me sum it up in one word: mmmmmmmmmmm. (Is that a word, or more of a sound effect?) That meat was so tender and the polenta was so creamy – a bite of them together goes right back to that melt in your mouth experience. So good. So very, very good. And really an ample portion, definitely plenty for two and if it were for a bigger group into food sharing, plenty for multiple people to get in on the action.

One piece of feedback for Junk Ditch: serving utensils would be supremely helpful, especially for a goopy dish like this. Once you factor in the runniness of the egg, it was challenging to move food to our (thankfully larger than previous) plates.

Dessert? Yes, please! 

 

carrot

Carrot

Beth: I opted for the carrot cake, also known as “Carrot” ($7). The simple description of carrot, pineapple and pecan doesn’t even begin to tell the tale of this scrumptious platter. The carrot cake was more like a roll, with cream cheese rolled up inside of it. All of the rest was found on the plate along with a glaze that brought it all together. It was delicious and carbs be damned!

 

 

 

icecream

Coffee Caramel Ice Cream

Wendy: They were out of the cherry & beet tart which was what I’d had my eye on, but when our server told us they churn their own ice cream every day that intrigued me. Ice cream is tricky – were they up to the task? Why yes, yes they were. I ordered one scoop ($3) of the coffee caramel, which was accompanied by a stick of shortbread. I don’t drink coffee, but have affection for coffee-flavored ice cream, and this was the best I’ve ever had. The flavor was strong, and probably would have been too intense (for me) was it not for the balance provided by the caramel swirled over it.

 

 

 

And now, you’re in luck – it’s bonus brunch review time!

Let’s talk about brunch, baby
Let’s talk about these pastries

Let’s talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be
Let’s talk about brunch.

(I don’t know…apparently we sing during our reviews now.)

Except those lyrics are wrong – THERE ARE NO BAD THINGS ABOUT THIS BRUNCH.

Beth: Except it apparently needed Salt-N-Pepa?

 

chickenandwaffles

Chicken & Waffles

Wendy: (Ignoring bad pun) To remind you, Beth had a last minute conflict, so I went to brunch with previous guests of the blog Kron and my dad, and our friend Rich. Here are the things I got to taste: Eggs Benedict, Biscuits and Gravy, Potato Rosti, all the items on the Pastry Board, and I devoured the Chicken & Waffles. Everything was scrumptious and well executed, and the one I would have liked to have had more of (and will go back to eat again soon) was the Potato Rosti.  Ooh, and the cinnamon roll on the pastry board. Yeah. Yum. Yummy yum yum.

Here’s a summary of the table’s experience, courtesy of the Kron: “It’s a great time in Fort Wayne to have a stomach.”

The verdict

Beth: I say, “Push it real good.” Okay, enough with the Salt-N-Pepa references, but seriously, it was REAL GOOD. My verdict is most certainly “I’ll have what she’s having.”

Wendy:I’ll have what she’s having.” I want to go back and eat everything before they change the menu, and then go back and eat everything all over again after they change the menu, and so on and so on.

Junk Ditch Brewing Company
1825 West Main Street
Fort Wayne, IN, 46808
260 203-4045
junkditchbrewingco.com

The Golden

Holy shamoly, WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE?? Life has sure been interfering with our eating out lately. Or at least with our eating out together, in an organized and reviewy fashion.

And was it really just our last review where we were chatting about Fort Wayne’s first farm to fork restaurant, and now we have a second one? Wahoo! We sure are living in a Golden age of dining around these parts. (Heh heh.)

The Golden, another highly anticipated hot spot opened up downtown earlier this summer, and we were eager to check it out. They don’t take reservations, but because we’re tragically unhip we showed up around 6:30 on a Saturday night and were seated immediately.

Located in the new Ash Skyline Plaza downtown, the space is gorgeous, although at times our table on the outside of the bar rail and near the host stand felt a bit infringed upon. Patrons standing in the bar area and another group waiting for a table were a bit too much in our space bubble.

Service was great. Our server Jordan was friendly and happy to chat about the menu with us. And midway through the meal when Beth launched her fork into the air, a passing team member immediately retrieved the one that hit the deck and fetched a new one.

cheese

Pimento cheese

While contemplating entrees, we started with an order of the pimento cheese ($6), served with toasted sourdough and pickles.

Wendy: Is it just me or is pimento cheese all the rage lately? I’m not sure how that happened.

Beth: I can’t speak to the popularity of pimento cheese as I have not had it since 1973. However, the bread was crusty and delicious. The little garnish was tasty, too. I know it was garnish because I asked the server, just to make sure there wasn’t some intended blending of the cheese and pickled egg/pickles. There was not.

Wendy: It was a good starter. There was a disproportionate amount of cheese in relation to sourdough. At first I was going to say there wasn’t enough toast, but I actually think it was an overly generous scoop of cheese.

burger

McGolden

Wendy: For dinner I ordered the McGolden ($16), a burger featuring two beef patties, beer cheese, fermented cucumber, and dijonaise on a honey bun (“Shake your…honeybuns! Shake your honeybuns!” Sorry. I can’t say or think “honey bun” without that happening.), served with fries and really delicious ketchup. It was all super yummy, and I love that their portions are right-sized. Plenty of food, nothing excessive.

salmon

Salmon

Beth: I chose the salmon, which was AH-mazing. It was served over a zephyr squash puree, zucchini-goat cheese risotto, porcini mushroom conserva, squash with asparagus. It was the best piece of salmon I’ve had in a long time — perfectly prepared. The puree was fab-o, too. The menu changes frequently, so this particular offering may not be available and if not, too bad for you. I can’t remember the price, but it was on the high-end.

Wendy: Beth, thank you so much for letting me have a taste of your dinner, and then another, and maybe even another. It was so good, as much as I enjoyed destroying my burger, I might’ve had a little bit of food envy going on.

berry

Sweet biscuits with strawberries and cream

Wendy: Beth was being super good, but I was all in and went for dessert. I had the sweet biscuits ($6) served with strawberries and vanilla cream. Mmm….it was so tasty. I could not stop eating the biscuits.

Beth: Speaking of food envy, who wouldn’t have it when that bowl of heaven showed up at our table? Due to health issues, I am watching my carb intake and would rather use them on my entree. But still, my mouth is watering as I write this.

So what’s the word?

Wendy: “I’ll have what she’s having.” After dinner we ran into a friend who asked me which was better, The Golden or Tolon. Why do I have to pick just one? Isn’t it fab that we actually have choices in new, innovative, delicious restaurants around town? I love the creative, challenging menus that get people out of our ruts and comfort zones. And, AND, The Golden is serving Sunday brunch – sign me up! I cannot wait to go back and check that out.

Beth: “I’ll have what she’s having.” I’m not quite as enthusiastic as Wendy, but I’m all in for The Golden. I don’t like to compare restaurants — they have their strengths, weaknesses and good days and bad. However, I have lived in Fort Wayne for a half century now, and am happy to say that we finally are getting the caliber of restaurants that until recently only existed in Indianapolis and Chicago. Hooray for The Golden! Hooray for Fort Wayne! Okay, I’ll settle down now.

 

The Golden

Tolon

After much anticipation, Fort Wayne’s first farm to fork restaurant has opened with noteworthy buzz, and we were very eager to check it out. So was everyone else, and we actually got shut out for the first weekend we tried to get a reservation – hats off to Tolon for creating such demand. With a little advance planning we were able to get a table for a Saturday night, so we rounded up some friends and went to see what all the fuss was about. Wendy’s boyfriend Kron and our friend Mike joined us again, which meant we got to taste more things – wahoo!!

Wendy: Beth, I know we usually build suspense for the final verdict , but I just have to say this right off the bat: that was totally worth putting on pants for. We may need a whole new rating system based on pants worthiness.

Beth: I know! Original, local and delicious. The trifecta of what Fort Wayne needed! It does seem like it took forever for Tolon to open, but it was so worth the wait. And the pants.

The space is lovely, upscale but comfortable, although the structural post right beside our table seemed to pose some challenges for the staff’s traffic flow. But that comes with adapting old spaces for new purposes and primarily added charm. Also, our table was close to the kitchen which made for a warm evening.

Service was friendly and consistent, attentive without crossing that line into being intrusive. Beverages never got too low without offers for refills, and our waiter even came to give us a two minute warning prior to dinner being served.

Frites

Duck Fat Frites

While perusing the menu, the table started with an order of duck fat frites ($7) to share. They were finished with smoked sea salt and served with a malt vinegar aioli. They were also delicious.

 

Wendy: Yes, they were French fries – who doesn’t love French fries? But these were like the best French fries ever. They weren’t greasy and they were consistently cooked – not like when you sometimes have a few that are too crispy and a few that are too soggy and a few that are just right. These were all just right. I didn’t taste much malt vinegar in the aioli, but that is not a complaint, just a statement. And it was a large serving, great for sharing.

Beth: Well, we all know that fat adds flavor and duck fat? Well, yum. They were delicious.

Kron started with the butternut squash soup ($8), with roast onion cream and herbed polenta croutons. It was poured table side in a fabulous flying saucer of a bowl. Fortunately he’s generous with food tastes, and we all got to sample the soup.

Beth: I was suffering from a head cold this particular evening, so I kept asking the server for spoons so I could sample without infecting my companions. I love squash soup and was eager to try, especially after the presentation. The bowl/flying saucer came with the onion cream already placed. Once the soup was poured on top, I immediately wanted to dive in and get some of that cream. I love intrigue and that seemed to be the intention in several of the evening’s dishes. It was excellent.

Wendy: I don’t like squash soup. Even when it’s good, it’s just not for me. But Oh My God…this was deeeelicious. It was so creamy and mild and not squashy and yummy and I look forward to having it again someday.

Guest comment from Mike: I want to order a bowl of the soup and hug it.

Yep, that’s how good it was.

 

pasta

Pappardelle Pasta

Beth: Wendy ordered first from the entree list and darned if she didn’t order my first pick. A Beth and Wendy reader mentioned that we shouldn’t duplicate our orders, so I went for my second choice, the Pappardelle Pasta ($18). This concoction was a very healthy portion of Pappardelle (large, broad, flat pasta noodles) served with pork belly confit, tomato sugo, sweet cream, truffle oil, Indiana asiago and chili flake. A friend of mine had told me about this dish and mentioned that the pork belly seemed excessively fatty. This was not my experience. I found the dish to be the perfect blend of sweet, salty, kicky and scrumptious (I had to consult the thesaurus to find some synonyms for delicious, as I feel we are getting repetitive).

 

 

chicken

Sweet Tea Brined Fried Chicken

Wendy: For my entrée I had the sweet tea brined fried chicken ($19) served over a cornbread waffle with Indiana wildflower honey and Tolon hot sauce on the side. It was delectable. Individually the components were good, but when you got a bite of the chicken with the waffle (drizzled with just the right amount of that honey) and dabbed it in a bit of the hot sauce – yumm-o. The chicken was crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, not greasy, and not overwhelmed with breading. Everything was just perfect. And it was a huge portion, with enough chicken for another meal the next day.

 

porkchop

Pork Chop

For his entrée, Kron had the pork chop ($24), prepared with maple BBQ syrup, onion jam, herb polenta and pickled apples. He shared that it was tender and juicy, and that the sauce was a delicate balance of sweet and smoky.

 

steak

Daily Steak Feature — Flat Iron Steak

 

 

 

Tolon has a daily steak feature, which was what Mike selected for dinner. It would have been awesome if we had captured the description, wouldn’t it? It might or might not have been a flat iron steak served over blue cheese polenta topped off with a roasted red pepper and tomato jam. Regardless, he ate the whole thing and he seemed to enjoy it, particularly remarking on how good the jam component was.

Dessert? Heck yeah! For three of us anyway, but portions were generous and there was plenty of sharing.

cake

Tres Chocolate Layer Cake

Wendy had the tres chocolate layer cake ($9), an absolutely enormous cakelet featuring chocolate devil’s food cake, chocolate miso mousse, and chocolate bacon ganache.

 

popcorn

Vanilla Popcorn Pot de Créme

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kron opted for the vanilla popcorn pot de crème ($8), topped with local maple syrup and smoked sea salt with corn brittle on the side.

icecream

Caramelized Beet and Apple Cobbler

Mike ordered the caramelized beet and apple cobbler ($7) with a smoked almond granola, goat cheese ice cream, and rosemary honey.

 

 

 

 

 

Wendy: Naturally I tried all three, so I feel qualified to assess all of them. They were all worthy. Mine was the least unusual. (Calling it the most usual seemed insulting to it.) I couldn’t really taste bacon, but there was definitely a salty/sweet interplay that I enjoyed. Beets are not dessert – that seems like a cruel joke, doesn’t it? But that cobbler was a revelation. But the pot de crème really stole the show. It was creamy and vanilla-y with just a hint of popcorn flavor, and that maple syrup – sweet fancy Moses, it was good getting all those flavors on one spoonful. I was skeptical when the waiter recommended it as his favorite, and I had to recant when he came to check on us and tell him it was really fucking amazing (exact words, sorry waiter!).

Beth: I didn’t order dessert, but did manage to sample (with new spoons) the pot de créme and the tres chocolate layer cake. I ended up eating about half of Wendy’s cake and it was delicious. I have to agree about Kron’s pot de créme. He said to me, “dive into it and scoop from the bottom.” So I did and he was right. Like the squash soup, it had that special something that wasn’t apparent upon first glance.

Wendy: Beth, your food looked so good. I want to go back and order that next time. I was really impressed.

Beth: And I want to go back and have yours! They really delivered.

Wendy: Indeed. And it’s different from anything else we currently have. And the service was great. And I didn’t think it was unreasonably priced.

Beth: I was surprised – I thought it would be much more expensive. Also ample serving sizes! If I can get two meals out of an expensive dinner it makes me happy. Because I am cheap, and seriously, it was just as good, maybe better, than it was the night before.

Wendy: Agree. Sometimes fancypants restaurants are a little stingy compared to the prices. Not this time.

Beth: And your dessert was like a cake. Not a piece of cake, but a whole cake.

Wendy: If I have any beef with them (heh heh), it’s that they are very light on vegetarian options. Fortunately we both are carnivores. But we have friends who are not, so I’m always alert to this. With such an inventive menu, I would challenge Tolon to come up with some truly vegetarian offerings.

Beth: I have vegetarian friends and Tolon does mark on their menu offerings that have a vegetarian options. For instance, the Papardelle Pasta dish can be prepared with brussels sprouts instead of the pork belly. And, readers, don’t be turning your collective noses up at the concept of sprouts. I hear they are superb.

The verdict:

Wendy: “I’ll have what she’s having.” And what he’s having. And those people over there. I cannot wait to go back. They’re open for lunch, too – gotta check that out, stat. And I assume the menu will evolve throughout the year as different foods are in season – can’t wait to see what that brings.

Beth: If we had a rating, “I will live here and eat this everyday,” I think that is the one I would pick. However, since we don’t I will settle for “I’ll have what she’s having,” too.

Tolon
614 Harrison St, Fort Wayne, IN 46802 (link to map)
(260) 399-5128
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