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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.