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

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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
Facebook page

 

 

Eddie Merlot’s

Recently we partook in another season of Savor Fort Wayne, an annual event coordinated by Visit Fort Wayne, with “12 delicious days of menu deals from participating restaurants.” It’s a great time to try someplace new, or to enjoy a more affordable dinner at an upscale eatery. We went the latter route this time, taking advantage of the prix fixe menu. A 3-course meal for $30 is a total steal at Eddie’s!

Eddie Merlot’s 2016 Savor Fort Wayne menu

Wendy: I showed up a little frazzled, and a lot hungry. I promptly ordered a Tanqueray and tonic to chill me out a little. Given the “a lot hungry,” it immediately started going to my head so I was delighted when the server brought us warm, soft bread right after we ordered.

Beth:  I admit it. I don’t like wine. I am a beer girl. I looked around and everyone was drinking wine. There was no reference to beer that I could find on any of the three menus I was handed. Wendy said, “just ask them what is on tap.” And so, when the waitress arrived again, I said, “what kind of beer do you have on tap?” She replied, “we don’t have beer on tap.” Fortunately they did have a few craft beers available and I ordered a Bell’s Two-hearted ale. I hate it that beer is given such a lowly status. I guess I should have gone to the bowling alley after our meal.

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

Wendy: For my starter, I had the French onion soup, which I immediately regretted. Who orders something impossible to eat (damn you, stringy cheese!) in a fancy restaurant? This girl, that’s who. But I got over it. I mean, hi, melted cheese. It wasn’t anything that made me swoon, but it was a tasty rendition of a classic. Although now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t recall there being any bread-type item in it, and that’s usually my favorite part. Hmm…nevertheless, I enjoyed it.

Butternut Squash Bisque

Butternut Squash Bisque

 

Beth: I opted for the Butternut Squash Bisque and it didn’t disappoint. Creamy, rich, a little sweet but not overly so. Just delicious. There were a couple of croutons — maybe they were intended for Wendy’s French onion Soup? Regardless, I lapped up course one in no time.

 

For our entrées, we both ordered the steak frites (medium rare).

Steak Frites

Steak Frites

Wendy: All the entrée options were tempting, but in a place known for its beef, that’s usually what I go for. I don’t eat a lot of steak, and when I do it’s always a filet, so I was branching out just a tiny bit for me. I’m glad I didn’t pony up the extra eight bucks for the filet option, because my flat iron steak was delicious, and cooked to the perfect temperature. The meat was tender and flavorful and paired beautifully with the seasoned fries. The red wine reduction brought it all together.

Beth: As I mentioned in our last review, steak is not my typical go-to dish. However, this is Eddie Merlot’s and this is what they do and boy, how they do it. I couldn’t agree more with Wendy’s assessment. Cooked to perfection, this steak was the perfect size and when served with the frites, the perfect meal. My mouth is watering as I recall it when writing here. I may have to wipe off the keyboard.

Wendy: When it was time to order dessert, I asked our server if the red velvet cupcake was something special, not to be missed. I am a red velvet skeptic (that’s a topic for another day), but I do love a really good cupcake. I was thrilled with her honesty in the form of an immediate and decisive “no.” Hence, I had the creme brûlée. It was a success: creamy custard, appropriately caramelized top. I did remark to Beth that I wished it wasn’t cold, which lead to a discussion revealing that neither of us knew at what temperature it should be served. I did a bit of online investigating, and the results were inconclusive. The biggest consensus was room temperature or slightly cool, but while the torched top was still warm. Experts and dessert lovers, what say you?

Creme Brulee

Creme Brulee

Beth: There was no question in my mind that I would be having the creme brûlée. I hardly ever order dessert, but since it was part of the savor meal, it couldn’t be denied. I am no expert, but I have to agree with Wendy that it was a little on the cool side. But, it didn’t really diminish my enjoyment of the treat. I like tapping through the glazed top layer to the gooey inside. It’s like an adventure. Okay, maybe I’m over-analyzing, but I like having an excuse to eat extremely fattening things.

 

The verdict:

Beth: “You had me at ‘hello’.”
I think of Eddie Merlot’s as a special occasion. It’s too expensive for me to visit on a regular basis, or would I really want to (although let me give a shout out to their meatloaf which is AH-MAZING and probably the least expensive thing on their menu). However, considering the special pricing offered by the Savor Fort Wayne menu, we’d be silly not to go. When I can afford to eat at Eddie Merlot’s, they definitely have me at hello.

Wendy: “You had me at ‘hello’.”
I had to think hard about this. My meal was great, but I definitely didn’t have a foodgasm, and if I were going out for a splurge meal, Eddie’s wouldn’t be my first choice. I’m always happy to have the opportunity to eat there, and this was no exception, but it doesn’t hit my “best” meter.

 

Eddie Merlot’s
Located in Jefferson Pointe
1502 Illinois Rd S, Fort Wayne, IN 46804
(260) 459-2222
Website

Club Soda Interlude

Hey, y’all! We knew it was time for a review, so we made plans to have dinner, but we didn’t pick where to go, so we found ourselves hungry and walking around semi-aimlessly downtown. We wanted to sit outside and thought we’d visit The Deck and share it with you, but there was a seventy-five minute wait and one of us was getting hangry. We ended up at Club Soda, where there was immediate seating on one of their lovely patio spaces. (Is it still called a patio if it’s upstairs?)

Everybody has been to Club Soda and already has an opinion, so we see no reason to write up a review. Instead, we’re just going to share this picture of our pretty drinks.

2015-08-22 20.40.49

Yay, pretty drinks!

We promise we’ll go somewhere review-worthy soon. Also, we would love to hear your suggestions on where we should dine – any hidden gems we should check out or holes in the wall you’ve been scared to try?

Also, we’re on Twitter, if you want to follow us there. And by “we”, I mean “Beth”. Beth, how do they find us there?

Beth: ZZZzzzz… wha? What? Oh yes! @BWLikeFood. Follow us!

And in case we don’t say it enough, thanks for reading!

It’s Savory!

As we’ve mentioned, we like to eat. And to talk. And we especially like to talk about food. So we’d like to talk to you a bit about an upcoming event presented by Visit Fort Wayne. It’s called Savor Fort Wayne and amounts to 12 delicious days of menu deals during from January 14 – 25, 2015. Take advantage of three-course, value-priced menus at many Fort Wayne area restaurants. As a matter of fact, here is a list of the participating locations:

Asakusa Japanese Restaurant & Sushi
Dinner Menu

Bandido’s (v)
Dinner Menu

Black Canyon
Dinner Menu

Bourbon Street Hideaway
Dinner Menu

Casa Grille
Dinner Menu

Casa Grille Italiano
Dinner Menu

Casa Ristorante
Dinner Menu

Casa Ristorante Italiano
Dinner Menu

Champions @ Courtyard Downtown

Chop’s Steak & Seafood

Club Soda

Cut’z @ the Hilton

DeBrand Fine Chocolates
Dinner Menu

Eddie Merlot’s (v)
Dinner Menu

El Azteca
Dinner Menu

Hall’s Gas House
Dinner Menu

Hall’s Guesthouse Grill
Dinner Menu

Hall’s Tavern at Coventry
Dinner Menu

Henry’s Restaurant

JK O’ Donnell’s Irish Ale House (v) (gf)
Dinner Menu

The Oyster Bar

Red River Steak House (v)(gf)

Takaoka of Japan

The Factory
Dinner Menu

Triangle Park Bar & Grill

Toscani Pizzeria (v)

Tucanos Brazilian Grill (v)
Dinner Menu

Visit Savor Fort Wayne for more information and a list of sponsors. While you’re at it, put this awesome event on your menu and go! We’ll be out there and who knows, maybe we’ll even post a review.