Don't miss these 6 farm-to-fork restaurants
With fertile fields and friendly farms that provide outstanding produce, meat, poultry, eggs and a range of other natural food products, Indiana offers a bounty of culinary inspiration for restaurants that excel at farm-to-table cuisine. Set a course for these Northern Indiana eateries, and bring an appetite.
Corndance Tavern, 4725 Grape Road, Mishawaka, 574-217-7584
Corndance offers the opportunity to experience fine farm-to-fork food. Co-owner Tammy Pesek explains that the restaurant accomplishes its farm-to-table mission by building relationships with local vendors, farmers and markets.
“Knowing where your food is coming from is something everyone is concerned about,” she said. “We try to source everything within 100 miles of our restaurant. We visit an Amish-run produce auction weekly, we have several local farms who supply us, and we have our own bison ranch at Rooster Hill Farm in Argos.”
Not surprisingly, bison dishes are a main attraction on the eclectic menu, especially the meatloaf stuffed with spinach and cheese, then topped with a bourbon shallot demi-glace. Diners also should make time for a pint of local beer at Evil Czech Brewery, or explore the majestic University of Notre Dame campus in nearby South Bend.
Valley Kitchen & Bar
55 Franklin St., Valparaiso; 219-531-8888; eatvalley.com
At this welcoming Valparaiso eatery, owners Cory and Blair Muro believe that the best food you can eat is the food that’s grown closest to you.
“We source as much product locally as we can, from booze to bread,” said Blair Muro. Valley’s Modern American dinner menu showcases tasty seasonal creations such as fried green tomatoes, sweet corn linguini, barbecued Indiana salmon and a cowboy cut pork chop. Hoping to expand their business later this year, the Muros maintain the casual yet classy vibe they’ve created at Valley by featuring repurposed furniture and fixtures in the dining room. The Inn at Aberdeen a few miles away makes a good spot to hole up for the night, and rumor has it, Valparaiso’s Central Park will be adding an ice skating rink this winter.
Spire Farm-to-Fork Cuisine
299 W. Johnson Road, La Porte; 219-575-7272; spirefarmtofork.com
At upscale-casual Spire, customers can rest assured knowing everything on their plates has been made from scratch in the restaurant’s kitchen. Owner Brad Hindsley wouldn’t have it any other way, supporting as many local providers as possible, right down to the art he hangs on the walls.
Spire takes the farm-to-table concept seriously; Hindsley sources 95 percent of the products for his Contemporary American culinary repertoire from regional farmers and growers.
“There are maybe 10 items we source from outside a 250-mile radius, and those are things like spices, olive oil, chocolate and seafood,” he said.
Hindsley enjoys showcasing seasonal ingredients, customers insist on keeping several signature items on the menu year-round, including a porcini-crusted ribeye, a boneless half chicken, and the top-selling Spire BLT with candied bacon, tomato jam, mixed greens and garlic aioli. Visitors can work off their meals with water recreation on La Porte’s scenic lakes; the Arbor Hill Inn right next door offers a gracious place to stay.
1101 E. Canal St., Winona Lake; 574-269-1226; ceruleanrestaurant.com
Tucked inside a cedar bungalow, Cerulean cuts a dashing figure with a Mid-Century Modern vibe and local art. For chef-owner Caleb France, farm-to-table isn’t just a trend, it’s standard operating procedure.
“What that means specifically is having symbiotic relationships with farmers and being involved,” he explains. “We go to the farm and start the conversation of what can we buy to help their farms succeed. In the spring, summer and fall, 99 percent of our food is local — especially proteins.”
The only thing France doesn’t source locally is seafood, which he acquires from the East and West Coasts (and sometimes Hawaii) for his sushi offerings and a full crudo bar. Cerulean’s Bento box-style lunches make mid-day dining feel fresh; in the evenings, the menu turns decidedly modern Midwestern with chicken, pork, beef and duck entrees.
It’s easy to spend an entire night or weekend discovering Winona Lake’s adorable boutiques and galleries, and overnighting in quaint B&Bs such as the Blue Heron or Chestnut House.
505 S. Main St., Elkhart; 574-355-3355; artisanelkhart.com
With 30 years of restaurant experience to draw upon, Artisan owner Kurt Janowsky has finally been able to create the restaurant of his dreams here in downtown Elkhart. Using ingredients sourced from local and regional farms, Janowsky manages to produce a stunning array of modern French-inspired cuisine.
“It’s pretty simple — we use Indiana chicken, pork and bison; the beef for our burgers, brisket and shortribs is from Indiana and Illinois; and the perch and trout are from Michigan, Ohio or Wisconsin,” he said. “We also have smoked duck nachos with duck from Indiana, and Indiana pork back ribs braised in Indiana-made Triple XXX root beer.”
The artfully arranged plates are a perfect match for an elegant dining room defined by exposed brick walls and banquette seating. Janowsky says hasn’t found the “right” art yet, but is still looking. Before an Artisan dinner, work up an appetite by exploring Elkhart’s beautiful downtown and its treasure trove of shopping, entertainment and small-town charm.
— Amy Lynch, Tribune Content Solutions
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