Dining A La King: 2012 was the year of the food event
Posted: 12/31/2012 at 1:15 am
By: Marshall V. King
Dining A La King
Dining A La King
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Josh Mills, left, of Elkhart clinks drinks with his mother Dawn Yoder as they sit down to enjoy an early evening at Iechyd Da in Elkhart Wednesday, August 8, 2012. The local brew pub opened in early June and is seeing steady business. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
Iechyd Da owner and brewer Chip Lewis cleans the large fermenter tanks at the new brew pub in Elkhart Thursday, August 9, 2012. Lewis and his wife Summer opened the brew pub in early June after Chip expanded his home brewing into a business. ¨ (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
The Korean short rib at 523 Tap & Grill is nicely done by the Elkhart restaurant and was featured during Elkhart Dining Days. (Truth Photo By Marshall V. King)
Peanut butter soup at Shekinah, a new Filipino market and deli, has a pork hock with eggplant and greens. (Truth Photo By Marshall V. King)
Chicken and onions sizzle on the flattop grill at Antojitos Mexicanos in downtown Elkhart Thursday, July 12, 2012. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) ¨
A burger with sun-dried tomatoes and caramelized onions with oven roasted fries was a special this spring at Rachel's Bread. (Truth Photo By Marshall V. King)
Marshall King assembles a lamb gyro at the newly remodeled King Gyros on U.S. 33 near the Concord Mall Friday, Nov. 23, 2012. The restaurant closed for four months to make major exterior renovations including an outdoor seating area that will welcome customers next spring. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) ¨ ¨ ¨
Suds slinger Tom Harvey, back, works behind the bar at Iechyd Da in Elkhart Wednesday, August 8, 2012. The local brew pub opened in early June and is seeing steady business. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
Antojitos Mexicanos owner Linda Soto adds cheese to a large tortilla shell as she works the grill during lunch in downtown Elkhart Thursday, July 12, 2012. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
A growler filled with Tata Rosa beer sits on a table as Kristen Bronicki checks her phone at Iechyd Da in Elkhart Wednesday, August 8, 2012. The local brew pub opened in early June and is seeing steady business. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
Nick Simons bags cilantro at Rise Up Farms in Elkhart 8/24/2012. ¨ (Truth Photo By J. Tyler Klassen)
Swiss chard was one of the prolific products this summer at Rise Up Farms, Elkhart. (Truth Photo By Marshall V. King)
Andy Zheng prepares sushi at Kaizen Hibachi Grill Sushi & Bar in Goshen on Thursday, June 28, 2012. (Truth Photo By Evey Wilson)
A wet burrito from Antojitos Mexicanos in downtown Elkhart Thursday, July 12, 2012. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
Three different types of meat grill as Antojitos Mexicanos owner Linda Soto works during lunch in downtown Elkhart Thursday, July 12, 2012. ¨ (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
Iechyd Da co-owner and brewer Chip Lewis smiles as he and his wife Summer talk about their new brew pub in Elkhart Wednesday, August 8, 2012. The local brew pub opened in early June and is seeing steady business. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
White radishes were available to customers of Rise Up Farms this summer in Elkhart. (Truth Photo By Marshall V. King)
Antojitos Mexicanos owner Linda Soto smiles as she works the grill and talks with a customer during lunch in downtown Elkhart Thursday, July 12, 2012. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
People enjoy dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings in Goshen on Friday, Aug. 3, 2012. Buffalo Wild Wings has recently been renovated. (Truth Photo By Evey Wilson)
Heirloom tomatoes came from the gardens of Rise Up Farms this summer. (Truth Photo By Marshall V. King)
Iechyd Da owners Summer and Chip Lewis talk about their new brew pub in Elkhart Wednesday, August 8, 2012. The local brew pub opened in early June and is seeing steady business. ¨ (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
Lucchese's is serving a dark chocolate cake made by one of its chefs during Elkhart Dining Days. (Truth Photo By Marshall V. King)
A serving of fajitas from Antojitos Mexicanos in downtown Elkhart Thursday, July 12, 2012. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
A plate of enchiladas from Antojitos Mexicanos in downtown Elkhart Thursday, July 12, 2012. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
King Gyros owner Bill Latif listens to a customer place an order at his newly renovated restaurant on U.S. 33 near the Concord Mall Friday, Nov. 23, 2012. The restaurant closed for four months for major exterior renovations including an outdoor seating area that will welcome customers next spring. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
ModMex has chicken enchiladas, among other entrees, on its menu for Elkhart Dining Days. (Truth Photo By Marshall V. King)
523 Tap & Grill is featuring pineapple habanero ice cream during Elkhart Dining Days. (Truth Photo By Marshall V. King)
Edna Padilla serves a condiment to go with peanut butter soup at Shekinah. (Truth Photo By Marshall V. King)
Nicole Bauman loads melons into a wheelbarrow at Rise Up Farms 8/24/2012 in Elkhart. ¨ (Truth Photo By J. Tyler Klassen)
The newly remodeled King Gyros on U.S. 33 near the Concord Mall Friday, Nov. 23, 2012. The restaurant closed for four months to make major exterior renovations including an outdoor seating area that will welcome customers next spring. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
The menu at Iechyd Da Brewing Co. is featuring pork during Elkhart Dining Days. (Truth Photo By Marshall V. King)
It was a year when Elkhart got its first brewery.
And Asian food became more prominent in Elkhart County.
As one year ends and another begins, here's a look back and a look ahead at dining in and around Elkhart County.
Food events were big news
Elkhart County, like any community, has had longtime events with good food. But in 2012, some new events brought people out to eat, often for a cause.
In April, the Child And Parent Services giveback nights were at more restaurants and were more popular than ever. Come to the Table in August raised a chunk of money for Family Christian Development Center in Nappanee.
But the Elkhart Jazz Festival, in addition to its concessions and usual downtown restaurant fare, had four popup restaurants. Lucchese's, Cafe Navarre, ModMex and Adam's Bistro all came downtown and provided some good food.
In late September and early October, the inaugural Elkhart Dining Days brought hundreds out to try special menus at 18 restaurants. A portion of prooceeds from each meal was donated to Church Community Services and raised $3,492 for the agency that helps those in need in our community.
Taste of Downtown Goshen, an event Center for Healing & Hope orchestrated with nine Goshen restaurants, raised $8,800 on a Saturday in October.
These are all events that are likely to continue in 2013 and I expect a few new ones. Goshen Restaurant Week is being planned for February and who knows what else will come.
The restaurant that made the biggest splash with its Elkhart County opening was Iechyd Da Brewing Co., 317 N. Main St., Elkhart. Chip and Summer Lewis got the place open June 1 and were immediately popular.
Food sales have been strong. The pub pretzel is one of my favorite food items of the year. But beer and soda sales have been so good that the Lewises are already expanding brewing capacity.
Cafe Navarre opened in South Bend early in the year. Owner Kurt Janowsky has a hit on his hands as he continues to serve food at Matterhorn and the Lerner Theatre. Chef Matthew Jay is putting out some great food and the service is impeccable.
Honey's Self Serve Frozen Yogurt drew thousands of customers to its new location in Linway Plaza, Goshen, and The Hitching Post opened with similar product in Shipshewana.
Goshen also got Takeria El Maza, 214 Johnston St., and The Chocolate Shop, 1100 Chicago Ave.
Elkhart County has had Asian food, but got more of it and different cuisines in 2012. Golden Monkey, 1301 Lincolnway East, Goshen, opened as an American/Vietnamese restaurant in February. Shekinah Asian Grocery Store & Deli, 305 N. Nappanee St., Elkhart, began serving Filipino food.
Kaizen Hibachi Grill Sushi & Bar, 2820 Elkhart Road, Goshen, opened in the spring, becoming Goshen's second Japanese restaurant. The hibachi grill can be dining and entertainment, but the restaurant also has sushi, a full menu and late-night bar.
Asia Market opened a new, larger location at 2021 Shaffer Ave., Elkhart.
Biggby Coffee opened a location on the north side of Elkhart. Rise & Roll Bakery, which continues strong sales of doughnuts, cashew nut crunch and other sweets in Middlebury, opened a second location near Nappanee. Fat Cam's at Garver Lake drew a crowd when it opened in Edwardsburg, Mich.
King Gyros opened at 507 W. Pike St., Goshen, late in 2012 and Tex-I-Ana is newly opened at 700 S. Main St.
The restaurant or food production business is difficult and a number of places didn't survive 2012.
Old Country Buffet, which had operated in Goshen's Market Center since 1994, closed abruptly in January.
Taste of Heaven in Middlebury closed in March and Chocolate Sensations in Bristol closed too. Suzie's Bakery & Coffee Cafe closed at 109 W. Lexington Ave., Elkhart.
After 17 years in business, Calabria. 21813 S.R. 120, Elkhart, closed at the end of the June. After seven years in business, Il Forno closed in December at 127 S. Main St., Goshen.
Antojitos Mexicanos, 102 Middlebury St., Elkhart, was producing some good food before it closed in the fall, reopened and then closed for good. I miss it.
American Soul Food Buffet, 2217 W. Franklin St., Elkhart, closed this year.
Hickory Meats & More closed at 54595 C.R. 17, Elkhart, after four years in business. It became 17 Cusine.
Goshen Express Cafe, 507 W. Pike St., Goshen, and Sweet Creams Soda Shop, 700 S. Main St., Elkhart, both closed this year and became other restaurants.
Come and gone within the year
A number of places both opened and closed in Elkhart County this year.
Poor Tony's reopened briefly at 2110 W. Franklin St., Elkhart, but didn't last long.
El Real Taco, 23677 U.S. 33, Elkhart, came and went from the former Minuteman Drive-In.
Wilson's Take & Bake Express, 26084 C.R. 6, Elkhart, and Appleberry's in Linway Plaza, Goshen, suffered the same fate.
Darren and Becca Cornell closed three restaurants this year. DC's Pizza had opened in 2011, but DC's Burgers and 17 Cuisine both started and ended this year. Employees from both of those businesses weren't paid money they were owed for their work. 17 Cuisine was open just two months where Hickory Meats & More had been.
Buffalo Wild Wings closed for a month this summer and got a huge makeover at 1829 Rieth Blvd., Goshen. King Gyros, 3520 S. Main St., Elkhart, also closed for a remodel. Fans of both appreciated the updates.
Lakeshore Grill closed after 10 years in business and Cam Snyder turned it into Flippin' Cow, a new burger restaurant at 51330 S.R. 19, Elkhart. The restaurant makeover took less than a month before it reopened as something new.
In Goshen, Kelly Jae's Cafe continues to produce excellent food, but owners Karen Kennedy and Kelly Graff stopped serving sushi this year to focus on its tapas menu in both the restaurant and bar.
Several Elkhart County spots saw significant people leave this year. Marc Lancaster departed from Sauk Trail on 17, but the restaurant continues to serve barbecue. Zach Lucchese left Lucchese's in December to focus on other ventures.
The trend of wanting food to be local and even organic grew in Elkhart County, as it did nationally. But the drought made it hard on producers this year. Remember those 100-degree days and fireworks bans? They affected gardens and fields. And that changed what CSA customers got at Rise Up Farms and elsewhere.
And that killing frost this spring meant that local apples and peaches were nearly impossible to find too.
On the flip side, the odd spring meant that maple syrup producers had a great season.
Quest for cupcakes
In April, I announced that I would search for the best cupcake and that it would be quick and sweet.
But I didn't realize how many cupcake bakers there are in Elkhart County. So I, along with my wife, ended up tasting nearly 60 cupcakes in 2Ĺ months.
There are a lot of good cupcakes. A lot of people combining flour and sugar, as well as fillings and icings, to create wonders.
Happy Dance Cupcakes won Cupcake Quest when I announced the winner on June 4. Margaret Potuck's cupcakes are available at Goshen Farmers Market, by calling her at 812-360-0570 or emailing email@example.com.
Mini Delights Bake Shoppe, 217 S. Main St., Elkhart, won the reader vote for the best cupcakes.
Goshen got some attention
Olympia Candy Kitchen, 136 N. Main St., Goshen, celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012 and was honored in a number of ways on the state and local level.
The Chief, 502 W. Lincoln Ave., Goshen, marked 50 years in business and topped an Indiana tourism list of the best ice cream shops after an online vote.
Pizzeria Venturi, 123 E. Lincoln Ave., Goshen, made an Esquire blog list of the “most life-changing pizzas.”
And the reruns of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” on Food Network continues to help South Side Soda Shop.
Best tastes of the year
As I look back at the photos and columns from the year, I think about what flavors I still remember and savor the most.
I'm not sure that Venturi's pizza changed my life, but I am a huge fan of the fig pizza with fig paste, proscuitto, truffle oil and arugula.
The duck and waffles that Chef Kelly Graff made at Kelly Jae's Cafe was a stellar take on a chicken and waffle craze I don't completely understand. The creme brulee at Kelly Jae's continues to be stellar too.
The eggplant arugula salad at Antonio's continues to be something that combines fresh, fried, sweet and savory.
A Korean short rib dish that's on the menu, but was featured during Elkhart Dining Days, at 523 Tap & Grill, Elkhart, surprised me and was a wonderful mix of flavors.
The lobster arancini that Lucchese's served at Taste of the Gardens and then during Elkhart Dining Days was wonderful.
I've had a lot of good burgers this year at Miles Lab, Heinnie's and Constant Spring, but I'm still thinking about the one from Rachel's Bread in May that had sundried tomatoes and caramelized onions and was served with fries roasted in the wood-fired oven.
A look ahead
What will we eat more of in 2013?
The National Restaurant Association said that locally sourced foods will be the top trend in 2013 on restaurant menus. A focus on gluten-free foods and children's nutrition are also on the association's list, based on a survey of chefs.
Locally, more places will brew and sell their own beer, based on some recent developments.
I expect dining events will continue to grow in popularity in our area, based on the success of Elkhart Dining Days, Taste of Downtown Goshen and Come to the Table.
None of those predictions are going out on a limb very far.
I'm looking forward to going to California in February with readers to visit a number of wineries. And perhaps there can be some more travel as well. We'll see.
What will the next quest for the best-of something in Elkhart County be? I have no idea. But it'll be fun when it happens.
As a new year begins, I'm mindful of how many people in our community are in poverty and how important our food pantries are in Elkhart County to help people who are still unemployed or underemployed. Seed to Feed helped Church Community Services and others this past year. The focus on providing fresh food to those places where people in need go is tremendously important. I hope that grows — literally — in the coming year.
We all have to eat. We all want to eat as well as we can.
I look forward to telling more food stories in 2013.
I'm hungry. Let's eat.
Marshall V. King is news/multimedia editor and food columnist for The Elkhart Truth/eTruth.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 574-296-5805, on Twitter