Let’s just get this out of the way: Heinnie’s is a finalist in Steak Quest, the search for the best steak in Elkhart County.
Now here’s why:
The DeShone family has been in the restaurant and bar business for 60 years. In 1985, Harry DeShone and his kids expanded the Elkhart restaurant at 1743 W. Lusher to offer big pieces of meat and a big iceberg salad.
They don’t make the staff wear bib overalls in the rustic, blue-collar atmosphere anymore. It’s not a fancy place. It’s not an expensive place. But the food’s good.
On a weekend night, cooks Blake Pierce and John Ontiveros may have 30 steaks on the grill at one time. But they regularly nail the doneness. They consistently send steaks out of the kitchen with the right amount of char, the amount of pink inside someone ordered, and enough seasoned herb butter to give the right amount of seasoning.
In the 1980s, when the family was getting ready to expand, they spent a lot of time on the deck cooking different cuts and recipes. The butter, which son Troy DeShone says has a “little sprinkle of this and that,” is still the one the family uses at its Elkhart, South Bend and Edwardsburg restaurants.
I don’t get to Maxi’s in South Bend or Stacy’s in Edwardsburg. With apologies, I always end up in Elkhart at Heinnie’s, where brothers Bill and Troy DeShone oversee the drinks flowing and the meat getting cut, cooked and served.
Aside from the burgers, which nearly won Burger Quest, Heinnie’s serves 700 to 800 pounds of steak a week.
That’s a lot of beef.
A chunk of that is prime rib, which they rub with seasoning and bake for 24 hours. It’s very good prime rib and the prices are $17.99 for the 10-ounce cut to $24.99 for the 20-ounce. Couples often order that 20-ounce Clydesdale cut and split it and the two sides, Bill said.
Heinnie’s sells plenty of New York strips, rib eyes and filets they cut from slabs of beef graded choice or higher. They get the burger from John’s Butcher Block in Nappanee, but the steaks from other restaurant suppliers.
The two-pound “steak for two” sirloin isn’t on the menu anymore, but is on special sometimes. The 20-ounce strip is gone too because it was too hard to cook properly, Troy said. But the values are still on the menu. You can get a 6-ounce filet with two sides
cook properly, Troy said. But the values are still on the menu. You can get a 6-ounce filet with two sides for $17.99, though if you add much to the salad or get mushrooms, there are upcharges. A 16-ounce rib eye or New York strip is only $22.99. That’s a good deal, but doesn’t factor in the flavor.
The butter and the seasoning in it balances the steak nearly perfectly. The steaks have the right amount of char from the gas charbroiler, but with plenty of pink inside if you want it. The steaks are often run through a tenderizer before cooking, Pierce said.
Heinnie’s steaks are consistent and flavorful. I had the rib eye and tried the strip steak, filet and prime rib recently. They were all great.
The restaurant’s service is solid. If you know Bill, you know that he has plenty of bull to go along with the beef. That’s part of the gift of this place too.
Heinnie’s is one of my favorite places. It’s a well-run, family-owned restaurant. Business is steady even though it’s difficult to get there right now because of construction on Lusher Avenue. But people are still heading there because it’s got one of the best steaks in Elkhart County. (five out of five stars)
Is it the best? I don’t know yet. Time will tell. But it’s a sure-bet finalist along with Miles Lab.
I’m hungry. Let’s eat.
The Michiana Mennonite Relief Sale Friday night and Saturday will offer a huge variety of food at the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds, 11746 C.R. 34, Goshen. Ethnic foods — ranging from Indian to Amish — prepared by local individuals and churches will be available for purchase both at the event and to take home.
IU Health Goshen is hosting the Gluten Free and Wellness show from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, according to Tanya Slabach-Trick, who advocates on gluten-free issues locally. Participants are asked to bring a gluten-free food item to donate to the Gluten Free Food Pantry of Middlebury. Information: 574-215-0788
On a road trip last week, my wife and I visited both Thurman Cafe and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in Columbus, Ohio. The burger was in George Motz’ “Hamburger America” book, which features Heinnie’s as well. The huge burgers at Thurman Cafe were amazing. The Suclescy family that has run it since 1942 has a great business. Jeni’s gets a lot of attention for its flavor combinations and I was pretty thrilled with the salt caramel and brown butter/almond brickle flavors I tried. 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, 296-5805, on Twitter @hungrymarshall or via Facebook at www.facebook.com/DiningALaKing.