The yearly event at Elkhart’s Wellfield Botanic Gardens is becoming one of Elkhart County’s great eating events along with the fair and the jazz festival.

Taste of the Gardens will offer a chance to sample a bunch of Elkhart-area restaurants.
Posted on Aug. 20, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.

Marshall V. King

Dining A La King

Elkhart County has great eating events.

The Elkhart County 4-H Fair.

The Michiana Mennonite Relief Sale.

The party at which local winemakers order grapes from Dominic and Sarita Cataldo of Elkhart.

But more events are emerging that showcase what local restaurants can do.

This year, the Elkhart Jazz Festival was different and better because of pop-up restaurants and how downtown restaurants served the public.

Elkhart Dining Days is likely to create some excitement. A similar event could happen in October in Goshen.

For the fourth year, Taste of the Gardens will feature art, music and food Saturday at the Wellfield Botanic Gardens, 1015 N. Main St., Elkhart.

The Elkhart Noon Rotary Club puts on the event to raise money for the private park. Adelle Benyo, Bobbi Meyers and Patsy Boehler have been working with local restaurants and catering companies to feed a bunch of people. Last year, more than 5,000 people attended the event.

This year’s restaurant list includes 523 Tap & Grill, American Espresso Catering, b on the River, Between the Buns, Bonnie Doon, Chubby Trout, Fat Tomato, Great Wall, La Esperanza, Lucchese’s, Martin’s Catering, McCarthy’s on the Riverwalk, Sports Time Family Pub & Grill, SugaRush Desserts, Texas Roadhouse, The Vine, ModMex and Matterhorn Catering.

“We really want to keep it upscale,” Benyo said, noting that they also want diverse offerings.

This isn’t fair food, she said. It’s a chance for restaurants to offer samples.

The list changes a bit from year to year. And this year, most of the restaurants will offer food from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. In past years, some offered food early and others later, but that created confusion, Benyo said.

Making and serving restaurant food is hard work. Serving it at a park under a tent is even harder. Keeping it cold or hot and making it attractive becomes more difficult.

Each year, the presentation and range of options has gotten a bit better. Last year, Lucchese’s offered some amazing tastes, particularly and fried risotto ball that still makes me hungry to think about.

“Those restaurants work really hard,” Benyo said.

It’s not an event at which it’s cheap to eat. There’s a $5 admittance fee and food and drinks all take tickets which cost $2 each or 11 for $20. Matterhorn Catering offers a nice variety of beer, wine and soda at the festival. The money from the food and drinks helps cover restaurant costs and raises money for the gardens.

An item may cost $2 to $8, but you get to choose what you want to eat and whether it’s worth your money. There are enough options that you can afford to be picky.

The garden is a lovely setting. Other people are cooking for you, playing music and showing their art. I plan on going to the event hungry and leaving full.

I’m hungry. Let’s eat.

If You Go

What: Taste of the Gardens

Where: 1015 N. Main St., Elkhart

Fare: Samples from a number of Elkhart restaurants and caterers

Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25

Cost: $5 admittance fee. Tickets for food and drink are $2 each or 11 for $20 and items take one to four tickets.

Marshall was on vacation last week, so there aren’t a new batch of Quick Bites. They’ll be back next week.

Marshall V. King is news/multimedia editor and food columnist for The Elkhart Truth/eTruth.com. You can reach him at 574-296-5806, mking@etruth.com or via Facebook at www.facebook.com/diningalaking.

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