Posted on May 25, 2017 by Indiana's Cool North
Farm-to-table is no passing fad. It’s a movement that’s gaining momentum across the country for its focus on fresh, sustainable cuisine that’s locally sourced and uniquely inspired. From produce and meat, to eggs and other natural products, the farms of Indiana’s Cool North offer a cornucopia of ingredients that dictate delicious dishes and give local chefs a lot to work with. Check out these restaurants in Northern Indiana that embrace and excel at farm-to-table fare.
Where: 4725 Grape Road, Mishawaka
Celebrating the traditions of the native Potawatomi community, Corndance honors the culture of the “Keepers of the Fire” by serving up cuisine made from fresh ingredients respectfully cultivated from the land. 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. We try to source everything within 100 miles of our restaurant. We visit an Amish-run produce auction weekly, have several local farms that supply us, and we have our own bison ranch at Rooster Hill Farm in Argos.”
Not surprisingly, bison dishes are a big attraction on Corndance’s eclectic menu. Try a new take on an American classic with their cheese and spinach-stuffed bison meatloaf that’s topped with a bourbon shallot demi-glace. After dinner, raise a glass to local brews at Evil Czech Brewery, then explore the majestic University of Notre Dame campus in nearby South Bend.
Where: 299 W. Johnson Road, La Porte
At upscale-casual Spire, everything you’ll find on your plate has been made from scratch in house, and owner Brad Hindsley wouldn’t have it any other way. He supports as many local providers as possible, right down to the art on the walls.
Spire isn’t fooling around with the farm-to-table concept. Hindsley sources 95 percent of the products for his contemporary American culinary repertoire from regional farmers and growers.
Says Hindsley, “There are maybe ten items we source from outside a 250-mile radius, and those are things like spices, olive oil, chocolate and seafood.”
Although Spire maintains a focus on showcasing seasonal ingredients, customers insist on keeping several signature items on the menu year-round. These favorites include a porcini-crusted rib eye, a boneless half chicken dinner, and the popular Spire BLT made with candied bacon, tomato jam, mixed greens, and garlic aioli. Fend off the post-dinner food coma with a little water recreation on La Porte’s scenic lakes, and stay next door to Spire at the Arbor Hill Inn.
Where: 1101 E. Canal St., Winona Lake
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 strong relationships with farmers and being involved. 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 Chef France sources from elsewhere is seafood, which he acquires from both coasts (and sometimes Hawaii) for his sushi offerings and full crudo bar. Cerulean’s bento box-style lunches make mid-day dining feel fresh. In the evenings, the menu takes a turn back to the Midwest with chicken, pork, beef, and duck entrees.
Cerulean is just one of Winona Lake’s many highlights. It’s easy to spend an entire weekend discovering adorable boutiques and galleries, and overnighting in quaint B&Bs such as the Blue Heron or Chestnut House.
Where: 505 S. Main St., Elkhart
With 30 years of restaurant experience to draw from, Artisan owner Kurt Janowsky has finally been able to create the restaurant of his dreams in downtown Elkhart. Using ingredients sourced from local and regional farms, Janowsky creates masterpieces modern French-inspired cuisine.
On his farm-to-table formula: “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. We also have smoked duck nachos with duck from Indiana, and Indiana pork back ribs braised in Indiana-made Triple XXX root beer.”
Artfully arranged plates are the perfect compliment to an elegant dining room defined by exposed brick walls and banquette seating. Before dinner at Artisan, work up an appetite by exploring Elkhart’s beautiful downtown and its treasure trove of shopping, entertainment and small-town charm.
Where: 1032 E. University Drive, Granger
Rocky River Tap & Table
From drinks to dishes, Rocky River Tap & Table lives and breathes the farm-to-table experience. Every effort is taken to source fresh ingredients from local suppliers, and you’ll see just who they are on the restaurant’s giant chalkboard. The same goes for beverages. Over 30 beers from Indiana and Michigan are on tap, and a carefully curated selection of local wines is also on the menu.
Savor the best of the Midwest with Rocky River’s Bacon Mac n’ Brats. This creamy mac and cheese dish taken to the next level with Rocky River beer cheese, pretzel gremolata, and locally made bratwurst. For something a little lighter, try the seared salmon with farro risotto, and a warm bacon vinaigrette.
Hungry yet? For more dining options in Indiana’s Cool North, click here.