Elkhart Dining Days bringing world flavors to local event

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By: Marshall V. King

Marshall V. King/Flavor574

Elkhart Dining Days is a great opportunity to taste locally made food and support local business.

Twenty-three restaurants are offering specials through Saturday and giving 10 percent of the proceeds to Food Bank of Elkhart County.

It’s so very cool that flavors from far outside Elkhart County are part of the special menus.

Exhibit No. One is the the walleye dinner at Cappy’s Northside Tavern.

Merle and Linda Anderson’s have been operating the restaurant since January 2013, but it’s been a restaurant or grocery store since the late 1920s. The history and the stories are evident even as new stories are being told and new meals come out of the kitchen.

Linda put a $20 walleye special on the Elkhart Dining Days menu. It’s a big piece of walleye, either fried or baked, with two sides.

The fish that arrived on my plate was probably the best piece of walleye I’ve ever had in a restaurant.

Saying that might mean I won’t be welcome anymore in Wisconsin or Minnesota — states where fried walleye is treated with almost religious devotion. I’ve had great walleye in restaurants there. I’ve even caught walleye in the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota and cooked it over an open fire.

The walleye at Cappy’s doesn’t beat that, but the fish was crisp and moist without being greasy. The flesh beneath the breading was tender and almost creamy.

Kelly Anderson, Merle and Linda’s daughter, and other employees were touting the dining days specials to customers. Some were biting and getting the first stickers on their passports. Ten of those makes you eligible to enter a drawing for prizes.

Cappy’s Northside Tavern will offer the walleye again Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is closed Sunday and Monday. It’ll offer smelt with a choice of two sides for $10 Tuesday through Thursday. A pasta special is also offered daily in the dining days menu. In addition, two desserts with two Happy Cappy Coffees are $20. The coffee has hazelnut liqueur and whipped cream.

The Elkhart Truth’s Terry Mark loved the walleye too and his account is on Flavor574.com.

Cappy’s Northside Tavern
1000 N. Michigan St., Elkhart
574-262-3511

Exhibit No. Two is the pork rillettes at New Paradigm Brewing Co.

The former Harrison Landing still isn’t brewing its own beer, but it has a craft beer list that’s so good, a beer lover doesn’t think about it much.

When you have Lagunitas Hop Stoopid and the good stuff from Burn ‘Em Brewing in Michigan City on tap, there’s plenty to enjoy.

The burgers are funky. The Elkhart Dining Days menu has a plate of four slider versions of them with fries and four pours of craft beer for $20. Anyone for chicken fried bacon on a cheeseburger?

Calling my name was the pork rillettes.

What’s that? Food & Wine magazine would call it a rustic meat pate made by cooking pork shoulder in fat.

You can shriek and run from the dish if you want, but the result is a pile of pork that you then spread on a piece of crusty bread and add a cooked apple and bit of grainy mustard.

It’s a European thing. It’s a gastropub thing. It’s not what I’d expect in Elkhart.

It is a great dish. It called my name. I listened, ate and was happy.

New Paradigm Brewing Co.
600 S. Main St., Elkhart
574-295-8882

Exhibit No. 3 is the “World of Flavor” menu at Iechyd Da Brewing Co.

The brewpub has as Welsh theme to start. That’s how it got a name that is pronounced “yacky da” but that people still struggle to spell or pronounce correctly.

Chip and Summer Lewis are offering a meal for two for $30 during Elkhart Dining Days. For that, you get two pints or a flight of seven beers, two entrees and a dessert.

The entrees include Curry of the Shire, which made its appearance at Taste of the Gardens and is now part of this event.

There’s also Baja Pizza which has chorizo, adobo sauce and other Mexican-inspired ingredients.

And there’s a Chicago Beef Sandwich with the giardinara made in house. The sandwich has great beef, but needed some jus alongside for dipping. That’s now being offered since my visit.

Two years ago, Sticky Toffee Pudding made its debut at Elkhart Dining Days and has been on the menu most of the time since. The toffee sauce still makes me want to lick the plate every time I get it.

Friday night, I got the Black Forest Cheesecake Bar instead. It’s not a fussy, elegant dessert, but the mix of chocolate, cheesecake and cherries is a rich nod to Germany.

Dining Days started fast at Iechyd Da. Summer Lewis said they sold 19 meals for two and 13 for single entrees for $10.

“Seventy bucks for the food bank and I’m promoting as over 500 meals raised on day one,” she said.

She said the meals were selling far faster than she expected and more prep work was ahead to get ready for the next wave.

Iechyd Da Brewing Co.
317 N. Main St., Elkhart
574-293-0306

Exhibit No. 4 is the menu at 523 Tap & Grill

Chef Jamie Amador and sous chef Aaron Beaver put together this menu with flavors from across the globe.

A pork chop is stuffed with chorizo, the spicy Mexican sausage.

A chicken is glazed with a spicy Korean sauce and served with miso apple slaw.

Tuna is grilled and served with red rice and pineapple salsa.

The gombo soup could be from New Orleans, but this one is from north Africa.

Two entrees with a side and choice of soup or salad for each diner are $30.

I haven’t had a chance to taste the dishes yet, but did stop by Friday night to watch the kitchen crew at work.

Beaver said he loves the chop and chicken equally and I look forward to tasting them.

523 Tap & Grill
523 S. Main St., Elkhart
574-523-1523

That’s not all.

Others are offering great specials. There are breakfast, lunch and dinner options. There are specials to take to your workplace. It’ll be a good week of eating in Elkhart.

For every dollar raised for the Food Bank of Elkhart County, about six to eight meals are made available because of the buying power and donations the food bank gets.

That’s how Lewis could say on the first night that they raised 500 meals for people of Elkhart County.

Get out there and eat. Check out all the menus at elkhartdiningdays.com. Make this a great event for our community and the local, independent restaurants involved. We’ve had a lot of fun at The Elkhart Truth and Flavor 574 organizing this and are thrilled to see it off to a good start.

The Dining A La King tour to Traverse City started Sunday and continues through Tuesday. Thirty-six readers are on the bus tour to lovely northern Michigan. You’ll be able to read more about that and you can follow the trip on my social media feeds by finding “hungrymarshall” on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Quick Bites will return next week. In the meantime, you can stay up to date on food news at Flavor574.com.

I’m hungry. Let’s eat.

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