Goshen Dining Days 2015: New owner works to put a shine on old Dandino's

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By: Marshall V. King
mking@flavor574.com

Marshall V. King/Flavor574

Chris Stoller bought Dandino’s Supper Club because he missed eating lunch there.

The late Michael Dandino Sr. started the restaurant at 1407 Elkhart Road in 1965. Bob Allberry took it over and owned the restaurant for more than 30 years. Somewhere along the way, he stopped serving lunch.

Stoller, who owns a nearby business, decided to buy the old restaurant from Allberry and bring back the midday meal.

Since last June, he’s done just that and dug into reviving the longstanding Goshen supper club.

He’s slowly making changes. The old sailor inside the front door was retired. The menu still has plenty of inexpensive steak and seafood options, but he’s trying to update the food offerings along with the decor and the feel of the place.

U.S. 33, a few feet from restaurant, has gotten busier and times have changed. But this old place still has fans.

When I walked into Dandino’s Supper Club for lunch on Tuesday, bartender and manager Brooke Trovatore said I’d missed the tornado.

They’d had a busy lunch. The bar and dining room had a bunch of people ordering Goshen Dining Days specials.

So far, lunch may be the best reason to give the old place another try.

You can get a half-pound BLT for $7 with a side dish. It’s a half-pound of bacon on soft wheat bread with lettuce and tomato. It’s not fancy and it’s hard to argue with bacon.

During dining days, the sandwich is $6 with a side. If you’re extra hungry or just haven’t had your annual fill of cured and smoked pork, you can order the one-pound BLT for $10.

The hand-breaded pork tenderloin is big enough that there’s barely room for a side on the platter. It spills outside the bun. It’s also $6 through Friday, $7 when the price returns to the usual low norm next week.

There’s an Italian sub with ham, salami and pepperoni, topped with provolone and served on pepperoni bread made by Country Lane Bakery in Middlebury. Perhaps only in Elkhart County can you get a meaty Italian sandwich served on Amish-made pepperoni bread.

At dinner, Dandino’s is offering chicken marsala and pork chop marmalade for $10, each with two sides. The spring relish salmon ($20) has some fans. The bourbon bacon ribeye ($20) is big and has a sweet onion and bacon topping. You can find more tender ribeyes, but it’s hard to find one this big for the price.

I tried the $30 herb-crusted lamb chops, which come with two sides and a glass of wine (though I actually got charged twice for the wine on my visit). The chops were OK, but not as good as the lunch options or the bar cheese.

Have I mentioned how good the bar cheese is at Dandino’s? When you sit down at dinner, you get a little dish of the soft, yellow cheese laced with horseradish and pimentos. You get a basket of crackers. As you open the cracker packages, the waitresses scoop the discarded plastic off the table every time they come to check on you.

Putting a new face on an old restaurant is challenging. Dandino’s isn’t perfect, but it’s changing.

“Chris is putting his heart and soul into it,” Trovatore said.

The service is good – even great – because of Trovatore and others.

The food is getting there. Stoller and his staff ask for feedback and counsel from diners in ways that show they care.

The aged decor will get the attention it needs, starting with the bathrooms that Stoller is renovating.

Dandino’s is one of those places where the walls would tell stories if they could talk. I haven’t heard them talk yet, but I’m pretty happy to sample inexpensive food and see a new owner work hard to revive an old restaurant.

Marshall V. King is community editor for The Elkhart Truth and food columnist for Flavor 574. You can reach him at 574-296-5805, mking@flavor574.com, and on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
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