Goshen Brewing Co. great place to chill and taste great food

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By: Marshall V. King
mking@flavor574.com

Marshall V. King/Flavor574

The coolest spot in Goshen has become a patch of concrete with picnic tables outside Goshen Brewing Co.

Even in a month when the rain made us wonder if we lived in Seattle, people gathered on the patio outside Goshen Brewing Co. They sat under summer sunsets and enjoyed the craft beer made just inside the building.

Goshen Brewing Co., which opened May 20, has weathered the storms that come with opening a new place and is already serving delicious food and beer. The brewpub at 315 W. Washington St., Goshen, has a small menu with appetizers, salads, sandwiches and dessert.

Goshen Brewing Co.
315 W. Washington St., Goshen.

Hours: 3 to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday

Chef Jesse Shoemaker, who has worked at Constant Spring, Venturi and Rachel’s Bread, worked for months on dishes for the Goshen Brewing Co. menu and has some great flavors.

“It’s going really smooth. Overall. At this point,” said owner and brewer Jesse Sensenig.

People getting used to walking up to order food at one window and beers at the bar. It’s seemed to become the norm for brewpubs to take walk-up orders and deliver the food to tables.

If you sit at the small bar, you’re almost guaranteed great service since bartenders are nearly within arm’s reach.

The lines for drinks or food can occasionally grow a bit, but the staff members have quickly learned to manage them and the food orders seem to fly out of the kitchen and down into the dining room or patio.

Sensenig and Shoemaker, along with Jason Heatwole who oversees the front of the house, like the size and the variety of the menu. The response has been positive so far, Sensenig said. It should be.

As a critic, I’ll usually wait 30 days to visit a new restaurant. Goshen Brewing Co., because of the attentiveness of Jesse and Amanda Sensenig, Shoemaker and Heatwole, had GBCo. humming quickly. Goshen Brewing Co. is like the rookie baseball star being given a shot in the major leagues and living up to the hype, even if there are a few occasional bobbles.

The pulled pork sandwich ($13) with Carolina barbecue sauce and fennel slaw is already glorious. The smoked brisket sandwich ($13) with onions, pickles and Texas barbecue sauce is too. Sales of the two is nearly equal, Shoemaker said.

The salads need a little work. They should have more greens along with the other ingredients and the Thai salad is so forthright, so funky, because of the dried shrimp.

There’s no burger on the menu. “I don’t think a burger is where we’re going,” Sensenig said. That’s fine by me. When you have those two sandwiches, you don’t need one. When there’s also a grilled cheese on brioche with aged goat cheese, fig jam and honey, you won’t even ask where the beef is.

The ramen ($9), which I haven’t had since the soft opening event, has a lovely broth, hunk of roast pork, pickled mushrooms and a soft-boiled egg. Shoemaker’s affection for Asian flavors shines in this dish, which will be glorious on a cool, fall day.

The onion sandwich ($9) has grilled onions, cheese, tomato, greens and aioli (a fancy word for mayonnaise). It’s got a ton of flavor and you’ll need a fork, because it’s a mess.

There are a few things missing at GBCo. and the onion sandwich points to one of them. It needs a fun name, like the beers have. It needs something that helps tell the story of how a vegetarian sandwich is so good that even a burger-lover would enjoy it.

The one-page menu doesn’t tell the whole story of how Shoemaker and his staff are preparing foods from scratch. When you order the Biker Bowl on a Sunday morning for brunch, it doesn’t say on the menu that the biscuits, sausage and ensuing gravy, and even the bacon are all made in the kitchen.

There’s a line where you can pretentiously proclaim such things, but as spare as the information is on this menu it’s too easy to wonder why you’re paying $12 for a bowl of what turns out to be great food or $13 for an amazing sandwich.

The place in a former NIPSCO building has quickly become a place where people hang out together. The communal seating, the patio, all lend to the pub atmosphere Sensenig and his staff want so deeply.

The crowd has some overlap with that of Constant Spring, the bar with organic, local food nearby. But there are a bunch of new folks, too, Heatwole said. Some of them are coming with their children, which is allowed. I’ve seen parents enjoying Sensenig’s beer, Shoemaker’s food and the fact that their children can play in the grass nearby. I even saw one woman breastfeeding (appropriately and discreetly) at an inside table.

This has become a place where people are hanging out and the big hole in the menu is food to share. On a new menu being launched, the barbecued black eyed peas will come with tortilla chips. That’s a start.

The $5 plate of organic french fries aren’t remarkable. Shoemaker and his staff tried to make their own fries and sweet potato chips, but couldn’t manage it out of the gate. Perhaps they can eventually. Those sweet potato chips were great. I’d welcome tater tots with funky toppings.

The kitchen staff could use the smoked meats and the fryer to build some great plates a group of friends or a family could tear into together. There’s a nice kids’ menu, but little way a parent could order a plate to share. The $5 bowl of macaroni and cheese is very good, but it doesn’t count when you have to dip your own utensil in the bowl to partake.

How’s the beer? Great. Already. Like Chip Lewis’ at Iechyd Da, Sensenig’s brews are solid.

Goshen Brewing Co. can be a little loud inside, too. There are a lot of hard surfaces in there, but perhaps it just helps remind you of the hum and buzz that’s already part of this new place. It joins a vibrant dining scene in Goshen.

Is it pricier than it should be? It depends what locally grown and made food, and locally made beer is worth to you. So far, there’s no shortage of people willing to pay to enjoy it.

The beer is priced right and watching a sunset from that patio, which will soon have shade, doesn’t have to be an expensive outing.

I’m hungry. Let’s eat.

Editor’s note: The original version of this story said a plate of fries is $6, but they’re $5 since the menu changed late last week as this article was being written. Also, brunch is only offered on Sundays, not Saturdays as well.
 

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. For email updates, subscribe to the Dining A La King newsletter.
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