BoatHouse Restaurant in Winona Lake is all about good food in a fast manner

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By: Tom Westerhof

Tom Westerhof/Bites & Bitters

Winona Lake’s BoatHouse restaurant celebrates its 15 year anniversary this month and if there’s anything the longtime patrons of this award-winning restaurant have come to expect, it’s that the quality and consistency during the years hasn’t waned.

If anything, it’s been fine tuned. Fifteen years is a long time to maintain the high level of product and service synonymous with the BoatHouse but as easy as it would be for them to slip into a quiet, staid existence, the restaurant feels as shiny and new as the day it opened, still delivering high-quality fare in an astoundingly quick manner.

When I say astoundingly quick, I mean it’s the kind of quick where you’ll be looking for something to do after dinner because you hired a baby sitter for two hours and you’ve got almost 90 more minutes until you have to be home. From the time we placed our order until the time we finished our dinner, it was just over 30 minutes.

The BoatHouse isn’t a café, it isn’t fast food in the popular meaning of the term and it isn’t a deli — all establishments meant to take your order and fill it quickly. It’s an award-winning restaurant serving fanciful fare in an upscale casual setting — a place where people like to get dressed up to visit, the cool restaurant they take their friends and family when they visit from out of town.

Don’t let the swift service scare you off. Having spoken to former and current employees, I’ve been told the BoatHouse is just a very well-oiled machine, taking the knowledge gleaned from years of experience and turning it into the efficiently delicious establishment it is today.

When you are seated, your drink order is taken and when the drinks are delivered, your food order is taken. There’s no pressure to place your order, however. If you want, take your time and enjoy the views of Winona Lake but be ready to enjoy a delectable meal because once you inform the wait staff of your wishes, the food will be delivered quicker than you can say “Pass me the bread, please.”

For meat lovers looking for a great value, try the Chargrilled Prime Rib Sandwich. It’s my favorite dish and a great introduction to the quality of meat you can expect from the BoatHouse. And don’t even get me started on the fries. They are, without exception, the best in town.

If you have the time, pay a visit to the bar. It’s located just off the host station at the entrance and is a classic bar reminiscent of the ones that starred in countless vintage Hollywood movies. Constructed of black walnut, it’s one of the finest bars I’ve had the pleasure of bellying up to.

In today’s bar scene when trendy bars with trendy cocktails are all the rage, the BoatHouse Bar is a reminder that sometimes the classics are the classics for a reason. If you find yourself mesmerized by the beautiful bar and can’t imagine leaving, you don’t have to. It serves the same menu as the main restaurant with service just as quick and quality just as superb.

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