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Elkhart Dining Days 2015: Enjoy a fancy, three-course meal at Artisan

Most Friday evenings, you can find me at home with my cats watching more episodes of “Scrubs” than I wish to admit. This is a time-honored ritual for me and I’m OK with it.

This past Friday was different. 

A lot of us at Flavor 574 and The Elkhart Truth had been planning the details for Elkhart Dining Days for a while and when it started Friday, Oct. 30, it was time to enjoy it. Marshall V. King, Flavor’s Food Guy, suggested we drop in a few places the first night, starting with dinner at Artisan. 

Artisan is one of the new players in Dining Days this year and two things caught my attention right away: there was a great vegetarian option and you get a whole lot of really good food for $30. Plus, I’d never been and I knew Dining Days was a great time to change that. 

The meal includes: 

  • Your choice of starter: there are two soup and two salad choices. You pick one. 
  • Your choice of entree: there are five choices, including a vegetarian option. 
  • Your choice of dessert, of which there are four to pick from. 

Marshall and I each got the three-course dinner for $30 (note, this is per person). We sat at the bar with a beautiful vista of the kitchen. I started with the Artisan Salad and Marshall had the wedge salad. 

It was pretty clear right away that Artisan wasn’t playing around. This wasn’t an unfortunate salad with wilted greens and a pool of dressing at the bottom. The plate was arranged so pretty, kind of like how skilled chefs “Chopped” do things and I felt guilty eating it and destroying how nice it looked. 

The guilt vanished as soon as I took a bite. The red wine poached apple vinaigrette dressing gave this salad a nice and tart little zip and I was sad it was over (don’t pretend you don’t know what this feels like), but was very excited for course two: vegetables. 

I know I’ve said it more times than necessary, but I’m vegetarian. Sometimes, browsing a menu can be a pretty dismal experience when your options are the standard veggie wrap or grilled cheese sandwich. Artisan shut all of that down with a beautiful acorn squash stuffed with quinoa, mushrooms, vegetables and yes, those would be flowers. The squash was sweet and if you like pumpkin or sweet potato, you’d love this. 

At this point, owner Kurt Janowsky came out to check the kitchen and greet guests, which got busy really fast. He chatted with me and Marshall for a time and it was really neat to see a restaurant owner so gracious and attentive to folks eating there and staff working in the kitchen. 

The portion sizes aren’t overwhelming and the courses are spaced out enough at Artisan, but I was definitely slowing down when it was time for dessert. I got the deconstructed s’more and Marshall had the creme brulee, which he said was easily one of the best he’s tasted. 

The s’more itself is a spectacle and again, I felt bad even touching it after watching the chef so carefully arrange the plate and toast the marshmallow fluff. The ice cream was, hands down, some of the best ice cream I had tasted in my life. 

No detail was left in limbo at Artisan for Elkhart Dining Days. And yes, here we are a few days later and I still miss that meal.

You’ve got until Nov. 7 to get out for Elkhart Dining Days and help folks in our community. Twenty restaurants and bakeries around Elkhart are offering specials, with a portion from each special benefiting Church Community Services.

Artisan, 505 S. Main St., is open starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. 

Follow editor Danielle Waldron on Twitter @DanielleWaldron

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