It wasn’t that long ago that a group of people gathered in an unfinished building at 317 N. Main St., Elkhart.
Some guy named Chip Lewis had brewed some beer and with his wife, Summer, was getting ready to open a brewpub.
- RELATED: Uncooked: Chip and Summer Lewis of Iechyd Da, Sept. 11
That night in early spring 2012, we stood around in this building, trying the beer and wondering what it would be like when the drywall was painted and when the furniture arrived. I ordered pizza from a place in town that delivered and we had some pizza with this really good beer.
Fast forward three and a half years.
Iechyd Da, which most of us have learned to pronounce by now, has become a fixture in the local scene. Chip and Summer are leaders in events like Elkhart Dining Days. And the pizza coming out of the ovens is remarkable.
This week during Elkhart Dining Days, Iechyd Da is making a Voodoo BBQ pizza with either smoked chicken or smoked cauliflower.
Yep. Smoked cauliflower. And you should order it.
- RELATED: Try the fried cauliflower at Crooked Ewe, Sept. 7
Because smoked cauliflower isn’t like the raw vegetable at all. And because interesting vegetarian options at local restaurants are good for all of us.
Chip said he was inspired by Crooked Ewe, the South Bend brewpub that’s serving cauliflower as part of Ewe Tso in which it’s fried in tempura batter and served with an Asian sauce.
“I really thought it was chicken,” he said.
The pizza has a bit of barbecue sauce, peppers, smoked gouda and mozzarella. There have been some great pizzas at Iechyd Da in the last couple years, but this one is a keeper.
Kale is the star of another dish on the Elkhart Dining Days menu. The Pork Butt Po’ Boy has braised pork and is topped with kale that’s tender and full of flavor.
- RELATED: Elkhart Dining Days 2015: Poutine finds its way onto an Elkhart menu, Nov. 4
During Dining Days, you can get one of the Voodoo BBQ pizzas, a Muffaletta pizza or the sandwich for $10. Or you can get two of the items, with two pints of beer or seven samples, plus dessert for $30. The sticky toffee pudding is one of the desserts and the rich caramel sauce is lovely.
On the opening Friday of Dining Days, Iechyd Da had higher food sales than beer, said Chip, noting it doesn’t happen often.
The place is usually busy, even on a rainy Halloween. Bartender Jason Kuspa was dressed in drag and took our order. Next to us, two older gentlemen came in and tried to order Bud Light in a bottle. Kupsa explained they don’t have that, but have their own beers. The men ordered a Local Blonde and enjoyed it enough they each took a can home with them.
Iechyd Da is one of those places we gather. It’s a pub. It’s a place people are regulars and new customers are coming for the first time. Either way, I’m glad it’s here as a gathering spot.