Waiting for our plates to emerge from the kitchen, I couldn’t help but feel I had made a mistake. I guess that’s the sign of a really good place.
Two by two, the staff of Bacon Hill Kitchen and Pub carried dishes to other tables in the packed house. The wings smelled incredible. The burgers shimmered with all sorts of creative toppings. But it was the fish and chips that made me regretful — the kind of second-guessing that makes you want to come again tomorrow and right old wrongs.
That is the sign of a worthy restaurant.
- RELATED: Bacon Hill Kitchen & Pub has new eating challenge and a new menu, Sept. 10
That, and in Bacon Hill’s case, the creative doodles on the chalkboard wall.
And the likenesses of Jules and Vincent across the way.
And the sounds of Stone Temple Pilots, the Cranberries, Metallica and more, adding just the right vibe over the din from the cozy seating areas.
This was our first trip to Bacon Hill after a fair amount of conversation about the good reviews we’d heard from friends. And aside from my unrequited affair with the amazing fried cod, for which I still must return, the selections from the Elkhart Dining Days menu turned out to be winners.
Our 9-year-old daughter — who fears no meat, cheese or vegetable (except pickles) — decided to take on the brisket burger. Kate was not to be denied thick-cut peppered rashers, after all, on her first outing to a place called Bacon Hill.
The brisket was meltaway, the bacon superb. Being considerate, Kate ordered the pickles on the side for me to make a quick grab, they did arrive on the burger despite the request, but the barbecue sauce served as good cover. Those pickles had crunch and amazing flavor that I cannot replicate in the adventurous home kitchen. More regret.
Kate also dialed in on the pub chips, which have a smoky tang and an unpredictable heat. She took some home for leftovers, which I destroyed by 10 a.m. the following day.
My wife, Mary, and I each put in for the beer and brown sugar ribeye. I immediately dug deep for the potato wedges and goat cheese underneath the 14 ounce cut of steak. The other side was sweet and sour Brussels sprouts, which had just enough bite to really counter the richness of the ribeye. Kate even said the sprouts were better than I cook at home, though we agreed they weren’t quite as good as those at the Wheatberry Tavern in Buchanan, Mich. We get around.
The main attraction was topped with a few fried onions and could have used just a little more charred crunchiness on the edges, but that’s me.
I lost my sense of regret, finally, when I finished up the potatoes with a swipe of the remaining goat cheese and ribeye drippings.
Then Kate and Mary both got the sad eyes and I broke down and agreed to dessert. At least that’s my story. We agreed on the maple mascarpone cheesecake with pears and the white chocolate cranberry cookie trifle. My cheesecake was creamy and I couldn’t quite figure out the crust — oatmeal crumb, maybe? The girls started in on the trifle.
We switched and they each took a bite of cheesecake before demanding their desserts back because, let’s face it, there was sugary awesomeness in that whipped cream.
I was content.
And then another order of fish and chips emerged from the kitchen.