Dining A La King: Did the five predictions for 2015 come true?

0

By: Marshall V. King
mking@flavor574.com

Sarah Welliver/Flavor 574

Earlier this year I went out on a food-laden limb and made five predictions for 2015. It’s time to look at whether I was right or whether I’ll eat my words.

Prediction No. 1: Artisan will stay open

Artisan opened in January as the highest end restaurant in Elkhart County. The restaurant — at 505 S. Main St. in Elkhart — is fine dining. The food is fancy, but you don’t have to be.

The restaurant was the place to be when it opened. In the throes of winter, it was busy and happening.

Business slowed over the middle of the year, but it was packed during Elkhart Dining Days and busy as the holidays approached.

“I’d hoped it would stay a little steadier,” said owner Kurt Janowsky of the year. If it had, Artisan would have hit his business projections.

He said they need to do a better job marketing, a better job helping people understand it’s fine to come in dressed casually.

But Artisan is doing fine and is sticking around. “It is in no way in trouble and isn’t going anywhere. I’m pleased with the traffic,” he said.

Result: Confirmed prediction

Prediction No. 2: Local meats will be on the table more

Northern Indiana still has great local chicken and duck providers in Miller Poultry, Culver Duck and Maple Leaf Farms. Wholesalers can sell them easily to restaurants.

There just aren’t many suppliers locally for beef and pork. The problem is scale. Raising enough local beef for even one restaurant is tough for most local farms. Yoder’s Meat & Cheese is big enough in Shipshewana, but focuses on the retail business more than wholesaling to restaurants.

Some new spots opened this year that are highlighting locally raised meat. One Ten Craft Meatery, 41 Degrees North, Crooked Ewe and Goshen Brewing all do that. But they remain outliers. And even they sometimes have to give in and buy non-local just to keep up. Few other spots are relying more heavily on locally raised meat. I’d love to see it happen, but as of yet, it hasn’t.

Result: Failed prediction

Prediction No. 3: Local craft beer consumption and awareness will grow

Goshen Brewing Co. opened to much acclaim, and so did Crooked Ewe in South Bend. Both are successful and busy. New Paradigm served the first brews it made in Elkhart. South Bend Brew Works just marked its first anniversary.

Hydraulic Ale Works got gummed up and won’t happen at Goshen’s Hawks Building. Thomas Stieglitz Brewing isn’t open yet in Goshen either.

Craft beer has 11 percent of the beer market and is growing fast, according to Jesse Sensenig, owner/brewer at Goshen Brewing. It’s happening locally and will continue to, though not as many may bubble up locally in 2016.

By the way, Sensenig predicted GBCo would open in April. I said it would be May. It opened May 20 to the public.

Result: Confirmed predictions

Prediction No. 4: Kids will eat healthier

Based on gardens at Boys & Girls Clubs and some salad bars at schools, I predicted the rise of healthy eating would continue for our youngsters.

It’s still happening in pockets, but there hasn’t been a wave in Elkhart County that I’ve seen. Kids’ menus at local restaurants are getting more interesting, but there hasn’t been much news about healthier items this year.

I have to say that while I hope for kids to eat healthier — for more places that champion that — there are still a lot of chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese that gets offered to children in a variety of settings.

Result: Failed prediction

Prediction No. 5: Cocktails will rise again

The craft cocktail scene has been on the rise nationally and the prediction said it would become more apparent in northern Indiana.

I think it has. When new restaurants have opened, they don’t just have beer taps and wine lists, they have cocktails. Finding an Old Fashioned or Sazerac is no longer as much of a challenge as it was.

Antonio’s now has a craft cocktail list. Bacon Hill Kitchen & Pub is relying on Journeyman for its cocktails.

Oak & Alley in Warsaw is a successful cocktail bar and Jami and Ryan Hawkins are working toward opening Common Spirits in Goshen in early 2016. Without the rise in understanding of cocktails as a culinary experience, such places wouldn’t be possible.

Result: Confirmed prediction

If you look at the list of five, I got three right and two wrong. If I was a baseball player, I’d take that batting average. If I’m playing some other game of chance, I may not do so well.

Next week’s column will review the year in food locally, and the following week I’ll have five more predictions for 2016. Maybe I’ll fare better next year.

I’m hungry. Let’s eat.

 

Marshall V. King is food columnist for Flavor 574 and community editor for The Elkhart Truth. You can reach him at 574-296-5805, mking@flavor574.com, and on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
(Visited 9 times, 1 visits today)