Elkhart Dining Days 2016: Artisan has the world’s most perfect pot roast
The servers at Artisan team up when it comes to serving food.
As at many fine restaurants, as many as are needed carry dishes to the table so that every diner can be served simultaneously.
It’s simple orchestration that follows a chef calling, “Service.”
It’s beautiful to watch them coming from the kitchen into the dining room bearing the plates of goodness. It’s part of what makes Artisan special.
It’s why you can settle back into the comfortable chairs and feel cared for.
The dishes from Executive Chef Ryan Wilson and his staff are beautifully composed. The soft lighting and wine service are indications of elegance. On a Tuesday night, the place was busy with people enjoying meals with family or a celebratory night out while the babysitter was being paid.
Kurt Janowsky opened Artisan in early 2015, wanting to create a place that elevated dining in Elkhart. It’s done that. Elkhart Dining Days is the perfect time to see and taste how. A three-course meal including salad or soup, entree and dessert is just $30. You can find better deals in terms of volume of food on the Dining Days menus, but not in terms of dining pleasure.
The Artisan salad is a classic with greens, vegetables, cheese and almonds composed in an artful way but with flavors that harmonize. The chopped salad seemed flat by comparison and one diner at our table wondered if it had even been dressed. Soup at Artisan is poured tableside and the squash has two varieties pureed and plated with harissa popcorn and pumpkin seed oil.
The salmon at Artisan is so well executed and the current preparation has the fish from Faroe Island pan-roasted and served with black quinoa (it’s keen-wah if you want to sound knowledgeable) caramelized bell pepper, snow peas, braised fennel and a shallot veloute sauce.
Four other entrees are offered for Dining Days. I was honestly tempted by the vegan dish with crispy tempeh, ancient grains, petite herbs, market vegetables and a citrus vinaigrette. But the short rib called to me.
Matthew Jay, the first chef, opened Artisan with a bison short rib on the menu. Wilson’s version uses beef, but the dish continues to be amazing. The beef is fork-tender, with rich flavors from a garlic puree made by cooking it confit-style. Root vegetables and mashed potatoes are part of the dish.
It’s the world’s perfect pot roast. It was an accomplishment that in such an elegant setting I didn’t lick my plate. Fortunately I had some bread left with which to wipe up the sauce.
Two desserts are being offered, including the excellent deconstructed s’more that has been part of Artisan since the beginning with a chocolate mousse and vanilla ice cream. I opted for the creme brulee, which was listed on the menu has having pumpkin and nutmeg. I got the vanilla version, but wasn’t disappointed.
This was a meal that was on point. The service, food and setting were nearly perfect. This week, of all weeks, is a time to try the place if you haven’t.
Artisan has already won a AAA Four Diamond Award. It’s one of the best restaurants in northern Indiana.
Some feel it’s pretentious or doesn’t live up to the hype. I simply don’t agree.
Some wonder if the prices are justified. I believe there is value in what is being served given the work and care that goes into it.
It’s a fancy, fine-dining restaurant. Wilson is a great chef. The flavors are stellar. And it’s in our backyard rather than Chicago.
Reservations are recommended, but not required. Neither is a coat and tie. An appreciation of food and a willingness to pay for good food is really all you need.