JK O’Donnell’s Irish Ale House – Let It Pour
Mar15

JK O’Donnell’s Irish Ale House – Let It Pour

When Irish eyes are smiling, they are usually up to something and JK O’Donnell’s Irish Ale House has some smiling eyes as they are getting ready to kick off their annual St. Patrick’s Day bash on Saturday, March 17. They will be open all day and all ages are welcome until 7PM so be sure to bring the littles for some family fun under the tent. There will be live music from 12 to 11 PM and admission is only $5! For those of you wanting to check out the bar and toast St. Patty with an Irish brew, the pub will be 21 and over only. And if you are in desperate need of a kilted bagpiper, be sure to check out The O’Tooles, who will be dropping in for a few performances. Check out all you need to know about the upcoming celebration here. While JK O’Donnell’s will be full of Irish cheer this Saturday, they have a lot more to offer than St. Patty’s Day shenanigans. One of their most recent changes is a newly vamped menu. Check out our interview! What inspired you to choose these dishes?  We have to change it for us and the customer.  There are dishes that will always be standards here but there’s a desire to keep things fresh and interesting. How often does the menu change? About every 6 months. It used to be that we would change the menu once a year, but I would like to see us on a more predicable timeline to provide heartier, comfort food in the colder months and then provide more lighter options during the warmer months. What are the gluten free/vegan/vegetarian options? Our hummus is gluten free and vegan.  Our veggie burger is now served on a pita which makes the dish both vegetarian and vegan.  We offer gluten free buns as an option on any of our sandwiches. Several of our other dishes can be made gluten free or vegetarian with minor adjustments. Are there any other changes you’d like to highlight? What precipitated the menu change? We have been getting a great response from all of our new dishes.  The mussels are a great addition as well as the lamb meatloaf.  The chicken bacon mac and cheese has been a huge hit. Any new drinks to highlight?  We specialize in a providing a wide variety of craft beer along with ciders and meads. Our large selection of drafts and bottles is designed to provide an option for almost everyone, while highlighting some of the more unique craft beer creations. Check out the menu and hours on their website. May your...

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Blue Nile Coffee – Keeping Fort Wayne Roasted
Mar08

Blue Nile Coffee – Keeping Fort Wayne Roasted

Indiana winters makes me turn to coffee more and more. Maybe it’s the endless days of bitter cold and no sun, but there’s something about that warm brew that jump starts my day and makes me feel that spring is just around the corner. I love supporting local brews, so I was excited to hear more about Blue Nile Coffee Co that was started here in Fort Wayne. Michigan transplant Ciera Love (Director of Operations), Foster Park dweller Phil Snodgress (Managing Director), and Fort Wayne native, Zach White (Director of Marketing/Sales), started Blue Nile Coffee Co in September of 2017. They are all self-proclaimed coffee-o-holics and have an innate passion for craft coffee. A chance encounter with an impassioned local coffee shop owner at an obscure town in Michigan gave Ciera the idea to bring this craft coffee concept to Fort Wayne. When I asked, “Why choose Fort Wayne to start this venture?” the group from Blue Nile noted that “Fort Wayne is a unique city in that it offers the amenities of a big city with the hometown feel. It has a vibrancy and a sense of life to it, while other cities are still struggling to find their heartbeat. The community members want to see Fort Wayne prosper, and small businesses have a fighting chance to flourish here.” The three wanted to roast their own coffee and create flavors that are unique to what is currently on the market– Blue Nile does just that. They are quick to point out that they are not just about selling coffee, but their bigger passion is to help people elevate their morning routine. It’s true that most people drink only for necessity, which means they may be hitting up that delicious (insert sarcastic tone here) gas station coffee, which often translates into pouring on mounds of cream and sugar to cover up the bitter taste. Trust me, I’m guilty of having done that a time or two! What Blue Nile does that is so refreshing is that they roast their coffee in a way that brings out the harmony of flavors that many coffee drinkers miss out on. “We create an experience with premium coffee that doesn’t need any additives.” Ciera noted. “The Blue Nile is a major river that runs through Ethiopia, a country in Africa and the birthplace of coffee. For us, Blue Nile stands for uncharted territory and endless discovery. It is a symbol of where we have been and where we are going.” I asked the team how they determined who to partner with in sourcing their coffee, and the team brought up their partnership with...

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Nawa – A New Beginning on the Landing
Jan09

Nawa – A New Beginning on the Landing

The new year is always filled with fresh starts. I am not a resolution type person, but what I do love about the start of a new year is how full of promise it seems. January always feels like an optimistic time of year. And what better time of year for Nawa (which means “new beginning” in Thai) to hit downtown Fort Wayne. Nawa is the newest restaurant to grace The Landing, which is one of the prime areas that the Downtown Development Trust in conjunction with the City of Fort Wayne and Greater Fort Wayne have focused on in their efforts to redevelop downtown Fort Wayne in order to make it an even more enjoyable place to live, work, and play. The idea is not just to revitalize the area but to reinvent it, and Nawa is doing just that. The menu is the reinvention of Thai cuisine in an Asian fusion, which highlights not just Thai food but Japanese, Chinese, and Korean flavors as well. Te Boriboonnangkul (AKA Boriboo), one of the operating partners, said that they didn’t want to limit their dishes to just one style. “Our chef makes a green curry pasta. You can take the various techniques from other cultures and combine it to elevate a dish,” she explained. Te and operating partner Prill Trowbridge are from Bangkok, Thailand and managed a Thai restaurant there for a number of years that was a well-known family hang out. They were drawn to each other by their love of food. “We love to eat!” Te laughingly explained. Prill and Te also did some work for a Thai steel company and in the process worked with some Steel Dynamics employees who were originally from Fort Wayne. When those employees moved back to Fort Wayne they missed the IT support that Prill and Te provided and thus began the process to woo them to move here. With Thailand fresh in the throes of the Asian Financial Crisis, it wasn’t too hard of a sell and both Te and Prill came to Fort Wayne 17 years ago and fell in love with the city. The idea was always there for a restaurant, especially in downtown Fort Wayne where there aren’t very many Asian cuisine options. “We wanted an upscale, refined place. Most places only focus on one genre of food. We wanted to do Thai with a modern twist!” Te noted. All the owners are long-time local residents and took great pride in the on-going revitalization of the downtown area. They wanted to be a part of the renaissance of The Landing and what better way to do that...

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Ryu’s Kitchen – Creating a Unique Food Experience
Nov30

Ryu’s Kitchen – Creating a Unique Food Experience

If you’ve driven down the State and Hobson Road area the last few months you have most likely noticed two things: First, the seemingly never-ending construction (that is finally cleared up!) And second, the appearance of a cute new place called Ryu’s Kitchen. With bright colors, an open dining area with a counter bar, and motivational wall inscriptions, it is a very welcoming restaurant. The friendly staff makes it even more so.  Ryu had its soft opening at the end of August and has been delighting customer’s palates ever since. With a 4.9/5 rating on Facebook and a 4.5/5 rating on Yelp, I was incredibly excited to check it out! I met with owner Joohyun Riddle, née Ryu who has a true love for food. Born and raised in South Korea, Joohyun was a food nutrition major when studying in Korea. Not only did she learn the importance of the nutrition behind the dishes she now serves, she worked as a food stylist for commercials and learned to make the dishes look appealing as well, which is very important in today’s Instagram savvy society, where the aesthetics of the food adds to the overall enjoyment. She came as an international student to Long Beach, California where she had exposure to a variety of Asian foods that she missed when she moved with her husband, Josh Riddle, to his hometown of Marion. This brought about a Korean restaurant they opened in a mall in Marion six years ago. Luckily they moved to Fort Wayne and added to our ethnic food scene. I asked Joohyun if Ryu’s menu was traditional Korean food. “The young generation of Koreans make food simple. It has good flavor, is good looking, and has Korean based sauces,” Joohyun was quick to point out. While there are traditional dishes, such as Bulgogi, there are also a number of dishes that they have customized to bring a Korean twist to Fort Wayne. “I like to find my own niche and way to make a dish. I want people to know the new generation of Korean, not just the old-style way. I started doing dinners with our friends and did tasting menus with them to see what was popular.” Ryu accommodates a variety of dietary needs and has a number of vegetarian dishes including a new Tofu Rice Noodle dish and a Tofu Bulgogi dish. For my gluten free friends, any of the noodle or bulgogi dishes can be made gluten free and they even make separate sauces that are gluten free with which to cook. Joohyun also utilizes fresh, local ingredients in order to amp up the flavor...

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Banh Mi Pho Shop- Your New Fave Ramen Spot in the Fort!  🍜
Aug29

Banh Mi Pho Shop- Your New Fave Ramen Spot in the Fort! 🍜

2017 has been my year of ramen. From Momofuku in New York City, some side street vendor in Vietnam that I can’t pronounce, to High Five Ramen in Chicago, I have been obsessed with the noodles of my college days. (And who am I kidding, most of my 20s as well!) And now we have this amazing creation in Fort Wayne at a local business called Banh Mi Pho Shop)! Although the word ramen comes from the Chinese, there is a heated debate as to whether the dish itself originated in Japan or China. Regardless, instant ramen was invented by the Taiwanese-Japanese Momofuku Ando, and was named the greatest Japanese invention of the 20th century. The main component of any ramen is steaming hot noodles served in a rich and salty soup broth, but that is where the similarity between our college dorm hot pot ramen and the ramen of today ends. From the broth, to the spices, to the meat, and toppings ramen is vastly different from shop to shop…but that’s what makes it fun for both chefs and diners alike! Banh Mi Pho Shop is located at the former Tom’s Donuts on 1925 Fairfield Avenue and opened this past June. Don’t let its newness fool you, however. It is the sister location of the popular Vietnamese shop, Banh Mi Barista, which opened August 2012 on 5320 Coldwater Road. The original restaurant started with owners Will Le, his sister Thao Le, and niece Hien Le. Thirty-nine-year-old Will has been working in the food industry since high school (including Fort Wayne’s beloved West Coast Grill) and loves to cook. While 30-year-old Thao worked at a pharmaceutical lab in Indy, she always had a love for food and eating out as did her foodie niece, Hien. The original Banh Mi Barista is well known for its phenomenal customer service, amazing bubble teas, and Vietnamese staples such as pho and bánh mì sandwiches. One year ago, Thao took a break to travel. While she grew up in Fort Wayne, she wanted to experience the culinary trends and staples in various parts of the world, including her homeland of Vietnam. Co-owner Hien joined her for a month in Vietnam (as did yours truly for a much shorter stint!). I sat with Thao to ask about her experience in Vietnam this past April. “I was born in Vietnam and still have family in southern Vietnam,” said Thao. “I have always appreciated the unique flavors and textures, but this trip made me expand my taste buds to appreciate northern Vietnamese food as well. I also learned how to make bánh mì (bread) from scratch when I...

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