Solbird Kitchen and Tap – a Powerful Duo
Nov20

Solbird Kitchen and Tap – a Powerful Duo

Some couples were just meant to be together. Batman and Robin, Han Solo and Chewbacca, Bert and Ernie, and the newest collaboration on the Fort Wayne food scene – Sol Kitchen and Birdboy Brewing. Sol Kitchen was one of Fort Wayne’s founding food trucks boasting an elevated version of Tex-Mex fare. Inspired by the Bravas hot dog stand, owner Jerry Perez knew that Fort Wayne was ready to embrace the mobile food concept and embarked on a menu including Latin inspired tacos and quesadillas. Perez named his food truck after The Doors’ “Soul Kitchen”, where Jim Morrison crooned the lines “let me sleep all night, in your soul kitchen”. Just as Morrison was a huge fan of soul food, Sol Kitchen soon had a just as devoted fan base including yours truly who would never be deterred by a long line at the food truck, knowing the deliciousness that awaited you. After five years of serving amazing food on the truck at venues all around Fort Wayne and even in Roanoke, Perez set his eyes on higher sites. A stand along brick and mortar restaurant so he could expand his menu and fan base. Birdboy Brewing is a local brewery created by Ben Thompson who combined his love for planes and craft beer into brewing his own unique creations that can be found at over 60 high-end bars and restaurants such as Joseph Decuis. Birdboy was founded in 2015 and has a taproom located in Roanoke. With names like ‘Wit’s a Bird, Wits a Plane’ and ‘Redturn of the JedIPA’ you can see the creativity that goes into Birdboy’s European style beers. Loyal fans of both Birdboy Brewing and Sol Kitchen were ecstatic to learn of their partnership in the form of Solbird Kitchen and Tap located at 1824 W. Dupont Road in Fort Wayne.  Perez and Thompson have created a kitchen and tap concept that is destined for great success. The Solbird menu boasts food of many cultures, not just traditional Mexican flare. Next to the shrimp ceviche (which was a perfectly portioned bite on crisp tortilla chips and served with fresh pico de gallo and avocado crema) were Korean pork sliders and further down on the menu was a Thai shrimp burrito. Utilizing fresh local ingredients, strong influence from his Mexican roots, and some Latin flare, Perez does not shy away from flavorful profiles, which takes the Solbird menu to a whole new level. For the drink part of the equation, Birdboy Brewing has both flights and growlers available with everything ranging from a Belgian pale ale, a full-bodied Belgian Imperial Stout and, of course, a classic...

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Proximo – the Future of Downtown Dining is “Next”
Jun12

Proximo – the Future of Downtown Dining is “Next”

Downtown Fort Wayne has been growing exponentially and the restaurant scene is no exception. When The Golden closed its doors last November, rumors started flying as to who would come into the new space. I was incredibly excited to hear it would be none other than restaurant entrepreneurs James Khan, Pete Shuey, Lysa Pelkington and their amazing culinary team. You may know them from Baker Street, Hoppy Gnome, and Gnometown Brewing. Proximo means ‘next’ in Spanish and this is the next endeavor in the team’s growing restaurant empire. The restaurant is Latin inspired and will be open at 6 AM seven days a week, which will step up Fort Wayne’s brunch game. Having been an avid fan of its predecessors, I was thrilled to be invited to Proximo’s soft open this past weekend. The dinner menu was extensive and filled with so many items that I wanted to try that I was very glad I brought reinforcements that were willing to share. From five different ceviches, a variety of salad options, tantalizing appetizers, and entrees like street corn filet, my advice is to come hungry! I quizzed the group I brought and hands down our favorite appetizer that we tried was the Sope. Made with shrimp, Spanish chorizo, I’m pretty certain there may have been a fight over the last piece. The Tuna Tiradito was a close second. The combination of firm sliced tuna, fresh avocado, sweet pineapple and spicy jalapenos was truly a delight on the palate. I may have lightly stabbed someone in an attempt to steal all the jalapenos. I asked Khan what he recommended for our entrée choice and he said the Seafood Paella had been a huge hit so far. Initially he was not planning on having a paella option on the menu, but his wife Erika insisted that the menu wasn’t complete without it. Unfortunately, the paella was so popular that night that they sold out before I could sink my teeth into it. We did, however try the Salmon Succotash, Street Corn Filet, Pork al Pastor, and Ribeye a la Parrilla entrees all of which were flavorful and unique. The Patatas Bravas were divine and I could most certainly live on a diet solely comprised of it. You may think at this point that we couldn’t possibly have room for dessert, but if there is anything my dad has taught me, dinner is not complete without dessert! I was so full that I didn’t take a picture of the dessert menu, but I have included pictures of the actual desserts for your viewing/drooling pleasure. There was a hotly contested debate between which...

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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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