After respective careers as a research scientist and an educator, Larry and Pam Satek were ready to settle into retirement. They anticipated relaxing on the plot of land purchased by Pam's great-grandfather in 1915—a verdant space that had matured from an apple orchard into an overgrown tangle, and which the Sateks turned into a commercial vineyard where other Indiana wineries bought their grapes. Now that they had escaped the daily grind, the Sateks' plan was to begin crafting their own wine. They did so with well-recognized aplomb, and soon, their "retirement business" was winning awards at the INDY International Wine Competition. In the past three years, almost 80% of their wines have medaled—the 2012 contest alone landed them 23 awards, including two Concordance Golds, which signify a unanimous decision by the judges. Their success is hardly surprising, though, if one looks at the descriptions of their wines. They deem their Old Vine red zinfandel "a searing of lightning and poetry," and liken the sweet Mango Mania to "sunshine in your glass."
The Sateks remain continually tapped into the community in an effort to share these wines, many of which are made from exclusively locally grown fruit. Their Twitter feed and Facebook page keep fans posted regarding new releases and suddenly sold-out varieties, and those hoping for a closer look can take a tour of the vineyard and bottling facilities. Additionally, special events such as dinners and pairing classes teach visitors how to expertly marry sips to bites without disappointing both of their families.
Ambrosia Bella is a cozy escape for those who crave fresh-made desserts, café fare, and rich espresso hidden beneath a cap of foam. Co-owners Miranda Hartwell and Ben Lamson, a former Marine who doubles as Ambrosia's executive chef, take care to keep their restaurant relaxed and slightly whimsical. Drawing on a catering background with the Food Network and charitable catering events for Rosie O'Donnell and FEMA, Miranda and Ben prepare a rustic-hewn menu for breakfast, lunch, and snacks, with refined accents such as champagne vinaigrette and garlic-truffle cream cheese.
After sinking teeth into a few crab-cake sliders, guests can thank Ambrosia Bella for its contributions to the Steuben County Animal Shelter, or solicit Ben to craft a bone-shaped danish to feed the dogs, cats, and tiny humans within all of our hearts.
Mulligans Restaurant and Pub whisks palates on a cross-country journey with American fare inspired by New York's steak houses, Louisiana's shrimp boats, and fishing trips in the Florida Keys. Steaks come in 8-, 10-, or 12-ounce cuts, which can be marinated, char-grilled, or slathered in seasonings. Shrimp swim toward tables in coconut breading or stilt-walk through pastas on Cajun-spiced skewers. Diners can supplement bites with sips or hour-long swishes from the full bar, which includes an extensive martini and wine selection.
Every shot at Lake James Golf Club demands careful consideration. The tricky 18-hole course pits players against rolling terrain, water hazards, and strategically placed sand traps. Four tee boxes cater to players of varying abilities, with the back tees elongating play to more than 6,600 yards and the front tees measuring out to about 5,200 yards. Study up before you swing by with their course photos.
For someone to get a hankering to visit Auntie V's, it should be enough to know that the kitchen serves housemade pies every day. If someone must see the entire menu or perhaps doesn't have a sweet tooth, comfort food such as fried meatloaf sandwiches and St. Louis–style ribs might draw them in. Further motivation to spend a meal at this eatery can be found in the form of hand-formed burgers, with toppings such as peanut butter, olive cream cheese, and avocado more agreeable to taste buds than bacon-flavored braces.
At Timbers Steakhouse and Seafood, chefs craft dinners from a menu of surf-and-turf classics paired with all-American eats. Appetizers include traditional pub fare such as cheese fries, garlic mushrooms, and chicken wings in flavors such as buffalo, garlic, and mango habanero. Classic caesar, chef's, and spinach salads pave the way for burgers made from 100% ground sirloin. Pounds of snow-crab legs arrive with a coverlet of melted butter, whereas sautéed tilapia comes encrusted in a combination of panko and pecans.
Steak is, of course, the main event. Hand-cut rib eyes, filets mignons wrapped in bacon, and thick, unyielding portions of porterhouse that clock in at 20 ounces are dusted in the restaurant’s secret spice blend and charbroiled to order. Chefs also slice off portions of slow-cooked, tender prime rib served with horseradish sauce upon request.
In addition to the regular menu, Wednesday evenings boast a selection of Mexican food such as tacos, enchiladas, and fajitas, and Thursday shows off pasta prowess with Italian favorites. Although most dinners unfold in the spacious lower-story dining room, Timbers also makes the most of its attic. The restaurant's upper-story A-frame loft houses a banquet facility equipped with seating for up to 120, with custom menus, full bar service, DJs, and photographers available.