A lot has changed in the past 70 years: humans landed on the moon, rock 'n' roll stormed the charts, and the Internet revolutionized the way people laugh at cat pictures. While innovations are good for grabbing headlines, the chefs at Country lounge see the value of keeping things classic. In addition to juicy steaks and sauce-laden pastas, their bill of fare calls back to art deco decadence with bygone dishes such as shrimp de jonghe and oysters rockefeller. Dinners unfold at tables clad in burgundy-colored cloth, and a full-service bar offers post-meal cocktails.
Inside a Victorian cottage overlooking Hobart, Indiana’s historic waterfront, guests dine farm-to-fork style from a menu that change weekly. Owners David and Linda Papp and chef Scot Hinkel take the notion of farm-to-fork seriously: they hand-pick all the produce from farmers’ markets, work closely with local farmers, and refrain from using walk-in freezers or time machines. The result is dishes composed of fresh, seasonal ingredients. Along with the 1895 architecture and waterfront dining, the bistro also features a boutique bar serving small-batch organic spirits, American craft beers, and organic, sustainably farmed wines.
The iconic comic-strip character and namesake of Dagwood’s Sandwich Shoppes peeps out from the first “o” in the deli’s logo, embracing not his wife, Blondie, but the signature Dagwood sandwich. With its four meats and pair of cheeses, the delicious (if slightly intimidating) sandwich represents the more than 20 signature subs and clubs that grace Dagwood’s menu. Meats ranging from premium roast beef to tender pork loin share slices of bread with cheeses, crisp pickles, and all the condiments one might expect of an old-fashioned deli. Those too young to appreciate the shop’s Sunday-paper references will at least enjoy kids’ meals such as the classic grilled-cheese sandwich. Aside from their in-store selections, the deli caters events with colorful trays of meats and sack lunches served by a curiously cartoonish wait staff.
Eight decades ago, the land that Strongbow Inn now stands on was filled with 1,500 turkeys, gobbling under the guidance of founders Walter and Bess Thrun. The family’s storied history has since been tied to that plot of land, from the construction of Strongbow Inn and US 30 in the ‘40s to the turkeys they continued to raise and dish up until the '80s. Three generations have built the restaurant to its current glory, serving turkey-centric comfort fare in an upscale, white-tablecloth-clad dining room and a casual wood-paneled lounge that made it onto WTTW’s Check, Please!.
The menu showcases fresh poultry in dishes that range from turkey schnitzel to turkey pot pie and Thanksgiving-esque feasts of carved turkey with homemade cranberry sauce and all the trimmings. Poultry-free fare also stakes out a space for itself, boasting grilled lamb chops and crab cakes made in house. Beside each menu item, the restaurant lists ideal wine pairings, such as a Leonard Kreusch with the turkey dinner or an Ecco Domani pinot grigio with the crab cakes.
In a dining room suited for big groups, plates rest near floral centerpieces surrounded by scalloped napkins. Patrons can also sup in the Blue Yonder lounge, where curly chandeliers hang above wooden lattice-backed chairs. Over the lounge’s bar, a populous fleet of model planes hangs from the ceiling ready to skywrite love notes to special guests or dive bomb dates who stole the last bite of pie.
A velvet rope-lined red carpet welcomes diners as soon as they enter Paparazzi, leading them into the dining room. Constructed with a number of reclaimed materials, the dining room embraces its star-struck theme by featuring large black-and-white photos of Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe along a cerulean-blue wall. The exposed brick walls and copper bar lend a casual air to the room, and hanging lanterns and flat-screen televisions light the space. While guests feel like VIPs at their tables, the cooks bake and grill a selection of traditional Italian comfort fare that occasionally feature modern twists, as embodied by oven-crisped pizzas with truffle oil, soft-poached eggs, or digital pasta.