About 10 years ago, my predecessor, Carol Tannehill, wrote a review of Nine Mile Restaurant. I decided it was time to do a refresher.
It was a little strange for me, going into Nine Mile with the intent of reviewing the food. You see, we live out south, and frequently go to Nine Mile — probably about once a month.
I can attest to its popularity, as I have spent many Friday or Saturday nights there waiting with others in the lobby for a table. A word of warning: It can be chilly there.
When we went on Wednesday, seating wasn't a problem. We were ushered into the bar side, which is dimly lit and cozy, with many photographs of former patrons on the wall.
Just about every time we go to Nine Mile, we see neighbors or friends. Wednesday was no exception. Our friends were there to pick up a to-go meal, so they sat at our table while they waited.
A sign in the bar says Nine Mile is the oldest bar in Indiana, established in 1837. According to Nine Mile's website, it got its name because that's the distance between the tavern and the Allen County Courthouse.
It does feel like a roadhouse, as it's kind of out in the middle of nowhere. Its lighted sign is a welcome beacon on a dark, cold night.
The menu is varied and should satisfy the meat-and-potato lover, those who prefer fish or seafood, and the health-conscious who gravitate toward salads.
My companion and I started with appetizers. I ordered something I'd never tried — fried pickle spears with a Cajun-ranch-horseradish sauce. Five large, crispy, hot, breaded pickle spears were delivered to my table with a slightly sweet and tangy dip. Salty, sour, delicious, they made me pucker up. I could only eat two.
My companion ordered an appetizer of battered, deep-fried chicken gizzards. He polished off about two-thirds of the plate and said they were lightly battered and seasoned, not greasy, and tender. The barbecue sauce complemented them well, he said, and, when he warmed the leftovers in the microwave, they were almost as good as when they were first served.
As for me, I would not touch a gizzard with a 10-foot pole.
Wednesdays are Mexican night at Nine Mile, so I ordered the chicken enchiladas, which came with rice and beans. The enchiladas were filled with spicy chunks of chicken and topped with sour cream, black olive slices and diced tomato. The rice was slightly spicy and a nice accompaniment to the enchiladas.
My companion ordered a dinner that came with two sides. One of his choices was a favorite of his — Nine Mile's spinach salad, made with fresh spinach, crumbled bacon and crumbled boiled egg, and served with Nine Mile's own sweet oil-based dressing.
His entrée was an 8-ounce sirloin, which he said was “just a sirloin” — cooked medium, as he requested, and fairly tender. It was accompanied by Nine Mile's buffalo chips, which are thinly sliced ridged potatoes coated in Buffalo sauce or seasoning and deep-fried. They aren't too spicy, but retain the flavoring from the seasonings.
Based on past experience, I also can recommend the fried fish at Nine Mile and my favorite entrée, grilled shrimp stuffed with crab meat. The shrimp are small, but buttery and rich.
When Carol went to Nine Mile 10 years ago, she marveled at its “retro-ness” — in particular, the thick slice of Texas toast Nine Mile serves with most entrees.
In those 10 years, some things have changed at Nine Mile, including a major interior remodeling a few years ago. But I'm happy to say much is still the same, from the friendly wait staff to the chicken gizzards to the Texas toast.
Not everything's perfect there — service suffers a little when it's very busy. Recently on a cold night, I sat at a table closest to the lobby, where I could feel a draft of cold air every time somebody went in or out the door. I kept my winter coat on during the meal.
Overall — well, when a place has been in business since 1837, it's safe to say they do most things right.
Every other Tuesday, Cindy Larson describes a one-time dining experience at an area restaurant. The News-Sentinel pays for meals. This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel. You can reach her at 461-8284 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To read other columns, go to www.news-sentinel.com/ section/LARSON.