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Year in review 2016: Our favorite breakfasts, appetizers, soups and more of northeast Indiana

Junk Ditch Brewing's mussels small plate, was among my favorite appetizers in 2016. (File photo By Laura Weston-Elchert of The News-Sentinel)
Junk Ditch Brewing's mussels small plate, was among my favorite appetizers in 2016. (File photo By Laura Weston-Elchert of The News-Sentinel)
The Bluebird Restaurant's grilled chicken salad will please any salad lover. (File photo By Laura Weston-Elchert of The News-Sentinel)
The Bluebird Restaurant's grilled chicken salad will please any salad lover. (File photo By Laura Weston-Elchert of The News-Sentinel)
Tolon's sweet tea-brined chicken was one of the reasons that the restaurant was one of my top 2016 picks. (File photo By Laura Weston-Elchert)
Tolon's sweet tea-brined chicken was one of the reasons that the restaurant was one of my top 2016 picks. (File photo By Laura Weston-Elchert)
Olde Towne Diner's black cow (root beer float) was one of my favorites this year. (File photo By Laura Weston-Elchert of The News-Sentinel)
Olde Towne Diner's black cow (root beer float) was one of my favorites this year. (File photo By Laura Weston-Elchert of The News-Sentinel)
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

Tuesday, December 27, 2016 10:05 AM

A crop of unique restaurants has sprung up this year. The growth of northeast Indiana and, in particular, downtown Fort Wayne has produced a number of standouts. The year to come is sure to be another great one for food. But before we close the books on 2016, let’s revisit some restaurants and all the wonderful food they served.

Top breakfasts

These breakfast dishes are sure to satisfy you morning or night.

• Biscuits and gravy: Bluebird Restaurant

• Denver skillet: Bluebird Restaurant

• Western skillet: Willie’s Family Restaurant

• Cinnamon roll: Friendly Fox

Top appetizers

Appetizers are fun to share and try new foods without a big investment. My favorites were not only delicious, but creative.

• St. Andre bread plate: Junk Ditch Brewing Company

• Mussels small plate: Junk Ditch Brewing Company

• Butternut squash flatbread: Friendly Fox

• Mezzaluna: Pasquetti’s Italian Restaurant

• Flight of the bacon: One Ten Craft Meatery (Warsaw)

• Guacamole casero dip: Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant (Ossian)

• Loaded steak fries: Olde Town Diner (Leo-Cedarville)

Top soups

Soups are the ultimate comfort food, and my favorites fit that bill.

• Loaded potato soup: Comfort Food Cafe

• Corn chowder: Das Dutchman Essenhaus (Middlebury)

• Golden beet soup: The Golden

• Butternut squash soup: Tolon

Top salads

If you’ve been reading my reviews, you’ve probably figured out that I love salad. I can’t get enough, and I’m happy that northeast Indiana has so many offerings.

• Wedge salad: The Berg (Huntington)

• Grilled chicken salad: Bluebird Restaurant

• Quinoa salad: Empyrean Cafe

• Metaboost salad: Freshii

• Farm bowl: Trubble Brewing

• House salad: Laycoff’s Tavern

Top sandwiches

What do this year’s choices have in common? Massive amounts of perfectly cooked meat. These hefty sandwiches will fill you up and satisfy any meat lover.

• Frisco burger: Olde Towne Diner (Leo-Cedarville)

• Adams Stack: Lincoln Tower Soda Fountain

• BBQ burger: Willie’s Family Restaurant

• Brisket sandwich: Lucille’s Bar-B-Que

Top entrees

My picks for top entrees couldn’t be more different.

• Sweet tea brined chicken: Tolon

• Butcher board steak: Tolon

• Portabella mushroom ravioli: Toscani Pizzeria

• Sausage roll: Laycoff’s Tavern

• Meatloaf: Comfort Food Cafe

Top desserts

As I was compiling a list of my favorites, I salivated thinking about how much I enjoyed eating every single one of these. Pies dominated the list in 2015, but this year, cakes ruled.

• German chocolate cake: Olde Towne Diner (Leo-Cedarville)

• Vanilla popcorn pot de creme: Tolon

• Texas sheet cake: Charlow’s Grill

• Chocolate layer cake: Tolon

• Flourless peanut butter cookie: Comfort Food Cafe

• Sour cream pound cake: Charlow’s Grill

• Brownie with pretzels: Comfort Food Cafe

• Sugar cream pie: The Berg (Huntington)

• Blueberry-rhubarb pie: Olde Towne Diner (Leo-Cedarville)

• Christmas cookies (gingerbread, sugar & shortbread): Zinnia’s Bakehouse

Other notables

These items didn’t fit neatly into a category but were too good to leave out.

• Phosphates: Lincoln Tower Soda Fountain

• Garlic knots: Pasquetti’s Italian Restaurant

• Black cow (root beer float): Olde Towne Diner (Leo-Cedarville)

• Famous Wilson baked beans: Lucille’s Bar-B-Que

• Whipped cauliflower: Tolon

• Collard greens: Charlow’s Grill

2016 favorites

My favorites this year are a mix of old and new. Tolon is one of the best new restaurants downtown, and Lincoln Tower Soda Fountain has been serving hungry diners since the building opened in the 1930s.

This has been another exciting year for dining, and I already have a long list of places to visit in 2017. If you have any comments or suggestions for places to review, give me a call or send an email.

• Tolon: This restaurant is one of most unique places I’ve eaten in Fort Wayne, let alone reviewed. The complex flavors and creativity of the sweet tea brined chicken with waffles and the vanilla popcorn pot de creme set Tolon in a class all by itself.

• Olde Towne Diner: Another foodie led me to this place, and I wasn’t disappointed. I loved the German chocolate cake so much that I took several servings home to my family. I visited in the summer, and a black cow is a refreshing way to beat the summer heat.

• Lincoln Tower Soda Fountain: The food is tasty, and your order will be ready before you can take in all the details of this gorgeous Art Deco palace. Take a step back in time and have a giant cookie and a green river phosphate.

• Comfort Food Cafe: It lives up to its name and makes you think of Grandma’s cooking with every bite. I could have a bowl of soup and flourless peanut butter cookie there every day.

• Friendly Fox: I craved this cozy restaurant’s butternut squash flatbread, cinnamon roll and latte long after I visited. It truly is the social hangout of Southwood Park.

• Bluebird Restaurant: Breakfast is the best part of the Bluebird. The portions are hearty and sure to fill you up.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Laura Weston-Elchert at lweston@news-sentinel.com, or call her at 461-8468.

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