Thursday, February 17, 2011

Food in the Fort (The Downtown Version)

A week ago, my wife Kathy and I decided to do a weekend staycation. We made a reservation at the new Courtyard in downtown Fort Wayne for Friday night and then it was time to pick a place for dinner.

I decided to ask for recommendations on Twitter and Facebook.

Looking for suggestions for dinner in Downtown #FortWayne Friday evening

Three minutes later the suggestions started pouring in. Here's a few of them:

We went to Bourbon Street (lower level of Columbia Street) a couple weeks ago, and it was great--unique and fun.

JK O'Donnells.

Paula's is my fav and Club Soda is awesome too!

Toscani's has an awesome chicken alfredo pizza and such YUMMY breadsticks. You can get wine and beer too! It's more casual than the others have mentioned, but my fav downtown anyway.

I say you can never go wrong with Powers! Maybe you're looking for something a little more fancy? lol

Scott- About 90% of the time I go out, it is downtown so here is my two cents worth:

Toscani - Pretty good pizza. Better than Pizza Hut or Papa Johns. Tables are close and there is little privacy - if that's your thing.

Club Soda - Always good. Food is fantastic, atmosphere is great, especially on weekends with live music. If you sit in the bar and they have live music going on it will be loud. If you sit in their four seasons room you can't hear the music. I always ask for upstairs to hear the music and have a good conversation.

Don Hall's Gashouse - Quickly becoming my favorite downtown. By far the best Hall's in the city. Its not your grandma's Hall's, that's for sure. Food is great, atmosphere is cozy. Definitely a strong choice.

Takaoka of Japan (Upstairs of the Gas House) - Food is good. If you have less than 8 people you will be dining with strangers - I love this part of the experience, but it turns a lot of people off. One BIG negative, especially if you are planning to go somewhere other than home after, is all of the grease from cooking the food in the air. You will smell like grease. Your clothes will smell like grease.

I live and love downtown. JKs is tops or Club Soda....Oyster Bar

My vote is for Club Soda. Oh wait...not a vote, a suggestion.

I love Calhoun Street Soup, Salads and Sandwiches or CS3 as it is called....they have so much more than their name implies and the Jack n Blue Hamburger is to die for!!! It is across from the Oyster Bar by the way.....They have dinner theater, live bands and more on a regular basis

We live in and love downtown too! Oyster Bar, Club Soda, Tosconi's, Paula's, Burbon St. JK's, Calhoun St. Dash In, Powers, Coney Island. But the best...The Counterman's! You need to call ahead for reservations (so I can get a carry out from one of the above mentioned!)

That last one is from an old high school classmate of mine, whom we will get together with in the very near future.

Twitter suggestions were similar with the additional suggestion of Henry's. There were also a few warnings against Champions, the sports bar and grill located in the hotel.

So, what did we do?

We checked in at 3pm, and both Kathy and I were impressed with the hotel. This is the newly built hotel that is part of the Harrison Square project that surrounds Parkview Field, home of our minor league baseball team, the Fort Wayne Tincaps.

Recently, Kathy and I stayed at a modern hotel in Holland Michigan, the City Flats, which is pretty cool. The Courtyard reminded us of that hotel which gives it high marks. The staff is excellent, the food is a different story.

We had a drink and appetizer in Champions. It was very, very warm, close to 80 degrees at the bar, so we moved over closer to the door, so we could get an occasional cool breeze. Portions were small, food was bland and expensive.

When I made my hotel reservations, I bought the breakfast package too, which was a good choice for my wallet. It was an extra $10, but Saturday morning when we got our breakfast, it would have cost us nearly $30 for what we ate, if we had to pay for it. Again, small servings, and nothing special about the food. There are too many other local choices for food within walking distance that I will recommend to out of town guests.

Now, on to the dinner suggestions and what we did....

Due to the walkways that were built, we were able to walk about three blocks inside before we had to brave the winter weather. Our first stop was JK O'Donnells, a place that we've been several time before but they were not able to accommodate our beverage request for a Long Island, so we left.

We walked to the Thirsty Camel, which was a pretty cool place in it's hay day, 20 years ago, but today, it's just a run down below average full service bar with "bar food", wings and burger stuff.

Then we walked back over to Wayne Street and Toscani's. My daughter Rachael was the first to recomend Toscani's to me a couple years ago, but I'd never been there.

It was fantastic. A couple of beers, salad, breadsticks and pizza for $30 including tip. It was so good that on Saturday, after our weekend escape was over, I went back to pick up another carry-out pizza for dinner.

What about the others? We'll be visiting them in the months to come:

Club Soda, CS3, Coney Island, JK, Gas House, I've been to for lunch several times.

Henry's we visit about 10 times a year.

The Deck, outside of the Gas House, we also visit about 10 times a year which is a lot since they are only open for about 4 or 5 months when it's warm.

Cindy's Diner is a good place for breakfast too with it's uniqueness.

For this evening out, we decided to limit ourselves to places we could walk to in winter weather from our hotel and not to bust the bank. (Powers, by the way, is off our list. Not really into sliders).

Thanks to everyone for their ideas!

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