Mission: Delightful

Lodge at Coyote Creek aims at awesome food, casual fun

New York Strip Steak, with house-made Worchestershire sauce, photography by Neal Bruns

The newly remodeled, woodsy and inviting Lodge at Coyote Creek is an unusual restaurant. It has interesting contrasts that suggest multiple visits would be a great idea.

Its bar/lunch and dinner menus are more distinctively different from most places in Fort Wayne. Its daytime atmosphere bustles with the energy of golfers from the Coyote Creek Golf Club, whose pro shop is on the north side of the building but with which it is not affiliated, and with lunch customers from the nearby businesses and industries and I-69, which is only one minute away. At night, it would feel more like a private club, and the seats on the west side of the immense U-shaped bar overlooking the gorgeous 18th green with its pond or the outdoor patio there would be the sought-after ones.

“But it’s not a stuffy place,” manager Wes Anderson is quick to say. “It’s a place where you can get an awesome meal and feel comfortable in a casual, fun environment.”

Anderson learned the business at Rack and Helen’s in New Haven, which his parents bought in 2000. He worked his way through all the jobs there to general manager, he said, after discovering how much he loves the business.

“It’s definitely not an easy business, but kind of once it’s in your blood it’s in your blood,” he said. “I think this job is no different than most. There are great days and bad days, but for the most part this is what I enjoy doing, certainly more days than not. This is what we do.”

A lot of the bar/lunch menu came to the Lodge from Rack and Helen’s and Anderson’s catering business, but the dinner menu is a first for the company. Anderson credits himself with some input (he’s a pork chop guy, he said, and asked for a pork chop dish, for example), but the menu was designed by chef Joel Webster and Paul Wellman, who “did a really nice job.

“We push the limits in terms of trends a little bit without getting too far outside,” he said.

The kale peanut salad with chicken fritters is proving popular, as is the bacon habanero mac and cheese. The BLAT bruschetta is the most popular appetizer so far. He is also proud of the sriracha-seasoned steelhead trout topped with a lemon confit (“it eats like salmon”) and the shrimp and grits (they’re white cheddar grits plus grilled andouille sausage, topped with a pan-fried egg and bacon jam). His beloved pork chop is there, too, served over a bacon beer jam.

Steak, ribs, chili, chop salad and the bar menu are also always available, and there’s a weekly features menu to select from, too. You’ll find the features on the Lodge’s Facebook page, and the bar/lunch and dinner menus are in the Lodge’s section of the Coyote Creek Golf Club website, www.ccgconline.com.

Which raises the single confusing issue. The Lodge at Coyote Creek is at the golf club and golf club members enjoy it, but it’s not the club restaurant. It’s open to everyone.

“The biggest hurdle is getting the word out,” Anderson said.

Luckily, his enthusiasm for the location is quite likely contagious. With his family business roots in the appropriately dim environs of Rack and Helen’s in New Haven, the sunlight that streams in through the big windows at the Lodge makes it a much more energizing space during the day and a lovelier one at night, too.

A friend of a friend suggested he look at the facility, which was well into a major remodeling job at the time.

“What really sold us was the remodel. They took a place that was in pretty bad disrepair and really went above and beyond and put a major investment in here to make it what it is today,” he said.


The Lodge at Coyote Creek’s BLAT Bruschetta
Makes 30 toast points

1 tablespoon roasted garlic, mashed
½ cup mayonnaise
½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Kosher salt to taste
½ cup shredded kale
1 avocado
1 Roma tomato
30 toast points (or your favorite crostini or cracker)
Balsamic vinegar reduction
9 strips cooked thick-cut bacon, each chopped into 5 pieces

1. In mixing bowl, thoroughly mix mayonnaise, vinegar, garlic and salt.

2. Core and dice the tomato. Remove skin and seed from avocado and dice.

3. Add kale, diced tomato and diced avocado to mayonnaise mixture, toss lightly to not smash the avocado.

4. Apply a spoonful of the avocado mix to each toast point, top with cooked bacon pieces and drizzle with balsamic vinegar reduction.

First appeared in the July 2015 issue of Fort Wayne Magazine.


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