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The Dish

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Fish dinners on menus during Lent

Lent is just past its halfway mark. For all the area’s rule-abiding Catholics, Greek Orthodox and other denominations whose followers have to give up meat for all or part of the 40-day season, that means halfway to being done with those dietary restrictions – not to mention the Facebook fasts and ignoring chocolate cravings.

To make this home stretch a tad easier, some restaurants are switching up their menus to make Fridays – a common meatless day during Lent for Christians – a little simpler.

•Red River Steakhouse (305 E. Washington Center Road; 484-0411) has a special Friday menu of fish dishes, available Fridays through April 6. The list includes fish and chips, mahi mahi, Lump Crab Stuffed Shrimp with Lobster Sauce and more.

•Three restaurants owned by the same family – Willie’s Cozy Nook (2896 E. Dupont Road; 416-0008), Rich’s Café (3411 Lower Huntington Road; 478-1996) and Harlan Café (16707 Indiana 37, Harlan; 657-1300) – have all-you-can-eat fish on Fridays during Lent. Willie’s closes at 2 p.m., but the two cafés are open until 8 p.m. The fish is fried Alaskan Pollack and served with macaroni and cheese or fries, and hushpuppies and coleslaw.

•This list could not be complete without my favorite vegetarian meal in Fort Wayne, even if it is available year-round: the Gang Dang with tofu at Baan Thai (4634 Coldwater Road, 471-2929). I don’t typically like tofu, but the flavor of the Gang Dang is so amazing, I don’t want the flavor of meat to mar it. The tofu instead just absorbs the spices already in the red curry dish. The menu describes the dish as “red curry in coconut milk with bamboo shoot, eggplant and basil.” This can be made to any spice level. I like the hot when I’m feeling feisty, but I typically go with medium.

Pizza Hut fundraiser

There’s just something about the Pizza Hut buffet. (I’m sayin’ it’s the cinnamon sticks, which I never realize I want until they’re there in front of me, and then it’s all I can do to keep from saying “Dinner, shminner, I’m having bread covered in sweet goodness and dipped in glaze for my meal.”)

Today, indulge in that buffet all you want without the guilty “I ate my weight in buffalo chicken pizza” (or is that just me?) feeling that will plague you the rest of the night because area Pizza Huts are donating a share of each buffet purchase between 5 and 8 p.m. to Turnstone Center for Children and Adults With Disabilities, which provides programming meant to empower those with disabilities.

Participating Pizza Hut locations are in Fort Wayne, Angola, Auburn, Berne, Bluffton, Columbia City, Decatur, Huntington, Kendallville, New Haven, North Manchester, Portland, Wabash and Van Wert, Ohio.

New eateries

•A new DIY frozen yogurt shop is opening on the northeast side of Fort Wayne. Yum Yums Yogurt U Make (10454 Maysville Road; 403-5793) will celebrate its grand opening this weekend. The yogurt shop currently features 10 frozen yogurt or sorbet options – soon to be 12 – and myriad toppings. Yum Yums also has what it is calling a Fruit Slush Bar – think gas station slushies, but with 100 percent fruit – and treats for Fido; yöghund doggie yogurt is available for takeout.

•Nino’s Bar & Grill (6247 Bluffton Road; 478-1101) opened Tuesday. The Mexican restaurant touts its family-friendly atmosphere and chips and salsa.

“You won’t find (anything like) it anywhere else in Fort Wayne,” manager Jose Nino says.

Instead of corn tortillas, Nino’s uses a flour tortilla.

“It cooks so good, and it’s so different,” Nino says.

•Mad Anthony Brewing Company is opening a barbecue restaurant next month. Shigs In Pit BBQ is scheduled to open its doors April 10. It will have a small indoor seating area – about 50 seats, part owner Jeff Neels says – and counter service. The menu will include a full lineup of smoked meats, including St. Louis-style ribs, brisket, sausage, pulled pork and chicken. Diners will have their choice of three sauces – mild, hot and spicy, and a tangy vinegar-based sauce – and Shigs will have a heavy emphasis on carryout and catering.

And because I know you’re wondering what a Shig is: Neels says he and some friends were jotting down name ideas on a napkin over beers when they came up with “Shigs In Pit.” It’s an anagram, a play on words.

You’ll figure it out.

The Dish features restaurant news and food events and appears Wednesdays. Fax news items to 461-8893, email jyouhana@jg.net or call 461-8462.

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