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The Dish

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Eddie Merlot’s retools lounge menu

A restaurant best known for its delicious steaks and fine dining atmosphere has just debuted a new lounge menu.

The new menu at Eddie Merlot’s (1502 S. Illinois Road; 459-2222) – which features burgers, entrées in the $6.50-to-$8.50 range and a variety of martinis, cocktails and wine-by-the-glass options – is meant to attract the after-work crowd, head chef Matthew Nolot says.

The restaurant first started to offer a lounge menu about a year and a half ago, and this new collection came out last week. Already, the restaurant is seeing favorites emerge: the Gotham Philly steak sandwich, barbacoa beef tacos, prime beef sliders.

And the chicken and waffles.

The menu item was foreign to this born-and-bred Midwestern gal, but the dish is a common and popular one in the South, Nolot says. Eddie Merlot’s version includes three mini waffles topped with buttermilk-fried chicken strips, all drizzled with hot sauce and maple syrup.

“It’s like eating a biscuit with fried chicken and honey,” Nolot says.

The restaurant, which typically is not open for lunch, will also be open from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. today for Administrative Professionals Day. Lunch runs $22 and includes a buffet with do-it-yourself pasta, salad, chicken and more. Diners will also be able to take advantage of free massages and makeup by Ravenscroft Beauty College.

Tea house owners retire

Sue Shull and Karen Starn, co-owners of The Peony Tea House (503 W. Wayne St.; 426-4832), are retiring. Their final day serving lunch will be May 25.

Shull’s husband and Starn both have health issues, Shull says, and her mother has severe dementia.

“(The tea house) was my little baby,” she says. “It’s going to be bittersweet to leave. I know I have to go to take care of family matters, but I’m going to miss all the people and miss all the fun that we had.”

The final large event will be the tea house’s Kentucky Derby party May 5. Reservations are due by May 2, and $17.02 will cover everything. Food will include hot browns, a sandwich created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Ky., that features turkey and bacon; chocolate pecan tarts; and lemon bars.

The only requirement for women?

“You have to wear a hat,” Shull says.

The tea house will remain open under a new owner, Shull says. Instead of an art gallery, however, it will double as an antique store.

Festival of Wines

The Fort Wayne County Club (5221 Covington Road) will be the host for the 26th annual Festival of Wines, presented by the Lutheran Health Services Society, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. May 4.

Tickets are $50 a person, and per the society’s request, money raised will go to Visiting Nurse & Hospice Home for patient care such as buying bariatric beds for larger patients or oxygen supplies.

“(There are) a lot of different huge-ticket items the society has put forward through the wine festival,” says Jill Law, coordinator of donor services for the home. “This group of ladies is very insistent that the money go in some way to directly impact the care we give the patients.”

The festival will feature a variety of distributors that will each offer wine tastings.

For tickets, call 435-3222 or stop by the Visiting Nurse & Hospice Home, 5910 Homestead Road.

New student menu

The Barr Street Café, which is run by culinary students at Anthis Career Center (1200 S. Barr St.), has just announced its spring menu. It features five items, and everything is $7 or less.

I’ll be trying the goat cheese and mushroom chicken breast, which the menu calls “a stuffed chicken breast with goat cheese filling served in a mushroom wine sauce.”


Don Hall’s Factory is the first restaurant in Fort Wayne that will receive A Place of Hospitality certification. The certification is in conjunction with Bill Marvin, a Seattle restaurant doctor.

“He came and taught our wait staff tips on how to improve your tips, cashing in on the complaints (and how) to build your hospitality,” dining room manager Sandy Presson says.

The wait staff is in the process of an eight-week online course for improving hospitality. As soon as the courses are completed, the restaurant will receive the certification.

Factory managers had read Marvin’s books, Presson says, and they decided to bring the consultant in to work with their employees.


Red Rooster on Lower Huntington Road has a “closed” sign posted, according to a reader call-in. The phone line was disconnected or out-of-service as Tuesday afternoon.


The building at 3402 Fairfield Ave. that once housed Casa D’Angelo has been bought.

New owner Dan Swartz, founder of the Wunderkammer Co., plans to use the space as headquarters for the arts non-profit.

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