The old Auburn City Hardware Store site is just a cool building, Bob Lebamoff says.
Situated on the courthouse square in downtown Auburn, it was built before the Civil War – 1859. There are brick walls, hardwood floors, a tin ceiling and an oak staircase. A freight elevator, at least 100 years old, is still there.
And it's all being brought back to its original glory in an effort to revitalize downtown Auburn and bring the city a fine-dining steakhouse.
Lebamoff will manage Auburn City Steakhouse, which is targeting its opening for mid-April.
“It will be a different kind of higher-end steakhouse,” says Lebamoff, who owns Bottle & Bottega in Fort Wayne.
Occupying three levels, the basement will feature a wine cellar and guests will have the opportunity to rent wine lockers. The main dining room will be on the ground floor, and the second floor will be the bar area.
Named the Davis and James Lounge, the bar is a nod to the builder of 203 Main St., Joseph Davis, and the James family, which owns the building. The second floor features a wall of windows, which let in natural light and allow guests to look out at the courthouse.
There's also a private banquet room that can seat 60 people for dinner and up to 90 for a cocktail party.
When Lebamoff first met with the James family last spring, he knew he wanted to branch out from Bottle & Bottega – “I'm a restaurant guy in an art studio,” he says – but he didn't think it would be in a steakhouse in Auburn.
But as he collaborated with the owners, he had a vision for the building and the dining experience.
Diners will be treated to a traditional American steakhouse with a menu of steaks, chops and prime rib, which will be cooked the way Lebamoff's father taught him.
“The way we cook it, how long we cook it, the temperature we cook it at – it makes it really special and unique,” he says.
Steak dishes will include a 22-ounce porterhouse and a 20-ounce cowboy ribeye. Lebamoff says the cattle will be raised in Colorado and it will be processed to the restaurant's specifications. If an order is placed on Monday, the beef will be processed that week.
Lebamoff's family itself has a storied restaurant history. His grandfather owned The Paramount Grill, and his father owned The Elegant Farmer and Lambro's among other establishments.
The menu will also include the Greek salad his grandfather served at Paramount and a Macedonian salad his dad created.
It's the “best of the best from my grandfather and dad, and I want to reintroduce that to northeast Indiana.”
The restaurant will also be open for lunch, and Lebamoff has put together a menu that will be somewhat traditional. There will be burgers, prime rib, fish items and some unique chicken sandwiches. There will also be a soup or salad and slider combination.
While craft cocktails are on trend, and Auburn City Steakhouse will serve them, the restaurant will be more of a wine house. A wine steward with more than 30 years experience will be on staff full-time to help guide diners through the list of 70 wines available.
“To make this really something special, it's an excitement and a challenge,” Lebamoff says. “I know we can execute the plan.”
The Stand reopens
As if the warmer temperatures and the rising rivers weren't signs enough that spring might be on the horizon, The Stand Coneys & Ice Cream opened this week.
The shop in Waynedale welcomed lines of guests when it opened for the season Monday.
Next to Bobick's on Bluffton Road, The Stand is known for its creative dogs and soft-serve ice cream creations. (Birthday cake-dipped cone, anyone?)
Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
New cafe opens
A new cafe is open and ready to serve the downtown lunch crowd.
The Good Times Cafe is on the seventh floor of the PNC Building, 110 W. Berry St. It took over the space vacated by Deli 620.
Offerings include a salad bar, soups and a wide variety of sandwiches, including burgers and wraps. Breakfast is also served all day.
Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
This week, LongHorn Steakhouse launched a collection of new menu items.
The grilled lamb chops feature a marinated chop that is grilled over an open flame and finished with a roasted tomato garlic-herb sauce. The Pork Porterhouse is a 12-ounce, bone-in pork porterhouse grilled and topped with garlic-herb butter.
New features include the El Dorado Chicken, grilled chicken breasts topped with housemade pico de gallo; Strawberry Pecan Salad, mixed field greens with strawberries, grapes, mandarin oranges, candied pecans, red onions, feta and raspberry vinaigrette; and Strawberries and Cream Shortcake, which layers shortcake, vanilla, cream and strawberry jam with white chocolate shavings and fresh strawberries.
• Nawa, the Asian fusion restaurant on The Landing, is now open for lunch on Saturdays. Service will be available from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
• Because of scheduling conflicts, Ivy Tech postponed a wine-tasting enrichment class previously mentioned in this column. It was scheduled to meet Feb. 22 and March 8.
The Dish features restaurant news and food events and appears Wednesdays. Fax news items to 461-8893, email email@example.com or call 461-8304.