Dining Out

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Reader seeks out quiet spot

Of all the things I am thankful for, my readers are No. 1.

So this week, I thought I would answer some of the best questions I have received recently through email and Twitter:

I have a unique question for you. I am hearing impaired and noisy restaurants are my bane. I’m always looking for quality restaurants … that are quiet enough for me to conduct a business lunch or enjoy a conversation with members of my family.

Would you be willing to give me your recommendations of several quiet restaurants with decent food in all four quadrants of the city and downtown? – Greg, Fort Wayne

A nice quiet place is hard to find these days. With TVs planted in the corners of nearly every restaurant and places pushing their capacity to get as many diners in as possible, there is always a roar it seems. But I will give it my best shot covering as many areas as I can.

•Downtown – Toscani Pizzeria, 120 W. Wayne St., is a cozy little place where it is easy to converse, and it has the usual array of Italian offerings.

•North – Trolley Steaks and Seafood, 2898 E. Dupont Road, has a classic upscale and quiet atmosphere and features upscale flavors at pretty modest prices.

•Southwest – A couple of places in Covington Plaza, 6410 W. Jefferson Blvd., fit the bill: Yen Ching, offering Chinese food, and Taj Mahal, which has tasty Indian fare. Also, Don Hall’s Tavern at Coventry, 5745 Coventry Lane, is pretty quiet.

•Others – Casa Ristorante Italiano, 4111 Parnell Ave., across from Memorial Coliseum, is a nice quiet place for Italian, as is the Casa at 7545 W. Jefferson Blvd. Liberty Diner, 2929 Goshen Road, is relatively quiet and has a closed-off room in the back that can be requested to really have some privacy.

You ever walked out of a restaurant and thought, “I’m not even going to try ...”

Worst #fortwayne restaurant experience? – Michael of Fort Wayne via Twitter

Contrary to popular belief, restaurant critics are not out to put anyone out of business. I just try to tell my readers what I experienced and give an honest opinion about whether or not a place is worth spending your hard-earned money on.

And, yes, there have been a few of occasions where I have been to a restaurant with plans to review it only to change my mind. All of those instances happened when someone suggested I try a place and I went in blind.

Some places are just not worth talking about and reviewing them would do nothing but further damage what is already a struggling establishment.

As for my worst experiences, I would start with a now-defunct eatery in Maplewood Plaza on Stellhorn Road that served me biscuits and gravy made with milk that had turned. A close second was a seafood pasta dish from another now-defunct place in Chapel Ridge that was cold and had a gelatinous sauce with the same consistency of leftover Chinese when you pull it out of the fridge cold. The pasta also smelled like a chum bucket.

Top 5 Downtown FW restaurants? – Cheryl of Fort Wayne via Twitter

I am going to use a loose interpretation and not stick to the strict map designations for downtown and go by the area of downtown.

So these five make it not just based on quality of food and atmosphere, but uniqueness, historical significance and the frequency of my visits.

•Henry’s, 536 W. Main St. – To call it the best bar food in the area is kind of unfair because it is on such a higher level than most bars. It also has the perfect atmosphere and the best hamburger in town.

•Fort Wayne’s Famous Coney Island, 131 W. Main St. – It is a legend. Even if you are not a hot dog lover, you will love the old-fashioned look and feel of this downtown institution.

•Don Hall’s Old Gas House/Takoaka of Japan, 305 E Superior St. – The Gas House does steakhouse fine dining properly without being pretentious, and the teppanyaki grills in the Japanese restaurant upstairs are manned by people who know how to use them. Takoaka’s filet may be the best steak in the building, too.

•King Gyros, 302 W Jefferson Blvd – I eat here more often than any of the other places downtown – the rib tips and gyro combo is my go-to order. Yes, the gyros are perfect, but the variety of options, quality and speed of the service are what makes this place so good.

•Saigon, 2006 S. Calhoun St. – The best place for pho in the city can be had at this great Vietnamese restaurant that never disappoints.

Last meal. What do you eat and what do you drink? – Randal, Indianapolis

This is an easy one.

To eat, it would be my dear mother’s meatloaf. And to drink, a tall glass of milk from my uncle’s dairy farm; so fresh and whole I would have to skim the cream off the top.

For dessert, a slab of Mark Melchi’s delectable bread pudding from The Lucky Moose, 622 E. Dupont Road.

Ryan DuVall is a restaurant critic for The Journal Gazette. Email him at rduvall@jg.net; call at 461-8130. DuVall’s past reviews can be found at www.journalgazette.net. You can follow him on Twitter @DiningOutDuVall.

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