Let’s Spoon

Summer is upon us.  We are in the last few weeks of school.  The weather is warm and thunderstormy.  Game of Thrones Season 6 has started.  It is the perfect time of year for fro-yo.  The greater Bend area has a lot of good ice cream options, but none are as hilariously named as Let’s Spoon. Located right next door to Notre Dame, it is in the plaza near Dominos (and where Quincy’s used to be)*. And puns aside, they also have some damn fine dessert options.

IMG_4491On Sunday, my friends Alan and Sasha joined me there for my first frozen yogurt of the season.  The place was jumping—we were followed in by a dozen so Notre Dame students.  After sampling the watermelon flavored option (too weird), I opted for plain vanilla with heath bar and butterfingers.  Let’s Spoon has an expansive topping bar, and usually some wacky options for dressing your yogurt.  The outdoor patio seating is especially great on warm, muggy summer nights.

The staff are super friendly, and Let’s Spoon has a great, low-key community meet up vibe.  It is very kid friendly (and friendly to those of us who are kids at heart).  And because it is yogurt, you can pretend its healthy?


*We really need a Quincy’s replacement coffee shop near Notre Dame!



Potawatomi Zoo

One of my favorite ways to spend a warm spring or summer afternoon is by walking through the Potawatomi Zoo. The zoo, which opened April 1 for the season, offers a variety of interactive exhibits and special events throughout the year that are entertaining for both children and adults.


Adults can have fun too

The zoo has many crowd favorites, including the lions and tigers (oh my!), but it doesn’t have some of the larger animals, such as elephants and giraffes. On our most recent visit, I noticed several new additions to the zoo, including the Endangered Species Carousel, which the kiddies seemed to enjoy, some baby animals (the Takin baby was super cute!) and the chance to meet some creatures up close during the new animal encounters. We happened to run into a fennec fox on a leash who was super excited to see a chipmunk while being led around by a zoo keeper.


Watch out for the lions!

Every time I go to the zoo I encounter my inner child in the petting zoo. Have I mentioned that I love goats? I also love to feed the giant koi. Make sure to bring some quarters to get fish and goat food. There’s also a really cool exhibit where you get to walk through the kangaroo pen. My friend enjoyed seeing the red pandas.

In the fall, the Potawatomi Zoo hosts Zoo Brew, which is one of my favorite events of the year in South Bend. For about $40, you can sample unlimited craft brews and snack on food samples while wandering through the exhibits.

The Potawatomi Zoo is one of the best small zoos that I’ve been to. It provides hours of entertainment for both children and adults. It costs $9.50 for adults and $7.50 for children. If you frequent the zoo, consider the zoo membership for unlimited visits.




Temper Grille

On Wednesday after work my friend Sonia and I hit up Temper Grille for dinner. Temper is up in Granger, very close to Costco and Aladdin’s.  Despite the fact that I end up in that neck of the woods weekly (because of my Costco problem), I’d never been in to Temper.  I explain the omission as some combination of my being intimidated by the angry name of the restaurant and my typically being already full from free samples after my Costco run.

Anyways, don’t overlook Temper.  The food is incredible, the prices very reasonable, the vibe is cool (and not at all angry), and it is a great option out on the Granger/Mishawaka border.  This particular night they were running specials on their craft beers, and I had the chance to try a new and really nice porter from a brewery up near Detroit.  (Forgot the name!)

IMG_4471 2

As usual, ate most of the food before remembering to photograph it…

Dinner at Temper is tapas style.  We split a hummus platter, some edamame, and the ahi poke.  The latter came with a condiment called “Real Wasabi”… I guess because it wasn’t just a horseradish-esque ersatz wasabi?  Whatever it’s ontological status, it was really good.  And the rest of the menu seemed interesting (lamb pops? scallops?  steak bites?).  Meat-heavy, so perhaps not the best bet for our vegetarian readers.  I’m already planning a trip back.

We had no problem getting a booth on a Weds night, but they take reservations which might be a good bet on busier weekends.


It’s a beautiful day, Benders!


Get off your computers and your phones!

Go explore!


There are parks to enjoy, like Howard Park, along the river!

There are runs to take! Adventures to make!

Shed your winter coats at the door, head out, and find something about South Bend that makes your heart sing.

And by the way, this looks promising…


More to come…

…after we spend some time rolling in the grass and cooking something on the grill today!



Kalamazoo Part 2: Bell’s Eccentric Cafe


Reuben & Mushroom Brie Burger

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my trip to the Air Zoo, an awesome interactive aviation museum and amusement park just outside of Kalamazoo. After spending the afternoon wandering through the hangars filled with colorful planes and riding on the carousel and balloon rides, it was time to check off an item that had been sitting on my bucket list since I moved to South Bend – visiting Bell’s Eccentric Cafe.

There are few beers that I enjoy drinking more on a warm summer day than an Oberon, Bell’s  seasonal summer wheat ale. I’ve been enjoying Oberon for years, and had always wanted to go to Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo to check out their selection. While Bell’s most popular beers are now widely distributed throughout the Midwest, Bell’s Eccentric Cafe offers a variety of small batch beers that are only sold at the brewery.


Buffalo Chicken Dip

We decided to start our visit by each ordering a flight of five small tasting glasses of beer. This provided us with the opportunity to try multiple beers that are regularly on the menu as well as some that are only available at the Cafe. One of my favorite specialty beers was the Mole Stout, which was on rotation that day.

In addition to ordering beer, we also got a couple of appetizers – the Fried Brussels Sprouts with parmesan and lemon and the Buffalo Chicken Dip served with pita. Both were sizable portions and had excellent flavor. For dinner, our group ordered the Mushroom and Brie Burger, Jam Burger, Reuben, and Fried Whitefish Sandwich. Everything was good, but the Jam Burger covered in bacon onion jam and tomato jam was definitely the best. The flavor was excellent.

I would highly recommend a stop at Bell’s Eccentric Cafe if you’re visiting Kalamazoo. It’s a fun place to go for a pint and enjoy a yummy lunch or dinner.



The Morris Performing Arts Center

Morris Theatre

Morris Theatre

The Morris Performing Arts Center is South Bend’s architectural and entertainment gem. Built in 1922, the building houses a 2,200 seat theatre that attracts a variety of national touring acts, including musicals, concerts and other special events. There’s also a bistro in the basement and the Palais Royale ballroom upstairs. The interior is absolutely beautiful and features intricately carved details reflecting a variety of architectural styles.

The Morris brings in some great performers. Last weekend, I had the opportunity to see a Grammy winning rock/bluegrass band, Old Crow Medicine Show, perform at the Morris, which was excellent. It also provided a fascinating people watching experience. To my left sat an 80-year-old woman who frequented the Morris for the Broadway musical tours. To my right, sat a VERY large man in denim bib overalls and a camouflage t-shirt drinking a 22 oz Bud Light. I don’t think the Morris crowds are usually that interesting, but the shows are fun nonetheless. Also, if you’ve never heard of Old Crow Medicine Show, check them out.

I’m looking forward to finally seeing The Book of Mormon, which will be doing a one week run at the Morris at the end of this month. Other upcoming shows include Wicked, Blue Man Group and the Tedeschi Trucks Band. Check out the full list of events on the Morris website.


New delights at Corndance Tavern

We’ve talked about Corndance Tavern before, but this gem in Mishawaka is totally worth talking about again. Especially since they have a creative new pastry chef!

Last week, we visited Corndance on Friday night, after one of those “hangry” conversations you have where you’re both starving and everything but nothing sounds good. We came up with the idea of stopping by Corndance to try their new desserts, but figured they’d be way too busy to actually get in, so we called ahead. Surprise! They had a table and all our problems were solved!

It was such a good choice. From start to finish, every dish we had was deliciously, perfectly satisfying.

We both ordered off of the Blackboard Specials menu. Sam had halibut with a parmesan and pea risotto that included fresh clams and crispy snap peas. It was rich and creamy, and the fish was perfectly seasoned with just a bit of crisp char, it complemented the risotto nicely. I had a grilled flank steak with spicy grilled cactus, and an avocado salad with homemade tortilla crisps on top. I’d never had cactus before, and it was an unusual treat!

On to dessert!

Sam and I knew that Corndance Tavern had recently hired a new pastry chef (because she happens to be one of our friends), so we were sure to save room to sample some of her new desserts.

I’m so glad we did, because both desserts were really creative. They were things we’d never tried before, but both had hints of nostalgic flavors that made them instantly enjoyable. I was impressed with both.

The first was a coconut and cara cara orange tart. It was so pretty, I was almost afraid to take a bite!


The tart had a coconut crust and was topped with an edible flower. This dessert was really sweet, and I don’t usually like that about any desserts, but I couldn’t stop eating it. I kept trying to figure out what it reminded me of. Finally, we settled on one of those orange sherbet push-pops that we all ate on really hot days when we were kids! Wow! Once we realized this, it was like being transported to being 10 years old in your back yard again! It was a nice surprise from a tropically-inspired tart.



You’ll probably recognize the s’mores inspiration in this dessert right away. The surprise here was the base of the s’more—a really satisfying cornbread bread pudding. With the combination of the homemade caramelized marshmallow and the dark chocolate, this dessert was heavenly, and a great not-too-sweet counterpart to the coconut tart. I alternated bites between the two !

We actually ended up keeping half of the s’mores dessert to take home and enjoy later with coffee and a fire in the fireplace. It was so good!

I highly recommend celebrating a special evening at Corndance Tavern when you want something you can’t find at many other places in the Michiana area.