Experience: Bonge’s Tavern
I like to think of every new adventure as an “experience.” This was certainly the case on Saturday when we made our first visit to Bonge’s Tavern in Perkinsville, Indiana.
When discussing possible destinations for our double date dinner this past weekend, Bonge’s came up, which got me extremely excited. My #SOTP friends and I had planned on making a trip out to this restaurant back in February, but due to our busy schedules, we were forced to cancel. I knew it was supposed to be an “experience,” so my vote was cast and away we went.
A little history on Bonge’s:
- Opened in 1934. Before being a restaurant, the 68-seat eatery was a former hardware store.
- Chef Tony Huelster has ran a number of restaurants, including Foxfires in good ol’ Muncie. He and his wife took over Bonge’s in 1999.
- The restaurant suffered a lightning strike in 2000 that forced the restaurant to close for 4 months.
- Strict ‘no reservations’ policy for parties less than 10.
- Pre-dinner tailgating is such a ritual that people often show up before 430p to secure a spot for later in the evening.
- Grossed over $1 million in sales in 2009 alone.
- Cuisine: hearty American similar to that found in an upscale steak and seafood restaurant.
- Attire: casual.
I should’ve been prepared for this “experience” when we were instructed to pack some lawn chairs and a cooler of alcohol/ snacks. I thought we were just going to dinner??
We arrived at 545p. The parking lot was already packed to the gills. Clearly we didn’t get the memo to arrive early. A parking attendant directed us to a teeny tiny parking spot and we immediately got to tailgating.
The people who arrived before us were prepared beyond belief. Full bars, dishes to pass, tables & chairs, oh my. Clearly they had done this before. I guess when you’re looking at a 2-3 hour wait, one should come prepared. Such is Bonge’s.
Our spread looked a little something like this:
Midway through our tailgate, I mosey’ed around to take some pictures.
After the beers were gone (which didn’t take long), we cracked a bottle of white.
And just before 9pm, we finally were invited inside to take a seat! Wahoo, dinner time! Throughout the tailgate, we were continually reassured that the wait would be worth it. I sure hoped so.
The atmosphere was cozy as all get out. Wooded walls. Soft lighting. A rustic smell. And people were just genuinely happy to be there. Smiling faces all around. Laughter booming throughout. You felt the energy just walking through the doors. Even the restrooms were fun, with pink walls (at least in the little girls room) and a Sharpie resting on the sink for you to sign your name before you leave. Believe you me I did just that!
After being seated, we were directed to a giant chalkboard above the bar, displaying the evening’s featured entrees. What to choose?
After another bottle of wine was ordered,,
,, we started off our feast with a sauteed mushroom appetizer.
Next up, I chose a personal favorite, an iceberg salad with blue cheese dressing. The hubs opted for the tomato soup, also a delicious choice. Oh, and you can’t forget the jalapeno cornbread. Holy yum.
For my entree, I decided on the Perkinsville Pork. Marathon diet? Out the window tonight. Bring on the politically incorrect meat!!
I made it through about one cut of the pork (meaning one slice off the end) and called it a night. I do love a good fried piece of meat, but not the entire serving. C’mon now. Delicious as it was, I do know my limits. Plus, I had to save room for dessert!
Chocolate crusted sugar-cream pie with sour cherry topping and an obvious side of joe. Perfection.
Overall restaurant rating: two thumbs way up. Bonge’s was an absolute blast. We were very happy campers come meal’s-end. Full bellies and happy hearts. And most definitely worth the wait.
An experience it was. I already can’t wait to go back. And not just for the food,, definitely have some tailgating ideas in mind. Cornhole anyone?