“ Address: 240 U.S. 20 Middlebury, IN 46540 „
Das Dutchman Essenhaus
240 US Highway 20
Middlebury, IN 46540
We spent the day exploring the Amish towns and the countryside with Amish farms so we thought it would be good to have an Amish meal at an Amish restaurant in the area. WE chose this one as it was advertised in lots of the brochures and it was on our way back to Elkhart where we were staying. We had seen it on our way to Shipshewana and it looked fairly impressive.
The restaurant is open
Mon - Thur breakfast 6am-1am
Dinner 11am - 8pm
Fri & Sat open to 9pm
Closed every Sunday, New Year, Christmas and Thanksgiving
This restaurant is part of a huge complex that has a hotel, shops and the biggest restaurant I have seen for some time, in fact it is Indiana's largest restaurant with 1,100 seats . The complex also has a bakery and other shops with gifts and a special quilting shop too. Outside in the grounds are nicely kept gardens and a couple of Amish horse carriages that you can take a tour in if you pay.
We entered the restaurant and we greeted by a young man who asked if we wanted family service or a buffet. We were not quite sure what they meant by the family service and his explanation was a bit unclear so we opted for the buffet.
We were shown to a table in the huge restaurant a bit like a canteen or like one of those in a garden centre. A young Amish lady came to ask us if we would lie to order anything to drink, no alcohol of course but we had an iced tea each. She then pointed us in the direction of the buffet.
There was a choice of hearty looking soups, a Chili tomato and bean soup, a vegetable and beef soup and a chicken noodle with thick noodles.
The first island of food had a range of salads which were all nice enough but nothing very exciting or different. Amish food is good fresh home cooking which is fair enough but this was the sort of salad that showed no imagination at all. There were bowls of lettuce, another of sliced tomatoes, another with cucumber, another with corn kernels, coleslaw , potato Salad , pickled red beets, three bean salad and so on. There was nothing very different at all, I think there was pickled cabbage and other pickles but there was absolutely nothing that was anything different or interesting but it was fresh and I was quite happy as I like salad but would have liked a bit of variety.
The next island offered good old German style home cooking. Here we had a choice of boiled cabbage, boiled potatoes, boiled beans and other boiled vegetables and mashed potatoes. I hate overcooked boiled to death vegetables so was unimpressed with these. There was also some macaroni cheese, some stewed meat, German sausages, Homemade Beef & Noodles and similar very indistinguishable dishes and that was about it. Not really very exciting at all we felt.
So what puddings did they offer? Well as someone who likes their desserts I was hoping for something a bit unusual such as whoopie pies or even donuts or cookies but there was stewed fruit medley, a mush that was a sort of trifle which not only looked like mush but was pretty bland too and some sort of fruit pie and a jelly. We found it all very disappointing.
According to their publicity the buffet menu offered:
"Their world famous crisp broasted (yes that is correct) chicken, roast beef .....and a complete salad bar." "Using genuine Amish recipes passed down through the generations create old fashioned family traditions in the 21st century. No visitor to Northern Indiana should miss the delectable home style cooking that awaits their discovery."
We had paid a reasonable price for this meal as we thought it would be a really tasty fresh home cooked hearty meal. I believe it was about £15 each in our money which in America is quite a lot to pay for a lunch and we had certainly had better meals for less in America on this trip.
The decor was simple pine tables on wooden polished floors and huge with high beamed ceilings a bit like a high barn ceiling. Around the top of the walls were hanging quilts as well as dried flowers in jars and various other dolls and country sort of decorations. It was a sort of cross between a German beer hall in size and furnishings and American country style decor.
Service was reasonably friendly but not the usual American style "I'm so and so I will be your server today etc." The staff members we met were not overly friendly or wanted to spend time taking ti you as we had found in a lot of restaurants we had eaten in when in America.
After we finished our meal we had a look at the gift shop which leads from the restaurant. I was not tempted with anything apart from the scented candles and toiletries but as they are heavy I had to be good and not buy them.
We then went to check out the bakery which had the most amazing array of huge cakes. I was very tempted but as I had already put on weight over this holiday I decided I really didn't need to try a whoopee pie!
I was taken with a display of fun facts:
"Essenhaus Foods makes up to 42 tons of noodles in 1 week and purchases bulk flour in 2,000 pound totes. Our noodles may be purchased in supermarket chains in 46 states in our Bakery and on our website."
" In only 1 week, our Restaurant-Bakery may use up to:
* 2,100 dozen eggs * 2,700 pounds of white sugar
* 60 gallons of apple butter * 3.5 tons of potatoes
* 3,600 chickens * 3,090 pounds of roast beef
* 2,990 heads of lettuce"
" Our Restaurant seats 1,100 at once, and on a busy day will serve over 7,000 guests and use 5,225 pounds of ice."
" Our Bakery produced a record number of 2,103 pies in one day."
Those are staggeringly huge figures and maybe that accounts for the fairly average food as catering in bulk never really produces the finest food.
We continued our exploration visiting the other shops which are all located in original Amish farm buildings from the early 1900's. The quilt shop was full of the most beautiful fabric and amazing but extremely expensive hand made quilts. These are an investment really, not something you just toss on any old bed.
Apparently each year, the staff decorates 40 Christmas trees in the complex so I expect it looks pretty festive at that time of year as the Americans generally decorate their homes to a very high standard for the Christmas celebrations.
WE did think of taking a horse and carriage ride but most of them are for a few hours because the horses obviously cannot go that fast and they take you out into the countryside to see the Amish farms. We had already done that ourselves in the car but it would have been nice to have an authentic Amish carriage and also to have a bit of information from the Amish man driving the carriage.
WOULD I RECOMMEND?
Well not for the food unless you like plain and rather over cooked food. It was interesting to visit the restaurant and all the shops but I do wonder how authentic the food was. Surely over cooked vegetables are a thing of the past as it kills any goodness and also any flavor too.
Not the best food we have eaten in America.
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