June 4, 2015
Fort Wayne is a playground for foodies if you look beyond the chain restaurants. We have an adequate selection of locally-owned fine dining establishments, and now we can add another to the list: Black Canyon, located in the former Oyster Bar space at the corner of Lima and Dupont roads. While this is territory typically out of my bubble, after hearing rave reviews from several trusted sources, I ventured north to give it a try.
Restaurants in strip malls usually do not hit my radar. I find their atmosphere lacking, and in most cases the food follows suit. Black Canyon bucks this trend. I have no idea how much money the owners invested in the remodel, but from a consumer’s perspective, it was worth every penny.
The patio out front boasts ample seating and a beautiful stone fireplace. (Hooray for more outdoor dining options!) Once you walk through the front doors, you’ll forget you’re in a strip mall. The décor is upscale and modern, with a nice open floor plan with tables and large booths. The bar is my favorite area. It is located just to the left as you walk in and features seating in the round with a full view of the kitchen. I love watching the hustle and bustle that occurs in a busy restaurant kitchen.
The décor isn’t the only thing that wowed me. The food and drinks are on point too. The cocktail menu features a nice selection of wine, bourbon and signature drinks, and while the food menu is on the smallish side, it offers a nice variety of salads, sandwiches, and entrees.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Bao Steamed Buns ($7): Steamed buns stuffed with traditional Asian barbecued pork, Hoisin and oyster sauces, brushed with sesame. I love ordering steamed buns because they typically come to the table inside the bamboo steamer, as Black Canyon’s version did. It is kind of like unwrapping a gift on Christmas morning. I enjoyed this appetizer from presentation to taste, even though they were a bit on the sweet side.
Tex Mex Egg Rolls ($6): Crispy egg rolls stuffed with chicken, peppers, corn, spinach, tomatoes and black beans, served with house made avocado buttermilk ranch and barbecue sauce. I would not have ordered this if it weren’t for my dinner companion, but I am glad that we did. I’ve had them on two separate occasions, and both times they were prepared impeccably: nice and crispy on the outside, fresh and tasty on the inside. I especially like the avocado buttermilk ranch sauce.
Avocado Kale Salad ($11): Kale, both fresh and grilled, tossed with house-made avocado lemon dressing with edamame, cashews, cranberries, cherry tomatoes, crispy carrots, avocado and crème fraiche. Including a combination of grilled and fresh kale is genius. It’s basically like summer in salad form.
Thai Steak Salad ($14): Napa cabbage, udon noodles, mesclun greens and beef tenderloins, gently folded with peanuts, carrots, avocado, cherry tomatoes, scallions, toasted coconut and fresh mint. The flavors and textures in this dish are spot on and complement each other well.
Tomato Mozzarella Salad ($11): Sliced heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil and red onions. Sadly, this salad failed to impress me. The tomatoes were mushy and small, and the dish was too salty overall. I’ll give it another try this summer when tomatoes are in season because I love tomato mozzarella salads, and based on how much I enjoy other dishes at Black Canyon, I am not going to rule this one out.
B&B Burger ($12)- An equal blend of in-house ground chuck and ground bacon topped with cheddar, blue cheese, chipotle mayo and avocado. One word: Yum! This tastes like a $12 burger should taste, and I love the salty, crunchy taste and texture of the bacon. This is a must try – and make sure you get it with the skinny fries. My only suggestion: ditch the pretzel bun. This would be much better on a fresh-made traditional hamburger bun. The pretzel bun was chewy and made it difficult to eat the burger.
Fish Tacos ($14): Wild caught Mahi Mahi in a warm flour tortilla with avocado, queso fresco, chipotle crema, cabbage and diced tomatoes served with black beans and rice with jalapeno. While these aren’t my favorite fish tacos in town (Paula’s still holds the title), these rank right up there. The fish is mild and not too fishy and pairs well with the fresh avocado, cabbage, and tomatoes.
Prime Rib ($25): 18-oz. bone-in, carved to order with a fully loaded baked potato and house-made beef au jus. I am a big fan of prime rib, and I’ve been on a mission to find the best in town. I don’t know if I am ready to bestow the title on Black Canyon’s version, but it is pretty darn tasty.
Tri-Tip ($17): 9 oz. cut of marinated sirloin, in-house cold-smoked, finished to temp over hardwood, served sliced at a bias with a loaded baked potato and roasted cherry tomatoes. I didn’t know what to expect from this dish, and I was floored by the complex flavors presented in the meat. The smoky flavor comes through and finishes nicely with a hint of hardwood. It is the most unique steak I’ve ever had.
Black Canyon is a welcome addition to the fine-dining options in Fort Wayne. If you’re interested in giving it a try, I suggest stopping in on Craft Beer Sunday or Martinis on Monday to enjoy discounts on drinks. The restaurant is also open for lunch Monday through Saturday.