We’ve been enjoying quite the culinary renaissance in Fort Wayne these days, and that has given rise to a culture of food fanatics. A handful of top-notch restaurants have opened in the past year, and one of my favorites is Junk Ditch Brewing Company from the folks who brought us Affine Food Truck.If you’ve lived in Fort Wayne at any time during the past few years, you are likely aware of our booming food truck culture. What began a few years ago with the Bravas Hot Dog cart parked on the corner of Wayne and Calhoun streets has exploded into a scene with dozens of food trucks scattered throughout the city on any given day. Because I try to eat (mostly) healthy, Affine became my go-to mobile lunch because they will make any of their sandwiches into a salad – an extremely fresh and delicious salad.
When I heard they were opening a brick and mortar establishment, I could not wait. The wait was worth it. Junk Ditch does not disappoint. Located in the old Korte Paper Company warehouse on West Main Street, it serves up some creatively refined dishes in an industrial warehouse setting. People from larger cities might feel like this theme is played out, but it works well in Fort Wayne which hasn’t yet been saturated with the warehouse-turned-restaurant trend. It is casual and comfortable, yet simultaneously elegant. I always feel special dining there.
The dinner menu, designed to encourage sharing, offers a nice selection of small and large plates. It also changes often, so what you savor today, may not be available tomorrow. For some, this may be unsettling. People like consistency, but for adventurous eaters this is a dream come true. I don’t check the menu online before my visit because part of the experience for me is being surprised and delighted when I get there. If that’s not your style, you can always check the website for the latest menu. They updated it regularly.
Junk Ditch boasts an “everything from scratch” philosophy, and that is certainly evident in the final entrees. Highlights from a recent trip for dinner include Strawberry & Beets Salad with fennel, arugula, nasturtium and sesame seeds; Crispy Veal Sweetbreads with charred cauliflower, tomato, lemon, thyme, pepitas and white anchovy; and Duck with broccoli, corn, onions, arugula, mint, cherries and pistachios. Junk Ditch certainly stretches one’s comfort zone by mixing flavors and ingredients you may not have thought to mix. The result is simply splendid.
Perhaps the best thing about the new(ish) restaurant is the brunch. Junk Ditch is open for brunch on Saturday and Sunday, and my hands-down favorite dish is the Shrimp and Grits, served with polenta, scallion, fried egg, bread crumbs and shrimp gravy. Another must-try is the cinnamon roll – best I’ve ever had. I suggest getting the pastry board to share. All pastries are made in-house by GK Baked Goods, and the assortment is always changing. I have ordered it three times, and I have loved it every time.
Of course, what would a Brewing Company be without beer? Last time I visited, Junk Ditch was serving five of its own house beers as well as a nice selection of guest beers. I am particularly fond of the Camelote, a dry saison.