Archive for July, 2015

Corndance Tavern

Friday, July 31st, 2015

Corndance Tavern
4725 Grape Rd
Mishawaka, IN 46545
(574) 217-7584

Good Food : 3.5/5 | Good Service : 3/5

The hubbie and I decided to take his parents here after a day spent in Mishawaka. We had first stopped here back in 2012 and decided this would be a good choice for us and his parents & to re-fresh our opinion.

One of the 4 dates that came in the Medjool date appetizer.

Disappointing is a polite way to describe our visit.

We started by ordering the Medjool date appetizer. Described as stuffed dates with smoked almond, blue cheese, an aged basalmic reduction & wrapped in Nueske bacon, they sounded great. What we got was 4 pieces of stuffed Medjool dates. Sure they were wrapped in bacon but each date was no more than 1″ in length. At $9 this was $2.25 per date – a pricey amuse bouche for our party of 4. And where was the smoked almond? was it hidden in the date, or supposed to appear as crushed almond pieces on top?

The Corndance salad we ordered had wilted lettuce pieces and was swimming in a pool of salad dressing. Yes there was balsamic in the dressing, but that was all that we tasted.

Kitchen coordination also fell flat in terms of dish presentation and composition. The roast chicken dish that my mother-in-law got (pollo rico) was described as an inca spiced rotisserie chicken, accompanied by wood roasted garlic steak fries, and a vegetable medley. What showed up was half a roasted chicken on top of 4 (we counted them – only 4!) french fries in a pool of au jus – no side veggies.

Note the lack of onions or garlic fries - just a lonely steak w/ a smear of BBQ sauce.

The flat iron steak dish listed on the specials menu sounded great Рa dry aged steak with truffle oil, saut̩ed pearl onions and wood roasted garlic steak fries . I was told I got to choose 2 side dishes, which I thought odd for a special but did not turn this opportunity down. When I got my plate, the only items present were a lonely steak topped with some julienned green onion, next to a smear of chipotle BBQ sauce. No sign of the truffle oil, onions or fries that drew me to order this dish Рjust a bare spot where these items should have been. The coleslaw and broccoli that I choose as my 2 sides also fell flat Рlarge pieces of flavorless cabbage and broccoli that still tasted raw with no salt or seasoning.

When we got the bill, we figured out what had happened – our waitress did not realize I had ordered the flatiron steak special, but assumed I was ordering the regular flatiron steak offered under their steak menu. So we weren’t charged the price of the special version – a small saving grace – but our impressions of the steak weren’t that great either.

Since Corndance touts a rotating seasonal menu, this is a big faux pas in the restaurant’s level of customer service training for their wait staff. Our waitress should have known what specials were being offered that night, and should have asked if I was ordering the regular flatiron steak or the flatiron special.

Service was also lacking – while we understand going to a restaurant on a Saturday evening on a busy road near a major shopping area can result in slow service, we had to wait a significant amount of time for our waitress to take our order. And this was before our dining area was full, and before a large party got seated next to us.

While I am all for supporting local businesses, these multiple gross oversights were inexcusable. The fact that the kitchen staff was blatantly sloppy or intentionally skimping entree components is an affront to the customer, as the menu pricing is supposed to reflect a higher level of food preparation and the locally sourced ingredients. Corndance touts a rotating seasonal menu, so our waitress should also have known what specials were being offered that night and should have confirmed if I was ordering the regular flatiron steak or the flatiron special. Not catching this tells me that the restaurant is not setting aside time to prep/educate their wait staff on what is actually being offered that day.

What made our experience worse is that the owners boast of their experience working in various Chicago restaurants before opening 4 businesses (including this one) in Indiana. I understand that Northern Indiana is not known for high-end restaurants. But that doesn’t give a restaurant an excuse to dumb down their level of service for a perceived lower clientele expectation. The local private Catholic university brings in lots of high-dollar spenders during the football season, so we do see a fair amount of educated out-of-town diners in this area. And our proximity to Chicago brings that population to our area during the tourist season.

A restaurant should never assume that diners will tolerate a lower level of customer service or food quality & presentation because of their geographical location. What matters at the end of the day – a dedication to delivering well-prepared food and good customer service, no matter whether you are a Michelin-rated restaurant serving 5 course menus or a simple mom & pop restaurant offering local specialities.

Unfortunately, our 2 visits to Corndance have shown that they are not able to consistently deliver in either area. We won’t be going back.