Monday, March 19, 2012

Bonge's Tavern - Revisit

I always forget about Bonge’s for some reason—it really isn’t that much further than going downtown for us, I guess just because it is sort of in the middle of nowhere (no offense Perkinsville), it doesn’t come to mind.  But we were celebrating my sister and her husband’s birthday and we thought it would be a fun place to go, and a place they would like as well.  If you aren’t familiar with this place, Bonge’s is an old tavern located about 35 minutes from Indy (further if you are downtown or south).  So when the weather is nice, apparently, people come and tailgate outside, often for hours, waiting for one of the 12-15 tables.  Not being a fan of drinking too much before I eat, we have chosen to skip lunch and arrive early both times we have gone (around 5:00).  Even then, the place was filling up fast.  (They open at 4:30). I like that they obviously have a fair amount of regular return customers (and I can imagine if you lived near Perkinsville, this would certainly be somewhat of a food oasis since there isn’t a lot out there).  The menu contains about 10 items to choose from, all listed on the day’s blackboard.  There are 3-4 items that are always there and the rest of them change. On weekends they offer prime rib.
We decided to take advantage of the fact that we had people with us this time and ordered some appetizers.  You really don’t need any, because you get a soup or salad with each meal, and the meals are more than generous, but someone told me the mushrooms were good, so we ordered them as well as a crab cake with remoulade (ok, don’t yell at me, I don’t have the prices for the starters or desserts, they aren’t listed anywhere and I don’t have the itemized receipt).  I loved the mushrooms.  They were a well seasoned blend of mostly Portobello and shitakes—lots of herbs and cooked just right.  And the best part, an obvious and generous squeeze of lemon on them.  Soft, but with nice crispy edges here and there and then that bright lemon. I could not stop eating them.  I also enjoyed the bite of the crab cake I had—it was very moist—not the lump crab cakes that are so prevalent everywhere, but very flavorful and I really enjoyed the slightly spicy remoulade with it.  My brother in law loved the crab cake and said he would consider getting a few of them as his entrée next time.
You get a choice of tomato soup or salad with each dinner (if you want to read about the soup, here are my thoughts on it from the last time).  Hubby and I both had the wedge with blue cheese dressing (you can also get it with raspberry vinaigrette).  It is a good wedge—it really is just mainly the lettuce, the dressing and some bread crumbs on top, but they give you a lot of the dressing, and it is really good.  Creamy and thick, but not so much so that it is hard to eat. Great blue cheese flavor.  The bread crumbs add a nice little texture variation since there really isn’t much else to it.  Pretty sure it will be my standard order at Bonge’s, although I did like the soup too.
For my main dish, I had skate wing (yay!) ($24).  It was a generous portion of skate (member of the ray family, with a mild, tender texture).  Now they told me it had a horseradish crust, and they were not kidding.  Seriously, it was mainly grated horseradish that was seared crispy on the outside.  Needless to say, it was very hot, in the horseradish-y kind of way.  Everyone else at the table didn’t care for it, and I would have ideally toned it down a bit, but I appreciated that it was at least something different.  If it was maybe just a portion of the horseradish with shredded potatoes or something as a crust, it would have been amazing. They did do a great job at getting the outside nice and crisp though.  And the interior of the fish was outstanding. Meaty and exceptionally tender.  I found taking just a bit of the crust with the fish itself was really enjoyable.  The meals all include the same sides, as far as I can tell, a potato and a vegetable.  The potatoes this time were way better than the ones I had the first time (which I remember to be just roasted red potatoes).  These were just like hubby’s grandma’s recipe for potato casserole involving lots of shredded potatoes, cheese and butter.  They were simple, and I really enjoyed them. The asparagus was steamed and well, not exciting.
Hubby (and my brother in law) had the weekend special of Applewood smoked prime rib.  It was really good.  Amazing flavor throughout—you could taste the smoke and the herby crust.  And it wasn’t overly fatty like so much prime rib can be—it was nearly all edible meat.  And perfectly pink. I can see why this is a regular menu item.  I could get serious cravings for it.  And hubby mistakenly ordered the larger size thinking there is usually a lot of fat, and neither one of them finished.  My son enjoyed it the next day for dinner though.
My sister had the sautéed scallops which were large and tender and sautéed in a lemon garlic butter (they gave you a few choices of flavors of butter to choose from).  They were also quite good.  The first time in a long time I have eaten a scallop and not gotten that gritty bite at all.  The portion was quite large as you can see from the picture, as were the scallops themselves.  I was impressed at how well they were cooked considering their size.
We also had dessert—you guys told me last time that I should have ordered the sugar cream cake last time with the blueberry topping so we did…as well as the key lime pie.  Honestly, I couldn’t decide which one I liked better, although the overall consensus was the sugar cream cake.  It was light and sweet and tasty—but I also liked the tartness of the key lime.  Honestly, a little bit of both was kind of ideal for me. 
So it’s a fun place, serving several traditional comfort food items as well as some surprisingly good seafood.  You know you are going to get really good food—this isn’t mind-blowing modern cuisine, but a place I look forward to returning to more frequently, even if we have to eat at 4:45. I’m getting older anyway right?
Bonge’s Tavern
9803 West 280 North
Perkinsville, IN 46011


  1. love Bonge's....haven't been there for awhile

    I always tell people to get an appetizer and dessert...take part of your dinner home because you need to experience everything it

    Love the soup but can't pass on the wedge. If you haven't tried the harger duck definitely get that next time

  2. Great place, love it there. Go during the winter if you want to avoid long waits. Btw, that is the leanest Prime Rib that I have ever seen.

  3. Jessica in NoblesvilleMarch 21, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    I love Bonge's, and when I'm with friends, don't much mind the summer night wait. You don't have to bring your own appetizers, but if you plan to drink while tail-gating (and why else do you tail-gate??), the food is there to keep you from getting too drunk. The restaurant can get pretty darned rowdy if you're dining after 9 pm on a Saturday ... some people just don't plan ahead and are downright sloshed by the time they get in. But it's all worth it for the soup, prime rib, duck and sugar cream cake. In the Spring, their mushroom appetizer includes morels, pure perfection!