Blink and you might miss it – a tiny, rustic sign, which has caused many hungry, adventurous eaters to scratch their heads in bewilderment. The sign points them down the small-town roads of Perkinsville toward one of Indiana’s finest gourmet eateries, wedged between neighborhood homes, standing tall in an historical farmhouse. Bonge’s Tavern is a popular destination restaurant that has earned a solid reputation as a memorable “must go” location for hearty, regional fare and tailgating fun.
Bonge’s Tavern sits on a gravel lot that has, over time, been expanded to handle the throngs of tailgaters who arrive early to enjoy the pre-party before the feast. Diners come prepared with chairs, drinks, appetizers, and friends – all eager to share this unique dining experience. The wait is often two hours for a table, since the building can only accommodate approximately sixty-eight people at a time, and reservations can only be made for parties of ten or more. Instead of complaining, guests pry open a lawn chair, pop open a cold beer, and settle in for tailgating entertainment. The Porta-Potty perches in the corner of the lot and provides authentic tailgating relief for those downing several beverages before they are seated at a table.
The name of this Tavern is legendary, and not just in Indiana. The license plates in the parking lot tell tales of cross-country travels. People from across America flock to rural Perkinsville, excited to experience this clash of pickup truck parties followed by a gourmet dinner. Famous dishes that draw the crowds include seasonally-adjusted specialties such as: Perkinsville Pork, Harger Duck, Pork Mignon, Applewood Smoked Prime Rib, and Scottish Salmon. French fries and burgers do not litter the menu posted on a traditional chalkboard above the bar; the selections are surprisingly sophisticated when compared to the rustic setting and casual ambiance that defines Bonge’s.
Kirk Cochran, the “Jack of all trades” at Bonge’s, has been working at the establishment since the current chef and owner, Tony Huelster, bought it fourteen years ago. He explained, “I can guarantee that the last plate delivered to a table is the same quality as the first one that leaves the kitchen at 4:30. Our people are dedicated to doing it right.”
Bonge’s never compromises the integrity of its food; it is simple, abundant, well-prepared cuisine. First time visitor Mark Cassle, a traveler from California stated, “I had confidence in the chef, no matter what he made. I am a big foodie, so I know good food. I have been traveling across the country for the last several months, and Bonge’s was recommended by my friend in Florida as somewhere I must visit. The food was amazing; however, I found it fascinating that they served the dinners on dinnerware that you would get at Steak-n-Shake. But I can tell you the hype is worth the wait.”
When asked to describe Bonge’s Tavern, Fishers resident Zach Bronson offered this analogy, “It’s like a backyard St. Elmo’s.” Judd Riley recently celebrated a birthday at Bonge’s Tavern. “We try to eat at the local places as often as we can, and Bonge’s is legendary. You can’t beat the tailgating and then eating next to the people you just met,” enthused Riley.
Whether it is a birthday party, an excuse to tailgate before dinner, or just an average Thursday night, Bonge’s Tavern promises a refreshing change from the traditional upscale chains by offering decadent dinners without the stuffy atmosphere. Pack up some folding chairs, grab a cooler full of drinks, mix a dip and try not to miss the sign pointing to Bonge’s Tavern, the small town restaurant with big city flavor.
9830 West 280 North (off State Road 13)
Hours: Dinner, Tuesday-Thursday 4:30-9:00 p.m.
Friday-Saturday, 4:30-10:00 p.m.
Entrée price range: $19-$32