During a recent lunch at The Golden I expected good food and a solid wine list, but what I found was even more. The Golden goes above and beyond to provide real, farm-to-fork food and cocktails in a fantastic location.

When you’re on vacation you can stroll through downtown and stop for a late lunch and a glass of wine. Think of this restaurant review as an afternoon vacation had by a local.

Here’s a rundown on why The Golden impressed me on my first (but certainly not last) visit:

The Golden - Fort Wayne, INWhen I walked in I noticed the wine wall first. An extra-large wine rack with a rolling ladder is embedded into the west wall and reminded me of the library in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

Because of its corner location, The Golden features two full walls of windows with street-level views of downtown Fort Wayne.

The rest of the wall space features exposed brick and is adorned with lots of art. The quirky but somehow inviting décor gave me the feeling that this restaurant has a strong sense of itself and its food.

The dining room has a clean feel with varied seating options. Near the wine wall is a community table for adventurous diners who don't mind sitting with strangers. It sounds like fun!

I sat at the bar which is decorated with fresh, seasonal fruit and offered a view of the open kitchen. Keep an eye out for the waving cat among the top-shelf liquor and all the other nuances that make The Golden unique.

I also noticed something else on the shelves that caught my eye – jars of vegetables that looked like they were home-canned. I inquired with the bartender and he informed me that The Golden cans and ferments their own veggies. Happy Day!

I had to try their very own pickled jalapenos so I ordered the green salad ($7). The bartender called it the “lightest choice on the menu” and while it was excessively healthy I still found it filling. The presentation was beautiful and included fresh greens, charred green peppers, goat cheese, basil, and honey vinegar.

green salad the golden

I paired my salad with a glass of Dry Creek Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc ($8). I forgot to taste the wine before the meal. I was overzealous about the pretty salad! With the meal, the wine was just right and held up to the good bit of spice in the salad. I saved a few ounces to enjoy after lunch and could feel the prominent acidity that made the sauvignon a good partner to the spicy greens.

the golden wine fruit

I kept an eye on the food going out from the kitchen and it seemed that the McGolden ($16) was the most popular lunch choice that day. It’s a showroom-quality hamburger made with two beef patties, fermented cucumbers, beer cheese, dijonaise, and a honey bun. I didn’t get a photo so please post a shot of the McGolden if you have one!

Service was excellent and the staff seemed happy to greet, seat, feed and inform me. They treated me like a guest, which makes The Golden is a stellar lunch or dinner choice for out-of-town guests and their hosts.

One more thing: The Golden is known for their designer cocktails. I snapped a photo of one, the “Peach Tree of Liberty,” and decided that I must return soon to find out if it tastes as liberating as it looks.

golden cocktail cropped fort wayne