Sampler at Brown’s
Bread Basket Restaurant

Faced with all of the vagaries and nascent opportunities of encountering a good meal out with the loved ones, even the professional diner is sometimes comforted by a friendly, relaxed atmosphere, the variety of a full menu with daily specials and the lure of home-style cooking.

Accordingly, I gathered up the easily available segments of my family unit and trundled them off the Brown’s Bread Basket, Brown County’s newest restaurant, located at 4359 State Road 46 East in beautiful downtown Gnawbone, Indiana.

Early scouting reports had indicated a healthy number of cars parked outside most nights, which is usually a good indicator of what is to be found inside. The spacious dining room comfortably accommodates all, whether you prefer a table or a booth.

There’s nothing extraordinary, daring or confusing about the menu at the Bread Basket—just lots of good choices with something for everyone.

The menu invites you to “Gnaw Away!!!” at Gnaw Bone “appateasers” like: loaded nachos, potato skins, onion rings, or chicken strips. Every visit begins with the waitress bringing a basket of home-baked bread with whipped butter.

Under “Bones to Gnaw On,” you’ll find barbecue ribs, pork chops, or a turkey leg. Meals include shrimp or chicken breast dinners, a beef Manhattan, and fish or country fried steak.

If you’re interested in something a little more substantial, the Bread Basket offers an eight-ounce Black Angus sirloin and a nice Porterhouse steak. Sides include potatoes baked, twice-baked, mashed or French-fried, macaroni and cheese, rice pilaf, salad, slaw, or the vegetable of the day.

The sandwich menu is also fulsome, including all the usual suspects—pork barbecue, BLT, tenderloin, fish sandwich, a Reuben, and even a “garden tuna salad” sandwich “bursting with fresh flavors from Granny Smith Apples to crisp, spicy fennel.”

There’s a mouth-watering cheeseburger with bacon and barbecue sauce (“James’Favorite”), an “onion straw Black Angus burger” topped with cheese and homestyle onion straws, and a mushroom and Swiss burger.

Another favorite is the triple-decker chicken sandwich layered with bacon, tomato, and onions, made complete with a slathering of homemade Wasabi mayonnaise.

For those dining on the lighter side, the salad selections are excellent. Try the taco salad, Mandarin orange chicken salad with toasted almonds, or a chef or Caesar salad with something called “Hootie Doot House Dressing.”

The regular daily specials include: meatloaf or chicken dumplings on Monday, Swiss steak or spaghetti and meatballs on Tuesday, ham and beans or Chicken Parmesan on Wednesday, fried chicken or chicken livers on Thursday, and all-you-can-eat catfish or whitefish with slaw and hushpuppies on Friday night.

You might just want to eat there every night of the week!

And as if that weren’t enough, they serve breakfast all day long out at the Bread Basket, although popular items such as the sausage gravy or the breakfast casserole are available “while they last.”

Sometimes, to test the responsiveness and hospitality quotient of a particular establishment, I like to bring along a small child, just to see what will happen. I am happy to say that the folks down at the Bread Basket passed the “toddler test” with flying colors.

For the little ones, there’s chicken strips, a hot dog, grilled cheese, and even the classic PB&J. My great-grandson disposed of the spaghetti and meatballs with abandon and also polished up his waitress-flirting skills.

His mother opted for the chicken breast dinner, with two large grilled breasts, while Mrs. Sampler went for the grilled chicken salad with tender pieces of grilled chicken, tomatoes, hard cooked eggs, and Cheddar cheese on a bed of Romaine and iceberg lettuce.

I had the Swiss steak with mashed potatoes and the vegetable of the day, which happened to be Lima beans. I like Lima beans, although I’m sure they aren’t popular with everyone.

They are ancient beans, here before we were, first cultivated in South America before drifting northward with the Meso-Americans. By the time European settlers reached the Americas, native Americans were cultivating lima beans and other legumes, which were among the first American food finds to be widely popular back in Europe (unlike the poor tomato, which had to endure decades of obscurity before it was finally accepted as a food).

Good things come to those who wait, but as we ate our meal, I did notice one couple who came in, sat down, and ordered dessert. Just like that, right off the bat. Dessert!
I like this kind of bold, decisive thinkig.

The desserts are always good at the Bread Basket, all made “in house.” You can chose from fruit cobblers with ice cream, bread pudding, cheesecake, and a house-specialty carrot cake that is worth the trip to Gnawbone. The home-made pies are also excellent—if you get a chance at the lemon meringue, don’t miss it!

While the granddaughter wrestled the two-year-old (where do they get all that energy?), the kitchen companion and I savored our meal and basked in the domestic promise of future generations.

Our bread-basket is full and over-flowing with goodness.