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Local family diner makes for cozy, delicious lunch

Adriana Pratt | Friday, September 30, 2011

You might need to lie about its distance to convince your friends to head to the Apple Dumplin’ Inn, but once there, they’ll thank you for your crafty deception.

The warm, cozy tastes and smells of this restaurant just north of Peru, Ind., envelop not only the senses, but also the heart.  It’s impossible not to smile as you snuggle in for some toasty cider and tasty delights.

When you walk in the door, an old woman greets and seats you, just as you would expect. Cliché sayings and decorative ornaments coat the restaurant’s walls. Apple pickers walk past the tables in jean overalls and flannel shirts. A pickup truck pulls up and unpacks supplies. Time freezes for an hour as you enjoy the sweet delicacies prepared by the McClure family, who own the place.

Start with a few rounds of biscuits and apple butter, the perfect warm-up to an apple-centered meal. The homemade Chicken Salad Croissant and Pork BBQ Sandwich, both served with homemade applesauce, were hits. The Orchard Salad was a little lackluster, but the sweet cider and indulgent desserts quickly put it out of mind.

The apple dumpling, the restaurant’s namesake, was especially delicious served with a heaping scoop of cinnamon ice cream. Nothing could top the apple crisp, though. As the apples sizzled in brown sugar and cinnamon, vanilla ice cream melted all over their crunchy crust. The perfect fall dessert.

The homegrown treats go beyond the restaurant. The Apple Dumplin’ Inn is part of the McClure Orchard, where visitors can pick Jonathon, Yellow Delicious or Ida Red apples. The family also sells other fresh produce including berries, seasonal vegetables and pumpkins perfect for carving.

Though an omnipresent rain cloud guided our visit, sunnier days guarantee a chance not only to pick apples, but also to pet small animals at the farm zoo. At Christmas-time, the restaurant offers breakfast with Santa and a Christmas open house.

The inn and orchard are accompanied by a special building up the hill called the “Apple Barn,” where homemade wines and ciders are tucked next to fall décor. Sneak upstairs and enter a Christmas fantasyland that exists year-round. There are enough flashing lights and porcelain villages to cover the North Pole.  

A trip to the Apple Dumplin’ Inn and McClure Orchard is well worth the hour and a half drive, and fall is the perfect time to go. Make sure to pick up some souvenirs, like their jarred jelly, apple butter or cider.

In fact, I’m eating a bowl (or maybe three) of the McClure’s Orchard applesauce as I write this review. Indiana might not have much going on beyond its cornfields, but there’s something special about its charming farming ways. Take advantage of what it has to offer this fall by heading to the Apple Dumplin’ Inn.