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Casual Charm at The Emporium

Tessa DeMers | Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Head downtown to East Bank Emporium for casual or classy dining, delicious food and excellent atmosphere.

East Bank Emporium is a restaurant located in downtown South Bend, in a quaint building full of little shops and rooms. Cute “This Way” signs lead diners wherever they may have the desire to go, giving the restaurant charm in the style of a rustic cabin.

The Emporium categorizes its atmosphere as “casual elegance,” and it is just that. Guests can choose to sit either outside or inside. The deck outside provides a relaxed dining experience with fresh air and a beautiful view of the river, bridge and the Morris Performing Arts Center (very nice when lit up at night). For a more fine-dining experience, diners should head inside for a dining room, complete with white tablecloths and romantic lighting. These two choices result in a broad spectrum of fashion in the guests dining at any particular time, from shorts and flip-flops to ties and cocktail dresses.

The atmosphere of the Emporium is a really nice. The lighting, the air, the views all add to the experience of the meal. Another important element at any restaurant is the service. The waiters at the Emporium are amazingly friendly and won’t hesitate to strike up a conversation with you. They do more than simply take your order, almost acting as if they are your old friends.

The food selection is varied, mostly American style – steaks, seafood, sandwiches, chicken dishes – and will satisfy any palate. All dishes come with delicious, hot-out-of-the-oven, doughy bread that fills your mouth with happy warmth. Another fan-favorite is the garlic-mashed potatoes, which should definitely make an appearance on your plate, no matter what your main course is.

As for the entr̩e, there is a varied selection of food from plates that center around meat to completely vegetarian dishes. If you are in the mood for steak, the Emporium has a wide range, from ribeye to filet mignon, and even within those categories, different styles of seasonings. The Cajun Ribeye is very flavorful, using a fantastic blend of seasonings that work very well together Рtake it from someone from Louisiana.

The steaks were slightly tough and difficult to cut, but that could be attributed to the fact that restaurants have very different definitions of the levels of wellness, so they were a bit more cooked than usually preferred. At any restaurant, take care to describe the level of wellness, or pinkness, you are looking for in your meat, as opposed to just giving the usual key words, like medium-rare or medium-well.

The Polynesian Chicken was full of flavor as well, marinated in a special blend of ingredients and topped with pieces of pineapple. This dish is offered either by itself with pasta or rice, or as an addition to any of the steaks – in case you are feeling significantly hungry that night.

Personally, my favorite part of any meal is dessert, and the Emporium’s did not disappoint. It had the usual selection of cheesecake, chocolate cake, and strawberry shortcake. In addition, the restaurant had a delicious chocolate take on the usual pecan pie, which came out warm and was extremely satisfying.

This restaurant is a great option if you are looking to get away from the dining hall. It has a good atmosphere for special occasions, or is simply a nice spot to meet up with some friends. And with its close proximity to the Morris, it would be a great place to have dinner before a show.

East Bank Emporium

Where: 121 S. Niles Avenue, South Bend, IN 46617

Hours: Mon. – Thurs. 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m., Fri – Sat. 11 a.m. – 10:30 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Contact: (574)234-9000