By: KENDALL ASBELL
South Bend’s recent effort to revive the city’s downtown atmosphere and attract young entrepreneurs seems to be paying off, and not just because it’s a boost to the local economy. With growing cities comes a growing demand for variety in restaurant choices, and we can only hope that this demand continues.
This week: Render Kitchen and Bar
Sometimes you find the most delightful surprises where you’d least expect them – a hidden “gem.” Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Render Kitchen and Bar in Downtown South Bend.
From the outside looking in, you notice the low lighting, tastefully hung paintings and fresh modern design of a swanky restaurant – something that may, at first glance, seem beyond the budget of a humble college student.
But upon entering, one notices that the walls are adorned with graffiti style portraits of Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse and other members of the dearly departed “27 Club.” The bartender is a hip young lady full of energy and spunk with short blonde hair and a vivacious, welcoming demeanor. And with just one glance at the menu one sees that this gem is not your normal ‘appetizers, soup, salad, entrée’ layout. Instead, the menu is organized under the tiles: Starters with Bread, Vegetables, Sea Food, Meats and Desserts.
Not exactly what you what you were expecting?
The owners are Bryan Robertson, Hilary Maich and Eamonn McParkland. Together, they wanted to introduce the city of South Bend to a unique and modern take on American cuisine, without relaying on popular Midwestern dishes (often fried and heavy in fat). Using locally sourced ingredients they have come up with a seasonally changing food and drink menu that is a great introduction to anyone interested in learning more about the art of food.
This place is not for the unadventurous. While the ingredients are simple, the dishes may be little overwhelming to someone just developing his or her foodie palette. As an example, one of their most popular dishes (and my personal favorite) is the ‘’Farm Egg, Celery Root, Tuscan Kale, Shiitake Mushrooms.”
Picturing this in your head you may not be able imagine the amazing flavor and texture composition going on in this dish. But after one look at the presentation and one bite you will instantly be curious to try the other intriguing flavor combinations on the menu.
Since the plates are small and designed for sharing, Render is a good option for light diners and drinkers looking for a fun culinary experience. Sharing and exploring different flavors can be a whole lot more interesting than simply consuming food for the sake of nourishment.
Along with the food, the stars of this “gem” are its owners. All under the age of 30 at the time of opening (last year), they are now considered “rising stars” on the Michiana restaurant scene. They wanted to bring a take on food that is edgy while still staying true to American style fare. They are more than just an example of great restaurateurs and chefs. They are an example of realized dreams. So, head down to Render for a culinary experience unlike any other in South Bend.