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April 9, 2014

Terre Haute restaurant plans menu based on its historic site

TERRE HAUTE — A Terre Haute restaurant is hoping to combine history and good food to offer a unique dining variety as well as rekindle interest in a long-standing establishment.

The Landing at Fort Harrison rests on the historic site of Fort Harrison, named after William Henry Harrison, who served as a U.S. Army general during the War of 1812 and became the ninth president of the United States. Zachary Taylor, who served as a captain while defending the fort, became the 12th U.S. president.

Soldiers at the fort, which faced the Wabash River, used lard, flour, sugar, cornmeal and butter to make food, said Ron Mason, restaurant consultant/sales representative for The Landing.

“There was no set cookbook or chef. They made hardtack, which is like a cracker. They also made Johnny bread or journey bread, which has several names, but is like a cornmeal pancake,” Mason said.

That journey bread, along with special recipe hand-made hush puppies and cedar plank cooked fish and vegetables will be offered in the restaurant’s Sunday buffet menu in two weeks, Mason said.

Other historic food items Mason seeks to incorporate into the menu are fire-roasted corn on the cob and roasted carrots. Mason said by month’s end the restaurant plans to offer all-you-can-eat walleye on Fridays and all-you-can-eat ribs on Saturdays.

“We will add items slowly. We are trying to be unique and bring the history of Fort Harrison and food here,” he said.

The Landing restaurant features large TVs displaying historic events of the fort, along with several historic items such as an 1800s newspaper and copper skillets used over open log fires for cooking.

The restaurant area at The Landing had been vacant since August 2012, after the closing of Boondocks Steak & Seafood Restaurant.

“People seemed to have a problem coming here, but we are now offering more price-comparable food. No reservations are needed,” said Yeddula Reddy, a partner of Vigo Hospitality Group LLC, which purchased The Landing at Fort Harrison in 2008.

The Landing offers steaks, burgers, seafood, chicken, pasta, pork and lamb dishes.

“Probably our number one seller is the pecan-encrusted pork chops. They are huge pork chops with a citrus chutney,” said Scott Freeman, a chef at The Landing. The chutney is a fruit salsa of mangos, pineapple and pears.

A specialty appetizer includes pierogies, which are potato and onion dumplings served with a mushroom cream sauce. “We do everything from scratch, including all our sauces. All our recipes are from scratch, we do not get anything pre-made. We try hard to make sure everything is fresh,” Freeman said.

“Every weekend we do a different side, and everything is made in house,” the chef said. “We also do lamb, which a lot of places in town don’t provide.”

The restaurant is open Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and for Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Mason said. On Sundays, customers who bring in church bulletins can get $1 off an adult meal. If the person qualifies for a reduced price, such as a senior citizen, The Landing will donate $1 to that church, Mason said.

Reddy said future plans include obtaining a small model of Fort Harrison for a display as well as restoring two large outdoor pavilions constructed in the early 1900s near the Wabash River.

The Landing is located at 3350 N. Fourth St. and can be reached at 812-460-4000. The Landing at Fort Harrison also has a golf course, a swimming pool and a spa. Menu items and the facility can be viewed at www.thelandingatfortharrison.com.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.

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