We love the fact that The Vine founder chooses to locate his restaurants in up-and-coming neighborhoods to help revitalize the cities' downtowns (there are also locations in South Bend and Plymouth, Indiana). While each setting is unique, all three restaurants shine in beautifully restored 19th-century buildings. This Elkhart location has a chic, European feel to it and, in warm weather, an outdoor patio. As its name implies, The Vine emphasizes its wine list. While not terribly long or inventive, it does include some nice varietals, including a Cakebread Chardonnay from California, a Silver Oak California Cabernet Sauvignon and a celebratory French Veuve Cliquot Champagne. The restaurant also pours a revolving menu of about 20 wines by the glass.
From the food menu, we especially liked Mike's Hot Crab Dip, the restaurant's signature appetizer. It's a blend of crabmeat and mildly spicy sharp cheddar served with garlic toast. Entrees at The Vine run between $9 and $25 and emphasize red meat, seafood and pasta, including pasta ala bowtie (bowtie pasta in a white wine, garlic and herb reduction sauce, with sun-dried tomatoes, chicken, asiago and Parmesan for $9) and Cajun-style salmon filet. The Vine also serves lighter dishes for smaller appetites. Specialty pizzas include the Tuscan Vineyard with Alfredo sauce, basil chicken, bacon, spinach and tomatoes. Sandwiches include a turkey sandwich topped with bacon and asparagus and a Cajun grilled mahi on a French loaf.