Every chef has a dream, a focus, of what they want their restaurant to specialize in. Some want an Italian menu, others classic French cuisine with an American twist. Other chefs will try to cater to a larger audience with a more varied menu.
In the last 10 years, there’s been an increasing upswing in the desire for less processed, more regionally obtained ingredients. Farm-to-plate, organic greens, grass-fed beef, locally sourced. More often than not, most chefs are choosing to pick these types of ingredients to craft their menus.
Aaron O’Reilly did exactly that when creating his menu for Fiddlehead Restaurant in Michigan City. For the last two years, Chef O’Reilly has taken a simple comfort food menu and reimagined it with locally sourced meats from Sims Meat Processing out of La Porte, along with greens from local area farms.
Chef O’Reilly peppers his menu with classic favorites like spinach artichoke dip, served with hot garlic toast, perogis, stuffed mushrooms and blue cheese kettle chips that he tops with bacon and chives with a side of blue cheese-bacon dipping sauce.
Sandwich favorites get the O’Reilly treatment with favorites including a Philly Cheesesteak, New England Lobster Roll, and The Hipster, which boasts spiced pulled pork, succulent bacon, creamy gouda and mozzarella cheese with a lemon-garlic aoli, candied jalepeno and Asian slaw on a pretzel roll.
No menu would be complete without some heavy hitters. Chef O’Reilly takes on a 7 oz. Grass-Fed Filet Mignon and drapes a delicious garlic butter on top, even going so far as to taunt you with the option of a Lobster Thermador. Definitely not for the faint of heart or stomach.
Chicken Carbonara, an Italian staple, is revisited by O’Reilly, choosing a twisted cavatappi pasta bed for the grilled free-range chicken breast, smothered in a decadent parmesan cream sauce, sprinkled with mushrooms, bacon and shredded parmesan and parsley.
These dishes are cooked and prepared with care and with perfection in mind. By choosing local, organic ingredients, not only is he creating dishes with a flavor profile that outstrips their more commonly sourced counterparts, he is also supporting the local economy.
O’Reilly is not just an excellent chef, he also created FERN, the Fiddlehead Employment Response Network. This is a training program with local area businesses that aims to provide training and job advancement to service men and women.
With a focus on quality, local ingredients, that not only provide incredible flavor to his artfully prepared dishes, Chef O’Reilly is also supporting the local economy and veterans with his young restaurant. Fiddlehead has quickly established itself as a leader in quality and flavor in Michigan City.