It takes a certain amount of courage to keep driving along the curving, dipping rural-Batesville asphalt for the nearly two miles after satellite mapping goes AWOL and before Pete Hillenbrand’s low-slung, timber-framed restaurant appears on the side of the road. Inside, it’s a low-lit den of charmingly old-school Bavarian motifs with dark-paneled walls, dangling antique farm implements, and barstools upholstered in deep ruby and avocado—fancy digs for an 11,000-square-foot converted chicken coop that opened last year on the 141-acre Walhill Farm. Executive chef James Bogart, who trained at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Portland, procures as much as he can from local sources (including the grounds themselves), plating sophisticated farmhand fare like a slivered-beet salad tossed with garden lettuces and soft clumps of goat cheese, a pork chop with sauteed pears and caramelized fennel, and a noble filet mignon on a mound of rough-mashed potatoes. Dessert might be flourless chocolate torte topped with hazelnut buttercream and pickled sour cherries, or pineapple-and-mango bread pudding enjoyed with a $2 pot of French-pressed coffee. If you need an excuse to come back sooner rather than later, get in on Friday night’s live music and foodie events like August’s Bacon Blues & Brews music-and-art festival. Tues.–Sat. 11 a.m.–midnight. 857 Six Pine Ranch Rd., Batesville, 812-934-2600, walhillfarm.com
While in Batesville, check out ...
Wagner’s Village Inn: Known for its peppery fried-chicken dinners made in cast-iron skillets, this old-school tavern in the nearby “village of spires,” Oldenburg, also makes its own raw sauerkraut. 22171 Main St., Oldenburg, 812-934-3854
Big Four Cafe: This downtown-Batesville spot with the railroad theme serves light cafe fare (Benedicts, stuffed French toast, salads, wraps, and flatbreads) inside a renovated furniture factory, Romweber Flats. 121 S. Depot St., 812-932-3687
Schmidt Bakery: In addition to the full lineup of sinkers, Whopper Pecan Rolls, alligator coffee cakes, and other forms of sweetness, this 50-year-old bakery features a special doughnut made on specific days of the week—like blueberry cake doughnuts on Wednesdays and Saturdays, old-fashioned sour creams on Thursdays, and crullers on Fridays. 125 Batesville Shopping Village, 812-934-4501, schmidtbakery.com
Photos by Tony Valainis
This article appeared in the October 2013 issue. See more Destination Dinner stories here.