Until Grant County natives Barry and Joanie Howard opened this bona fide beer-and-supper spot last year, the main reason to pull off State Road 26 into Fairmount was to place a lipstick kiss on James Dean’s grave. Still, the relative dearth of craft brews and elevated casual eats means you may have to wait in line with eager locals who start arriving as soon as this dinner-only gastropub opens. Plenty of light wood and rustic touches make a comfy backdrop to the ambitious menu of executive chef Kevin Grider, an Ivy Tech Community College grad who worked his way up the line at Carmel’s Bridgewater Club before moving on to dress up the elegant burgers and steaks at Grains & Grill that he brands, old-school style, with the restaurant logo. Grider works an impressive amount of local and seasonal produce into his crowd-pleasing menu (morels, maple, and bison in the spring), and offers not-to-be-missed nightly seafood choices such as mahi mahi, grouper, and black cod. His Jerry’s Mushrooms wear the lightest coating of Three Floyds beer batter. Sliced-up short-rib steak seared in a cast-iron pan arrives with sweet-potato hash. The “Hoosier Hot Plate,” a gut-busting celebration of Indiana grub, includes a giant pork tenderloin smothered in creamy, sausage-studded sawmill gravy. You can even justify weeknight drives with pasta specials featuring half-price wine, and Mac & Cheese Mondays showcasing nontraditional add-ins like horseradish and charred onions. An outdoor patio, popular in summer months, is sure to crowd with plenty of leather jackets and poodle skirts once the James Dean Festival rolls around in September. 407 W. Washington St., Fairmount, 765-380-0137
Mon.–Thurs. 5:30–9 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 4–10 p.m.
1 hour 15 minutes
Know Before You Go
Get there early and expect a crowd—reservations are only taken for groups of seven or more.
What’s Your Hurry?
Enjoy a hearty helping of Grant County History (and plenty of James Dean memorabilia) at the Fairmount Historical Museum, open from May to October. 203 E. Washington St., Fairmount, 765-948-4555