Destination Dining: The Golden

Aaron Butts brings his folk hero status to The Golden in Fort Wayne.
The Golden cook

Long before

its June opening, The Golden had a loyal following. Attribute that to co-owner Aaron Butts, whose James Beard Award nomination at Roanoke’s Joseph Decuis made him a bit of a folk hero in these parts—and beyond. But this sleekly furnished, high-ceilinged culinary showroom with huge windows framing the town’s hip new downtown scene is no one-man show. And Butts’s collaboration with his sommelier wife, Carmen McGee, and former Joseph Decuis sous chef Sean Richardson is the least of it. The bright exposed kitchen at the back of the low-lit dining room bustles like a CrossFit gym for chefs. A fire engine-–red meat slicer is poised for charcuterie while staffers stoop over sleek plates, applying the finishing touches to dishes like panko-fried headcheese and fork-tender veal cheeks on a pillow of cheesy polenta with blood-orange demi glace and a side of tiny Japanese turnips. The menu changes every day, as the staff ingredient-surfs for the freshest components. The fiddleheads and morels that garnish the veal sweetbreads won’t be around forever, you know. If you miss out on roasted baby carrots brilliantly layered with flavors (the smooth tartness of yogurt with hits of pickled currants), another night might bring something equally show-stopping, like chicken-heart corndogs, dry-aged steak frites with charred scallion butter, or the McGolden double burger garnished with fermented cucumbers and beer cheese. 898 Harrison St., Fort Wayne, 260-710-8368

Menu item from The Golden
Roasted carrots from The Golden


Tues.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–2 p.m., 5–10 p.m.; Fri. 11 a.m.–2 p.m., 5–11 p.m.; Sat. 5–11 p.m.; Sun. 10 a.m.–2 p.m.

Drive Time

2 hours 5 minutes

Know Before You Go

Craft cocktails—created by head barkeep Patti Nix, who hails from Chicago’s Michelin-starred Sepia—are not to be missed. Designate a driver.

What’s Your Hurry?

Cinema Center

, Fort Wayne’s alternative movie theater, offers deep, comfy chairs (plus beer and wine) during its matinee and evening showings. 437 E. Berry St., Fort Wayne, 260-426-3456