On our way from one roller derby tournament in Dubuque to another in Burlington, Vermont, we stopped to visit friends in Winona Lake, Indiana. Not quite 100 miles southeast of Gary, Indiana, Winona Lake reminded me of Lake Tapawingo near Kansas City, where my family used to spend holiday weekends in the summer. It was a pretty lakefront community with lots of outdoorsy stuff to do, and I spent one morning there birding in the woods near town. Between the woods and the lake is a little strip of shops, and there we had lunch at Cerulean.
Though dinner has a more extensive New American menu featuring dishes from arctic char to rabbit terrine to rib-eye, lunch consists of bento boxes comprising a main dish and three sides. I chose the sunfish flown in from Hawaii, and it was seared to perfection, the crisp edges setting off the tender interior. The sweet chili glaze (next to the spinach salad) was the only truly spicy thing in the entire lunch, which leaned pretty far toward sweet.
After the fish, the spinach greens with cardamon-spiced nuts and red miso vinaigrette was the next most intriguing dish. I could taste the cardamon, and this salad, unlike the two others, maintained a balance of flavors. The papaya salad had a nice mix of crunch and softer ingredients. It was supposed to have a spicy coconut dressing, but I never tasted any coconut; it seemed more like thousand island dressing to me, and it had no heat whatsoever. The sweet orange and almond salad was refreshing. The three salads I chose all had nuts, so they began to seem too similar. There are plenty of other sides, including sticky rice, edamame, and udon noodles, as well as a cream-of-asparagus soup that my friends loved.
Texture was definitely the strong point in my lunch. If you go to Cerulean, try to avoid overtly sweet dishes, and enjoy some of the fish that’s flown in every day.