Food road trip: Finding something to love just takes planning and imagination 

Farmer Brown is located in Arcanum in Darke County. CONTRIBUTED
Farmer Brown is located in Arcanum in Darke County. CONTRIBUTED

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We are all craving a change of scenery right now and some of the smaller towns around us offer a bounty of options.

Here’s a way to spend a day with a friend, a family member, that special someone or a solo date when you’re in the market for a stirring adventure.

This itinerary that would be positively dreamy in early spring, but most of it wouldn’t be too bad this time of year either.

As always, call ahead to ensure businesses are open.

Lunch: Farmer Brown Restaurant

6363 Hollansburg-Sampson Road, Arcanum

(937) 692-8774 or famousfarmerbrown.com/menu

When you find a restaurant that is named after a dish on its menu, and the parking lot is packed with cars, you should almost certainly order that dish. Farmer Brown Restaurant in Arcanum, a small village in Darke County, has a sandwich called the Farmer Brown that’s made with steak, mushrooms, provolone cheese, lettuce, and special creamy sauce with a horseradish zing. Housed in a bright red barn with quaint country decor, the restaurant’s casual menu features a variety of sandwiches, pizza and ice cream treats. When the weather cooperates there are spots to eat outdoors and enjoy the fresh air. It’s an easygoing, tasty place to start the day.

Brumbaugh's Fruit and Fun Farm is the perfect place for a family outing, with over 23 different activities. CONTRIBUTED
Brumbaugh's Fruit and Fun Farm is the perfect place for a family outing, with over 23 different activities. CONTRIBUTED

Optional entertainment stop: Brumbaugh Fruit Farm

6420 Arcanum-Hollansburg Road, Arcanum

(937) 692-8084 or www.brumbaughfruitfarm.com

From Labor Day through the end of October, Brumbaugh Fruit Farm is open for all kinds of family fun. There are more than 25 activities included in the $10 admission price. It’s really a spot to enjoy the farm experience with kids or just walk around and take in the sights. Others come to enjoy their famous fritters, cider slushies and shopping in the market. Be sure to check the website as the market and bakery hours change with the seasons.

Sugar break: Ghyslain Chocolatier

350 West Deerfield Road, Union City, Ind.

(765) 964-7905 or ghyslain.com

One of Ghyslain Chocolatier's Valentine's Day boxes. Contributed
One of Ghyslain Chocolatier's Valentine's Day boxes. Contributed

Here’s where the romance comes in ... the beautiful hand-painted chocolates displayed and sold at Ghyslain Chocolatier are real works of art. Chef Ghyslain Maurais has a long, impressive resume, including having served as the head chef for the Quèbec Delegations in New York and London. The pastries, macrons, gourmet chocolates, chocolate sculptures, macarons and fresh breads are the kind that you find across Europe.

Union City is close to the Ohio border, so it’s a road trip, but not one you need to book a hotel for at just a little over an hour away. The boutique is open to walk-in customers or you can order online and choose local pickup and they’ll have your order ready when you arrive.

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The bright colors, hand-painted decorations, imaginative themes and renowned flavors of the chocolates and pastries make for a wonderful shopping experience that will continue giving back in flavor long after your visit. Some of their featured Valentine flavors include pistachio créme, dark chocolate espresso, dark chocolate cherry, jivara, dulce de leche coconut and Champagne ruby — a dark chocolate shell filled with ruby chocolate ganache infused with champagne.

Optional shopping stop: Union City Antiques Mall

201 N. Columbia St., Union City, Ind.

(765) 964-3203

All of this dining and shopping for food demands a transfer of energy. My personal choice would be picking through antiques and vintage goods. The Kirshbaum building in downtown Union City is a charming shopping excursion to keep your legs, eyes and brain engaged.

Dinner: The Merchant House

406 S. Broadway St., Greenville

(937) 459-4405 or www.tmhgreenville.com/eat

Two words: comfort food. If you decide to do dinner at The Merchant House you might want to consider a salad for lunch. Most of the menu will result in pleasure followed by weight gain. The Monte Cristo sandwich ($10), for instance, featured Texas toast piled with smoked turkey, ham and Swiss cheese, then coated with egg batter and Rice Krispies and deep fried, served with a drizzle of honey, powdered sugar and jelly. The Chicken Mac N’ Cheese Waffles ($19) are stuffed with bacon mac and cheese, topped with fried chicken and drizzled with honey and candied walnuts.

The restaurant features a fairly extensive menu of soups, salads, starters, sandwiches, steaks and chops, specialties like jambalaya, fish and chips, salmon and brisket, as well as 18 different Detroit deep-dish thick style crust pizzas. Housed in a handsome 1873 brick building, this is one of those destination spots that you can recommend to friends.

The Chicken Mac N’ Cheese Waffles at the Merchant House feature breaded chicken breast and seven-cheese bacon mac sandwiched between Belgian sugar waffles with candied walnuts, honey and powdered sugar. Perfect for inducing long, blissful naps. CONTRIBUTED
The Chicken Mac N’ Cheese Waffles at the Merchant House feature breaded chicken breast and seven-cheese bacon mac sandwiched between Belgian sugar waffles with candied walnuts, honey and powdered sugar. Perfect for inducing long, blissful naps. CONTRIBUTED

As with all things during these times, call ahead to be certain businesses are open, to reserve a table and to be certain there aren’t any restrictions. And if you have ideas for some exciting food-infused road trips, I’d love to hear from you and feature them in the future.

Dayton Eats looks at the regional food stories and restaurant news that make mouths water. Share info about your menu updates, special dinners and events, new chefs, interesting new dishes and culinary adventures. Do you know of exciting outdoor spaces, new exciting format changes, specials, happy hours, restaurant updates or any other tasty news you think is worth a closer look at? E-mail Alexis Larsen at alexis.e.larsen@hotmail.com with the information and we will work to include it in future coverage.

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