So often we get the question about representing people who have been accused of a crime (and often the question comes with a sneered-up nose as if the person asking just smelled something bad). This proverbial cocktail party question comes from our fellow sisters and brothers of the bar as well as lay persons. Well, my standard answer sometimes surprises people – the circumstance is more often than not just plain sad. People come to us with legal problems that often are deeper than just whether they broke the law. There often is some sort of pathology that led them to be in a criminal predicament that we try to identify so they will not reoffend or so that they can understand how to play by the rules. Recently, Jim Voyles, Bill McCallister (our private investigator) and I were in Fort Wayne on such a case. We were taking depositions all day so when we broke for lunch, we needed a break for lunch.
Around the corner from the courthouse and down the street from the jail, we found Don Hall’s Old Gas House. Don Hall restaurants litter the Fort Wayne area and have one location I could find in Indianapolis. The Gas House offers a wide variety of starters, salads, sandwiches and entrées on their lunch menu in a not too formal, but not too casual atmosphere. The dark wood gave it almost a hunting lodge feel. In the summer they have a deck along the bank of the St. Mary’s River for dining and drinking.
They offered a handful of starter salads from a basic Caesar salad to the asparagus salad which had hearts of palm, artichokes, and red peppers with balsamic vinaigrette. For other starters, they serve up a terrific shrimp and sausage gumbo, sesame-seared Yellowfin tuna with a ginger noodle salad and wasabi, the classic hot chicken wings or spinach and artichoke dip with crispy, fried pita bread.
For entrées, the salads were enticing and creative. The pecan-crusted chicken salad which has bleu cheese, candied pecans, tomato, dried cherries, and pecan-crusted chicken with raspberry vinaigrette was under strong consideration, but Bill ultimately went with the grilled pear salad which had crumbled bacon, roasted walnuts, goat cheese with black currant vinaigrette. Bill was impressed enough that he didn’t chat much during lunch, which is a big feat. Jim opted for the Gas House Greek salad, which was really a starter salad. He was not impressed because of the beets, which he obviously did not see were described as being on the salad. He proceeded to pick out the “yucky stuff” as he called it, but ultimately he was able to finish his meal.
I had more difficulty but finally picked the daily $8 lunch special which on Tuesday was lasagna with garlic bread (the latter of which was particularly good). The lasagna was actually really good, and it came with a cup of soup or salad. That is how I claim personal knowledge of the gumbo being excellent. They also had small plate lunch for $9 which allows you to choose one of the starter salads or a bowl of soup paired with a choice of other items. Those choices were Yellowfin tuna, crab cake, blackened shrimp, three filet mignon sliders, petite Reuben or petite chicken club.
The Old Gas House’s menu offers many burger choices and sandwich choices, including vegetarian selections. Finally, there were actual dinner plate offerings that included prime rib ($11), filet mignon ($14), and jumbo fried shrimp ($10), which comes with coleslaw and fries.
The Old Gas House was a nice respite from a very long day of depositions that involved a very sad case that so often is part of our jobs as litigators of those who have disputes, problems or a moral compass that just doesn’t point north. I would recommend the Old Gas House even if you are not dealing with a tough case, and I give it 3 gavels! It is located at 305 E. Superior Street in Fort Wayne.•
Fred Vaiana and Jennifer Lukemeyer practice at Voyles Zahn & Paul in Indianapolis, focusing in criminal defense. Both enjoy a good meal with colleagues and friends, and their Sidebars column reviews and rates eateries lawyers may enjoy visiting when working at courthouses throughout Indiana. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the authors.