Travel, Etc. --> A Visit to Wabash
A Visit to Wabash
And a stay at Charley Creek Inn
Every Christmas my wonderful staff gives us a gift certificate for somewhere interesting, knowing we like to experience different places, and also so they can get rid of me for a weekend! Last year it was the 21C Hotel in Cincinnati (which we really enjoyed and you probably read about) and this year, it was for the newly restored Charley Creek Inn and Twenty Restaurant in Wabash. Sixty six miles north, Wabash was a great excuse to take the convertible on an easy road trip.
Wabash is an interesting city that, like Columbus, benefits from its successful entrepreneurial roots. While Honeywell was founded in Wabash and is now long gone, the family trust continues to benefit the city, especially with the Honeywell Center that houses a 1,500 seat theater, banquet spaces and an art gallery, and is located next to the Charley Creek Inn. We were amazed watching the size of the crowd walking to the theater through the windows of the restaurant on a Saturday evening. Obviously, the residents of Wabash enjoy the venue (a comedian that night). The Ford Meter Box Company, still based in Wabash, also has a heavy philanthropic footprint. Richard Ford, 4th generation in the Ford family, was responsible for the renovation and restoration that created the Charley Creek Inn in the space once occupied by the 1920s era, Hotel Indiana.
Don't expect a lot to do unless you fish or boat since the Salamonie and Missesinwa Lakes are only a few miles south. In Wabash itself, we found the Charley Creek Botanical Garden, about 7 blocks north of the hotel, a good way to walk off lunch. It is an easy 1 mile walk through the gardens that encompass an evergreen maze, a labyrinth, a wild flower meadow and a waterfall.
Another quirky activity is a visit to the large Wabash County Historical Museum located just 3 blocks east of the hotel, which documents the history of Wabash County, which is surprisingly more interesting than you would think. We ended our afternoon on the rooftop garden/deck at the hotel with Kindles and good bottle of wine.
The hotel is magnificent and no expense was spared to restore it to a condition probably far beyond any luxury offered in 1920. You could tell that our three room suite occupied four previous hotel rooms and was larger than either of our first apartments, and certainly contained more granite, fine linen and elegant antique furniture. The lobby floor also offers a well-stocked wine, liquor and cheese shop that has to be the best high-end beverage store in the county, stocking plenty of hard to find wines and bourbons, and even offering complimentary tastings. Equally interesting was the old time candy and ice cream shop that stocked all of the candies you remember from your childhood (if you are our age), all of the sodas you remember, along with hand-dipped ice cream. When was the last time you saw Adams Clove or BlackJack chewing gum?
We ate both lunch and dinner at Twenty, the hotel restaurant, and enjoyed both meals. Chef-driven, but well-suited to its small market environment, the food was well-prepared, and while familiar, contained enough unique twists to make it interesting. Dinner started with the sharing of very traditional, but very good, baked French onion soup and a lettuce wedge with blue cheese dressing, bacon and tomatoes. The entrees were more creative. Mine was Osso Bucco slow braised short ribs, with roasted vegetables and garlic mashed potatoes that was outstanding. Linda's seasonal special, Capresse Linguine featured shrimp, buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and basil. We selected a bottle of The Prisoner that was a perfect match for my short ribs, and worked for, "I'll always drink red wine with dinner" Linda.
A highlight of the trip was a visit to the adjacent The Green Hat Lounge where we sat at the bar and listened to Zionsville-based singer and songwriter Brett Wiscons perform with his acoustic guitar. Mixing familiar covers with his original music, he is a very talented, and engaging performer. We enjoyed his music and talking to him so much that we went to his performance the next week at Ale Emporium in Castleton.
While it might be hard to recommend Wabash as a major vacation destination, the Charley Creek Inn is certainly worth a weekend, especially if you can find a concert or show at the Honeywell Center that you would like to see.
September 24, 2014