Purdue University Calumet's Dinner Series

Last spring I wrote an article for the Northwest Indiana Times Food section on some of the fine dining bargains you'll find through colleges and universities in the area. While I was working on it, I asked to be added to the mailing list for Purdue University Calumet's Hospitality and Tourism Management School. For the past several weeks I have been getting e-mails with these wonderful menu descriptions and there was finally a Wednesday night that I could fit it into the schedule.
This semester there have been themes each week focusing on a state or region, i.e. Hawaii, Pacific Northwest, Florida, Texas. They even had a CHICAGO one. :) Finally, I was able to make it to the Louisiana dinner with my husband. I was very impressed by the entire experience. Once you walked into the dining room in the HTM building, it truly felt like you were dining in an upscale restaurant in the city. The students were very attentive and professional (shout out to our lovely server, Lyndsay) and the food was pretty awesome and very creative.

We were seated with some small appetizer bites already waiting at the tables. We were immediately greeted by our server who confirmed our entree order (you give your selection when making reservations) and took our beverage orders. There was a nice selection of domestic and imported beers and wines, including brews from Three Floyds in Munster.

For the first course, there was an option of Cajun Deviled Eggs or Garlic Soup. Hubby and I never order the same so that I can photograph and try a second dish. He got the eggs, paired with one of my favorite imports, a Hoegaarden. The mild beer was a good match for the eggs with a kick. My soup was fantastic, very creamy with a garlic taste that was neither too subtle nor too heavy.

Next up was the August Chopped Salad, which was loaded with an interesting variety of vegetables that worked very well together - spinach, beets, carrots, potatoes, artichokes, fennel bulb, radishes, cucumber and chopped dill with a champagne vinaigrette dressing. I enjoyed it with my glass of Bancrott Pino Grigio.

Our entrees had been ordered when we made our reservations. Hubby had the spicy Shrimp Étouffée and I went with Coq Au Vin (Seasoned chicken breast mixed with carrots, onions, mushrooms & garlic made into a stew with chicken stock, wine, & cognac.) It was wonderful!

Dessert options were a New Orleans Bread Pudding or one of my very favorite sweet treats, Creme Brûlée.

If you are able to snag a reservation, I highly recommend taking in this fabulous fine dining experience. And I can see why so many people return week after week. For those who have food allergies to deal with, the menu has dishes clearly marked that contain gluten, dairy, nuts or shellfish, so it is easy to identify allergens. You'll also find wine pairing suggestions on the menu.

Although the portions are somewhat modest, it's still hard to get through all four courses, so if you can't quite clean your plate, you can get it wrapped to take home.

With two seatings on dinner nights, things move along quickly. Without a need to peruse a lengthy menu and with much of the food prep done in advance, you don't have long to wait between courses. Our meal was complete in just over an hour. There's not really time to linger as you might in a traditional restaurant, but it's perfect if you are trying to predict how long you need a babysitter to stay. :)

If you are interested in getting more information on the dinners or being added to the e-mail list, contact the Hospitality and Tourism Management School at Purdue University Calumet at (219) 989-2340. The fall semester will be wrapping up in a few short weeks, but a new dinner series will be offered in the spring. 


  1. Hey, I need fine dine Chicago restaurants for my birthday party. Actually, I want to celebrate my birthday with my parents and my best buddies. Do you know any affordable restaurant in Chicago?


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