Octave Grill: A Love Story
I met Johanna by chance at a good friend’s going-away party in Chicago in August 2011. I promptly told friends of my encounter with this incredible girl, also noting that she was way out of my league. So I asked myself, how in the world was I going to woo a sophisticated city girl—one used to all the conveniences and multitude of dining options—in Northwest Indiana? Cue Octave Grill!
Octave Grill is located in the quaint and charming downtown of Chesterton. Just minutes from the lakeshore of the Indiana dunes, Chesterton evokes a nostalgia that is classically American small town, like something out of a John Mellencamp song.
Johanna arrived at the local Dune Park train stop for what would be our first date. I’d like to say that I stood watching Johanna step off a steam locomotive in slow motion like in a 1920s cinema feature, but, alas, the South Shore is a modern day “green” electric train, and, naturally, I was late to pick her up. Johanna waiting patiently, I arrived in my pickup truck, apologizing profusely for my tardiness, and we made our way into town.
Passing by Octave Grill you’ll notice the brick facade and awning of a turn-of-the-century building that is reminiscent of a narrow, rectangular, New York–style shotgun house. Walk into Octave and you get the feeling that you’ve just walked into a trendy but unpretentious Chicago or NYC eatery. Old wooden floors show the wear and tear of years of hard work, exposed brick walls, and local art adorns the walls. The look and feel of Octave is synonymous with their forward- thinking farm-sourced grill. Octave features grass-fed beef, local handmade cheeses and a beverage selection of some of the finest locally made craft wines and beers, plus cocktails made with organic spirits by my own business, Journeyman Distillery (shameless plug).
Johanna and I entered Octave to find a bustling atmosphere and a nice mix of families, travelers and local hipsters. The mix of patrons is almost as unique as the menu offerings at Octave. Featuring a twist on everyday fare, Octave offers eclectic variations on the classic American burger, as well as an alternative for vegetarians. (Each burger has a house-made black bean patty option, which is my personal favorite.) The burgers have names as unique as their toppings, like Hot Pants, featuring local habanero havarti, house-made giardiniera, bacon, tomato and beer-battered onion rings; or the Buff , featuring fresh-cut fries, Green Island blue cheese crumbles and Buffalo sauce. Johanna and I ordered what is now our go-to each time we visit Octave: delicious Buff alo fries and fried pickles with a burger and cocktails.
Johanna and I have been back to Octave Grill many times since that first date. We can’t speak highly enough about Octave, the folks who own and operate the business, and their commitment to locally sourced products. When we indulge in Octave’s fine fare, we often recall our fateful first date. It seems Octave made a good impression: That sophisticated city girl is now my wife.