What’s Biting at the Bait Shop?
Submitted by: Scott Timmerman
Tucked away in a residential area a mile south of the 49er Drive-In in Valparaiso is one of the dunes newest dining options. With modern farmhouse décor and seating for 29 customers, The Bait Shop, described as an upscale eatery and bar, has been creating a lot of social media buzz since opening in November. Dig the Dunes had an opportunity to chat with owner/head chef Scot Hinkel.
Let’s cast the net and see what we catch.
Why The Bait Shop?
Bait doesn’t have to be just lures and fish, although we plan on doing some fish. It can be anything that lures you in. We’re hoping the food lures you in. Growing up, my grandmother owned a bait shop right down the road and the building kind of reminded me of a bait shop. And there are lots of local lakes in the area too.
I was raised in Valpo. I have a house in Valpo. Valpo is a foodie town and I wanted to be a part of it.
Some people might recognize you from Bistro 54 in Hobart. What is different from Bistro 54? What sets you apart from the other restaurants in town?
There is a different vibe here than Bistro 54. This place was marketed towards the adventurous foodie so there are different food options. We will be playing some rock music and punk rock on vinyl. Some Sex Pistols. Some Misfits. The Ramones. There’s dedication and passion in this. I touch every plate that comes out of the kitchen. We try to do everything as local as possible. There’s a new menu every Wednesday. There’s also a secret menu that’s posted on facebook. If you ask for it, you can have it if there’s any left. (Currently the secret menu offering is Izakaya Ramen).
Best part of the restaurant since opening?
Meeting the local people. Getting to know the regulars that come in.
What are the future plans? How do you plan to keep the buzz going?
When the weather gets better there will be outdoor patios in the front and in the back. The patios will allow us to get up to 58 or 60 customers. I’m hoping to have a special late night bar menu for the patios featuring burgers and that kind of stuff. I am also working on a Sunday brunch menu.
What’s on the current menu? Is there a drink menu?
There is Foie Gras Torchon, Duck Wings, Morsels, Brined Pork Rack, Wagyu Mac, Eggplant Parmesan, Italian Sausage Lasagna, and Tuna Chirashi. (but remember, we change menus every week!) Filet Mignon and Half Grilled Chicken do well so they’re on the menu quite a bit. Usually I try to have an option or two that is common. We have a three way liquor license but there’s no draft beer. There’s not a drink menu right now, but If you want something, we can make it for you. If not, tell us what you normally drink and we will make you something that you will like.
One last question. With having a restaurant and getting to create the menu, if you were on death row and you only have one meal left, what would it be?
Putting me on the spot but I think it’d have to be pizza…. Yeah, pizza. Or oysters.
We appreciate Scot Hinkel for taking time out of his busy schedule and giving Dig the Dunes a behind the scene tour of his restaurant. We hope that you get out and find out what is biting at The Bait Shop.
Things to know before you go.
-The Bait Shop is open Wednesday through Saturday 4:00PM-9:00PM.
-New menu comes out every Wednesday, you can find it on Facebook.