I love the hidden gems of any city. I’m talking the small, off the beaten path restaurants, boutiques, and places that make a city unique. A few months back, I heard about a mysterious restaurant just outside of downtown Bloomington that serves large quantities of home cooked food at a reasonable price. Fast forward to last Monday, when my coworkers and I traveled to a warehouse on Industrial Drive marked only by a sign reading “THIS IS THE PLACE.”
Y’all are in for a treat, because I’m about to tell you the biggest secret of Bloomington. Here it goes…
There’s a private dining club in Bloomington and it is uh-mazing!!
Mike and Dana’s is a “Private Dining Club”/European Cooking School that offers buffets on Mondays, Multi-course meals on Saturdays, and delivers lunches every weekday! Dana is also offering hugs everyday. The restaurant is owned by Mike and Dana Thar, a sweet couple who just love to cook. They’re not looking to expand the restaurant, they’re just looking to express their love for cooking.
This space is very unique in that it is enclosed within a warehouse. After entering the double doors under the sign that reads “THIS IS THE PLACE,” you enter into a makeshift store front, similar to the set of a theatre performance. A brick “building” with another door opens up to a small, intimate setting with dim lighting and the best smells you could ask for. Dana is there to greet you with a hug, and then you are seated to fit your party’s needs. You can grab a soda, water, or bring your own beer or wine (for free! That’s right- no cork fee!).
You will most likely see Mike behind the counter, working hard to make your dining experience perfect. While most meals are for carnivores, as long as you call ahead, he’ll be happy to make something to suit your vegetarian needs. After Mike finishes cooking, he’ll come around, check on tables, and a strike up a conversation with anyone who wishes to know more about their operation. He told my friends and me about the restaurant, his love for cooking, Dana’s love for painting, and their recent vacation to Canada, all while we enjoyed our fabulous dinner.
Anyone who eats at Mike and Dana’s will feel like family. There were approximately 25-30 people eating on Monday night, and we all sang happy birthday to a very lucky lady. (I’m hoping someone sings to me on my birthday!)
WHAT WE ATE
For starters, a simple side salad is brought to every customer. Don’t get too full on salad, though! The best is yet to come! We called ahead to accommodate for my vegetarian needs, and Mike and Dana were more than happy to cook something special for me, I had Foccacia topped with tomatoes and cheese as well as an oil-based pasta with cherry tomatoes and olives. You would have thought that Mike cooked vegetarian food for a living. The pasta was spot on, all the flavors balanced out and the cherry tomatoes added a little sweet flavor to the mix. I was most impressed that it was oil-based but wasn’t too oily or slimy. The Foccacia was amazing, better than any I’ve ever made. It was the perfect texture, not too dense, not too light, and the toppings made for a stunning presentation.
Meanwhile, my friends dined on Italian Sausage with tomatoes, chicken with Greek seasoning, and more! There were 5 dishes in all, plus a dessert to follow.
Dessert was a sundae with marshmallows and chocolate, and was sure to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth.
All that food for $12.50! I was so impressed I’m still telling everyone about it and making plans to go back for their multi-course meal on the weekend of my birthday.
*Reservations are required for Saturday night, multi-course meals.
*Reservations are preferred for Monday nights.
*Call ahead with any dietary restrictions.
*Cash or Check Only
More notes can be found here
You can find Mike and Dana on Facebook
- Dining club members dine at Black Buggy (courierpress.com)
- Crowding in for a Taste (buffalonews.com)