Trader's Point: Local icon 

How long does it take to become an icon? In the case of Traders Point Creamery, less than a decade. For surely, that's what this local purveyor of 100 percent grass-fed dairy and related farm products has become. If you want to know just how great Indiana agriculture can taste - go to Traders Point.

It was in 2003 that those old-style heavy glass bottles, capped with a finger-thick topping of heavy cream, first started showing up on local grocer's shelves. Since then, Traders Point has made the leap from brand to destination, opening its operation for public visits and its headquarters, notably a high-ceilinged, heavy beamed space called The Loft, as a dairy bar and restaurant which has begun serving dinners.

We made the drive on a Friday night. Fridays have been christened American Grill and, as expected, the menu includes such meaty delights as steaks, chops and a Balsamic TPC Chicken Breast ($16). But vegetarians needn't feel left out.

The vegetarian with me started with a Warm Mushroom Salad ($10) - a well-balanced mix of fresh 'shrooms over mixed greens with candied pecans and Gorgonzola cheese, served with a homemade honey mustard dressing that, for a change, emphasized the stone-ground mustard instead of the honey. The overall combination was, by turns, tart, sweet and pungent - a great prelude to the menu's main veggie offering.

Barn Rafter Fromage Alfredo ($14) arrived in a deep ceramic dish. It consisted of penne pasta, asparagus, mushrooms, squash and bell peppers melted together with a garlic-infused cheese sauce, served with a couple of thin slices of herbal toast. The garlic brought out the rascal in each of the fresh-cooked vegetables. This dish came with a side of brilliantly green beans with bacon (which I enthusiastically added to my plate). Cooked with a hint of olive oil and garlic, the beans retained a satisfying snap.

I started with a Fresh Garden Salad ($5), served with a Chipotle Vinaigrette. Here was another homemade winner. The spice was so sincere, better judgment suggested a little might go a long way. But it was so good I used it all.

Nor could I resist the TPC Award-Winning Farm Burger ($10) a handcrafted patty of 100 percent grass-fed beef with lettuce, red onion, garlic aioli and a topping of TPC's superb Fleur de la Terre cheese served on a whole grain bun. This burger was prepared medium rare and, as expected, this brought out the lean beef's marvelous flavor. It's a true steakburger. My only reservation concerned the bun, a kind of hippie throwback, which was too round and too firm and almost overwhelmed the burger's delectability.

The side I selected was a real highlight: Purple Potato Gratin. This baked blend of purple potatoes, carmelized onions and cheese made me forget about frites.

The Loft offers patrons a choice selection of microbrews, as well as red and white wines by the glass and the bottle. Tuesday and Thursdays, the Taste of the Farm menu features small and large plate fare, including a Prairie Paella ($22) and Pulled Pork Sliders with fig BBQ sauce ($9). Wednesday is pizza night, Saturday nights are dedicated to Continental Classics like Roast Duck ($19) and Ratatouille and Wild Rice ($12) and there's Comfort Food on Sunday.

The Loft has a soaringly high ceiling, so winter nights can be a little chilly. Don't let that stop you; dress accordingly and let the food at this local icon warm you up.


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