It’s anyone’s guess at press time how lionlike March has been so far. But here’s hoping we’re close to a place of shirtsleeve patio dining with temperatures perfect for sitting back and savoring spring.
As urban patios go, East End Grill is perched at the outermost edge of Lafayette’s downtown. Roughly three blocks separate it from other lunch-ordinner options, external lanterns offer an easy-going invitation to relax, and it’s far enough from the intersection of 9th and Main to offer all the street-side ambience with less of the traffic.
Celebrating its third anniversary in May, the “industrial American chic” of East End Grill is a fine downtown anchor. (And if you’re of a certain age and / or musical inclination, you might find yourself mentally saying its name in the rhythm of the Pet Shop Boys’ “West End Girls.”)
East End’s menu feels familiar but full of tasty choices, with mainstays and seasonal swaps. The Arancini Balls appetizer represents a delicate, delicious departure from the usual gooey/heavy mozzarella stick option; this lightly battered saffron risotto blends Bolognese and Pomodoro sauces for a delightful meat-and-tomato bite. Want to snack on something stronger? If just reading the words “garlic aioli” makes your mouth water for fries, East End has the truffle-parmesan indulgence for you. Their cutting board — with rotating meats and cheeses — also is a fine choice to please the table.
For a salad as plentiful as it is colorful, feast upon the Pastrami Cobb Salad, which puts an upscale deli spin on the traditional. On the sandwich front, the East End Burger is a time-tested standby; for a few dollars more, and pending its availability, you can upgrade to the tender flavors of a wagyu patty. Fellow diners also have talked up such signature dishes as Shrimp & Grits and Beef Hanger Steak — the latter a tender cut of meat you don’t always find as a steak option.
I tend to gravitate toward the Tuscan Chicken Pasta, which gets the saltysnappy combination of sun-dried tomatoes, bacon and spinach just right, or the Cajun Stir Fry — which showcases more of the cuisine’s appropriately smoky profile (over mouth-searing spiciness) with sautéed shrimp and grilled Andouille sausage rolled together. East End Grill also offers a thorough selection of craft beers and cocktails to complement whatever you choose. Indeed, here’s to sipping, and supping, outside soon enough.
Rob Ford is Tipmont and Wintek's communication director, a role he's held since 2015.
Rob has a bachelor's and a master's in Communication from Purdue University. He lives in West Lafayette with his wife and three children and has a life-sized Yoda statue in his office. Away from the office, you’ll find Rob working on his golf swing, jump shot, or hope for a Purdue basketball national title – all futile endeavors.