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One thing my in-laws loved to do was find the fanciest hotel in the area and go inside for lunch. They didn’t really have it in their budget to stay at those places but felt like they were dipping their toes in luxury by experiencing a small part of that four or five star rating. If you find yourself like those two amazing people and find yourself in Southern Indiana – you will want to splurge at Ballard’s for a tasty treat.
Lots of history
Named after one of the former owners, Ed Ballard, who purchased West Baden Springs Hotel from Lilian Sinclair in 1923. Literally a self-made man, he came from poverty and ended up one of the richest men in the state of Indiana between his hotels, casinos, circuses, and other holdings. He thrived during prohibition, until the stock market crash of 1929 that changed things for almost everyone in the country.
Set under the dome that he so loved, the simple menu of Ballard’s will let you enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres or a delightful meal is a nice tribute to the man. It feels almost like you are eating out on a patio, yet it is available year round, without any weather concerns. Bonus? There is live music at night, until 9PM.
Time to eat
I was tempted by the appetizer selection, I have always been a sucker for a good French Onion Soup. According to the menu: French Onion Soup . . .Mélange of Caramelized Onions slow simmered in Veal Stock and Sherry, topped with Gruyere Cheese Crostini. That literally makes my mouth drool just reading it! I did stick with a soup and sandwich combo instead: the Soup & Half Sandwich for just $17 boasts a Choice of Soup and Half of Chicken or Tuna Salad Croissant or Ballard’s Club. It also comes with Your Choice of Fries, House-made Chips or Fresh Fruit Cup.
With a few different kinds of soup to choose from (I heard the tomato bisque is legendary) I went with a white bean bisque that sported goat cheese. Just look at that fruit cup! I am so sick of seeing just a few melons and bunch of grapes! The raspberries, blackberries and even sugar sweet strawberries were a perfect blend of colors for the dreary day. The croissant tasted fresh baked and the chicken salad? Delish!
One of my dining companions had the Southwest Chicken Salad. Iceberg and Romaine Blend topped with Roasted Sweet Corn, Black Beans, Fresh Tomatoes, Avocado, Red Onion, Crisp Tortilla Strips and Honey Chipotle Chicken served with Cilantro Ranch Dressing. I think she actually licked her plate clean…
Soooo many choices that sounded so yummy! You can see the menu for yourself here.
Eat dessert first
Now, before you think about what to eat – jump to the desserts! We ate the real food first and then were too full to think about dessert. I could have almost cried when I realize they have Hummingbird Cake! We served that at our own restaurant back in the day, but I have NEVER seen it anywhere else. If you are unaware of what it is: Layered Banana and Pineapple Cake enrobed in Cream Cheese Icing and garnished with Candied Mixed Nuts and Caramel Sauce.
The menu boasts several Gluten Free options for those of you who are dealing with special diets so there is really no reason to skip giving Ballard’s a try. You will be happy you did! Ballard’s is open for Lunch and dinner daily: Sunday – Thursday 11am – 11pm, Friday & Saturday 11am – 1am inside the West Baden Springs Hotel.