Discovering Chocolate and More in Richmond, Indiana

By Marcia Frost

Richmond, Indiana, is only three hours from Champaign. There’s plenty to do in this region, but one of their focuses is on Girls Getaway packages. The addition of a Chocolate Town makes for a tasty trip.

My friend Lynn and I met with Nancy Sartain of the Richmond-Wayne County Convention & Tourism Bureau at the Cordial Cork & Wine Bar. This place just opened in March 2018, but owner Adam Melton is no stranger to food and drinks. The former winemaker hopes to get back into that trade, but in the meantime, he’s got quite a wine and cocktail list, including a smoked cocktail made tableside.  

As for the food, it’s based on local ingredients and creativity. We started with the Breakin’ bread, a sourdough loaf which is stuffed with cheese and garlic butter. Our main courses of chicken cordon bleu, brisket nachos, and avocado cream pasta were worth raving about.

We also had delicious desserts from Liz’s Cakes, a bakery right at Cordial Cork. It was the perfect time to take out the map of the Chocolate Trail and get a peek into what we’d be exploring over the next two days.

Our home base was the Seldom Scene Meadows Bed & Breakfast, a beautiful old house, restored with modern touches. I have difficulty with stairs, but we were accommodated with accessible rooms downstairs. They were beautifully appointed, as were the four upstairs rooms I saw photos of.

The B&B serves locally grown foods and is supported by solar power. Fresh coffee, bread, fruit, yogurt, eggs and bacon are served each day for breakfast, when we enjoyed conversations with owner Leighanne Hahn. She helped guests make a succulent living wreath or a flower arrangement while overlooking a beautifully landscaped yard (which has a hot tub) and sipping sangria.

On the Chocolate tour, we discovered some tasty finds, as well as one spot that wasn’t quite edible.

The first stop was Abbott’s Candies in nearby Hagerstown. Native W.C. Abbott started the candy factory in the late 19th century. It remained with descendants of Abbott until 2012, when now owners Jay and Lynn Noel, who had partnered with the Abbott family, bought it.

We toured the factory and store with Jay Noel. It’s an old-fashioned, handmade production, that will remind you a bit of an I Love Lucy episode. The chocolates and caramels are some of the best I’ve ever had.

You won’t find edible chocolate at Warm Glow Candle Company, but you will find chocolate (and mocha) among the many candle scents. This factory is worth a visit for the smells alone. You’ll also find plenty of bargains on candles in every size imaginable.

Next door to Warm Glow is the Artisans & Java store. Stop by to check out local crafts for sale and have a cup of their delicious coffee.

The Village Forager is a cute shop with some unusual finds, and a unique place on the Richmond Chocolate Trail. They have a big selection of teas, but it was Chocolate Chai Tea that we had here to keep with the theme. It was delicious – and served with a bit of yummy Ghyslain chocolate to enhance the taste.  

Ullery’s Homemade Ice Cream Parlor is in Richmond’s Historic Depot District. It’s been a family business for over 27 years at Indiana fairs, but this shop opened six years ago. They are famous for their Honey B ice cream, a big seller at festivals. They also have a strawberry vegan ice cream.

We were on the Chocolate Trail and I was in heaven with the Richie Rich Sundae, with chocolate ice cream, peanut butter, hot fudge, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

The Fountain Acres Amish Store is filled with fresh produce, sauces, soups, and, of course, chocolate. I picked up some baking chocolate and we also took home some of the store’s most famous products: the donuts. They are big and rich. Mine was filled with peanut butter cream and covered in chocolate!

We went just 20 minutes outside of Richmond, Indiana, and just over the Ohio border for our last stop on the Chocolate Trail, Old Schoolhouse Winery. As the sign says, this historic building is in an old schoolhouse, but the wine production is modern.

I was pleasantly surprised at the huge menu of wine produced here, and there were some really good ones. My favorite was the Sauvignon Blanc. I also liked the Cozy Cranberry and the Vignoles. All can be paired with dark, milk, or white Abbott’s chocolate.

We also tried out a few excellent restaurants while in Richmond.

I love the décor at Firehouse BBQ & Blues. The walls are covered with pictures of rock stars quoting blues players, all of whom recorded in this city. In fact, many had recorded in this very building, which used to be Gennett Records.

The barbecue was equally impressive. We loved our lunch platters with amazing macaroni and cheese, cole slaw, brisket, and pulled pork.

Dinner at Galo’s Italian Grill was good enough to satisfy two Sicilians. The eggplant parmesan was tender and cheesy, and the chicken and asparagus pasta was fresh and flavorful. I was delighted to see Cannoli on the dessert menu, something I rarely spot in the Midwest. They lived up to my expectations.              

King’s Café is in Cambridge City, on the outskirts of Richmond. It’s a historic town Lincoln once came through and women’s suffrage began. It’s also known for previously having an Opera House that attracted people from all over.

Jim King not only opened this café filled with local antiques, farm-to-table sandwiches, and fresh baked goods filled with antiques, he’s working with other town members to restore this town to the popularity it once had, even bringing theater back into the mix.  (Keep up with the progress on the town’s website.)

There were a few stops on the Chocolate Trail we did not make it to, and we ran out of time before the Richmond Art Museum, Public Rose Garden, and Outdoor Sculpture Gallery. We did get to the Levi & Catharine Coffin House.

This State Historic Site has quite an important place in this area’s history. It was an important stop on the Underground Railroad. Through the film and exhibits in the Interpretive Center, you will learn all about how this couple helped thousands escape slavery and move to the free north.

Leave time to tour the house itself for a powerful look into the difficult passage the slaves had, and the danger the Coffins put themselves into in order to protect them.

For more about visiting Richmond, go to their official website.

Ravinia, Better than Ever…
I really fell for Ravinia Festival when I covered it for the first-time last year. Photographer Brittany Lambright and I were back a few weeks ago and found even more improvements on a great venue (picnics are encouraged)!

This year the venue allows alcoholic beverages, including cordials in your cold brew. There’s also a brand-new rooftop bar, The BMO Club. Enjoy cocktails before or during the concert, while you overlook the lawn.  Check their website for tickets and schedules.

Be sure to Like Midwest Travel with Marcia Frost on Facebook for more information on her trips, and read her stories on her Wine And Spirits Travel blog. You can also follow Marcia @Spiritstraveler on Twitter and Instagram.