Monday, October 5, 2015

Adobo Grill -Revisit

Hubby and I are such good parents, that we took our kids to see Taylor Swift recently when she was here in Indy. We both love music and wanted the kids to have concert experiences with bands they like, so Taylor Swift it was. Stupidly, we thought, “oh we’ll just run into Scotty’s and grab something to eat beforehand.” Like the other 10,000 parents of tweens apparently. So we ran across the street to Adobo and grabbed one of their last tables. Also with a roomful of parents and kids. There was a lot of glitter people. Everywhere.

However, I saw this as a golden opportunity to update my posts on Adobo. I just looked. I haven’t written about this place since 2009. Wowza. 6 years. Also, I just looked and I said I might never go back in that post, so I guess they have Taylor Swift to thank for getting me back there.

We started with the tableside guacamole ($8.99), because my entire family loves guacamole. My daughter strangely claims to not like avocado, but loves guacamole. Makes perfect sense right? Well, she’s 12, so yeah. Anyhow, they bring over the guacamole cart and mix it to order in front of you—if you like it spicier, they add more jalapeno, etc. Their guacamole is excellent. And I am choosy about it. They use all the same things I do and enough fresh lime to give it an excellent fresh kick. The guacamole alone may be enough to get me back in there for drinks and chips. Speaking of, their chips are pretty good too. Nothing super amazing but not the crappy thick chips that taste like they just came out of a cheap bag.

I ordered the tuna ceviche ($11.99). This was a mistake. I keep being hopeful of getting really yummy ceviche here and other places, and I keep on being disappointed. These were little dices of ahi tuna that I think were nice quality, but honestly they were cut so small they were a bit overwhelmed by the other stuff in there—there were peppers mixed in with the tuna and there was a nice amount of diced avocado on the bottom. And pickled onions on top. At first glance, you’d think it would be my perfect dish—lots of things I love all stacked up on top of each other. But there was also this sauce on it, they called it chipotle ginger sauce—but it was super sweet. I love ginger and am also a fan of chipotle, by thus must have been a simple syrup made of these things or something. Even with some squeezes of lime wedges I asked for, it couldn’t shake the almost syrupy sweetness.

My daughter ordered an appetizer, the Tlayuda ($10.99), which is basically a fancy Mexican pizza. And it was delicious. It was a crisp whole-wheat tortilla topped with black beans, chicken, red onion, cheese, sour cream and pico de gallo.(It is also normally supposed to come with spinach and avocado but she asked for it without.) Regardless, it was really good as it was—the chicken and black beans both nicely seasoned and it was topped with just the right amount of gooeyness. I would have enjoyed the spinach and avocado, but we just added a little guac. It stuck with me enough that I made a version of it at home for dinner the next week. Not overly difficult, but really good. It was big enough too that we all pretty much ended up eating off of it. Honestly some guac and this would be the meal I would want at Adobo.

Hubby had one of their casseroles, or “las cazuelas.” He chose the Cazuela de carnitas ($9.99). It’s an earthenware casserole dish filled with carnitas (pork shoulder here), black beans, salsa and cheese. The flavor was good, but the dish was sort of on the runny side, making it difficult to roll into the warm tortillas they served with it. Instead, hubby went with chips. It came across as more of a dip rather than a casserole based on its consistency. Not a bad taste, but nothing earth shattering here. I think hubby preferred the tlayuda as well. Actually all of us enjoyed that the most.

My son, who was a little cranky and not in the mood for Mexican that night, ordered chicken fingers off the kid’s menu. Normally I would barely mention this, but they were actually quite good for kid’s fried chicken strips—they appeared that they actually might be making them in house. Not the usual exact same ones you can get anywhere from Steak n Shake to Ruth’s Chris.

All in all it worked out and we had a good meal and I got a new post to write. And I found a couple of things I enjoyed. And I learned to stop ordering their ceviche. Taylor Swift put on a good show and the kids were thrilled.

Ceviche though…where to get it Indy?

Adobo Grill
110 East Washington Street

Monday, September 28, 2015

Love Handle

At our last lunch at Milktooth, @indyfoodswap and I decided we needed to try Love Handle asap. We planned a date to go a couple of weeks later.  It’s over on the east side—sort of Irvington-ish I guess, but a little on the less developed end of 10th Street. Right across is Pogue’s Run Grocery though, and I was happy to check it out for the first time as well. I left there with a nice bag of local products.

Anyhow, Love Handle is a cute little place, maybe slightly on the sparse side décor-wise, but is not without its charm nonetheless. It’s certainly not a fancy place. We were there early for lunch, but they also serve breakfast, so we did a little of both and tried a couple of things. This place is all about the cured meats for sure, one of the chef/proprietors (Chris and Ally Benedyk) once worked at Goose the Market before opening a shop in Milwaukee and then back again in Indy. You’ll see lots of cured meat on the ever-changing menu for sure.

The meat was the star in “The Hardesty,” ($10) which I assume is named for our own local chef Greg Hardesty? Anyhow, the smoked beef brisket was cut real thin and stacked with peppers, onions and Taleggio cheese. I loved the slightly stinky, but super creamy cheese with this hearty meat—and I really enjoyed the smashed flat baguette the sandwich was served on. This addition of such a distinctive cheese made this sandwich extra special. The sandwiches all came with a side of the house pork fat popcorn, which was probably my least favorite thing—seemed sort of flat to me, but we still managed to eat it all.

Like I said, it was on the early side, so we also got the biscuits and gravy with crimini mushrooms and hatch chilis ($6), which I think is vegetarian. But we added bacon (+2) and a jellied egg yolk (+$2), thereby killing that aspect of it. It wasn’t a huge dish, but it had a lot of flavor. There was a lot of stuff going on in that little bowl. At the bottom was a fresh biscuit topped with the mushroom gravy. And that was all topped with pieces of slightly chewy bacon pieces and the egg yolk—which like something I have never quite had before. But it had a runny yolk in the center of the aspic-type substance, so I was content. Honestly it was almost too much to get the taste of everything. I would like to try the biscuits and gravy on their own but still get the bacon and egg on the side. Oh yeah, and it was all topped with pickled red onions, so again, happy. 

I feel like this is like no place we really have in Indy. It’s an extremely creative menu, but it’s also a much more casual and homey feeling place than say somewhere like Milktooth. More rustic fare, and certainly more meat (and even more specifically, on the day I was there, organ meat)-centric. Everything was well done though, and I would like to go back and try some other things.

If you’re looking for a super casual, but warm atmosphere (and the owners are super nice), with some extremely unique food (for Indy anyhow), check this place out. And then report back. 

Love Handle
2829 East 10th Street
Indy 46201

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Kona Jack's--Revisit

I hit Kona Jack’s the other day with my friend Suzanne for lunch. I keep telling myself that eating sushi is healthy, even if I like ordering the ones filled with fried bits of things. It’s called rationalization. Or denial. Whatever.

We did however decide to get the tuna tartar (their spelling)($15) as well because we have both been missing the one from H2O Sushi. The flavor here is a pretty close equivalent—with radish, ginger, green onion, cilantro and a sesame dressing. This one has a more distinctly sesame flavor to it, but that is not a bad thing. The hunks of impeccably fresh tuna are cut on the slightly larger side, almost like a poke size, if you are familiar with that dish. So yeah, this may be a little healthier than many of the rolls…until you factor in the fried wontons, which of course you have to do because you need some vehicle to scoop it up with right? And you of course need that crunch to go along with the smooth tuna. It’s a very good version of tuna tartar and it is more than enough to share—at least with two people.

We also got a couple of rolls. And yes, they both had fried bits in them—the first was the shrimp tempura roll, which is pretty classic -–shrimp tempura in the middle with avocado, and then wrapped with rice and Kona’s uses soy paper for this particular one. Not sure why exactly, but I am good with either soy or nori, so fine with me. It’s topped with spicy mayo and eel sauce. It was pretty much what you expect, nothing that made it shine more than others really, but still good. They were on the big side on this visit, which isn’t my favorite thing because then I have to cut them in half, which is not ideal.

Same went for the Tampa roll ($14), which I have had before and really enjoyed. They indulged us by making it for us, even though it wasn’t the special that day. It was good, but just not quite as good as I remember the first time I had it. It has fried grouper inside, along with avocado and wasabi tobiko, which were all good, but I couldn’t put my finger on why it didn’t excite me as much. Maybe the grouper was not as good or something. I think maybe it wasn’t as crunchy, and I like the texture variation in my rolls. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it. Again, I found myself cutting them in half because they were so big.

I feel like Kona Jack’s is a solid option to remember for fresh sushi, particularly on that side of town. And I would happily eat the tuna tartar pretty much any day of the week. It’s also one of my favorite places to buy fresh fish (particularly tuna, halibut and walleye) even if the fish market is a little on the pricey side.  But this place has been around for over 20 years, so they must be doing something right.

Kona Jack’s
9419 North Meridian Street
Indy 46260

Monday, September 21, 2015

Mediterranean Grill

We went to meet my sister and brother-in-law the other day for dinner at the Mediterranean Grill in Avon. Sadly, they gave us a gift certificate for Christmas and we are only now getting around to using it. Crazy.

Anyway, it’s a little family-run place in a strip mall. Everyone who was working there was very friendly—they all recognized my sister and her family as regulars. There were quite a few of us, so we tried several appetizers. We had the hummus ($5.45 for small, $8.95 for large), the spanakopita ($6.50) and the tiropita ($6.50).  I think the appetizer portion of the meal was probably my favorite—they were all quite good. My favorite was the hummus. It’s hard to tell what makes one hummus so much better than others, but this one had it. It had just the right consistency—enough creaminess without being watery at all or overly oily. But also not too dense. I liked that they seasoned it a bit with spices and olive oil and added some olives. More olives are always better. The tiropita and spanakopita were also quite good. One is just a cheese pie and one is spinach and cheese. I probably liked the spinach one better just because there was more going on there, but you get a bigger portion with the cheese one. They were nicely wrapped in phyllo, something I absolutely adore, although I would have probably made them a little browner, and therefore crisper, if I were in the kitchen. We also had the saganaki (opa!), or flaming cheese. They put the flame out with lemon, so the cheese has an acidic edge to it, which naturally I like. It was tasty—and one of hubby’s favorites.

The entrées come with a soup or salad—hubby and I shared the Greek salad. It had a decent vinaigrette, a pretty classic Greek restaurant salad. The soup was really quite tasty though (my daughter ordered it). It was avgolemono soup, which is also a typical Greek dish. It was a super thick and creamy version. It was filled with bits of chicken and orzo that was very soft and pillowy. It is a lemon soup, and has a distinct lemon edge, but it also has a lot of creaminess here, and there is egg in there as well. It’s a dense soup. This bowl would probably fill me up if I ate the whole thing, but it tasted good.

Hubby went with an order of falafel (appetizer) ($6.95), I had the eggplant casserole ($14.95), my son had lamb chops ($24.95), and my daughter the tuna steak (she’s currently addicted to tuna) ($15.95). I had a bite of my sister’s beef souvlaki as well. Mine was probably the best entrée—soft, creamy eggplant cooked in a tomato sauce and mixed with ground beef. It had a nice homey taste to it—and was seasoned nicely. The rice that came alongside was more filler as far as I was concerned—I just pretty much skipped it. The lamb chops were also seasoned very well and weren’t terribly overcooked. My son may have thought they were a little too seasoned for him, but they were tasty. My daughter’s tuna was way overcooked unfortunately (we had to have a talk about this with her, that she needs to tell people she wants it rare, that not every place does it that way). She was pretty disappointed in it. My sister’s beef was a little more cooked that I would have liked, but that’s a matter of preference. It also had a nice flavor—I would consider ordering it again, but would ask it to be cooked medium rare and see if they could do it that way. The falafel was quite strange. Like nothing we had had before. And to be perfectly honest, neither of us cared for it. These were almost like little dense mini muffins made out of garbanzo bean flour. Very dry and not a lot of flavor. I would take a skip on these. 

I think if I eat here again, I would make a very nice dinner out of appetizers and be content. Oh! And dessert. We had both of the desserts offered—baklava ($2.49) and the loukoumadis ($4.99). I am not sure which I liked better. I am normally not a huge baklava fan, but this one was super delicious—super crisp and just the right amount of honey sweetness. I am not sure what made it so good, but it truly was. This is a good size for only one or maybe 2 if you aren’t that hungry. If you want to share a dessert, I would go for the loukoumadis because they are basically little balls of pastry—almost like littler doughnut holes and they were sitting in a sweet but thin honey syrup and sprinkled with a bit of cinnamon. I liked the syrup, although I preferred the balls on the top of the pile, because they stayed crispier since they weren’t sitting in the sauce. As you can see, there are a lot of them, so they are very easy to share with a large group.  But seriously, both were super tasty.

The wine selection is pretty minimal—I think they only had one or two white wines available and the one we had was kind of funky, so don’t go expecting a large selection on this front. Again, it’s a nice family-run place with friendly people and good food-particularly appetizers and desserts. My sister tells me a new Mediterranean place has opened in Avon since then and she wants to try that one with us too. So I’ll let you know.

Mediterranean Grille
10230 US Hwy 36
Avon, IN 46123