Thursday, August 27, 2015

Road Trip: Main Street Diner--Richmond, IN

My kids stayed at their Grandparents for a few days this summer, and I met them halfway between our houses, in Richmond, to pick them up. Of course, my first thought was, we should meet at lunchtime. And my second thought was, where to go in Richmond? I actually wanted to try this restaurant I read about ages ago, but apparently it had gone out of business. I ended up just picking the Main Street Diner because it looked kind of cute, and looked like it had a menu that would please everyone. It’s an old school diner place. There are booths and a counter and that’s it. It was a little tight fitting the 5 of us into one booth, but they did bring us an extra chair. The guy working the front was really nice and enthusiastic—I think they are recently under new ownership.

It’s a pretty straightforward menu—burgers and sandwiches pretty much, although you can also order breakfast any time.  I ordered the hand-breaded tenderloin ($7.50) with a side of hash browns (love that you can order breakfast sides as well as the regular ones). My son ordered biscuits and gravy ($3.25) and my daughter had a chicken sandwich ($7.50).

The food was pretty solid diner food—nothing blowing your mind, but care was taken with all of it. My tenderloin was hand-breaded and large, and tasted like the breading was made with corn flakes, which I always enjoy—giving it a little more flavor than many. It was super thin though, and tended to be a little on the dry side. My kids cut all the extra large edges that hung over my bun and ate them like nuggets. They gave you all the right fixins’ on the side, and I stacked up my red onions, pickles, lettuce and mayo. The hash browns tasted like they were seasoned a bit, which I appreciated. The portion was huge and the outside was pretty crisp (key for me). They were maybe a little more blackened than I prefer (I love a golden brown hash brown) but not too bad.

My daughter’s chicken sandwich was pretty basic—mainly because that’s how she tends to order them—just straight up chicken with cheese pretty much. My son really liked his biscuits and gravy—again, these were standard but still tasted good—there were nice chunky bits of sausage mixed in. The biscuits were pretty soft, but absorbed the gravy nicely. He only ordered a half order, which was one biscuit, and ended up ordering a second biscuit to finish up all the gravy.

Again, the guy waiting on us (and pretty much the only front of the house person) was very friendly and helpful. There were a few tables in there, but it was by no means full. It’s the kind of place that I bet makes a great solid egg breakfast as well.

Since we were there, and I had noticed it on my way down Main Street, the kids and I hit Olympian Candies on the way out of town. It’s one of those old-fashioned candy stores that for some reason Indy doesn’t seem to have (not that we don’t have great chocolate, but none of these shops that have been around for 50 years). They hand dip all their chocolates and they were delicious. My kids loved the marshmallows and the salted caramels, but I was partial to the dark chocolate covered raisin clusters. Super nice people, super yummy chocolate.

Main Street Diner
1600 East Main Street
Richmond, IN 

Oympian Candies
625 East Main Street
Richmond, IN 47374

Monday, August 24, 2015

Delicia- Brunch

Hubby and I had a chance to go to a weekend brunch on our own the other day and decided to give Delicia a try—we weren’t sure whether the kids would be huge fans, so this was a good opportunity. A lot of you have recommended it to me when I am complaining about the lack of brunch places in Indy as well. 

First of all, on a Sunday, it wasn’t too busy, which was nice because you didn’t really need a reservation (although they do take them, which I appreciate) and they have a full bar so if you’re one who wants a Bloody Mary or some such thing, you can get it here. All of the menu sounds really good, and it was hard to choose—lots of eggs, which you know makes me happy. Less of the sweet-type options, if that is what you tend to go for though.

We decided to start with a little brunch cocktail—I was interested in trying something different, because although I love margaritas, I have actually never loved the margaritas at Delicia. I spied a drink called the Caipirinha ($9)—made with cachaca, which is like a rum that is distilled from cane sugar, muddled limes and sugar. It was very good. It was tart, but the alcohol balanced it nicely. I would easily get one of these in the future here instead of a margarita. Hubby had a lovely mimosa ($7) served in a wide, old-fashioned champagne glass. Both drinks were quite nice.

We negotiated over the menu a bit, and settled on chilaquiles rojos ($9) and the huevos benedictos ($11).  You guys, these were both really delicious. It has been awhile since I’ve been to Delicia for dinner, and honestly I have had ups and downs food-wise, but brunch was great. I was impressed.

The chilaquiles were interesting—there were lots of tortillas that were mixed in, but they weren’t particularly crunchy. This surprised me, but ultimately didn’t bother me. They still had a dense texture that gave the dish a nice variation and that corn flavor. The tortillas were topped with a mild chile sauce, mole sauce, Chihuahua cheese and queso fresco. Oh, and of course two fried eggs that had nice runny yolks. This dish was wonderful—it had such wonderfully savory flavors and the chile sauce rounded it out nicely. You could add chicken or chorizo for an additional cost, and I was going to, but forgot. I was glad I forgot though because I think it was just perfect as is.

The huevos benedictos were also really delicious. It was the Delicia version of eggs benedict, but they made this one with English muffins sliced very thin, which were topped with beautifully poached eggs, a chipotle hollandaise sauce and slices of crisp Serrano ham on top. This was very well done. First of all, I loved the crisp ham—this is something I do with Prosciutto frequently—stick it in the oven and let it get crisp. It intensifies the flavor and gives you a nice crunchy bite. The eggs were cooked just right—nice and runny inside and I liked the little extra smoke and heat that came from the sauce. I appreciated that the muffins weren’t too bready either. If you want to go with something more familiar, which is ratcheted up a notch, this is a good choice. It also came with a side of breakfast potatoes, which I didn’t try because--did you see how many tortillas were on the other plate? Plus, I rarely meet home fries that I really like.

All in all, this is a place that is definitely going into the brunch rotation for sure. They even have a small children’s menu for brunch that I
think might woo my kids.

5215 N. College Ave
Indy  46220

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Road Trip-- Krueger's Tavern, Cincinnati, OH

Recently we went to Cincinnati with some friends to see a Reds game. Ok, the men wanted to see the game—I was looking forward to trying a new restaurant beforehand, and am easily convinced to do whatever if I know this is in the cards (incidentally though, if I am going to watch a sport live, it’s going to be baseball).

One of the friends is picky picky about food (I’m talking about you Pat) so we agreed to find a fried chicken place. I asked around and was told to try The Eagle. And I know one of these is planning to open up in Indy in the future, so I thought it sounded like a good idea. Sadly, we were told when we got there that there was at least an hour and a half wait for a table, so we had to go elsewhere (even though they called like 40 minutes later to say we could have a table, but by then we had already gone somewhere else. Too bad, because if they had told us 40 minutes to start, we might have waited.) Anyway, after walking by packed restaurant after packed restaurant on Vine Street, we scored one of the last available tables at Krueger’s Tavern, which as it turns out, is owned by the same group that owns the Eagle and Bakersfield. The men chose this place and it is a very manly menu consisting of mainly burgers and sausage platters. I was a teeny bit grumbly at this point (the women were pushing for Taste of Belgium), but settled down when I saw the hot Gruyere dip ($6) on the menu. We ordered that as well as the hot beer cheese ($6).

Both of the dips were good—my favorite was the Gruyere dip though. It had the cheese as well as bits of bacon, caramelized onions and scallions and was served with really nicely crunchy slices of baguette that were brushed with olive oil. The bread was done perfectly. And the salty nutty cheese was complemented perfectly with the bacon and green onions. It was intensely rich, but delicious. The beer cheese was also good, but they just served this with hunks of rye and white bread that were soft, which wasn’t as exciting (although made sense with the runnier beer cheese). The consistency was much thinner on this one. It tasted good, but just didn’t have the same depth.

I split the Krueger’s burger ($9) with one of my friends, as well as a side of the frites ($4). They grind their own beef in-house and I have to say, even though the two patties were cooked pretty well through (they didn’t ask), the beef was very good quality and very moist. The patties were topped with American cheese, shredded lettuce, onion, special sauce and pickles. The whole lot was served on a Challah bun. It was a tasty burger—apparently was named one of the top 5 burgers in Cincinnati (#4 to be precise I think) and I could see that. If it  were in Indy, I could see it being the 4th or 5th best burger. It was good. A little pinkness and it could have been outstanding.  The frites were also very good. I liked the malt vinegar aioli that came with it. It was almost like combining my two favorite sauces at Brugge into one, which I think is sort of genius (I always get the aioli and the sherry vinegar with salt at Brugge). Creamy, yet super tangy too. The fries were pretty crisp and dusted generously with salt and pepper.

Hubby had the Cuban sandwich, which I got a couple of bites of—it was very good as well. He loved it. I thought the stuff inside it—the braised pork shoulder, ham, Gruyere, Dijon, black bean puree and homemade pickles were all very well done and in just the right proportions (you gotta be able to taste the pickles!), but I thought the bread was a little too dense for me—it overpowered the stuff inside a bit. Usually it seems like Cubans are a bit more flat. This one was pretty fat. Hubby raved about it though.

This place has a ton of beer choices—tons of random beers in cans especially, and I was happy they had a couple of fairly decent wine choices for a place like this. All in all, I was pleased with the overall quality of this place. I’m pretty sure it would likely do well in Indy too. The place was very busy, but I would say the service was pretty good, and the food exceeded my expectations based on looking at the menu (and no research).

Krueger’s Tavern
1211 Vine Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Incidentally, since we didn’t get our fried chicken fix in Cincinnati, we stopped at Wagner’s in Oldenburg on the way home for lunch. I have written about this place before but here’s a lovely picture of our fried chicken lunch.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Taste - revisit

The kids requested Taste for lunch the other day and we were happy to go because it had been awhile-- for years Taste was one of my favorite lunch places in Indy, if not THE favorite. I probably went there at least once a week. They were always busy and the food was always very good. Then in the last couple of years, they seemed to have a bit of a falling off with the food and the service and we stopped going as frequently. 

But I decided to go with my long-time classic favorite sandwiches, the BALT (bacon, avocado, lettuce and tomato) ($7.25) and the classic pommes frites ($4.50). It had been ages since I had ordered the BALT, and I was hoping it was as good as it had been in the past. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was back up to being in my favorite sandwich status—the proportions were back to perfect. Lots of bacon, smashed avocado spread, greens, nice slices of tomato and my favorite thing—that they add basil aioli to it, which gives it not just creaminess, but a bit of tanginess too. The bread was also nice and fresh.

The same basil aioli is served with the frites and has long been one of my favorite items as well. The frites on their own are good (cracked pepper, salt and parsley are scattered on top), but are wonderful dipped in the aioli. The kids like the frites so much though that we may have to start getting two orders.

Hubby has always liked the various egg wraps, but had a couple that were so so in the last visits. This time he had a special with salmon, cucumber, capers and greens with the egg, and I would say this was back up to past standards as well. Again, they added a nice touch of dressing to it, which I feel brings all the flavors together—this has always been one of Taste’s strengths. They are very good at figuring out a nice flavored aioli or dressing and using it as glue to hold a dish together.

During the times we did go when things just weren’t quite as good, we also noticed a drop off in the business. It used to be that you always waited in a fairly long line on the weekends to eat—to the point that we used to avoid it on the weekends. I was happy for their sake to see that business was back up—we didn’t have to wait too long in line, but we did have to hunt for a table—the dining room was pretty packed.

All in all, I am happy to see Taste back up to previous expectations food-wise. My only continuing gripe is that the service to actually get your food seems to get slower and slower each time. Our lunch took over an hour from the time we ordered it, so make sure you go with someone you like.

Taste Cafe & Marketplace
5164 N College Ave
Indy 46205