Monday, August 14, 2017

Sakana of Tokyo

So you guys know I have been on a quest for a new most favorite (and close) sushi place. A friend of a friend said they liked Sakana of Tokyo in Castleton, and although I have driven by it many times, and seen it change hands a number of times, I had never been in. I figured, what the heck. So hubby and I gave it a go the other night when he had just come home from a business trip.

So the interior is sort of weird—very 80s nightclub kind of vibe, with lots of faux painting on the walls. The service was good (there weren’t many people there) and we got some wine to start.

They also have one of those all you can eat deals, but we just went with ordering exactly what we wanted and not worrying about whether we ordered too much. We started with the tuna tataki with ponzu sauce ($13). I was feeling a little nervous about the freshness of things given their small amount of business, but this tuna was really good. It was just barely seared, and served with various garnishes—some roe and seaweed. It took us a couple of bites to realize the ponzu sauce was underneath the spiralized radish (I think) that was propping the fish up. Once we realized that and dipped it in the sauce, we liked it even better.

We had a couple of rolls as well as some nigiri. The nigiri (one salmon and one tuna to just get a flavor for it) was very good and we were very impressed with the fish quality. The fish in the rolls was good as well—I liked that the spicy tuna/salmon here is not just like a weird mush, but actual recognizable pieces of fish with sauce. We had a basic avocado and tuna roll with a drizzle of spicy mayo ($6), the fire dragon roll ($13.95) which was spicy tuna inside and topped with avocado, eel and unagi sauce and the ocean roll, which was shrimp tempura and avocado on the inside topped with tuna, tempura flakes, unagi sauce, masago and spicy mayo ($12.95). So inherently, there was nothing wrong with any of the ingredients in the rolls. These are all variations of things we often get. And I didn’t care that the rolls were kind of messy if you know what I mean—not rolled very tightly. The thing that was the big bummer for me was that the individual pieces were so huge that there was no way I could eat them in one bite. I actually had to cut a couple in half, which makes it no fun because you don’t get all the ingredients in every bite. 

So overall, for me personally, I don’t think I would go back for rolls. I did really enjoy the appetizer and the nigiri, so maybe a meal of non-sushi rolls would be something I would do again. There are a lot of items on the appetizer menu that are appealing. But if you are a person who likes those all you can eat deals, you might want to look into this here. They must do a good lunch business or something, not quite sure how this big place stays afloat otherwise.

Sakana of Tokyo
5252 East 82nd Street
Indy  46250
317/436-7774

Monday, August 7, 2017

Sahm's Place - Revisit

Sometimes you just need a high quality fried sandwich. And the other day I was meeting a friend and that’s what I wanted, so we headed to Sahm’s. My go to fried sandwich there is the buffalo chicken sandwich ($9.49)—they have a very tender chicken patty that is dipped in buffalo sauce and served with blue cheese (or ranch depending on your preference). They know how to do it just right. The knot bun is good, the chicken is good, and dipping it in blue cheese is perfect. I love their pickles as well, and always ask for extra. I also love the fried mushrooms on the side—they are the only place that I know of in Indy that does fried mushrooms and does them well. They give you this mild, creamy horseradish sauce to dip them in too. When I need some fried stuff, this is my go to.

My friend had the Cuban sandwich, which I will have to say was quite delicious as well. I think it was a special that day—but it had very tender pork, lots of cheese and the requisite pickles and mustard. The bread was toasted nicely (I think they just turned a bun inside out but it still was tasty). And another order of mushrooms, because seriously, those things are great.

Sahm’s is a great place to go to get quality American pub-type food. The ingredients are good and many of the products (and beer etc.) are local. Plus, they do a lot to support the community, and I think that’s pretty cool.

So what’s your favorite Sahm’s item?

Sahm’s Place
2411 East 65th Street (and several other locations)
Indy  46220
317/202-1577


Monday, July 31, 2017

Yolk

We hit Yolk the other day for breakfast. My daughter was at a friend’s house and the rest of us actually get up early enough for breakfast, so we thought we’d give it a try. They have a large breakfast menu, and several lunch items as well.

I started with some of the strawberry orange juice ($3.50) and it was very tasty—it tasted very fresh and was a bit pulpy, which I like. So far, so good. Our server was also very attentive and answered my questions with her knowledge and opinions, which I appreciate.

I ordered the chilaquiles ($11 +$2.50 for added chicken) because I just keep hoping to find some in town that are not just nachos with an egg on top. Well, these weren’t it. It was a big plate of tortilla chips covered in cheese and sitting on top of some salsa verde, with two fried eggs and avocado. I also added chicken. I enjoyed the flavor of the verde sauce, but there wasn’t a lot of it. So, I mean, breakfast nachos aren’t bad—they just don’t give you that homey, baked, hot dish kind of flavor. You know what I mean. I like the versions that come out looking like a kind of casserole—the tortillas are sort of chewy and crunchy at the same time because they’ve been baked. The egg is mixed in with the chips and sauce. Anyway, like I said, there was no ingredient here that was bad, they just didn’t come together in the way I had hoped.

I was intrigued with my son’s fried chicken and waffles ($12.50). He really liked the waffle with the bits of bacon cooked into it—with a little syrup it gave you that sweet and savory mix. The chicken was ok—it was a massive breast (it was bigger than the waffle) that had a nice crispy crunch, but the chicken was so dense, it wasn’t that appealing. He had the sausage gravy on the side (typically it comes on top). Again, there was nothing terrible about this, but the chicken was just too big and dense—it wasn’t very tender. They need to use a boneless thigh and this dish would be greatly improved.

Hubby had the corned beef hash with eggs ($13.50). This is hubby’s quest dish. He loves corned beef hash but is also particular about it in the way I am about my chilaquiles (what can I say, we have issues). He thought it was also fine, but wasn’t wowed. They make their own corned beef, but overall he thought the dish lacked seasoning and was just a little bland.

I wanted it to be Biscuit Love in Nashville, but that it was not. And I am still on the quest for great chilaquiles in Indy. So tell me whatcha’ got.

Yolk
2727 East 86th Street
Indy  46240
317/451-9655

Monday, July 24, 2017

Flatwater - Revisit

It has been literally years since I have been to Flatwater, and people keep recommending it to me, so we took the kids one of those lovely early summer nights we had before it was too hot. Of course, we weren’t the only ones thinking this, and ended up having to eat inside (or wait an hour for an outside table).

So we started with an order of pulled pork poutine ($12) because my daughter is obsessed with poutine. If it’s on the menu, she has to have it. She even makes her own at home quite frequently. Anyway, theirs is an interesting version with fries, pulled pork, pork gravy, cheddar cheese curds and scallions. For some reason it doesn’t seem as poutiney as some, more like loaded fries. I think because the pulled pork, which isn’t traditional is more dominant, and the gravy wasn’t very noticeable maybe. They were good cheesy fries though. And enough to feed an army. Their fries are hand cut and quite tasty.

For my main dish, I was excited to try the tuna tartare ($14) because a couple of people had mentioned it to me, and I had a version of it years back that wasn’t so good. This one was really, really good though. The cubes of tuna were tossed in a marinade with lime, Sriracha and soy (and a lime on the side that I squeezed on top too) and then a drizzle of avocado cucumber puree was across the top. The tartare was on top of crispy wonton chips and some sesame slaw. I thought it could use just a touch more soy, which they brought me, but overall this is one of my favorite versions in town now. And although it is listed as an appetizer, it is a very nice dinner for one. I will definitely be ordering this again (and hopefully next time we’ll get to sit outside).

My daughter, who is starting to love tuna as much as I do, ordered the seared tuna appetizer ($14), which is sesame seed encrusted and served on top of chunks of avocado, lettuce, carrots and daikon and surrounded by a lemongrass ponzu. This is a bit lighter, simpler tasting version of the tuna that is slightly cooked if that is your preference. I liked the ponzu sauce with it. I appreciate that both make nice light entrées. While the menu has a lot of heavier, meatier sandwiches and such, there are several nice options for something else—and they still taste really good. I liked the tartare better though, just because there was more going on.

My son had a burger with cheese, bacon and mushrooms with a side of fries ($14). He asked for it medium rare and they served it that way. It was a very good burger with a very nice pretzel bun. He really enjoyed it as did hubby, who snuck in several bites. It was tender and very juicy—almost too juicy but that I think was mainly the fault of the mushrooms. My son said he probably wouldn’t order mushrooms next time just because they made it a little soggy, even though he liked the taste of the mushrooms.

Hubby had a brisket Reuben sandwich ($13). They smoke their own brisket and then use the rest of the traditional accompaniments on the sandwich—sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing and Swiss cheese. Hubby thought the brisket was really good, he only wished there was a bit more of it. But I kind of liked that the sandwich wasn’t enormous. The bites I had were very tasty.

We didn’t get a dessert here because the kids had their hearts set on Nicey Treat, but we really enjoyed everything we had. It was one of a few places that I think everyone would be just as happy to return to. And hopefully, we can sit outside next time.

Flatwater
832 East Westfield Blvd
Indy 46220
317/257-5466

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Bluebeard - Revisit

Just a friendly reminder about all the wonderful restaurants we have in Indy—so today I am reminding you about Bluebeard. One of our best, and a place to revisit again and again. Hubby chose it for Father’s Day, and we were all happy to oblige.

With the kids we always have to start with a small bread plate ($5) and chips and dip ($6). Not that I am complaining, because both are always good. And when we were there, the rotating flavored butter (they seem to always have the anchovy and the garlic olive oil as well as one other changing flavor) was guanciale cheddar butter and it was delicious. I mean pork, cheese and butter? How could it be bad? And I like it better than fruity options, which are sometimes too sweet for me. The Bluebeard version of chips and French onion dip is also delicious. And I was excited to see they have switched out their homemade potato chips from being fingerlings, which were good, but so skinny they broke off too easy. They are using regular potatoes now and they were heartier and super good.

Hubby and I split the salmon poke boat ($18), which was super cute, as it actually came in a little boat, and tasted just as good. It was salmon, cucumber, toasted sesame and wakame (a type of seaweed) marinated in a dark soy yuzu sauce and served on top of rice. Crunchy fried shallots garnished the top.  We really enjoyed this dish—it had lots of flavor and nice texture variation with the fish and the shallots. And the more poke I see on menus, the happier I am.

Hubby celebrated by ordering the bucket of prawns ($42), which was sort of like an ode to Red Lobster, but with actual fresh, delicious seafood. There were a bunch of peel ‘n eat prawns, and these were some of the best I have had in Indy. Super big, but exceptionally tender. Dip them in the miso butter, and they were perfect. We had to force him to share, and we all wanted them. There were hunks of Andouille sausage in there as well. And the side dish of cheddar bay biscuits? More fights broke out over them, because cheese biscuits are the best biscuits. This was an excellent, yet simple dish.

I ordered the halibut tacos for my main dish and these were just as good as hubby’s shrimp (and I was much more generous about sharing). There were battered pieces of fish at the bottom of each tortilla and they were topped with this deep rich adobo type sauce. There were some lightly pickled onions in there as well as some jalapeno slices on top. I would happily eat these again any day.

My son ordered a skirt steak, which he didn’t really care for that much, and it wasn’t our favorite dish of the evening. He was a little miffed at hubby for convincing him to order it instead of the halibut that he had his eyes on at first. And I will say, the beef dishes at Bluebeard are never my favorites either. Go with something more interesting and it will be more satisfying.

Hubby had to have his chess pie; something that Bluebeard has had on the menu pretty much since the beginning. It was good as always, and has even been perfected to be a bit easier to eat because the crust is a bit flakier. My son wanted a dessert that had nuts in the crust, so he couldn’t get it. The staff was kind enough to bring him a complimentary bread pudding to eat, which was quite nice as well. They do a nice job with desserts here, and they are more homey in nature than super fancy.

Bluebeard is a staple in Indy and is consistently good. So just a gentle (somewhat selfish) reminder to keep going there and supporting them to make sure they stay around. We’re lucky to have them. 


Bluebeard
653 Virginia Avenue
Indy, 46203
317/686-1580


Monday, July 17, 2017

Road Trip: Chicago

We recently spent the weekend in Chicago with the kids, enjoying a Christmas gift to see Hamilton (it’s so good). Of course, other than that, the weekend was planned around food (and conveniently the musical was a matinee so we didn’t miss any meals).

Our first stop for lunch was to Shaw’s Crab House. Hubby and I used to hit up the oyster bar nearly every visit to Chicago for years for lunch, but hadn’t been in awhile, and wanted to introduce the kids to it. If you go, eat in the oyster bar, way better atmosphere than the stuffy restaurant in my opinion. We got some king crab bites ($28) to share, because they made us love the place back in the day. They take king crab legs and just slice them into pieces and you pop them out of the shell. They serve them with cocktail sauce and a mustard mayo type sauce. I love that mustard sauce. They also had soft shell crab on the menu, so it was sort of a no brainer that I’d get that as well (they serve the crab that’s in season). 

I went with the soft shell crab appetizer ($16), because I didn’t feel up to a whole dinner. And then I got the chopped salad ($10) on the side to share with hubby. The crab itself was tasty and fresh, but it wasn’t my favorite version because it was breaded in corn meal. I like a crunchy batter best. They served it with mango, cucumber and a chili sauce. Also not my favorite combo, but I was happy to just get the crab. The salad had lots of good stuff in it (blue cheese, avocado, egg, bacon, scallion, tomato and croutons) but the dressing lacked acid. I gave it a good squeeze from a lemon that was handy, and that helped. Hubby and my daughter split the blackened snapper with toffee sauce and rice ($31) and hubby loved it. Especially that etouffee sauce (it was really good). My daughter found the sauce a bit spicy for her, but enjoyed the fish. My son had the Lake Erie perch ($24)and thought it was fine, although he didn’t eat the tartar sauce that came with it, which was amazing. All in all, we enjoyed it, but can’t say it will be the place my kids want to rush back to. It’s a bit on the pricey side too, but it will always hold a special place for hubby and me.

For dinner that night we went to Sumi Robata Bar. We all love the small plates options so everyone gets to choose several things and we all try everything. So this is a Japanese place, and a robata grill is a type of charcoal grill over which many things are cooked, usually on sticks. This place had a ton of robata options as well as items cooked in other ways. We got a ton of stuff and it all just kind of slowly appeared over the course of the evening. Edamame ($5) was hot and seasoned with just touch of sea salt and came with a cute little basket. We also had the special because it was soft shell crab ($22) (seriously, everyone in my family knows that if a server says they have it, that I will order it). It was nice and crunchy and served with a very light sauce to dip in. A couple of our favorite items were the marinated chicken thigh from the grill ($6), which was super tender and flavorful. And we all liked the karaage chicken, which is a Japanese version of fried chicken ($12). These were chunks of white and dark meat and served with a shishito pepper spread. It was simple, but really delicious. The kids wanted  a second order, but we held them off. The thing that was a standout favorite, and which we did end up with two orders of was the wagyu ribeye ($16). There were shoving matches going on over this one because it was two sticks each with a hunk of meat on them and a side of wasabi ponzu. Thus, why we had to order a second one. We also had the wagyu sukiyaki ($18), which was also very good—the beef was served in almost like a porridge with a soft-boiled egg. It was a nicely composed dish—all the wagyu we had was superb. We also had the Ishi Yaki ($12), which was Wagyu New York strip with a hot rock and was simply delicious. Yes, we had a lot of beef, because apparently, that’s what everyone was in the mood for. The grilled asparagus was nice too (although a touch fat for me) and the duck breast ($8) was fine, but a little more cooked than we typically like. The only real bad dish was the octopus ($8), which we each ate one piece of and that’s it because it was so tough. We went with dessert because we were really enjoying ourselves. The donatsu ($7) was so good –a doughnut filled with chocolate and served with matcha soft serve. Seriously, this was one of the best desserts I’ve had in a Japanese restaurant. We also had an orange shaved ice ($7) that was nice and refreshing.

The next day for lunch (or I should say brunch, because as hard as it is to find brunch in Indy, it’s just as hard to find not-brunch in Chicago on the weekend) was the Bristol. This is a place hubby and I have eaten several times for dinner, but never a mid day meal.  The menu is an eclectic mix of various brunchy and lunchy things and we agreed on four different things and to share (my son apparently not as good as that as the rest of us, but then again, his was the best thing). He got the burger “Royale” ($13). It had two thin patties, cheese, pickled onions, garlic aioli and came with duck fat fries. Seriously, that is one of the better burgers I have had in recent memory. Don’t want to wait in the line at Au Cheval? This is a decent substitute. Hubby ordered the “hangover breakfast,” ($13), which was sort of like a ramen dish—noodles in pork broth with pork belly, veg, and an egg. I liked it—it was nice variety with everything else, but not as good as bowl of full on ramen. I ordered the chicken ‘n a biscuit ($13), which was a biscuit cut into hunks, covered in sausage gravy and then served with some nice hunks of fried chicken. The chicken was very good—it actually reminded me of the karaage chicken from the night before in its preparation. The biscuits were very dry and there wasn’t enough gravy to fix the problem. I liked the pickles across the dish, as pickles and fried chicken are a good match to me. My daughter ordered the chilaquiles ($14), and I was of course thrilled. These were a disappointment as well. They were a bit better than some I have had lately, but it was more of a bunch of various parts (pork, egg, etc.) that didn’t really come together that well. Nothing was bad, but a lot of it was just a little disappointing compared to some of the dinners we have had there. Except that burger, it was delicious.

For dinner on the last night we went to Mon Ami Gabi, which is a French bistro with several locations around the country. My kids love a French bistro, and since we don’t really have any in Indy, we often seek them out in other cities. This place was fabulous to meet that bistro craving. We started out with salmon tartare ($15.95) and the friseé, kale and warm bacon salad with a poached egg ($9.95). That salmon tartare was great—really great. It was marinated and mixed with hunks of avocado and had olives on the side and these great potato crisps to eat it with. And they even gave you enough chips for all the tartare. Hubby and I really liked this dish. The salad was fine—and is one of our favorite salads to eat usually—but this one did not have enough acid at all. We doctored it up a bit and it was good, but not something I would order again.

For my main dish, I had the skate with cauliflower pureé and florets, raisins and crispy capers ($22.95). It was excellent. I love skate and for some reason, it is hard to find in Indy. It’s a ray wing, and is so tender. They sautéed it and it had this lovely butter sauce. So perfect. There was a ton of it though—I could have easily split it with someone. Hubby and my son both got steak frites ($23.95) and were both very happy. You can order it the classic way, which is a thin ribeye, which is what they did, or you can order from various other cuts. They hand cut their fries and they are tasty. They are cut thin, but wide—almost like a ribbon-- and almost like a cross between a fry and a chip. Really nice with the steak to soak in all the juices. You also can pick your flavor of butter to be served on top (or a sauce). Hubby went with the classique maitre d’hôtel butter, which is an herby blend. My daughter had the salmon ($22.95), which was wonderfully prepared and served with mashed peas and crème fraiche beurre blanc. They also have a lovely dessert menu. We had the most amazing profiteroles with chocolate sauce ($8.95) as well as a dish of the sorbet of the day, which was passion fruit. I also feel like for the amount of food you get and the quality, it is a good deal.

On our way out of town, we stopped at the Little Goat Diner, which is one of our perpetual faves. Now that my daughter had been there once before, she agrees. It’s hard to vary from our favorite things though, so we didn’t. We had the okonomiyaki ($13), the dark chocolate chip crunch pancakes ($13), the parathas burrito ($13) and the hashbrowns stuffed with cheese ($6). I have written about all of these items before, but suffice it to say, they are all stellar. 


All in all, a great food trip and fun as well. Such a great city.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Stella

The family and I decided to try out Stella recently. It’s weird, a new Neal Brown joint, and I really have not read much press about it. It’s in the old Pizzology on Mass Ave space, and while it is a new menu, it still has a distinctly Italian theme. No pizza, and they are using those ovens to roast veggies and chicken and bake bread. The price point is higher than Pizzology as well, although not outrageous.

We were given a couple of plates of bread with the butter of the day, which involved honey and pomegranate as well as some olive oil. The bread is fabulous. It has a nice soft center and a pleasant thick, crispy crust. I didn’t think I would go in for the butter, because it was sweet, but I liked it. It had a bit of a salty edge that cut through the sweetness. 

We had a couple of the crudos—the hamachi ($7) and the tuna ($8). The fish was good, and I liked the black sea salt on both, giving it a nice crunch as well as saltiness. The hamachi was served with oil and a side of horseradish and the tuna with oil and a swash of mustard. If I were going to improve the dishes, I would spread the fish out a bit so all the pieces get seasoned—and I would love to see a little something else with it—avocado or something. And acid. They both could have benefited from acid. But you knew I’d say that. We enjoyed them both though, particularly the tuna. We fought over the 5 pieces. They have a wide variety of charcuterie as well, and my daughter enjoyed the Calabrese salame ($5). It was served with more of the bread.

For main dishes, we got several of the pastas and the roasted chicken. The roasted chicken ($22) was very good. Love the super crisp skin on it from being in the wood fired ovens. It was seasoned nicely with herbs as well and had this rich delicious broth underneath the chicken, which is what made the dish. Besides a few greens though, nothing comes with the chicken, so if you aren’t sharing a bunch of pasta with your family like I was, you will probably want a side dish. We ordered a side of the roasted cauliflower with pine nuts, pickled chili and breadcrumbs ($7). It wasn’t bad, but I would have loved more pickled chilis. It just came across a little on the bland side—much of it went uneaten.

The best pasta dish of the night was the linguine and clams ($21). The flavor that was made from the buttery sauce and some goat cheese and lots of garlic was great. It had a really great flavor and small, well-cooked clams. We all really enjoyed this dish, one of the best linguine and clams in the city I think.

My daughter’s papardelle with white wine braised rabbit, crème fraiche and mustard ($21) was also very tasty. I loved the kick from the mustard and the creamy slightly acidic taste from the crème fraiche. The pasta was very tender and good. The rabbit also very tender.

We also had the rigatoni with chicken liver, Cynar and sage ($21). This one was our least favorite. Although hubby and I love chicken livers, and realize the richness that they carry, the dish was just a bit over the top in its richness, with nothing that really cut through it. 

We also had dessert and they were all good. The slated butterscotch sundae ($6) was the clear winner. It was simple with ice cream and the salted butterscotch sauce, but you can’t really go wrong here. My daughter enjoyed her scoop of mint strawberry ice cream ($3) as well—she said it was very minty, which she likes. The rhubarb tart ($7) was tasty and I appreciated the tartness of just using rhubarb, although hubby thought it was a little too tart for him. It was also simple but tasty.

I have been menu watching at Stella since their opening this winter, and the one thing I am surprised about is I don’t think there’s really been any changes made, other than in the fruit in the dessert. I would love to see perhaps some more summery types of choices over some of the pretty heavy items that are still on the menu currently (like osso bucco and the chicken liver pasta). And strangely, there are really no cold salad type items except for the crudo. I think seasonal changes could really benefit the menu and make me more excited for a return visit. Oh, and they take reservations which is great, and they are also doing Saturday brunch, which I would like to try.

I still think it’s odd how little I have heard or read about this place. Fill me in on if you have been and what you had.

Stella
611 East Street
Indy  46205
317/685-2550

Monday, July 3, 2017

The District Tap - Revisit

It has been awhile since we’ve been to The District Tap, and it’s right near my house so I am not sure why. But hubby and I came home from a trip the other day and just wanted a burger or something simple, and headed over there. And then I took my daughter and friend there one night for dinner as well. So this is a combo of a couple of visits.

I have mentioned it before, but my kids love pretzels, and we got their pretzel flight ($13) on the visit with the kids. I really love the fact that they serve their large braided pretzels with three kinds of beer cheese—there’s a stout, and IPA and a Scotch ale version. It’s fun to try all the different ones, and I greatly appreciate the fact that it’s not neon nacho cheese. My favorite was the Scotch ale version and my least favorite was the stout, but it was fun to try them all. The pretzels are tasty and really big (and it comes with two)—one is easy to split between two people. I like them—they are better than most.

On both visits I had a burger—the District burger ($11). It’s their basic burger with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle. I also ask for a side of their garlic mayo to put on there, which adds a nice additional creamy touch. They have a bunch of sides to choose from, but I tend to choose the tater tots because I have a little weakness for them, and they cook them just right. Nice and crunchy. I was good on one visit and got a side salad—it’s a nice salad with nice fresh mixed greens and homemade dressing (I got blue cheese). The burger is a very good burger—the beef is a custom grind of brisket, chuck, and short rib and they serve it on a brioche bun. It’s a really tasty burger that feels pretty high end. Since Recess and Barking Dog closed, I am always on the hunt for my next favorite burger. I can’t say it’s my absolute favorite, but it is a very good option. And I have had it twice in the last month or two, so obviously I liked it. My son also had one and liked it as well.

Hubby got the tenderloin sandwich ($12) and they serve it just the right way with lettuce, tomato, onions, pickle and mayo and also on the nice brioche bun. It’s a solid tenderloin for sure, but we both preferred the burger. It was just more interesting. They do their tenderloin on the thicker side, and not one of those super big, super skinny plate fillers. It was decently tender, but again, not as tender as that burger. 

My daughter had the chicken Madeira ($16), which she seemed to enjoy. It’s enormous—a whole breast, so two giant halves—covered with cheese and mushroom/Madeira sauce and served with mashed potatoes. She only ate about half of it, but thought it was good. 

All in all, The District Tap is a good place to keep in rotation for me for a burger or something along those lines. That is, if you can get over the sensory overload that sort of dominates the place with the multitude of TVs that are everywhere, including at the table. Service is good though and the food is solid. And it’s literally five minutes from my house, so I need to remember it more.

The District Tap
3720 East 82nd Street
Indy  46240
317/ 288-8251


Monday, June 26, 2017

Main Street Pokē

I have been excited to try Main Street Pokē since my hairdresser next door told me it was coming soon. I met my friend Suzanne there, as she lives close by and had already been several times and liked it. So it’s set up in the Chipotle style, where you go down the line and pick what you want in your bowl. There are A LOT of choices to make, so you may want to look over the menu online before you go. It’s like healthy fast food though; so don’t expect a fancy restaurant or anything.

The first and most important choice is your size and protein. You can get small, medium and large bowls (2, 3, and 4 scoops of protein respectively). They are $9.95, $11.95 and $13.95 with a few upcharges on certain items. There are several proteins to choose from, but I am guessing the most popular (and I would even go so far as to say probably the best) choices are the tuna and salmon. You can either get it marinated or plain. There are also things like tofu, chicken, beef, cooked shrimp, and even hamachi and unagi, but for me, I was focused on the tuna. I had the medium bowl with marinated tuna (you can also mix your proteins). You get to choose your base as well. I had half steamed rice and half mixed greens. They also offer brown rice or potato chips. Then, there are the toppings—starting with the first sauce over the fish. I chose the house, which is a soy-based sauce with some ponzu. I then added green onions, seaweed salad, avocado (+.50), marinated shitake mushrooms, and they give you a scoop of spicy crab as well. Then you can add some crunch (I had sesame, furikake and fried onions) and a topping sauce. I did half spicy mayo and half miso delicious. (I told you there are lots of choices—and there are tons more options than I described). 

So what did I think? I actually really love this concept—and I really enjoyed my bowl. I wouldn’t make any dramatic changes, although I would like to try the salmon next time. I was torn about whether I preferred the rice or the greens better, so I think I might just stick with the way I ordered it—half and half. I would probably skip the seaweed salad, just because there were just so many things going on, I didn’t really think I needed it. Surprisingly, even though I think the spicy crab is not real crab, it was pretty tasty and I would get it again. I thought the tuna was good quality and everything tasted very fresh. Honestly, I can understand why Suzanne says she often goes multiple times in a week, because if it were close to me, I would probably eat here a lot. There would be a ton of carry out going on. I really like to eat this kind of food, and I like that you can make a bowl that is very healthy if you want, but still has a ton of flavor. I overheard staff mention they are opening one in Fishers, which is awesome—but I would like to request one near Castleton if possible. And I bet a downtown location would do well too. But I am happy that they have opened up and appear to be doing very well. If you like this kind of food, you should check it out.

Main Street Pokē
110 West Main Street #106
Carmel, IN 46032
317/564-0908
www.mainstreetpoke.com  

Thursday, June 22, 2017

U.S. Adventures: Austin, Texas

For spring break this year, the family and I headed back to Austin to see our good friends who moved there a couple years ago. If you’re a regular reader, you will know our last trip last May didn’t go too well—hubby broke his arm and I didn’t get to go to my number one choice of restaurant because we headed home early. 

That restaurant was Uchiko, and it was fabulous. One of the best meals I have had in awhile for sure. I love the small plates concept because you can try even more things. And we certainly did. They do sushi, but a ton of other Japanese options as well. Probably one of my favorite dishes of the evening was the take nabe ($18). It was like a soft porridge with dashi and lots of different mushrooms and a runny egg. I loved the intensity of the flavor of this one. Loved the hama chili as well, which was sashimi of yellowtail with orange, thai chili and ponzu ($18.50). Hubby thought it was a bit bland, but if you ate it with the pieces of orange, it was fabulous. Delicate, but really good. The table all loved the fried caramelized Brussels sprouts with fish sauce, lemon and chili. I don’t think I have ever tasted Brussels sprouts that tasted so rich. And they remained crispy despite everything going on. And wagyu on a hot rock with ponzu ($17)? You can’t really go wrong. You barely sear it and then eat it. The special nigiri was great as well. One of the sushi rolls was tasty, while one was weird and my least favorite thing. The “shag” tempura roll ($14) with salmon, avocado, sundried tomato and sumiso was great. The ham and egg roll ($10) with pork belly and egg custard was not so good. It fell flat. The tempura grouper that was a special was fine, although just didn’t stick out. The desserts on the other hand were as tasty as they were beautiful ($8-$9 each). We really didn’t need three of them, but we ordered them anyway. Just look at them. They were great. I want to go back tomorrow.

The next meal we had was at Home Slice. Why oh why can’t we have pizza like this is Indy (outside of Brozinni, which is awesome, but so far away from me)? It was a great place to take the kids, even though we ended up eating lunch at like 3:00 p.m. because that’s how long it takes to get in EVERYWHERE in Austin. This city is clearly over-peopled. Anyhow, my daughter wanted an antipasti platter ($14.75) and the kids pretty well devoured it. Like I said, it was like 3:00, so it was a good call, because it came out fast. A nice mix of Italian meats, cheeses and my favorite, olives and artichoke hearts. Oh yeah, and those garlic knots. The platter came with a couple and then we got a bunch more (4 for $4.50). They are soft and garlicky and delicious. They come with marinara, which although I prefer Bromine’s garlic butter, was very tasty. The pizza though? The pizza was awesome. The best part was the mushroom and red onion (which was my choice). Just the right amount of each ingredient, and that crust was awesome. It might even be better than Brozinni. The kids ordered a clam pizza ($21.50), and while it was good (you gotta squeeze the lemon on top), it was very, very clammy—those are all chopped clams. I think about half as many would have made it better. It had a white olive oil type sauce instead and lots of garlic and herbs.

For lunch we ate at Top Notch. I mean look at that sign and tell me it doesn’t make you want to eat there? It was cool, a drive-in from way back. The inside was all wood paneled. Their sign advertised fried chicken, so who am I to say no? It was fine chicken, but honestly the burgers the kids ordered were better. The onion rings were quite tasty too and the milkshakes were handmade and delicious. And check out the canned wine. Fancy.

Our last meal was also really good. Still waiting on an Italian place like this in Indy. The restaurant is called Red Ash. It was one of those really hip, popular and LOUD restaurants, but the food more than made up for any noise discomfort. The bread service ($2 pp) alone is delicious. And you have to pay for it, but after that they will bring you free refills. This was garlic and cheese bread and the bread itself was delicious too. We also got an app of roasted clams ($16) and they were the smallest I have ever seen in the US. They were delicious. My family was fighting over them—they were cooked in white wine, herbs, garlic and topped with breadcrumbs. We also ordered beef carpaccio ($14), which was prepared wonderfully as far as the meat was concerned, but it was covered with a lot of horseradish, which isn’t really my thing. You couldn’t really taste the meat anymore. We also had a wonderful fresh halibut crudo ($16) that was seasoned perfectly and it was as beautiful as it was tasty. It ad avocado and lemon, radish and celery. So bright and fresh.  This place definitely excelled the most at apps though I think. Our entrées were good, but the risotto with bone marrow ($36) hubby and I split with hubby was so over the top rich, it was hard to finish. My daughter’s gnocchi ($15 for the small portion) with gorgonzola cream, speck, and fresh cream and was my favorite of the entrées. It was light and creamy and had some nice fresh herbs in it as well. The desserts we all shared (there were 9 of us) were very tasty as well. Dulce du leche ice cream, tiramisu and filled doughnuts with chocolate and blackberry jam (all $9). 


All in all, this trip went much better than the last one that’s for sure. We kayaked and the kids all rock climbed and we ate really, really well (there was some BBQ in there too, don’t worry but I wrote about the place we went (Rudy’s) last time, so I am not covering it again). Austin is a great city, but seriously, it is a bit overpopulated. The traffic was insane and the waits for restaurants were as well. But the food (and the company of course) made it worth it. And hey, if you  have recommendations for other places I am sure we will get back there one of these days.