Monday, August 20, 2018

Open Society -- Revist

I met some friends at Open Society for lunch the other day. I heard they have a new chef and I looked at the menu online and was intrigued. It has been changed a bit since the last time I was there, which was quite a while ago.

smash burger?
So I was torn between breakfast type items and lunch, but when I saw they had something called the society burger, which is further described as a “smash burger,” I got even more interested. Could it be a nice thin burger? I mean what else could “smash burger” mean right? Well, I don’t know why they use that term, because this was actually more like a meatball than any type of patty. I was kind of sad about this. Also, it was a very well-done meatball, which was also a bummer (they didn’t ask how I wanted it). It came topped with cheese, arugula, pickles and a special sauce. I enjoyed the flavors of the toppings, but sadly, the meat was disappointing. And the bun was also quite round in shape. The whole thing ended up being like the opposite of a thin burger. The fries here are quite delicious though. I particularly like the crunchy end bits. I like a nice crunchy fry, and these hit the spot. They serve them with ketchup though, which is kind of boring.

I also had a couple of bites of my friend’s avocado toast ($12), which visually looked amazing. How can you go wrong with avocado, egg, and cheese right? Well, the whole plate, salad and asparagus included, was strangely under seasoned. I guess because avocado and eggs both cry out for salt, but we kept salting it (which we had to ask for) and still were not getting it right. Same thing with the dressing on the greens. It was kind of sad for something so beautiful to be lacking such depth. Especially since the description described Aleppo oil (Aleppo is a type of pepper) as an ingredient, which we thought would liven it up, but we struggled to find the flavor of it. 

The final thing I had just a bite of was ‘nduja sandwich ($15). It came topped with local ‘nduja, avocado, roasted red pepper and Havarti on Amelia’s bread. It also had chips on the side. This sandwich had a distinct spicy flavor to it, unlike the others. It must have been the ‘nduja, but it had a kick to it for sure. It was not like ‘nduja I had had before—not as soft and spreadable, but still the sandwich was pretty good. I liked the thin cut bread. This is the type of bread I really enjoy on a sandwich. I can’t say it’s a sandwich I would repeatedly order, but I enjoyed the bites I had.

Overall, I was a little disappointed with the food I had, particularly my “smash” burger. Hopefully one day I will find out what it has this name.

Open Society
4850 North College Ave
Indy 46205

Noise rating (at lunch): 1 bell out of 5.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Ali'i Poke

I really enjoy poke (it’s pronounced “poh-kay”) and am excited to see new options springing up around Indy. So poke is sort of like a deconstructed sushi roll in many ways—the star of the dish is meant to be the fish, and it is usually served raw and marinated. You choose your base (rice, greens or nacho chips) and then you choose your proteins, your toppings, and your sauces. Or at Ali’I poke, you can go with one of their signature bowls, in which they have created a bowl of ingredients that they think go well together. We built our own.

At Ali’I, you get a small or large bowl ($9.50 or $12.50). In a small bowl, you get two scoops of protein and in a large, you get four. I was really torn because I like to get a scoop of tofu in my bowl, but only one scoop of fish seemed inadequate. And in the interest of blogging, I also wanted to try the salmon. So, in order to write the most thorough post possible (it’s your fault I got such a huge portion), I got the large. However, for future reference, you really don’t need the large unless you’re really hungry—the portion they give is quite generous. I had two scoops of the marinated tuna, one of the marinated salmon, and one tofu. The kids both got the small and both got all tuna. First of all, I think the fish quality is slightly better than the other poke place I have tried in town. The pieces are cut a bit bigger, and they give you more in a scoop. I think the bigger pieces make it harder to hide fatty bits. Both the tuna and the salmon were very good, and I only came across one piece that was a touch fatty. The tofu was nice big chunks too, and because they don’t mix the proteins up in the sauce (which has its good and bad points), it stays that way. As for the base of my bowl, I got half sushi rice and half greens, and I think at this place, I would just stick with the rice in the future. I really like greens in poke, but these were bigger, harder pieces of lettuce (mainly romaine), and weren’t as good as softer mixed baby greens. Just harder to eat I guess.

As far as toppings, I went with edamame, sesame seeds, crispy onions, avocado, and scallions. I also like that they don’t charge you extra for anything (even the avocado), so you know just what you are paying from the start. There are a ton of sauces and I had a hard time choosing. I ended up getting some of the creamy miso and some of the spicy mayo, and both were good (they will let you taste any that you want as well). My daughter did the creamy miso and the sesame shoyu and I think it might have been a little better. I would also like to try the sesame vinaigrette. There is also classic unagi sauce and honey wasabi. (I told you there are a lot of choices!).

All in all, we quite liked this place, and to be honest, it is not much further than driving to Carmel, which is our other regular poke haunt. We were torn amongst the group as to which we liked more, but I think because the fish and the portions were a bit better here, I would choose this one, although I will still frequent both. This place was doing a bustling business on a week day, and I think may be a favorite of the staff at the IUPUI campus.

I know there are some other places offering poke bowls as well—have you had any of them, and what did you think?

Ali’I Poke
910 West 10th Street
Indy 46202

Monday, August 6, 2018

Taste of Havana- Revisit

It has been a minute since hubby and I have been back to Taste of Havana for lunch. We both really enjoyed it when we went, so the other day, we took advantage of a free lunch time together and headed to Broad Ripple. They have expanded since the last time we were there (I told you, it has been awhile), and it’s nice to have more seating. It’s casual seating and there’s a fair amount of it. The only downside is it was freezing in there, which made us eat very quickly and get out. Who knows, maybe that’s what they want.

Anyhow, we went with the traditional Cuban sandwich (I got the mini version for $7.50, and it is really not that small). It is your traditional pressed Cuban sandwich with roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles. It hits the Cuban sandwich spot for sure and I like that it is pressed and not so fat it’s hard to eat. When I was waiting for mine, I heard someone else ask for extra pickles and I think that is definitely the way to go. There were only a few pickles on there, and they are some of my favorite parts. I just went and asked for some on the side and doctored it up myself. The pickles and the mustard are where its at for sure. It’s a solid, traditional sandwich. If you want something on the side, you have to get it separately. I just went with a bag of chips.

The sandwich that hubby ordered, that we have had before, that is probably the star though, is the pan con lechon ($10.49). This one is served on the same type of bread as the Cuban, but is topped with pulled, marinated, roasted pork, caramelized onions, and mayo. They also give you a little container (you’ll want two) of au jus to dip in and it is fabulous. I like the way it makes the sandwich nice and moist as well as adding some saltiness. I love the pickle and bite of the mustard on the Cuban, but this is probably even better.
All in all, it’s a cute place and the owner is exceptionally friendly. I am glad to see they are doing well and have expanded. And it’s a place I need to think of more often.

Taste of Havana
815 Broad Ripple Avenue
Indy 46220

Noise rating: 0 bells (out of five)

Monday, July 30, 2018


Hubby and I finally got out to Beholder the other night. I have been hearing a lot of things about it from several friends and we were anxious to go. I didn’t really have it in my head exactly where it was, but it’s on the near eastside, not far from Irvington. It’s an old garage I think, that has been renovated. It still has a sort of industrial feel, but it’s very modern inside. Plain grey walls with only some flower arrangements as décor. It would be a great space to highlight some local artists. Just my two cents.

Ok, so we had heard the portions were small, so we went full in with our order. Between the two of us, we started with three smaller plates and ordered two of the larger plates. I loved the way they sort of just paced them all out one at a time to make for a leisurely meal that didn’t feel like they were just trying to turn over the table. The first course we had was a special that evening—the heirloom tomato salad ($13). It was delicious. Local tomatoes, feta cheese, pistachios, some mixed greens and a wonderful vinaigrette with oregano oil. Seriously, everything together here was so good. Just the right balance between the slightly salty, creaminess of the cheese and the acid of the tomatoes. I appreciated the greens that were more of an accent than a major part of the dish. The next dish that came out was the eggplant tartare ($11). I had been told by several people how good this dish was, and they weren’t lying. It is more of a dip than a tartare—a creamy eggplant dip with Middle Eastern seasonings. They serve it with this delicious fry bread that you could happily eat on its own, it has so much flavor itself. It’s rich and buttery tasting with a little kick of salt. Not crunchy, but not super soft either. You could really taste the cumin throughout this dish. Really good. I could see this being one of their classic dishes. I hope it is. Our final small plate was the Kampachi sashimi ($19). This was the one I was most excited about to order, and to be honest, was my least favorite. Although it was still very good. Just the intensity of the flavors of the other dishes were better. The dish had a little mound of sticky rice on the bottom, which was soaked in brown butter. How could you really go wrong with brown butter? It gave the dish not only richness, but a nuttiness as well. The fish was thinly sliced and then topped with local tart cherry garnish. A really interesting flavor combination as well.

The next two dishes they brought together (it was a nice touch that the chef seemed to be delivering most of the entrées personally). We had the skate wing (which is the wing of a ray), which was served with potato skin aioli and a green curry sauce ($23). I love skate. Many restaurants offered in in San Francisco, and then when we moved to England, it was everywhere—it was like catfish is here—available in every local seafood counter. It’s light and flavorful, and you don’t have to worry about bones. So Beholder’s version was awesome. Very light dusted and floured and perfectly browned. I loved both sauces together with the fish. And I think I can safely say it was the first time I have had potato skin aioli. A cool flavor with a hint of potatoes. They actually gave a fair amount of the skate here—two filets, but if you’re a person who wants a starch with every meal, then you might think it wasn’t filling enough. I thought it was perfect.

We also had the Iberico pork secreto ($43), which was a splurge, but extremely delicious. If you’re familiar with Iberico pork, you know it’s usually served sliced and cured like prosciutto. This was more like a steak that had been cooked and shaved. It had a bit of chewiness from the high fat content, but was so good. Hubby can’t stop talking about it. The meat was so well seasoned, and the dish was served with pickled spring onions, walnuts and some lightly grilled greens. Loved the combination of crunchy textures in this dish, the slight chewiness of the pork and the crunch of the walnuts. It was only five ounces of meat but was rich and tasty. You’re not going to feel overly full maybe just from this dish, but I think you will feel satisfied.

Desserts are a whole other experience here, as they have Pete Schmutte as the pastry chef, formerly from Cerulean. In my opinion, he is maybe one of Indy’s top 2-3 pastry chefs. His desserts are as lovely as they are tasty. Hubby and I shared the gjetost cheese custard with oats and plum ($10). I will tell you, hubby was doubtful when he saw it, but man, was this good. Underneath the crisp cookie-like piece and the super thin sliced fruit, was this mixture of cheesy bits and crunchy oat bits that were kind of like the top of a fruit crumble. Seriously, I know it sounds weird, but it was altogether super delicious. And look how pretty too. Also, Beholder has one of the best dessert wine lists by the glass in Indy. Oh, and they bring you a nice little end of meal plate of sweets that rival many of our best candy makers as well. We had a little disc of dark chocolate and mint, and a berry flavored pate de fruits. Both were outstanding.
Overall, this is the best new thing happening in Indy right now. Some may scoff and say the portions are small, but I say, who cares when the food is this good. You can get a lot of different flavors all in one meal, and I personally can’t wait to go back. And it may be expensive for Indy, but after having just returned from NYC and the prices there, we should appreciate the artistry of this food, its sophistication, and the price point compared to other cities. It might not be an everyday place, but it is worth a splurge. I just hope it can last.

1844 East 10th Street
Indy  46201

Monday, July 23, 2018

Thr3e Wisemen -- Revisit

Every time we go to Biscuits for chilaquiles (and it’s fairly regularly), hubby always says, “one of these days, we need to go back to Three Wisemen.” So the other day, when we were debating a lunch choice, and my family refused to go for chilaquiles, that’s where we headed.

We started with an order of the Zoe pretzels ($7), which are pretzels made from pizza dough—they are kind of like breadsticks, but that are prepared with a pretzel finish. Not sure if they boil them and the whole nine yards, but that are coated in salt and they were tasty. We had the beer mustard sauce and the nacho cheese sauce. The beer mustard was pretty strong, and the nacho cheese was pretty basic, but a little of them together in the same bite was a really good flavor. They really need a beer cheese, and all would be perfect. But I basically kind of made my own.

Next, we shared a wedge salad ($8). So in the picture you see just half of one (with tomatoes on the side, because that's my son's half). Pretty big huh? Anyway, I love the fact that they actually use romaine lettuce instead of iceberg. I know iceberg is traditional, but this makes it easier to eat and easier to get a bite with all the toppings. Iceberg wedges always seem to end up with just a lot of undressed lettuce. Also, in a move that made her one of my favorite servers, our server just automatically brought us an extra side of dressing. This was awesome. I nearly always end up asking for extra dressing with a wedge, and I didn’t have to. They also brought the split salad each with its own breadstick and dressing. I thought the salad was very good and would happily eat it again.

Hubby and I split a pizza ($10). You can either get the thin crust the normal way or hand-tossed for an upcharge. We really like a thin crust, so we just got it the regular way and topped with red onion and mushrooms. They put a good amount of toppings on it, and I like their cheese mix—but sadly, the middle of the crust suffered a bit from being soggy—it could have used a few more minutes in the oven I think. It still tasted good, but the texture was just off a bit.  My son had the hot ham and cheese sandwich ($10) and seemed to like it fine. They use nice looking ham—looks like it is pretty good quality. I can’t speak to it personally, because I didn’t try it. The chips are good as well.

Overall, I think Three Wisemen is a good place to keep in mind. I might just ask that they cook my pizza a tad longer than normal—then it would have been nearly perfect. And I would totally get that wedge again.

Thr3e Wisemen 
1021 Broad Ripple Avenue
Indy 46220

Monday, July 16, 2018

Rathskeller -- Revisit

My husband has been nagging me to go back to the Rathskeller literally for years. Let’s just say, it didn’t make a strong impression on me then. And let’s also just say, that may have changed, but not for the better.

We went with my son and my in-laws. They are always game to try somewhere new and had never been. We started with an order of the onion dill bread with herbs and provolone ($9.95). This is a pretty tasty item. It’s a piece of bread that’s cut and seasoned and topped with cheese and herbs. It’s gooey and tasty. Honestly, it was one of the better things we had, even though you really don’t need to order it because you get a nice bread plate with every meal. Speaking of which, my favorite part of this is the warm pretzels in that basket. I truly wished they offered some sort of cheese or even better, beer cheese, to dip them in. The pretzels taste good, but the super spicy mustard they serve it with is so spicy, it’s not even really very good. So let’s just say the strengths of this place mainly start and end with the breads. Ok, and the soup. I had a cup of French onion soup ($5.50) and salad for my meal, because so much pork was being ordered, I knew I could eat off everyone else’s plates. The soup was very tasty. It had the rich beefy stock that you need, plus the onions and cheesy bread. Oh wait, there you go, more bread.

The salad I ordered was the spinach salad ($11.50). It’s a big hearty salad with a ton of spinach leaves. They are topped with bacon crumbles, cheese, hardboiled egg, tomatoes, red onions, and mushrooms. They serve it with a little server of warm bacon dressing. There was so much spinach in there, you really needed to take about half of it out in order to have the right amount of dressing. It was actually kind of hard to eat because the plate was so full, you couldn’t really toss the dressing with the salad much. I kind of got frustrated trying to get it right and gave up and stuck with my soup. I didn’t care much for the dressing either, which had a kind of artificial sweetness to it.

Several people at the table got various forms of the schnitzels. The regular schnitzel ($24.50), the Jaegerschnitzel ($26.50), and the schnitzel cordon bleu ($26.50). Ok, these are all pounded and fried pork tenderloins that are covered (or not) with various sauces—the plain one just comes with lemon, the Jaegerschnitzel with a red wine sauce with mushrooms, herbs and shallots, the cordon bleu, with you guessed it, ham and Swiss cheese. Here’s the problem. The schnitzel is bad. You can dress it up (or not) however you want, but it’s just huge and dry. So dry you can barely cut it with a knife and fork. The cheese and ham were probably the best addition as it added, well, cheesiness. But no one was overly happy, and I am pretty sure my in laws will never return. On the bright side, one of the sides chosen by several, the creamed spinach, was pretty tasty. It was probably the only side dish that anyone commented on. You do have a lot of different choices though. But I would recommend no to schnitzel.
Hubby ordered the wurst plate ($26.95) and contrary to its name, it was actually the best entree. (Haha).  It’s a combo of bratwurst, kielbasse, bockwurst, and a German wiener. They steam them in beer and then grill them. Interestingly, they serve them with a couple kinds of mustards—the really hot one and a not so hot one. It makes you wonder why they don’t offer this with the pretzel. He also got the creamed spinach as well as a house salad with blue cheese dressing. This salad was pretty tasty, and I liked this dressing. I would stick with something like this if you’re in a salad mood.

Ok, I know it’s a big deal in Indy, and an historical building/restaurant, but there is very little that would lure me back it. Hubby says maybe a beer and pretzels and that’s about it. And I agree. So are you guys going to yell at me about this one? I’m curious, because let’s face it, the food is just not very good.

The Rathskeller
401 East Michigan
Indy 46204

Monday, July 9, 2018

Primanti Bros.

Ok, a quick one here. My daughter and I ended up at Primanti Brothers the other day before going to see an event at Banker’s Life. We literally could not get in anywhere and were running out of time. This was the first place that we could find that could seat us.

I was not really familiar with this place, but we just went with what we thought sounded good at the time. I got the buffalo chicken sandwich ($8.79), and my daughter got the Italian crostini ($8.79). She had fries for her side and I got tater tots (I have a weakness). I guess they are famous for some of their sandwiches that have French fries on them, but the ones we ordered weren’t those, and honestly, that just sounds like a really fat sandwich to me. So feel free to yell and me and tell me why I am wrong.

I also have a weakness for a buffalo chicken sandwich, and this one was fine, but there wasn’t really anything special about it. It didn’t have a ton of sauce, and the chicken was pretty thin. They serve it with lettuce, tomato and red onion as well as blue cheese dressing, but it didn’t really have enough blue cheese so I got some more. It hit the spot, but it will still never be as good as my favorite version from Sahm’s. The tots were spot on. They serve it with their special “zesty Retro sauce.” Not sure what is in here, but it tastes like maybe some hot sauce and ranch or something. It had a slightly sweet edge though, so I didn’t eat a lot of it.

My daughter likes a lot of salami type meat on her sandwiches, and this one was up her alley—it had capicola, salami, pepperoni, mozzarella, vinaigrette, lettuce and tomato. She wasn’t a fan of all the lettuce and tomato, but she liked the sandwich ok. The fries were tasty. 

As for the service, it was great. Our server was friendly and fast, which we needed. But overall, it’s the kind of place I wouldn’t be opposed to going to in a pinch, like the situation we were in. However, it’s also the kind of place that helps me remember to make a reservation on a night like this so I don’t get myself in a pinch. Any Primanti lovers out there? Tell me what you think.

Primanti Brothers
Circle Center (other Indy area locations)
49 West Maryland Street
Indy. 46204

Noise rating: 2 bells (out of five)

The Vanguard--Revisit

For Mother’s Day we ended up having dinner at the Vanguard. We had recently been for their Longbranch pop-up and it was so good (I really hope they bring that back every so often). I honestly thought it was better than the original Longbranch, if that is possible. Anyhow, they have moved on to a new spring menu, and since it was a new bunch of items, I thought I would do a little update.

We started with two “smalls,” the popcorn ($5) and the chicken liver toast ($9). The popcorn was cooked with pork fat and had Sriracha spices on it. It had some kick to it, but it was very good, and very addictive. And pork fat should really be a part of more popcorn. The chicken liver toast was really kind of disappointing. It was visually beautiful, but I think they must be made in advance and refrigerated because the toast was not crunchy and was bordering on soggy. On the toast was chicken liver mousse, chevre (goat cheese), and nettle mustard. There was a lot of the mustard on the bread, which dominated the whole thing and probably added to the bread sogginess issue. I would have preferred a lighter hand on this, crispier bruschetta, and more of the chevre and liver.

We were all kind of sharing everything, and the next thing that came out was the “ham and cheese” ($11). This was more of a charcuterie plate, and I enjoyed it. There was some perfectly toasted bread here (hmmmm….) along with speck (smoked prosciutto), Bellamy blue cheese, oil and vinegar on the side, and microgreens. The ingredients were very good, although we needed more bread than they offered (which we asked for, told we would be charged for, and never got). But the flavors of everything was good. For this course, we also had the warm cobb salad ($12). This was warm wilted mustard greens, boiled egg, tomato, bacon and an avocado vinaigrette. It was very good. For some reason, I feel like this place pulls off salads really well, so I am always tempted to order them. Hubby kind of balked, but he loved it too. It had a slightly spicy kick from the greens and the vinaigrette and tomatoes gave good acid. It was extremely flavorful. I will continue on my habit of ordering salads at the Vanguard.

For our mains, hubby and I split the “buttered noodles” ($18) and the special, which was pork tenderloin tacos. The buttered noodles were made with crème fraiche, greens, parmesan and pepper. This was a really good dish for such. Love the use of crème fraiche here giving the pasta more than just a rich cheesy flavor. It was a good thing to split though, because it still was rich enough. The tacos were just ok. Not much going on there—and the meat itself was a little dry. There wasn’t much to them—some cheese and garnish and a couple of limes.

My son had the special steak for the evening—it was a ribeye and it was very tasty, although because of all that fat, it probably would have been better if it were cooked slightly more medium, but he ordered it medium rare. There was some asparagus and greens here as well. It had a great flavor. My daughter got the fried butter quail with butter and cilantro ($15). She enjoyed it although they had forgot it at first, and she ate it after we were pretty much finished.

The Vanguard is a good option for a more high-end dinner in Broad Ripple. It feels like a grown-up restaurant and I like that. The food changes around a fair amount, and I like that too. There are always some really tasty things, even if not everything is always amazing. And if they bring back the Longbranch menu, I highly recommend checking it out. The service can certainly be up and down, and this was one of the down experiences, but hopefully it will be better next time.

The Vanguard
6319 Guilford Ave
Indy  46220

Monday, July 2, 2018

Pure Eatery Fishers

Always looking for a healthier option for lunch, I met my friend Suzanne at Pure Eatery in Fishers. They have had a location downtown for years, and I haven’t been there for years, so I thought I would give the new one a try. I find the menu appealing. There are lots of sandwiches and wraps and things like that, and I like that you can order a half sandwich if you want to not eat too much. 

I went with a half of the Grady’s melt ($5.95) plus a side salad ($1.95 upcharge from chips). I like a sandwich named after someone, because I always think it is something that someone developed after putting thought into it—and that it is a perfect reflection of their perfect sandwich. Or something like that. So this sandwich is sourdough bread, white cheddar, bacon, tomato and garlic-parmesan aioli. This sounds pretty close to one of my ideal sandwiches. I have to say though, that while I ate it and didn’t hate it, there are certainly easy ways to improve it. For instance, the bacon was like tiny bacon bits, which I thought was odd. Bacon seems born to go on a sandwich in its natural state—strips—but maybe that’s just me. And maybe that’s the way Grady likes it. Honestly, I really didn’t get a lot of flavor of anything besides the cheese here, which sort of made it a sort of grilled cheese. I appreciated that the bread was toasted pretty well (I could have gone for a little more color if I am completely honest). I don’t know, I had higher hopes than how it came out. I love a good sandwich, and this was just an ok one. Now there are a lot of appealing sounding other sandwiches and wraps on the menu, and I would like to try some others—so tell me your suggestions.

My little side salad was perfect though (other than those cucumbers, which I just set to the side. I am not a fan of cucumbers, go figure). A couple of little tomatoes and then just extremely fresh tender mixed greens. I am always amazed at how often something so simple gets messed up. Large pieces of stem or hard bits of stalk, or mushy lettuce past its prime. I had the house made blue cheese dressing with it—nice and chunky—and I was quite happy with it.

Suzanne had stuffed jalapenos, which I thought were interesting because they are like jalapeno poppers that aren’t fried, they’re grilled. They were very cheesy—stuffed with gouda and served with a side of house made ranch. She also had a cup of tomato basil soup. Looked pretty good. I didn’t try either, but she seemed content.

Like I said, this seems like a place where you can get fresh food and can be kind of healthy if you want to (although there are plenty of ways to be decedent as well). I also like to see a local place in an area dominated by chains. They were doing a good business, and if I lived a tad closer, I would certainly try more things and go more often. What do you guys think of it? I know I have some Fishers’ readers out there—share your thoughts.

Pure Eatery
8235 East 116th Street
Fishers, IN  46038

Noise rating: 1 bell (out of five)

Monday, June 25, 2018

Next Door

The family and I finally got around to trying Next Door, the other new Kimbal Musk restaurant. This one is in SoBro. I have always thought this location just called out for a restaurant—it pretty much looked like an old diner, so I was glad to see something interesting go in here.

We went for lunch (although I think their menu is the same at all meals). Wanting to try a lot of things, we ordered a couple of shareable items to start. We had the chips and guacamole ($8.95) and the buffalo chicken bites ($10.95). We were excited when we saw the chips—they sort of reminded us of the flour tortilla chips from Nada, which we all love. But these were not as tasty and needed salt. They were fine but not super exciting. Sadly, the same could be said of the guac. It definitely needed salt, and a little lime, and maybe some heat would have helped too. It was just kind of bland. The buffalo chicken bites were good. Nice slightly spicy flavor from the buffalo sauce that was tempered by the creamy dressing and chunks of blue cheese. I liked the flavor from some thin slices of celery and celery greens as well. I guess if I were going to improve the dish, the only thing I would suggest is that the pieces of chicken might be slightly bigger—they were a tad on the dry side. But ultimately, this ended up being my favorite dish on the table.  Hubby and I also had a house margarita ($7.50) and I have to say, it wasn’t very good—it was very light and had little flavor going on. I rarely meet a margarita that I just don’t like, but this was one.

For our main, hubby and I wanted to split a Cuban sandwich ($9.95) but were told only upon ordering it that they were out (hint, might want to tell people this at the very beginning of the service). We last minute changed to the “Merlin’s Carolina pork” sandwich ($11.95). This sandwich has pork in mustard BBQ sauce, pickles, crispy onions, and cole slaw. So, this sandwich suffered from dryness too. You could barely tell there was sauce on the pork, and there seemed to be more crispy onions than there was pork. I liked the idea of fried onions on the sandwich, but in this case, they sort of just added to the dry factor. I asked for a side of sauce, which I eventually got, and this made the sandwich bearable, but still not particularly good. They serve the sandwiches with chips and dressed greens. Both were fine, but nothing that stood out.

My son had the burger ($10.95). It comes topped with white cheddar and with the traditional garnishes on the side. They did not ask how he wanted it cooked, and it was cooked pretty well done. So guess what? Also, dry. Of the main dishes, it was probably the best one, but still not great. They really ought to cook it to order, or else cook it closer to medium.

The worst of the entrées was my daughter’s ancho chile chicken bowl ($13.95). If I thought the other dishes came across as dry, this one took the cake. It was mainly rice topped with shredded chicken—both of these things pretty dry. There were some tortilla strips on top, a bit of corn, beans, and peppers and then the whole thing was very lightly drizzled with lime crema. There was nowhere near enough of this crema to bring the moisture this dish needed. The few bites she ended up eating, she had with some of the leftover guacamole. The chicken wasn’t particularly flavorful either. This was definitely a pass.

We thought we should try dessert just to give every course a chance. The only option was a gluten free chocolate chip cookie, so we went ahead and took a pass on this, considering we had homemade gluten-full chocolate chip cookies at home. 

Ok you guys, I wanted to like this place, and it’s really cute, but there was nothing that made me want to go back. Even the service was up and down. For instance, it took a solid 15-20 minutes to get our appetizers, but then we got our entrées within five minutes of getting the apps, even though we ordered them separately and later. It took awhile to get that side of sauce for our sandwich, and to get extra plates and things like this. We sat outside, which was lovely, but inside seemed pretty loud. The only thing I would consider ordering again were the buffalo chicken bites. So, if you have found something you love, please let me know. Otherwise, I am unlikely to return.

Next Door
4573 North College Ave
Indy 46205

Noise rating: 4 bells (out of 5) inside, quieter outside.