Monday, March 19, 2018

Cobblestone Grill -- Revisit (Lunch)

The other day I met a friend for a quick lunch at Cobblestone.  I haven’t been there in ages—and they have remodeled the inside since then. It’s much darker and feels more modern than the last time I was there.

We ordered two things and shared. The first thing was the Southwestern chicken sandwich ($12) and the southern BLT ($11). Both were very good and had some nice touches. The chicken sandwich was a grilled chicken breast topped with avocado slaw, Gruyere cheese and Sriracha aioli. It was all on a brioche bun. The first thing you notice when you bit into this sandwich is the acidity of the slaw. And mixed with some hunks of creamy avocado? It was so good. The cheese and aioli rounded out the flavors nicely too, giving it some heat and some rich saltiness. It was a touch on the messy side, but tasted very good. I upgraded to fries for my side. They were good fries—maybe could have stood just another minute in the fryer though, some were kind of soft. And they served them with ketchup, which is kind of boring. I should have gotten some extra Sriracha aioli on the side.

The southern BLT was also very good—they use fried green tomatoes, pimento cheese, bacon, and bib lettuce. I always worry that the tomatoes will be too thick, but these were nice and thin. The pimento cheese added nice flavor and a little bit of spice. The bacon was very crisp, so depending on how you like yours; you may or may not like this as much. I like my bacon super crisp, so I was good. My friend wished it was softer.

Both of these sandwiches were very good. They have the sandwich thing down. I like a mix of flavors and you gotta have some kind of sauce to keep it from being dry and to keep it interesting. Both of these had all of those things, and to be honest, I’d be hard pressed to say which one I liked better. 

The service was friendly and prompt, although the place wasn’t very busy. So, who else has been there lately?

Cobblestone Grill
160 South Main Street
Zionsville, IN 46077

Monday, March 12, 2018

Blue Sushi Sake Grill

You know I am on my search for a new favorite sushi place, so I was excited when I got some emails about the opening of a new place in Ironworks, which is conveniently located near my house. I have been twice since they opened. They may still be working on some kinks with consistency, but I am pretty sure this is a place that I will return fairly regularly based on what I have had so far and the its proximity.

On both trips we had the tuna tataki ($13) and the truffle salmon ($11). These are both sashimi style presentations—or like a crudo. They were both thin slices of the fish. The tataki was seared with pepper on the edges, crispy garlic chips on top, and in a light sauce. The first time we had this, we really enjoyed it. The second time, while we enjoyed it, it was much more peppery, almost to the point of making it not enjoyable. Almost. I’m not sure which is the way they intend it to be, but I am  hoping it was the first version. I am sure we will try it again and find out. The truffle salmon is really good—and unique. Again, thin slices of fish, topped with hot sesame oil, salmon caviar and sitting in ponzu. These are both also on the happy hour  (HH) menu—you can get them for $10 and $8.50 during that time.

On both trips we also had the crunchy rice cakes with spicy tuna ($11/$8.50 HH). Again, they were a little different on each visit—the first time the rice cakes on the bottom were a little over fried and overly crunchy, but we really enjoyed the flavor of the spicy tuna. So we wanted to try them again. This time they were perfect and probably my favorite thing we had. These will be a regular thing. Basically, they are fried bits of rice cakes, topped with spicy tuna, scallions and ponzu sauce. They were definitely a favorite at the table with our friends. The first time we also ordered the blue balls ($7/$4.5 HH). This was one of the items that made us realize we do not care for their spicy “crab” mixture. It was a tofu skin stuffed with spicy crab and deep-fried. Now, the fry on these was so good, and I love tofu, but the fishy taste of the spicy crab was not good. Again, it was the classic problem of a place calling something crab that was decidedly fishy.

So I guess this didn’t bode well for our luck with the “thriller” roll ($11), which was shrimp tempura inside and spicy crab mix, creamy “thriller” sauce and ponzu. It was broiled on top with the spicy crab and creamy sauce. The heat did not add to the already questionable taste of the spicy “crab.” However, a friend told us you could substitute real snow crab, which we did the second time (for an upcharge) and I really enjoyed it the second time. It had a touch of heat on the top of it, and the fresh crab was much tastier.

That second time we also had a couple of other rolls. Probably the most popular one at our table was the “spicy gringo” ($8/$5.50 HH), which is salmon, tuna, white fish, ginger with garlic chips and a barbeque wrap and shallots on top. It had interesting flavors and texture and like I said, everyone enjoyed it. We also enjoyed the “beach,” ($13+ $3 for snow crab substitution). It was albacore, spicy tuna and in our case, snow crab (normally spicy crab), burdock root, and avocado on the inside. It had ponzu and Serrano peppers on top. It was also tasty, although again, we subbed out the spicy crab for snow crab. I didn’t really care for the burdock root, as it was really hard—didn’t add to the texture component to me. So, it’s weird because the spicy tuna is really tasty, but the spicy crab is too fishy.  Finally, we also tried the maguro tuna nigiri, just because it’s a good way to see the quality of the fish in comparison to other places. It was excellent. 
The service was good on both visits, and I like the atmosphere of the place. There are people of all ages, and the restaurant has a modern feel. The wine and drink list is decent, and like I said, it’s close to my house.  They also take reservations through yelp, so that’s always a plus in my book.
It’s solid, and easy, and will probably go into my regular rotation, even though I wish it wasn’t a chain. But it’s a pretty small one anyway.  I also wish that it was a little more consistent, but hopefully that will come with time.  There are a lot of interesting things to try, and lots of good happy hour specials. The menus are a little overwhelming between the happy hour menu and the regular menu (if you are there during happy hour). And the print is so small; it makes me feel like I need to remember to bring some reading glasses, which just makes me feel old. Boo. But overall, I enjoyed the food and experience.

Blue Sushi Sake Grill
2413 East 86th Street
Indy 46240

Monday, March 5, 2018

Vanguard -- Revisit

For whatever reason, it has taken us awhile to get back into Vanguard—not sure why. I have always enjoyed it and they have a new(ish) chef (Adam Ditter) who came from the now-shuttered Longbranch (hard to believe that already two restaurants have closed in that same space). Anyway, hubby and I stopped in recently without a reservation and scored one of the last tables.

We started with the salmon pastrami dip with house kraut and house made pretzel bites ($7). This was a really tasty share plate. You have to really enjoy the seasonings in pastrami, as they are strong here, but a bite with the acidic kraut and the absolutely wonderful, soft pretzel bites was great.  It is a unique dish and quite tasty…Perhaps just a couple more of the pretzels would be great though, as the dip is quite plentiful.

Next we shared two starters—the gnocchi salad ($11) and the carnitas ($12). I loved the gnocchi salad. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but it was truly most like a green salad with gnocchi mixed in. And tomatoes, peppadew, banana peppers, red onion and nice hunks of feta. There was a sherry vinaigrette on it, and it was dressed all the way through (hallelujah). I read this menu descrition and thought, it sounds like it will have nice acid, and it did. It was very good.

We also shared the carnitas, which was presented very attractively. There were two crusts that were described as cheddar piecrust, which was filled with the carnitas. There was also apple sauce and crème fraiche served with it—the apple sauce was on the dish, the crème fraiche on the side. I sort of wished it had been reversed. I didn’t care for the sweetness that the apple sauce gave the dish, but I liked the slight sour flavor of the crème friache. The meat was very tasty. It was hard to really get a full feel of the taste of the crust because of the apple sauce, which was a little bit of a bummer, because I was very intrigued by the idea of the cheddar crust.

For our dinner, we split the fried chicken ($21). We were torn between it and a tuna special that came highly recommended, but I hadn’t had this new version of the fried chicken and wanted to check it out. They brine it in adobo and it is served along with coconut cauliflower rice. The dish has a decidedly Asian flair to it, and I really enjoyed it—especially the chicken. It had a great spicy, sort of smoky flavor that went all the way through to the tender meat. The dish was served with several lime wedges, which were good both on the “rice” and the chicken itself. I love a dish with extra acid on the side.  You get four pieces of chicken, so it is certainly easy to share. I’m a little undecided about how I feel about the cauliflower rice. It is certainly different, and lent a unique flavor….but still tasted like vegetable rather than a starch.

We decided to get dessert because it was Texas sheet cake, which is a family favorite. What makes it “Texas” in my mind though is the addition of a fair amount of cinnamon, giving it a slightly spicy flavor. That seemed to be missing from this version. They also put nuts in the icing, which I skip when I make it, because I prefer it with a smooth texture. It was a fine dessert, but not outstanding. They served it with a scoop of ice cream.

All in all, if you haven’t been, or haven’t been in awhile, it’s worth going back to Vanguard—especially with so few grown-up restaurants in Broad Ripple. 

The Vanguard
6319 Guilford Ave
Indy  46220

Monday, February 26, 2018

St. Elmo -- Revisit

It’s been like 7 years or something since we just went to St. Elmo for a regular dinner (we’ve been for some organized fundraisers etc., but not to just order off the menu). And the kids had never been. Oh, and I had a gift card from a silent auction (I have a little problem with silent auctions) so we finally got in there. I felt like it was our duty as parents to get the kids in there.

So, they took us through the maze of the restaurant and to a table downstairs that miraculously had a serious draft even though it was in the middle of the room. That was a chilly table. Our server was very nice though, if not a little overwhelmed. They were pretty busy—although I think they always are. 

Hubby ordered the obligatory shrimp cocktail ($15.95). I have said it before, and will say it again, I think the sauce is dumb. Too hot to enjoy. Hubby likes it though, and I know people have a weird obsession with it, so let’s just agree to disagree. They have nice big tender shrimp, and hubby made strange painful moaning noises when he ate it. So there’s that.

Hubby and I then shared the chopped BLT salad ($11). Even as a split, it was very generous. This was a very tasty salad. It had chopped romaine lettuce, Gorgonzola cheese, tomatoes, bacon and fried onions. They whole thing was tossed with a nice amount of their house vinaigrette. It was nice because everything was bite-sized and I loved getting the hunks of blue cheese. I would happily eat this one again. My son had the Caesar ($11) and really enjoyed it as well. It was also nicely dressed.

Moving along, the boys wanted steaks, and since I knew there would be more than enough to go around, us girls ordered a couple fish entrees. All the entrées  come with tomato juice or bean soup. I know it’s tradition, but do people really get the tomato juice? The kids got the bean soup and hubby upgraded to the lobster bisque (+7.95). The kids love beans and thought the soup was fine. Hubby was very disappointed with his bisque and I can’t blame him. It was really boring. Lots of rich, none of that depth that you want in a bisque. Maybe no sherry or something? There were chunks of lobster or crab in there, but it didn’t save it. He ate like two bites and left the rest. This was probably the biggest disappointment of the evening.

My son got the 8-ounce filet ($42) and hubby had the 14-ounce ribeye ($41). Both steaks were very good. I thought the ribeye was a bit better. When you get a great ribeye, it can easily beat a filet, but often they’re too fatty and chewy. This one was perfect. And this is not to say the filet was bad, because it wasn’t. Steaks are certainly strengths here, as they should be. I like that the price of the meal also includes a potato side (as well as the soup/juice). Hubby had fries and my son got a baked potato. They are both standard, but hit the spot with your steak.
I had the tuna steak ($35), which was a huge piece of tuna, along with sushi rice and a ball of wasabi and some seasoned soy. It was very good quality tuna, however, when they asked me if rare was okay, I didn’t expect it to be ice cold in the middle. I just pretended it was sashimi and it was fine, but I would have preferred it to be at least somewhat warmish at least all the way through. Obviously, I have no problem eating raw tuna, but when you expect a cooked piece of fish, you expect it to be a little warm. Even though I got rice with this dish, I also get a potato side so I had the baked potato as well. A perfectly normal baked potato. My daughter had a fish special that left a bit to be desired in my opinion—tasted a little fishy to me—but I appreciated her willingness to try something different.

We decided, hey why not, let’s have dessert. My kids have a strange obsession with giant pieces of chocolate cake. They can come from foodservice, and they’re just as happy. It’s weird to me. Cold cake is not my thing. But anyway, they ordered St. Elmo’s version, and they were happy. We also ordered the cookies and milk—this was actually a fundraiser dessert item so how could we say no? There were three warm gooey chocolate chip cookies and a glass of Trader’s Point whole milk. A very nice and comforting dessert. And it was all for charity. So the calories don’t even count. Right?

All in all, this was a better experience than I have had at St. Elmo, not that I have been that many times. It’s a solid steakhouse, and I’m glad since it’s one of the few local ones. I’d stick with steak overall, they were definitely the stars. Oh, and that salad.

St. Elmo’s Steakhouse
127 S. Illinois Street
Indy 46225

Monday, February 19, 2018

Louie's Wine Dive - Revisit

A friend was in town recently and we had a quick dinner at Louie’s in Broad Ripple. I have only had dinner there once and was interested to try it again. I appreciate the fact that it’s an adult-ish kind of option in Broad Ripple and has an interesting wine list. I like the interior, even though it tends to be a little cold in the winter with all those windows. Our server was very nice as well. The place wasn’t very busy, but it was a Monday, so hopefully that’s why.

I ordered the burger (they call it the “gourmet Sinatra burger) ($13) because I was just feeling that burger call. So it’s a thick burger, but they cooked it just as I ordered—nice and pink inside. They top the burger with some interesting things. There’s cheddar and bacon, but also balsamic, green goddess dressing, and heirloom tomatoes. I didn’t think I would like the tomatoes on there, but honestly, it was all really good together. And the balsamic really added a ncie touch. And so did the green goddess. They used a brioche bun, which was soft and delicisous. I have to say, it’s one of the better thick burgers I’ve had since my last Room Four burger. It’s not just a good burger, but has just the right amount of extra stuff to make it somewhat exceptional. They bacon was delicious too. Just the way I really like it-really salty and flavorful but also really crisp so it would practically shatter when you ate it.

The burger came with fries, and they are the thin, crispy type. In theory, I like this type of fry a lot, but these were strangely cold as soon as they were served. Not sure what happened here, but the timing was just a bit off. Would love to get a batch fresh out of the fry-o-later though. I did get some of the green goddess to dip in, and I recommend it. 

All in all, I would happily eat this burger again when I am in the mood for a fat burger. What’s your favorite burger these days?

Louie’s Wine Dive
701 Broad Ripple Ave
Indy  46220

Monday, February 12, 2018


Recently when my in-laws were visiting, we decided to try Sangiovese again. We had not eaten there since they moved to Ironworks. I never loved it when it was at its old location, but I heard a few things from a few different people that inspired me to want to try it again so we did. 

We started with the torta di caprino ($14), which is described as a goat cheese pie served with a rosemary cream sauce, roasted red peppers and crostini. I will admit, it didn’t jump out at me on the menu, or when it was served (my daughter was the one who really pushed for it), but I was pleasantly surprised when I took a bite. First of all the crostini was done really well—nice and crisp with parmesan baked on, but still light—you didn’t feel like you were going to break your teeth on it. And I was pleasantly surprised by the texture and flavor of the cheese. It wasn’t just like cold goat cheese, which is what it looked like. It was creamy, and had much more depth than what I was expecting. I was trying to eat a little healthy on this night, but this pulled me back in for several bites.

Possibly my favorite item of the evening though was the insalata mista ($9) that I split with hubby. A salad, I know. It was mixed greens that were topped with marinated tomatoes and Gorgonzola. These little tomatoes showed up on multiple items and are delicious. This is such a better way of serving tomatoes in the winter. Add some kick to them by marinating them a bit. The salad was dressed—like every single leaf was dressed—with a creamy balsamic vinaigrette. It was a fabulous little salad, and I appreciated that it actually had enough dressing on it!

Like I said, I was trying to be a little healthy on this particular night, so instead of pasta, I ordered the half roasted chicken ($16), which is listed as a house specialty. It is marinated in rosemary, lemon and garlic olive oil. It was quite good actually, although with all the oil and the roasted potatoes on the side, not sure it was super healthy. I really enjoyed the rosemary flavor. I also liked that they also used zucchini in the vegetable mix, as it is a veggie that can be cooked in a variety of ways, and usually come out good. I find many side veggies are either over or under- cooked and almost serve the purpose of being a garnish more than a part of the meal. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal though and would likely order the chicken again. And you could easily split it with someone.

Hubby ordered the special seafood pasta, which had a lobster cream sauce and several types of seafood in it. There were scallops and shrimp and some fish I believe. He enjoyed it and I liked that the sauce did have a rich seafood flavor. No way I could have finished even a third of it though—the portion was generous and the sauce was so rich.

My son had the lasagna ($18) and seemed content. He likes lasagna and ate a fair amount, and said it was one of the better ones he had. My daughter ordered the tortellini alla effie ($21), which was tortellini with shrimp and spinach in a vodka tomato cream sauce. She said it was fine, but nothing special. Based on my one bite, I tend to agree. All in all, as far as pasta at the table went, I would say hubby’s special won. My mother in law had a fish special that was very, very good. Looking back, maybe the protein heavier dishes were the star, although I really loved that salad! And we also had a lovely bottle of Italian wine that I really enjoyed as well. The service was also on point, and all in all the meal was quite pleasant. You know how I feel about Italian food in Indy, but there's a good chance I will return to Sangiovese.

2727 East 86th Street
Indy 46240

Monday, February 5, 2018

MIlktooth-- Revisit

Hubby and I had a rare day off when the kids were still in school just before Christmas and decided to hit up Milktooth. Wowza, it was packed. I guess other people had the same idea. Anyway, we waited about 30 minutes but it was actually one of those sunny days and we sat outside in the sun.

We had already looked over the menu when we did get seated, so we ordered right away. While there were several things that sounded good, this was a menu that wasn’t as compelling as some I have seen. But it changes all the time, so this will happen sometimes. We were intrigued by the Indiana hot wings, but the warning that came on the menu that they were extremely hot and that no refunds would be offered scared us off so we decided to pass on those. If they have that kind of warning, we figured they must be really hot. And I’m not the type to love super fiery hot stuff that destroys my taste buds anyhow.

So we ordered the burger ($14), because, let’s face it, it is usually one of the best burgers around these days. They vary it up and this one was different and extremely tasty. It was a thin beef patty topped with asiago, shitake mushrooms, cream cheese chive aioli. Oh, and of course, we added an egg. Part of what makes it so good is that Amelia’s Pullman bun too. It’s just perfect. Light but exactly right to hold up to the stuff inside. Seriously, we split this (as well as everything else) and hubby really wanted to order a second one for dessert. We were both savoring every single bite.

We also ordered the Dutch baby pancake with Manchego, grapefruit, shaved Brussels sprouts, Sherry vinaigrette and chopped hazelnuts--oh and we added the meat option ($16). I want to say it was morcilla? I was glad we added it though—although it was a bit chewy, it added a nice smoky hearty flavor. I liked this better than the last Dutch baby I had at Milktooth because it was pretty much purely savory. The acid and intensity of the grapefruit was a nice contrast with the cheese. The Brussels sprouts were very tasty too and overall were sliced very thin. There were a couple that were just a little too thick for me, but overall, this was a dish that was super interesting and really good.

We tried to get the ham and cheese croissant, but sadly they were out of it, so we decided to get the latke ($5) instead. They usually have some sort of latke on the menu, but they mix it up as to what’s in it, and what’s on it. This one was potato and rutabaga and was topped with acorn squash butter and green harissa cream. I loved the harissa cream—it was tangy like it was made with sour cream. I didn’t really like the acorn squash butter as much, but it didn’t really matter because I just pushed it out of the way and ate all the rest. 

Ok, we had some wine, and in order to prevent hubby from ordering that second burger, we decided to try a pastry for dessert. We got the twice-baked pumpkin/chocolate croissant ($4). I was suspicious because pumpkin flavored things aren’t typically my first choice, but this was really good.  Decadent.

The only downside was the service was pretty slow. But like I said, they were really busy, so I think our server might have been a little overwhelmed. But we had nowhere to be and had wine, so we were generally pretty happy. I’ve said it many times before, but we are lucky to have this place and I am glad to see it still living up to the hype. There’s always something new to try, and always a twist on an old favorite as well.

540 Virginia Ave
Indy  46203

Monday, January 29, 2018

Crispy Bird

You knew I was going to have to try Crispy Bird soon. I mean it’s fried chicken, which I love, and it’s Patachou, which I also like. I had been kind of waiting for the crowds to die down and we lucked into a table the other day for lunch on my birthday with the family. I like what they have done with the interior of the space, even if they did displace one of my favorite lunch places, Barking Dog, in order to make the space.

Anyhow, the staff was very friendly, and in the beginning, the service was very prompt and efficient. It’s a challenge for the servers in there too—it’s still a very small space with a lot of tables, so they have to do a bit of a dance to get to their tables. The menu is very appealing, and there were several things we wanted to try, but we settled on a few to share amongst the four of us.

To start with, we had an order of the biscuits ($6). You get two large biscuits in an order and they are served with whipped maple brown butter. Hmmm. I liked the way these biscuits looked, but they were really dense and kind of bland. I appreciated the soft butter (which was more like butter with some maple syrup alongside), but a little salt would balance this sweetness better. My daughter, who typically inhales just about any type of bread, didn’t finish her half. We left a fair amount.

Between the four of us, we had the thigh/leg combo ($12),  two orders of the breast ($14), and the fried chicken sandwich ($10). For sides we had the mac and cheese ($8) and the black-eyed peas ($8). Of the chicken dishes, I would say the sandwich was probably the best thing. It’s a boneless chicken thigh piece (which is one of my favorite pieces of fried chicken) on a bun topped with aioli, slaw and pickles. The chicken was good, and I loved the pickles. They had a great combo of mustard flavor and a teeny heat and a little sweet. They were great with the chicken. None of us were fans of the slaw, which was strangely soft and lacking much flavor. The leg on the leg thigh combo was my next favorite piece because the meat was tender and it was easy to get the crispy skin with each bite. The thigh was not as meaty, and heavier on the crust. Also, my kids both ordered the breasts, which were dusted with salt, which you could see on the chicken and plate. The thigh/leg combo had no such salt, and needed salt. When I asked for some they brought me a precious little dish with a couple of pinches of salt in it. I think it’s a little presumptuous to think no one will want salt or pepper on fried chicken, to the point that you don’t even offer shakers at all. I can see not putting them on the table, but…. Anyhow, the breasts were the weakest pieces, which isn’t overly surprising to me. Sadly, this chicken suffered the fate of many a fried chicken breast. They were huge, and pretty dry. The thing about this chicken is the crust is really tasty and crunchy (hence the name I guess), but the rest of the chicken is just ok. And maybe I just like my fried chicken salty, but much of it needed salt as well. The sandwich excelled because it had sauce and flavor right on it. The chicken was definitely best when eaten at the same time as one of those pickles.

As far as the sides, the black-eyed peas with the egg yolk confit, “potlikker emulsion” and fried greens was the star. It has nice flavor, as well as a hit of acid. And I liked the crunch of the fried kale on top. And the egg yolk certainly didn’t hurt. This was probably the best thing on the table the whole meal. We also had the mac and cheese after reading a lot about it. I love Gruyere, which is the cheese they use. But it is extremely rich. Extremely. Out of the two chunks served, we didn’t even finish one between three of us.  I liked a few bites of it with the chicken, but whoa. It’s not your traditional creamy take, it’s baked in a block and somewhat dry, but that didn’t bother me. Hubby didn’t care for it, but I enjoyed the flavor quite a bit. Just in small doses.

So the place was jammed, and the service overall was good. I waited quite awhile for a second glass of wine, which was not my server’s fault, as he explained he was just waiting for it to be poured. The bartender was making a ton of mixed drinks and it took quite awhile. Maybe a second bartender would help until business calms down a bit. Just a thought.

Overall, it was not bad. My general theme is that everything is very pretty there, but it’s a little skin deep. And is it a place I will wait in a line to eat? Ehh…probably not. But I will give it another try one of these days. So, tell me about your experiences.

Crispy Bird
115 East 49th Street
Indy   46205

Monday, January 22, 2018

Uptown Café

You know, I had noticed that the old Binford Café near my house had a new sign and that it was now called Uptown Café. And then on instagram, my online friend @frangsty told me that she went, and really liked it. Hubby and I tried it the very next day. It is so close to our house and we are always on the scout out for new breakfast places!

So it’s a small little place—not a lot of atmosphere to it, but the servers are really nice and were right there to fill up your coffee. My only real knock is that it is just a rectangular storefront, and in this really cold weather, whenever someone opened the front door, a gust of cold air shot through the place. They might want to invest in a curtain or some sort of entry area that is blocked a bit. Most of the year it is probably fine, but was a bit chilly when we were there.

I just went with my classic breakfast to see how it compared to other favorites. I had two eggs over easy, bacon, hash browns and homemade white toast ($9.29). They make a lot of stuff from scratch, and the bread is one of them. They also do fresh-squeezed OJ. If you’re a jam person, they also give you a little side of homemade strawberry jam with your toast. My breakfast was pretty much spot on. The eggs were cooked just right, the hash browns were brown and crispy on the outside, and the toast was light and delicious. The bacon looked a little suspect, but it actually had a good flavor and was pleasantly crunchy. I love a glass of fresh-squeezed OJ, and this one while not as sweet as you hope for, was a very generous amount for the price. You can’t really control the sweetness of an orange after all.

Hubby tried the corned beef hash bowl ($8.49) and was quite happy. It was an interesting take of the shredded (hash brown) potatoes, the corned beef and lots of onions (no peppers, which made him happy). They also added Swiss cheese to the mix, giving the whole thing a sort of reuben flavor. He really enjoyed it for sure. He loves corned beef hash and this was one of his favorites.

We also got a piece of quiche ($7.49) to go to take home to my son—this was the only real let down we had food-wise. It just tasted like it had been microwaved, which made the crust a bit soft and the eggs a bit chewy. I just don’t think eggs and microwaves really mix. It really needed to be heated in the oven.

Overall though, for a good solid basic breakfast option within just a few miles of our house (hooray!), this place is getting added to the rotation for sure. I think once the word gets out, it will do very well.

Uptown Café
6404 Rucker Road
Indy  46220


Monday, January 15, 2018

Txuleta Basque Cider House

When we were in Toronto this summer, we took the kids to this Spanish tapas place and the kids loved it, so when they heard that Brugge (one of their favorite Indy places) had opened a Spanish place right above Brugge, they were excited to try it. Txuleta serves pinxtos, not tapas, as well as “snacks,” some sharable tapas (they just list them as “for the table),” and then some full-sized dishes. So what’s the difference between pinxtos and tapas you ask? I didn’t really know myself, so I looked it up. Turns out pinxtos are items that are skewered on bread. So there you go.

Naturally we wanted to try lots of things, and it’s fairly easy to do here. For snacks, we had olives ($6), the brandada ($11) and the Serrano ham ($9). The olives and ham were the clear winners here. The olives had a great unique acidic kick—much sharper than many, and they went well with everything else. We are a family of olive lovers, and these will always be ordered. The Serrano ham was also quite delicious. We have had some bad luck with this at other places, but this is a good one. It’s supple and has lots of flavor. They served some nice bread slices with it as well as some almonds, various fruits and a bit of quince paste. Very tasty—and a really nice combo. Would love to see the cheese plate as well. Next time we may need a combo cheese/meat.  The brandada was the only let down of the snacks. It’s meant to be salt cod mixed with potatoes—which it was, but it was pretty heavy on the potatoes it seemed—couldn’t really taste the cod that much. And I would have liked something to eat with it—bread or something to dip in there. It was an awkward thing to share with just a small bowl. Some of the toast that came with the Serrano would be ideal. Unfortunately the brandada came first before we had the bread that came with the ham. 

The pinxtos were the star of the night though. We had several and they were all really good. I liked these the best because they were the most composed dishes and had great flavor combos. My favorite was probably the ribeye ($9). It had a chunk of ribeye on top of the bread, as well as a little ball of fried goat cheese, some fried chips, and an almond picada sauce. The sauce is made with almond and parsley—it looked like a chimichurri. It was very tasty.

My next favorite item was probably the polenta pinxtos ($5). This had a hunk of crispy polenta and another little ball of fried cheese. I really liked the marinated mushroom and tomato at the top of the stick as well. It was really tasty. I would easily get both again.

We also had the shrimp a la plancha pinxtos ($6) with creamed fennel and lemon confit. This one was good too, although I liked the other ones better. Hubby was a big fan though. The shrimp was cooked just right though and was nice and buttery and not rubbery. The creamed fennel was good and I like the idea of the lemon, although I could have used a bit more of the lemon flavor.

We also had the patatas bravas ($8) because my kids always want fried potatoes. These were the least exciting things of the evening I would say and most went uneaten. They were drizzled with a red salsa and aioli. They needed a little extra sauce, which they happily brought us. My son did order the kid’s hanger steak as well, and it was very good (and a great deal at $8). It was served with matchstick fries, which were better than the bravas, and which also come as a dish to share for $5. I would go in this direction if you want some fried potatoes with your meal.

Finally, we were intrigued to try the Basque burnt cheesecake ($8). It is a slice of cheesecake that quite literally seems to have the top and side charred. It was unique and pretty tasty. I liked that it wasn’t overly sweet. Again, it’s a unique flavor, but a good one overall.

They are also making their own ciders, which I didn’t try because I am generally not a huge fan. But you can also get the usual Brugge beers and wines, so everyone can be happy. You can (obviously) also now take kids up there. This is something totally new for Indy, and I am happy to see it. On the whole, the food is very, very good. I am excited to go back and try some more things, particularly more of the pinxtos. Let me know if you have been and have favorites.

Txuleta Basque Cider House
1011 East Westfield Blvd
Indy 46220

Monday, January 8, 2018

Watami All You Can Eat Sushi

Ok, I am finally getting this written. It has been awhile since this visit, but I needed to get it out there, because it is unlikely we will return. Watami is one of those all you can eat sushi places. You pay about $22 and you can eat whatever sushi you want, as well as random other items on the menu. You can’t just crazy over-order though. They will charge for the pieces you don’t eat if you leave more than 7.  Not every menu item is on there, but there’s a pretty wide selection. We were torn about getting the all you can eat, because our normal order is about 3 rolls, and for 2 people, that would not really be a deal to spend $44. In the end, after ordering a few other things, it was close, but still not a better deal, because the salad I ordered was not a choice for all you can eat.

This place is also located in the old H2O sushi location, which may have me a bit jaded because that was my all time favorite sushi joint and will forever be missed. But I tried to keep an open mind. They have added a lot of booths to the interior, and changed the décor. When we were there, it was really hot outside (I told you it was awhile ago) and the air conditioner was not working. It was fairly stifling in there, which didn’t help our experience.

We tried our three rolls, the sexy girl ($12.95), the rock & roll ($12.99) and the watami roll ($12.95). We also had the tuna nigiri sushi ($4.25) and the avocado salad ($4.50). The sexy girl is spicy tuna and crunch inside with spicy crabmeat on top. So, they said it was crab on the menu, and I saw no little stars next to it and it wasn’t spelled with a “k.” I even directly asked, is this real crab? The server told me yes. Nope, it was that weird stringy stuff that is not good. It tasted fishy and detracted quite a bit. The rock and roll was a fried shrimp inside with avocado on top and crunchy tempura crab bits. It was fine, but not worth getting excited about. The watami roll was tempura crab (here comes that crab issue again), which was also “krab” and tasted fishy and not so good. I mean, I get that they aren’t going to be serving amazing fish at an all you can eat place (someone online said they will eat like 60 pieces when they go!), but if it isn’t real crab, I think you need to be up front about that, especially if you get asked directly. It was topped with seared tuna and avocado. The tuna at watami is somewhat weak as well. In fact that nigiri was pretty inedible because it was so fatty and stringy. And you know they are saving the best pieces for the nigiri. So you get the idea. The best part about the rolls for me was their size. They were very small pieces, which I like because they’re easy to eat. Assuming they probably do this for cost cutting. My avocado salad, which looked really pretty on the menu, was pretty boring. A few pieces of iceberg topped with sliced avocado. I mean, I love avocado, but some acidic gingery dressing would have been nice.

Hubby really hated this place. I don’t think he will ever step foot in there again. I could probably be persuaded to try it again just because I am always willing to give a place a couple of chances. But I certainly wouldn’t order anything with crab in the name. And the fish is certainly not up to the standards of many sushi places in town, but I guess you get what you pay for. And if you are eating 60 pieces of sushi for $22, well you can’t expect the highest quality. I know several people who really like this place, but if you ask me, there are much better places for sushi, and even better places for all you can eat (try Asaka during their happy hour). But for those of you who get really excited about the potential for large amounts of food for a little amount of money, I have included pictures of the all you can eat menus for your perusal.

Watami Sushi
1912 Broad Ripple Ave
Indy  46220