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
317/919-3555

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
317/991-3355


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Bluebeard- Revisit - Lunch

I met my friend Suzanne for a slightly late birthday lunch at Bluebeard. It’s been awhile since I have eaten at Bluebeard for lunch, so it was nice to go back. The hard part is not ordering everything on the menu—so I let her choose and we split both items.

The first item was the Canadian bacon sandwich ($10), which had Canadian bacon, spinach cream cheese, garlic mayo, roasted red peppers, arugula and red onions served on Amelia’s Pullman toast. There was a lot going on in this sandwich, but it was extremely tasty. I really enjoyed the softness of the bread, even though it was also nicely toasted. The cream cheese and aioli added a kick of acidity. My only knock on it was the bacon was very fatty, which maybe some people like, but it gives it a bit too rubbery of a taste sometimes for me. I just pulled off some (not all) of the fat and really enjoyed it.

Bluebeard is sourcing their meats from the new Turchetti’s down the street (I overheard the waiter telling this to another table). It’s exciting to see a new local business featured in a restaurant like Bluebeard.

We also were feeling indulgent and got the loaded fries ($14), which were extremely good and extremely bad for the diet. But whatever. There was Mornay sauce, cheese, bacon and of course lots of crispy fries. Oh and a sunny egg on top. The Mornay sauce though—damn, it was so good. It wasn’t just pure flat and rich, it had an edge to it that made it completely addicting.

Bluebeard is a solid choice you guys, even for lunch. It feels like a nice grown up place, and isn’t so crowded that you have to wait to get it for lunch. And you know you want to eat those fries.

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





Tuesday, December 26, 2017

45 Degrees

Sushi quest. Day 342. Hubby and I had an event downtown and decided to try 45 Degrees beforehand to continue our ongoing search for our new favorite sushi. This place has been around forever and it was about time. 

The first thing about it is the interior—I really like the funky, modern feel of it. It has a nice atmosphere for sure. Our server was also very friendly and quick. We had drinks quickly to enjoy while we looked over the menu. We started with an order of the tuna nachos ($14). These were an interesting concept and were quite tasty. Possibly my favorite item of the evening. So there’s a layer of wonton chips and they are topped with chopped seared tuna, pico di gallo, Mexican cheese, wasabi mayo, and a mango habanero glaze. There was a lot of tuna on there, and I enjoyed the various flavors that were mixed in, especially the acidity from the pico. I was worried the cheese would be weird with the tuna, but it worked. Even though it was pretty big, we managed to eat the whole thing.

For sushi, we ordered just two rolls since we had the nachos. We had the spider roll ($15) and the piranha roll ($15). The spider roll was fried soft shell crab inside along with some fresh crab and avocado (we had them hold the cucumber). It’s wrapped in soy paper and then the whole thing is drizzled with spicy mayo and ell sauce. This was a tasty roll for sure, and I really appreciated the addition of actual crab. It was nice to even see real crab as an option. Not many sushi places do this. The rolls were also not so ridiculously big, which if you’re a regular reader; you know is a pet peeve for me. I don’t want to have to cut a piece of maki in half in order to be able to eat it.

The other roll was interesting. Inside it had shrimp tempura, avocado, and cilantro (again, cucumber held) and it was topped with yellowtail, Sriracha and serrano pepper. It was served with a side of ponzu sauce.  It was an interesting combo and I liked the touch of heat and the sweet and slightly acidic ponzu. Both rolls had the combo of crunchiness I like from the fried seafood inside as well as the fresh fish richness. And avocado. Whenever there’s avocado, I’m just a little happier. I like that they have a lot of variations on rolls and that they all don’t have the stuff that I don’t like. I feel like some places we go stick cream cheese in every roll, and I just don’t believe cream cheese belongs in sushi.

Overall, I think this place meets my need for good sushi rolls. And we really enjoyed the tuna nachos. I would like to try some of their other non-sushi items as well. If it wasn’t so far, it might qualify for a regular place. Again, I also like the modern feel of the place. What do you guys think? Have you been there?

45 Degrees
765 Massachusetts Ave
Indy 46204
317/634-4545
www.fortyfiveindy.com 


Monday, December 18, 2017

Provision

A lot of people have been asking me about Provision so here it is!  Let me start off by saying we had dinner here the first time within like a week of it opening, which isn’t something I normally do, but friends asked us to go and I will rarely turn down such an invitation. That first visit we tried a lot of the appetizers and there were some that really shone and some that were kind of stinkers (the beef tartare for example was very bland). I am not going to write a full review of that visit, because it goes against my regular rules, but I wanted to let you know that the second meal was influenced by it because we ordered things based on that first visit that we knew were better than others. Thus, we crafted a very good dinner, but based on the first visit, there are still some food kinks to be worked out. And service. Woo. That first visit we had pretty bad service, but like I said, it was new and the place was packed.

So on the second visit, we took the kids and sat outside on one of those glorious fall evenings we had awhile back. I like the outside because it isn’t so crazy loud like the inside can be. To start, they brought us a nice amuse of salmon on top of a multi grain type of crouton and a creamy sauce. It was an extremely tasty bite. We then ordered the tuna appetizer ($22) and the seafood cocktail ($20). Again, both choices made based on our first meal. It’s funny, because the seafood cocktail isn’t something I would typically order because while I like shrimp cocktail, how boring can you get right? But this one is unique because the shrimp is dry rubbed with seasonings and then lightly charred. The shrimp are large, but nice and tender and have a wonderful smoky flavor. They also serve it with some hunks of king crab and avocado and a curry red sauce underneath. A nice combo of flavors and we enjoyed it both times. The tuna is also quite tasty. They give you several pieces of seared tuna drizzled with spicy mayo and a crunchy rice cake alongside. I really enjoy the variation of textures in the dish and the flavor from the mayo. You know I love seared tuna and this is a tasty one. We also got the bread plate ($5), because if there is one, and my kids are with me, this will be required. They do a nice job giving you Blue Dog bakery baguette, which is the best local-ish (from Louisville) baguette you can buy, a homemade soft pretzel and some house made pita. They give you butter and a yummy flavored dipping oil. The oil is particularly good with the pita.

I knew I would get to eat some of everyone else’s food, and I was intrigued by the crab toast appetizer ($36), so I got that as my main dish. So wow, this dish had so many different things going on. First of all the bread was so flakey and buttery—almost like it was a croissant underneath. It was topped with big hunks of the crab, jalapeno, Thai basil and a slightly spicy beurre blanc (butter sauce). I liked the combo of the rich, but light and flaky bread and the rich crab with the slight spiciness and acidity of the sauce. A tasty dish for sure. Probably better as a starter to share with someone else though.

Hubby had the special of the evening, which was snapper on top of risotto. It was very well prepared and he really enjoyed it. My daughter ordered scallops ($35) with cilantro gnocchi, spinach and basil-chile beurre blanc. The scallops had the perfect seared edge and were cooked very nicely. She seemed to enjoy them, although couldn’t finish it. My son’s Angus filet ($38) with Robuchon potatoes though was outstanding. And my daughter kept trying to steal bites of those buttery potatoes. All of our dishes were very good. If I had lucked into this as my first meal, I would have been so excited about this new place. As it is, I am still excited; I just know that there are also several items on the menu that aren’t quite as good. I am also looking forward to seeing how they mix up the flavors as the seasons change. I typically really enjoy the new restaurants that Cunningham opens with Layton Roberts in the kitchen. So far Provision is solid, although not as impressive as Vida was when it first opened. It just doesn’t yet seem to have the finesse that Vida had. Maybe that’s not what they’re going for though, who knows.

I have heard many mixed things about this place, so I would love to hear your thoughts.

Provision
2721 East 86th Street
Indy  46240
317/843-6105

www.provision-restaurant.com 
photos from that first dinner

Monday, December 11, 2017

Pioneer - Revisit

My family has really enjoyed Pioneer in the past—and when given the option, the kids chose to go back. They have changed up the menu bit and our last visit was probably the best one yet. I also recently had the pleasure of a private wine dinner there and had a really good meal as well. It’s a place you should definitely check out if you have not already.

We started out with the everything pretzels ($8) with dill cream cheese and tomato olive schmear. I liked the play on an everything bagel, with the seasonings on the pretzels and the cream cheese. They are soft pretzels, but have a nice crusty crunch to them with the spices on top. As long as they’re on the menu and I am with my kids, I am pretty sure they will be ordered.

My daughter is also obsessed with arancini, and we had an order of these ($9). They have had a version of them in the past, but I think I preferred the lightness of these the most. They are rice balls that are seasoned with saffron, lightly fried and served with parsley aioli. Hubby wanted the meatballs ($12), and no one objected so we had those too. These were very tasty, even for meatballs. They were served with a rich red sauce and crostini. If you’re a meatball person, you should get them.

Hubby and I also ordered the frisee salad with a “fried” egg, guanciale, and fingerling potatoes. The only bad part of the meal was that they forgot to bring this until after we had already gotten our entrées, but we decided to eat it anyway, and I was so glad, because this is so good. I will certainly order this each and every time if it’s offered. The frisee is nicely dressed and acidic to balance the richness of the egg, which is barely poached and then breaded and deep-fried. It remains yolky and delicious. This is the perfect thing for me and I would happily eat this as my main dish—as it was I basically ate it as a dessert, which was fine by me.

Pictures from the wine dinner
Oh man, though, the star of the meal was the beer brined half chicken ($21). My son and I split it. Normally I don’t order chicken out, but this may change this practice. If you have ever been to San Francisco and ate the “chicken for two” at Zuni Café, this is very reminiscent of it. Pioneer does a bread salad underneath with greens—there’s a good amount of acid in the salad and it is so good with the extremely tender chicken. The chicken was just so good—it sort of fell off the bone and even the breast meat was tender and delicious. I highly recommend this dish.

Hubby and my daughter both had linguine and clams ($21). They both enjoyed them but agreed that other things were the stars of the night (hubby thought the salad and chicken were his favorite things and my daughter would say the pretzels). They use nice smallish clams and give you a decent amount of them. The sauce is flavorful, but could use maybe a little bigger punch of red pepper. 

Overall, this was a great meal and it’s a great place to remember when you want a nice local meal in Fountain Square.

Pioneer
1110 Shelby Street
Indy 46203
317/986-6761


Monday, December 4, 2017

Rize

There’s a new place in the new hotel in Ironworks that’s serves breakfast/lunch called Rize. It’s also run by the Cunningham Group like Provision upstairs. I like the looks of the menu because it’s a little more interesting take on breakfast. I met a friend for a late breakfast the other day to check it out.

I was torn between a couple of things, but luckily the friend I was with was willing to give me a couple of bites of hers as well, and she got one of the things I was debating. I ordered the egg tart ($11), which is sort of like a really light egg custard in a crust—like a lighter version of a quiche. But instead of having the veggies mixed in, they sauté them and put them on top. I can see how this makes good sense as far as easily changing up the seasonality of the veggies and keeping he base tart the same. There is Gruyere cheese in the tart and it is very light and fluffy—and the crust was nice and flaky. I really enjoyed it.  I especially like the swath of hibiscus mustard and the pickled onions—they really made the dish. A bite with all of the parts of it was really, really good. The veggies on top were fallish—there were mushrooms and sweet potatoes and broccolini. I would get it again. I bet in the spring and summer it would be amazing since I prefer those veggies in general.

My friend had their version of a frittata ($12). They do a similar thing—they put the veggies on top rather than inside the eggs. It actually comes across more of a very loose omelet with lots of veggies on top. There are really nice caramelized onions and a harissa and crème fraiche type sauce as well. They also serve a little salad along with it, which is a nice touch of acid. I would happily order this one as well.


Overall, I really enjoyed both items and would love to try more of the menu. It feels like a healthier breakfast place because there’s so much emphasis on veggies, which is nice. There are a lot of nice chef touches on the dishes as well, making it stand out over a lot of the more basic breakfast places. Who has tried something else really good here?

Rize
2721 East 86th Street
Indy 46240
317/843-6101


Monday, November 27, 2017

Biscuits Café - the Chilaquiles edition

I am happy to say you guys were right! A few posts ago, I wrote about a couple of different places where I had ordered chilaquiles only to be disappointed by what amounted to what I called breakfast nachos. Several of you guys told me to try the version at Biscuits, and I did. Several times. In fact, my entire family is now addicted to chilaquiles ($12.00 + additional for meat) at Biscuits and request it to the point that I have tried it with just about every type of meat offered as well as no meat.

So here’s how they do their chilaquiles. They cook the chips in the ranchero sauce, which is their slightly spicy red sauce. You can get them in a verde sauce too, or in a milder red sauce. They mix the chips up with the sauce and meat, cover them with cheese and then add two eggs on top cooked how you like them (over easy for me). When you break into the eggs, you get this amazing tasting dish that will make you addicted. And while you get some texture from the chips, they are cooked a bit so they aren’t super crunchy. As far as meat goes, we have tried the chicken and the carnitas and I have even tried them without meat at all. Overall I think my favorite is the chicken, just because it’s a bit heartier. I was hoping when I got it without meat, I would get more of the chips part, but I really didn’t. For some reason, they carnitas didn’t really do it for me or hubby, even though we really like carnitas in general. But I’m telling you, there’s just something about this dish. You need to try it. Oh, and it’s not on the menu, but it has always been on the special board when we have gone, although I have heard even if it isn’t, they will always make it for you. The dish also come with beans and rice on the side.

Migas
I also usually get a side of hash browns, fried crispy (sometimes they come out pretty soft). They are really tasty, and even though you probably don’t need them on top of the huge platters of food you get, I order them anyway.

I also tried the migas ($7.95) on one visit, which sounded similar, but have the eggs scrambled into the chips.  They don’t use the sauce though, and these come across as dry and bland. I am telling you, once you have the chilaquiles here, that’s all you’ll want to order. We’ve also tried the breakfast burrito ($7.95), the breakfast quesadilla and taquitos. All were decent, particularly the quesadilla, but none measure up to the chilaquiles in my mind. Other times relatives have ordered more basic breakfast menu items and didn’t seem overly thrilled with them.

The only downside to this place right now is that they have recently expanded. While the new part of the restaurant is cute and well done, I don’t think they have added additional staff and we’ve notice a sharp decline in service since the new addition opened. It takes a long time to order and sometimes items come out a bit cold. It’s great they have more space so you don’t have to wait to get seated, but you will sit at your table and wait quite awhile to put in your order.

Anyway, if you love chilaquiles, check it out. Just be patient or go at an off time.


Biscuits Café 
1035 Broad Ripple Ave
Indy 46220
317/202-0410








Monday, November 20, 2017

Mississippi Belle - Revisit

Quick little update you guys. Don’t forget about Mississippi Belle—still probably some of the best fried chicken in town. The family had a craving the other day and we went and picked it up for dinner. I always just order when I get there, because they are so fast putting it together. 

My favorite pieces will always be thighs and legs, but they do a good job with the white meat as well. And if you ask for mashed potatoes and mac and cheese for four, they’ll give you enough for 7-8. I don’t know what it is about their mac and cheese, but it is so addicting. It’s simple, but has some pepper mixed in and just tastes really good.

I also ordered one side of sautéed cabbage because I like it (and no one else in my family does) and it is tasty too. It’s a vegetable, but it is nowhere near healthy from what I can tell. My family likes the cornbread muffins, although they aren’t my favorite. A little dry.

The chicken though—it’s really good. I’m am always amazed at how many people who are fried chicken afficianoadoes ask me about my favorite and have never been here. Just go—you’ll understand. And bring cash. They don’t take credit cards.

Mississippi Belle
2170 East 54th Street
Indy 46220
317/466-0522



Monday, November 13, 2017

Mikado

Continuing on my sushi quest, even though it’s nowhere near my neighborhood, we took the kids to Mikado downtown. This is another example of when a restaurant’s social media is working. I kept seeing posts on Instagram that looked delicious, and particularly since I have been on a quest lately, I chose it for our family night out.

It’s right downtown near St. Elmo and all the chain restaurants. It’s a pretty big place, and has a more upscale interior, although it’s old enough that it is starting to look a little worn. It also wasn’t super busy, but there were a decent amount of people in there.

We started with several appetizers and got slightly less sushi than normal. We ordered tuna tataki ($16), edamame ($6), shrimp tempura ($10) and my son wanted gyoza ($7) for himself because he was having a small entrée. The tuna tataki was great. The tuna was exceptionally tender, and the ponzu sauce on the bottom was some of the most flavorful I have had in recent memory. Hubby even ate all the spiralized radish underneath just because he liked the sauce so much. It wasn’t a huge portion, so each of us only got one or two pieces. I could easily eat this on my own and happily would.

The edamame was also really well done. Lots of chunky salt on the outside to give you a nice salty taste when you sucked out the beans inside. Everyone was quite happy with these. The gyoza (the tiny bite I was allowed) were also tasty—stuffed with pork and then pan-fried. The only disappointment appetizer-wise was the shrimp tempura. It just fell a little flat—it wasn’t quite hot or light enough. 

For sushi, my son wanted a simple shrimp tempura roll  ($7.50) and hubby and I chose two rolls—the “Fire in the roll” ($15.95) and the “sumo” ($14.25). My son’s shrimp tempura roll was nicely done for a simple roll—they included a little bit of cucumber and some pea shoots to jazz it up a little, as well as just a touch of spicy mayo. The shrimp in his roll was better than the appetizer shrimp.

The “fire in the roll” was made up of spicy tuna and avocado in the middle and was topped with sliced tuna, jalapeno, cilantro and spicy tobiko. This roll had a fair amount of heat for sure. It was well done, and the ingredients were all good. I ended up taking the jalapeno off mine because it was that hot. The “sumo” roll was filled with spicy shrimp and avocado and then topped with sliced salmon. There was a little dash of spicy mayo on the plate, but I would have liked a drizzle of sauce on the rolls themselves. They were both very good and exactly the right size to easily pop into your mouth. The only thing I missed was just a touch of crunch—but then I like a little texture variation in my rolls.

My daughter ordered the nabeyaki udon ($16) for her main dish because lately noodles are her thing.  I’m not sure that she was the biggest fan of this version. She isn’t overly familiar with udon and I think she prefers the skinnier noodles like in ramen (as do I). The egg was also much more raw than they usually are in soup dishes, which I think was a bit of a turn off. She liked the tempura that they served on the side to eat with the broth, and strangely, her shrimp tempura was also better than the one we had as an app. Not sure why. I think if we went back though, she would return to one of her classic teriyaki choices. I appreciate that she ventures out though.

Based on the quality and size of the rolls, and most of the apps though, Mikado is a place I would frequent if it were nearer my house for rolls. I might just get those same rolls and ask them to throw a little crunch in. Anyone else been here lately? Is it a big downtown lunch spot?

Mikado
148 Illinios Street
Indy 46225
317/972-4180

Monday, November 6, 2017

Convivio

I have heard a fair amount of opinions about Convivio—overall most have been positive. It’s in Carmel, so we don’t often do a family dinner night up there, but we finally decided to give it a try. We had a reservation, but were a little early. They thought we would have to wait awhile for our table, but as it turned out, we didn’t, which was nice (a pet peeve of mine when they take your reservation but then seat you late).

It’s a nice looking, busy place with a menu that is certainly more appealing that most Italian places in the Indy area. They also make all their pasta by hand, which is pretty awesome too. It’s a pretty large menu so it takes a bit to go through it. We decided to start with the fritto misto ($12), which included not just calamari, but also shrimp, octopus and zucchini. It was served on top of a marinara sauce and with lemon wedges. It wasn’t bad, but there was nothing that made it stand out from others, except that it included more types of seafood than you normally see. The octopus was quite good and remained tender. The shrimp however were a bit tough. I probably liked the zucchini the most of all of it, because it was nice and tender and a nice seasonal veggie (it was still summer when we were there).

The other appetizer we had was very good—and something you don’t see very often around town—the crostini Toscana ($9.95), which was grilled slices of bread topped with chicken liver pate. It was something we ate a fair amount in Tuscany, where it is extremely popular and we were happy to see it on the menu. The kids weren’t really into it, but hubby and I really enjoyed it. The pate is really earthy and rich, but this one wasn’t over the top and the lightly dressed arugula from underneath eaten with it was perfect.

For main courses, hubby and I ordered a pasta and a pizza to get to try both. We had the rigatoni funghi salsicca ($18.95) and the porcini pizza ($14). The pasta was a bit heavy, but tasty, and the homemade pasta was great. The sauce on it was a creamy sauce and it had wild mushrooms, pancetta, goat cheese, sausage and Parmesan cheese. It was very heavy on the sausage, which overpowered everything else a bit. I would have enjoyed more mushrooms and a little lighter sauce. I was hoping for a little more tanginess from the goat cheese than I tasted.

The pizza highlighted the mushrooms more, which I enjoyed (hubby and I both love mushrooms), but again was a little heavy on richness. It had Porcini mushroom spread, Taleggio, Parmesan, and mozzarella cheeses. We both really enjoy the distinct earthy taste of Porcinis, which are also rare to see on local menus, but I got more cheese than anything on this. The crust had a nice flavor too, but needed to be crisper.

My daughter had the gnocchi al telefono ($17.95), which were very large pillows of gnocchi served in a fresh tomato basil and sauce with mozzarella. She seemed to like it fine, but thought the gnocchi were a little bigger than she normally likes.

The star of the meal though was my son’s steak, which was a special. We tease him about ordering filets a lot, but he beat us all this night. He ordered a roasted filet that was flavored with rosemary, topped with Gorgonzola, and served with roasted potatoes, asparagus and mushrooms. I’m not sure how they did it exactly, but the roasted flavor on it was amazing—including on the veggies. And you could really taste the rosemary and blue cheese. If we went back and they had this, we’d probably have to get at least two of them to share. It makes me more intrigued to try more of the meats on a future visit.

And although not everything we had were winners, I do think we will return to try other things. Like I said, I would like to try more of the meat dishes and I am still impressed with the fact that they make all their pastas in house. I would like to try some of the other options in that area too. 

Have you been? What did you have that you loved?







Convivio
11529 Spring Mill Rd #300,
Carmel, IN 46032
317/564-4670

P.S. Their website says they're opening another location in Zionsville soon.

Monday, October 30, 2017

John Adams Catering


Recently, some friends and I decided to have John Adams cater a dinner for us. In case you are not familiar, John has cheffed at a lot of my favorite restaurants throughout our fine city. I met him at H2O sushi (RIP). He left there to open Bluebeard and eventually also worked at Plow and Anchor and most recently Marrow (RIP as well). And for the moment, he is doing private catering. A friend of mine had used him for a special dinner party she was planning and raved about the food, so several friends and I decided we needed to plan something as well.

I loved the menu from the moment he sent it to me and I was not disappointed. We started with a beautiful salmon tartare with capers, cucumbers and tomato ponzu. It was artfully wrapped with cucumber as well and topped with a Parmesan crisp. It was really light and tasty and reminiscent of those H2O days. I could have eaten a bowl full.

The next course was a Vietnamese pancake (also one of my favorite things). It was a crisp, light crepe filled with shrimp, green papaya, and bean sprouts and topped with crushed peanuts. There was a great tangy lemongrass broth underneath it and the whole dish was full of wonderful acid, one of my favorite flavor profiles. I was impressed watching him whip up individual little pancakes for everyone.

The main course was seared Loup de Mer with roasted sunchokes, chard and a shallot and sunchoke soubise—which is a creamy sauce made with cream as well as the shallots and sunchokes. There was also a red wine jus on top of the soubise. The fish though, that fish was delicious. It had skin on it, but it was seared so well, the skin became the star of the dish. It was so crispy; it just sort of exploded when you bit into it. 

The savory courses were definitely the strength—he joked that he’s not really a pastry chef, and we enjoyed the bananoffee pie, but I enjoyed the other things much more. The first three courses were so perfectly executed and balanced, it just made the pie look ordinary. Still tasty, just not as exciting.

I loved having Chef Adams cook for us, and would love to be able to have it more often—am going to have to organize some more dinners. As much as I liked it though, I’d still rather see him in the kitchen of a local restaurant where more people can enjoy his food. I think he is exploring several options and I look forward to see where he turns up. In the meantime though, if you’re looking for a local chef to cater a wonderful dinner, he’s your man.

Chef John Adams
jradasmii@gmail.com