Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bugg's Temple of Smoky Goodness

Ok, we went to Bugg's Temple last night. I was really excited to try a new, and non-chain, restaurant. And I thought it would be sweet to see the relics they purchased from the Althetic Club since hubby and I were married there. Awww...

Anyway, I will have to say the first thing that greated me in the door (and it was not a person since we came in the stairs and it is just that, a stairwell) was the smell. It smelled like a barbeque restaurant with all that smoky scent. I am super sensitive to smells, but my gosh it was strong.

We made it up to the Tavern room and chose our table. There were others there but not tons of people. But hey, on a very cold Wednesday in Indy, dining with anyone else is great.

It took awhile for the server to get to us, but she was pleasant enough, though seemed a bit bored. I asked if we could order off the bar menu as well and was told yes. My advice, look it over, it is completely different from the restaurant menu.

We were given a amuse of a lamb and bean stew type thing. It was quite good. And I am always impressed a) with any amuse in this City as there are so few chefs doing it, and b) a warm amuse because that takes a little extra effort not to just pull some pre-made item out of the fridge.

The bread on the other hand could stand to be heated up or fresher. Nice they gave you a choice of 3 types of bread, but the "french" roll I took was suspiciously sourdough-y and so hard I had to pry it open with my knife.

The appetizers were good. My husband's tuna tartare was excellent and not the least bit smoky which relieved me somewhat, and my mushroom soup was rich and think and a little chunky, the way I like soup. And with truffle oil on top (REALLY the way I like it). A dab of creme fraiche and some roasted musfhrooms. It was good. But so rich. I couldn't come near to finishing the whole bowl.

For my main I ordered 2 things off the bar menu, the mussels and the twice baked fingerling potatoes. Hubby had the suckling pig off the regular menu (which we were told was sort of a house specialty). I must say this first; Hallelujah! There are good quality mussels in this City! I have had some really bad ones here and it has made me sad because I like them so much. I have even had ones that tasted ok going down at a well-known mussel specialist only to be up all night in the bathroom, if you know what I mean.

They were smoky for sure, but so tasty. And small, which in my humble opinion, is how mussels should be. I don't like massive ones the size of your head. They just don't keep that delicate flavor. Anyway, they were in a broth of smoky tomatoes, bacon, shallots and garlic and wine broth served with lemon wedges, which gave them that tangy edge that I am always in search of. And make sure you eat all those tidbits with the mussels. Oh my. They were delicious. And I didn't visit the bathroom once in the middle of the night. The twice baked potatoes were very good as well--someone's valiant effort to make potato skins more sophisticated. And it worked. And they were cheesy and yummy. And smoky (from smoky bacon).

Hubby LOVED the suckling pig. I am not a huge pork person so I didn't try it (I know, and I am living in Indiana, what is wrong with me??), but it was smoky and apparently amazing to him as he told me about 700 times.

The food is so rich and large (even my bar portions were more than enough) there was no way we could try dessert, and honestly, even without my major bloated stomach, nothing just jumped out at me. But something for next time.

The menu was dated "Winter 2008" so I am hopeful they will change it at least seasonally.

One more thing about the smokiness. I could smell it on myself all night. Sort of like when you go to Benihana, only a different smell.

I am looking forward to returning to Bugg's temple. If and when I do, I will be hard pressed not to get those mussels. They were so good.

Ok, I know I say I am going to talk about a certain restaurant next time and I don't so I am going to stop doing that and just write when and what I feel like! That is the best thing about the blog. I can do whatever I want.

Maybe some day someone will read it.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Oceanaire and the Portions

Ok, I have to vent about something. What is the deal with the enormous portion sizes and restaurants in this city?? We recently went to Oceanaire, where I have been on many occasions in the past, but every time I am shocked at how much friggin' food they put in front of you. They charge for all that food too, I assure you.

The thing is, the food is generally good, and sometimes even great. But whenever we are going there, I have to start my game plan way in advance. OK, who can I get to split something with me? How can I work this so I don't feel stuffed just from looking at the food they put down in front of me before I have a bite? Here's what I mean, knowing what I know, I went in with my plan. There were 4 of us dining. Between 4 people, we split 2 apps. The fried oysters (which are quite good--and get rave reviews from hubby who lived in New Orleans for 4 years.) and the crab cake (as mentioned in previous post, the only good one in this City I am afraid).

I decided to get a crab Louis salad for my main (which considering it is $20 seems fair). (Although there are no mains on the menu for $20--most are in the $30's at least). OK, it is a good salad with a good Louis dressing. BUT, there were like 4 heads of lettuce in the salad and 2 large tomatoes. Next time, I will ask for about 1/3 as much lettuce and tomatoes. I will keep all the crab though, and it is also very generous.

The other 3 diners shared ONE chopped salad and had more then enough. One companion had a starter for his main, and the others (Having never been before) each ordered their own entree. Oh, and we ordered a side of au gratin and creamed spinach. First, let me say before I forget, skip the spinach. The au gratins are good and are enough for 4 (we had some left over).

We were BLOATED when we left. When the server asked if we wanted dessert, I was thinking, "are you serious?" And in the past, when it was new to me, we made the mistake of ordering dessert. They would easily serve 4 and they aren't that good.

I do want to say the food at Oceanaire is good. Very good. But really, I think everyone would be better off with half the portions (on most things) and half the price.

Ok, I know I said I would talk about R Bistro and Meridian next, but had to stick this in. I promise the rest soon.

-Erin

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Welcome

I have decided after a year and a half of living in Indy, and becoming so frustrated with finding good restaurants and good REVIEWS of restaurants that I am going to take it upon myself to at least express myself out there in cyberspace even if no one else ever reads a word!

I am Erin and I recently moved to Indy after about 13 years in San Francisco and 2 in England. I grew up here, but developed a taste for good food while living on the West Coast and in Europe.

There are some great restaurants in this City, but my sadness comes from the low expectations of restaurants on the whole. Hardly anyone is writing honest restaurant reviews anywhere in this City and the tolerance for mediocrity has gotten me down.

Oh, and another thing, how many steakhouses does one City need?

Ok, just so no one thinks this is just a rant with no concrete information, I would like to name my favorite three restaurants. L'explorateur, R Bistro and Elements, and probably in that order. Oh, and for lunch, Taste Cafe & Marketplace. I so love that place. And their BALT sandwich.

Anyway, L'explorateur has a chef who isn't afraid to use some ingredients that aren't on every other menu in Indy (you will probably not usually find the obligatory Indy "lump" crab cake on the starter list) and mixes flavors together in a usually superb way (of course with the occasional mishap-- No one is perfect!). On a side note, I haven't lived here that long, but did Oceanaire start the lump crab cake thing in this city?? So far they are the only restaurant that really pulls it off, not that I order it very often.

Ok, I went to a new restaurant last night, Z's Oyster Bar & Steakhouse in Castleton. I had my doubts, as it is a chain, albeit a small one (I think just one other location in Louisville) and still 1/2 a steakhouse. I worried they would really focus on that end and the Oyster Bar/seafood angle would suffer. I was very pleasantly surprised. Now, the downside was it has only been open a few weeks and I think the kitchen is still on a learning curve (it took 45 minutes to get our appetizers) but the food was actually outstanding. And I had two seafood dishes. I had the roasted clams appetizer (apparently what threw the kitchen off) and the walu, or hawaiian butterfish. The fish was so good it didn't need the sauce. But the sauce was so good, I wanted to eat it. But the fish was so good, I just couldn't decide--so I did a little of both. A great dilemma to have I would say. And the wine list was great a varied. My hubby and I tend toward European wines usually over California wines and were pleasantly surprised with our options, even by the glass. We also had the bread pudding special dessert and it was delicious as well. I look forward to returning hopefully when the restaurant is running a little more smoothly.

(After reading this over, I want to put in a note saying, don't think all my reviews are going to be positive like all the reviews in this City seem to be--you just got lucky I went to a good new restaurant last night!)

Ok, I have gone on long enough I think for a first blog entry and will wait til my next installment to tell you what I like about R Bistro and how my recent trip to the new Meridian restaurant went. If anyone is out there listening, thanks! And please, please send me your recommendations!