Saturday, May 24, 2008

SI (aka Scholar's Inn)

We were really in the mood to try something "new," so we ventured to the recently refurbished and re-Chefed restaurant, SI. Jake Brenchley has taken over the kitchen as of February. Up until a few months ago, most of us knew this restaurant as Scholar's Inn. Apparently, the new branding is not complete because the sign hasn't changed out front and some of the receipts still say "Scholar's Inn" as well. I was interested in trying the new version since the other two times I was there I was somewhat underwhelmed. (So the "SI" apparently stands for "Scholar's Inn" and "Sexy and Intimate.") (I leave any editorial comments about that to the reader.)

The first time I went, which must have been about 5 years ago when I was visiting from California. The menu was HUGE. There were lots of interesting things on it and I remember ordering a scallop appetizer that had some black truffle with it. The scallops were overcooked and somehow, inexplicably, the truffles had absolutely no flavor. Honestly, I don't remember the rest of the meal.

Fast forward to about a year ago when we stopped in for dinner before a concert at the White River State Park stadium (why are the calling it "White Lies" this year anyway?). Well, we sat outside which was nice as it was a very warm evening. I was happy to see the menu had been significantly pared down, as I don't think any kitchen could pull off everything that was on that first menu and do a good job. It was more like the traditional Indianapolis menu--basically a steakhouse menu plus a few other things. The food was good, but nothing to write home about. I had a steak and some shrimp cocktail I think (I told you it was steakhouse-ish).

Now, on to the new "SI." Simply, I loved it. The new atmosphere is very chic and makes you feel like you are in a nice restaurant in a more food oriented City. There were 3 or 4 really interesting sounding appetizers and salads. I ended up getting the scallop appetizer with blood orange, red onion, endive and prosciutto which was thick-cut and curled around the scallop. It was delicious. I was so pleased. The scallop was properly cooked and the sweet and tart sauced complemented both the scallop and the meat.

I was feeling a little iron-deprived and the sides sounded somewhat yummy, so I ordered the steak (which is somewhat unusual for me). It came with a red wine demi glace and Becahmel mac and cheese. It was really good as well. Honestly, the steak itself was better and better prepared than the Capital Grille one the other night. It was huge as well, and I only ate half.

Hubby had a frisee salad with shitake mushrooms and it was really really good too. We argued over whose appetizer was better. He had the short rib for his main and really liked it as well. He said it was the best short rib he has had in this City.

The desserts, much like most of this City, we very unmemorable. We ordered a chocolate cake thing and it seemed like it came from a box or some distributor. Does this City not have any pastry chefs??

The only other downside was the service. While everyone was very friendly, it took a good 10 minutes before anyone came and got our drink order. From there, it took another 10 minutes before our wine came. They were actually out of what we ordered, but that worked out well because we got a better bottle for a cheaper price. One note here, I found the wine list overpriced. I can't stomach paying $48 for a bottle of wine that costs me about $16 in a wine shop (and I am sure they get the wine cheaper than I pay in the wine store). Particularly in Indy.

We were very excited with the prospect of a new Chef and basically, what is a new restaurant, that is really, really good. I can't wait to go back and get one of the fish dishes. There was also a good crowd there, which is nice to see on a week night.

Incidentally, we were told the menu changes seasonally and the new one will be out in a couple of weeks. Try it, you'll like it!

SI
725 Mass Ave
536-0707
http://www.scholarsinn.com/

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Capital Grille

This was my second trip to Capital Grille in the Conrad Hotel downtown. Because there are two things on the menu that hubby and I really really like, we sorta knew what we would order before we got there. Well, almost.

I'll start by telling you my two favorite things are the truffle fries (the waitress actually asked us if we wanted them "truffle or regular." People, if you are eating them "regular" you are really missing out) and the lobster mac and cheese. We had them the first time and they do not disappoint. There was even more lobster this time then the first too which was much appreciated. The truffle fries are served in a cone of paper("frites style") and are nice and crisp. The mac and cheese is very rich and creamy with a nice crunch on top which adds those textures I love.

We also shared a steak--a filet to be precise. The small one (10 oz is hardly small in my book, but whatever). I appreciate the fact that we could share these things between two and be very full and still have a bit left over (of the sides, not the steak). I am also aware that there are those who disagree with me on the whole portion size issue and for those folks, order your own main and you will be more than satisfied I assure you.

OK, now I realize that I am sort of going backwards here, but I think I am doing in subconsciously in order of how good the food was. For a starter we shared the fried calamari (which is enough for at least 3, if not 4, people) and it was good, but not great. There were some nice peppers mixed in which gave it a unique flavor. I would skip it next time and try something new. I could not go there without the mac and cheese and truffle fries however.

We didn't do dessert as there was nothing that really struck my fancy--but all in all they were pretty classic steakhouse desserts. Cheesecake, key lime pie, creme brulee, etc.

All in all a very satisfying meal, even if it is a chain. Sigh. Oh! And check out the little fruit candies on your way out--I love those things. They are awesome!

The Capital Grille
40 West Washington Street
317/423-8790
http://www.thecapitalgrille.com/

And they're on opentable.com which I love.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Broad Ripple Steakhouse

******ED NOTE: THIS RESTAURANT IS CLOSED AS OF MAY 2010****************

We recently went to Broad Ripple Steakhouse with some friends before a recent show at the Vogue. I was excited for hubby to try it, as the last time I went (several months ago) with a friend, I thought it was quite good. I also appreciate the fact that it is one of the few non-chain steakhouses around (and there are SO many of the chain variety).

From my first visit, I recalled the steaks being very large so hubby and I split a filet and ordered an appetizer of fried oysters. The oysters were okay, but really more fried then oyster, if you know what I mean. We got the blue cheese crusted filet to share as well as the asiago cheese potato stack and sauteed mushrooms. Honestly, I think the mushrooms were the best thing we had. It was all quite disappointing. First of all, the size of the steak (which they nicely cut in half for us on our own plates) was quite small. If you know anything about me, one of the few things I would ever complain about is food being too small around here--usually it is the opposite. I guess it was our mistake for splitting. And the "blue cheese crust" was more like bread crumb crust as far as I could tell. I could barely taste any blue cheese in it. The potatoes were pretty good, but nothing outstanding.

We did have the molten chocolate cake (one of my dining companions requirements at every restaurant that offers it) and it was also quite small. Tasty (after they brought a second one after apparently the kitchen overcooked the first), but small.

Several days later (not being one to ruin nice company with talk of sub-par food) I asked my friend what she thought and she was also disappointed.

The restaurant was pleasantly busy, and has a very nicer interior. The service and wine list was quite good as well. However, I won't be rushing back any time soon for the food.

Broad Ripple Steakhouse
929 E. Westfield Blvd
317/253-8101
http://www.broadripplesteakhouse.com/