Thursday, April 30, 2009

Independent vs. Chains

Dear Readers,

In an effort to distinguish whether a restaurant I review is a chain or an independent restaurant (and in response to comments from several readers), I have started designating a label at the end of each post. So, if you want to search just independent restaurant choices, you can look for the label listing "Independent Restaurants" in the right hand column under "Labels" and be taken only to reviews of such restaurants. Unfortunately, it would be impossible to write this blog and not go to a few chains (and frankly, there are a few I really like), but I do try to support the locals as much as possible. Also, there are some times when I am not sure how to classify a restaurant, such as when it has various locations in Indy, but is still locally owned. In those cases, I tend to classify them as independent. I do my best to be correct in all my assertions, but I can make mistakes. If I do, please let me know and I will correct them as soon as possible.

Thanks and keep reading and eating!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Granite City

Time for a new lunch spot with the kids, so we decided to go the brew pub route again (the last time being quite disappointing) and hit the new addition to the Indy scene, Granite City Brewery. This is a huge restaurant that was pretty empty on a Saturday for lunch which was a little strange, but at least the kids wouldn’t be bothering anyone! As far as the atmosphere, it is your basic large scale chain type place with a lot of booths. The music was getting to me though. Phil Collins? Ugh. Of course, I am one of those people who can hear even the faintest music in a restaurant and tell you what it is, and maybe most people don’t even hear it. But even Kroger was playing Blondie later that day when I stopped in. But hey, maybe you like Phil Collins.

Foodwise, well, the menu is enormous! It would take me a really long time to go through that whole thing and really read it all which is always challenging with two hungry kids. Hmmm…this seems to be a pattern, the more kid friendly a place is, the bigger the menu seems to be. Wonder why that is. Anyway, hubby and I decided to order two appetizers, partially because we couldn’t get much farther on the menu, and partially because one thing sounded so good. That was the prosciutto olive flatbread pizza. It was described as a flatbread with a roasted galic aioli and olives with proscuitto and provolone on top, and “misted” with rosemary infused oil. Sounded really good in writing. In reality, it was okay. The best of what we ordered for sure, but the crust seemed like a giant (not very crisp) cracker—clearly not fresh dough being used. The olives were very finely chopped into the “sauce” and as for the rosemary taste, I didn’t get it. There was a lot of proscuitto which wasn’t bad, but the pieces were so big, you had to sort of rip them apart with your teeth which was a challenge. It wasn’t bad, but it was a little disappointing.

We also shared the “crispy buffalo shrimp.” Not sure where the crispy part of the name comes from, because these weren’t. The sauce wasn’t very spicy and the shrimp were overcooked (maybe too long under a heat lamp?). Considering we ordered the kids meals a good 10 minutes before we ordered our food, and the fact that both our items were appetizers they should have been super fresh out of the kitchen and they weren’t. They all came out at about the same time and both our items could have stood to be warmer. The creamy blue cheese dressing that came with the shrimp was good, but other than that, I would pass on these.



Ok, here is something that bothered me. My daughter wanted a quesadilla which was not offered on the kids menu. So I asked if they would just make her a cheese quesadilla since they had several more fancy quesadillas on the regular menu. They did, but they charged the full adult price of $9.99 for a cheese quesadilla (and then didn’t even bring the sour cream that is supposed to come with the adult ones), even though the other quesadillas include meat and several other fillings. Maybe I am asking for too much, but that seemed like a lot.

Another little thing, Granite City serves Pepsi products, which I don’t really care about, but I ordered a diet Coke and got a diet Pepsi and the waiter never said a word. Again, I can drink either, but I know a lot of people who would be very unhappy with this.

Hubby did have one of their beers, the “Northern Light,” and enjoyed it. As we ate the lunch, we discussed that next time we went, we would try other things, but the farther I get away from it, the less inspired I am to return, particularly when there are so many other lunch places that are so much better (and many are independently owned). We shall see, but Granite City probably won’t be my first choice next time we’re shopping for something different for lunch. And with the onslaught of brew pubs in Indy, there are so many other options, even just within the brewpub arena. What’s your favorite one? I would love to know (and please tell me what you eat there (or drink) that makes it so good!)

Granite City Food & Brewery
150 West 96th Street
Carmel, IN 46032
317-218-7185
http://www.gcfb.net/

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Oh Yumm-Revisit

We hadn’t been in awhile, and we wanted to go somewhere casual that we were confident would be pretty good. Oh Yumm is a place we have been a lot, and while it isn’t amazing or anything, we have always found it a fairly consistently good choice for a casual meal in a nice neighborhood spot. We were there at the end of the winter menu, when the Spring stuff hadn’t really been rolled out yet. We pretty much always order off the tapas menu, and not the regular dinner menu—we have found the few times we did order off the dinner menu, the food wasn’t as tasty. Someone recently asked me for advice about this place, and what to order, and that is it---just get tapas and skip the rest.

The first small plate we had was the shrimp & grits. It was three large bacon wrapped shrimps on top of quite a bit of grits with a nice sort of chipotle-ish sauce. They were nice. The shrimp was cooked properly and the bacon added a nice saltiness.

We also tried the carne asada tostadas which had a black bean spread, some marinated spicy beef and served with traditional accoutrements like lettuce, cheese, guacamole and a yummy lime cumin sour cream (could have used a but more of this). All served on a corn tortilla.

We also had two of our perennial favorites (mainly because not much else sounded appealing on this particular night). We had the Kobe slider with gorgonzola and pickled red onions (I love those red onions) which was fine. You only get one slider though, so if you are sharing it, it is really just a couple bites each. We also had the calamari which is always good, and fried properly and served with a nice “spicy samba aioli.” It has a nice flavor with a bit of the tang I like.

For dessert we had what is one of my favorite desserts in Indy, the chocolate chip bread pudding. I was tempted by the recent picture of the s’mores brulee featured in Indianapolis Monthly, but hubby wouldn’t have it. He loves the bread pudding as much as I do, and isn’t as big a fan of s’mores items. It was good as always.

Unfortunately, the big downside of the evening was the service. It was painfully slow and slightly haughty. From the moment I asked for a bigger table (because we were having small plates and never have enough room at the smaller tables), I got “the look” even though the place was pretty much empty inside (I think there was one other table) (Everyone was sitting outside on this night). The rest of the meal continued in that vein, impossible to flag down the server when we needed something and generally it took forever to get it. It seemed like he was doing us a favor by even waiting on us at times.

It is a shame, because from recent comments I have heard, I am not the only one having such an experience. The place slowly filled up as we were there and two servers simply wasn’t enough for the whole place as well as a full outside patio. And a busser or two might have helped as well.

On this note, I would love to hear what you, dear readers, do in situations like this. How is really poor service reflected in your tip, return visits etc? Hubby and I tend to be pretty good tippers, and alter our tip in such a situation, but I wonder if it even sends a message in this City? Would love to hear from you all, and any servers who might read this about this issue.

Oh Yumm! Bistro
5615 N. Illinois
Indy, 46208
317/251-5656
www.ohyummbistro.com

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Rick's Cafe Boatyard-Brunch

It was Sunday, it was sunny, so we decided to try brunch at Rick’s Café Boatyard with the kids and the Grandparents. They’re on opentable, so we made a reservation online (I recommend a reservation here) and headed over. (If you haven’t checked out opentable.com, it is a great way to get online reservations at most Indy restaurants and even other cities like Chicago and San Francisco—where I started using it). This is one of the few true waterside restaurants in town, and by that I mean, one of the few situated on a decent sized body of water (i.e. Eagle Creek). Definitely a large portion of the draw for me is the ambiance, and not as much the food.

One of the things I like about this place for brunch is that they do have a brunch menu with breakfast-y type items, but you can also order off the regular menu if you aren’t in the mood for breakfast items. But in the interest of reviewing something different, I decided to go for it and try the one of the brunch items, the Eggs Chesapeake. This is a version of Eggs Benedict served on top of crab cakes instead of English Muffins and Canadian bacon. I ordered this at the recommendation of our server (he said it was his favorite brunch item). It wasn’t bad, and the crab cakes had a fair amount of crab in them, but the seasoning was a little heavy handed I thought. The eggs were perfectly poached and the hollandaise pretty good as well. They were served with “breakfast potatoes” which were home fries. Home fries have to be really special to excite me (I am a hash brown girl for breakfast) and these weren’t really doing anything for me. I did have some of my Mom’s Seafood frittata as well which is basically a round omelette with shrimp and crab in it and a Mornay sauce on top. It was not bad either, the shrimps, when you came across them, were tasty. But nothing that made you want to run back and order it again. I don’t know, maybe my Dad was right; maybe seafood and breakfast don’t go together. He ordered the regular eggs benedict and seemed to enjoy them (again, they seem to have egg poaching down).

Hubby had the blackened catfish (from the regular menu) and thought it had sat under a heat lamp a bit and was a bit dry. The kids seemed to enjoy their meals, and except for somewhat slow service near the end, a decent meal was had by all. Again, I think the main draw here is the atmosphere and not the food. You feel like you’re at one of those seafood places you go when you’re on vacation with a great view. They have a nice deck and I would like to go eat out there one of these days when the weather gets nicer.

Rick’s Café Boatyard
Eagle Creek Reservoir
4050 Dandy Trail
Indy, 46204
317-290-9300
www.rickscafeboatyard.com

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Another Favorite, Gone.

Well, just read the news on Feed Me/Drink Me that now Elements has suddenly closed its doors for good. Well, crap.

This was one of the best restaurants in Indy, one that managed to change its menu just about every day and prepare high quality food every day it was open. But it, much like many other local places around here, are shockingly empty many nights. I know many of my readers truly care about good food and creating a City in which we can be proud of our own culinary creativity (and not some nationwide chain that sells the same mediocre food in every one of its 10 million locations), which is why I am saying this again, just like after L'explorateur closed, GET YOUR BUTT OUT THERE AND SUPPORT OUR LOCAL TALENT. Whatever your favorite is, make a reservation for tonight or this weekend. If you don't know where to go, email me, I'll be happy to tell you! I know, it costs money, just like it costs the restaurants money to keep the doors open. If you can't afford a big meal, support a smaller restaurant or go and order a lovely appetizer or two--most places around here you can certainly make a meal out of apps! And trust me, the restaurants will be happy to have you.

I really, really don't want to be repeating this post on another single locally owned restaurant around here (particularly ones I like so much!) Let's make the next non-review post one celebrating some good news about new restaurants! (Hint, hint, any of you wandering local chefs ready to put down roots yet?)

Send me a post and tell me where you are going to go this week. Let's celebrate our favorite independents!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Euphoria-April Revisit


***As of June 5, 2011, Euphoria is closed as a restaurant and is only open for private events. The chef has also left the restaurant.****

Wow, I have been doing well lately with some amazing meals . Ok, I know I review this place more than a lot of places, but well, it is one of my favorite places, and hey, it’s my blog right? And seriously people, if you haven’t been, go and give it a try.

First though, in the interest of my complete honesty and total full disclosure, I must tell you all that this is a restaurant where I know, and am friendly with, much of the staff, so my meals there are in no way anonymous. Not that I think they treat me any differently from anyone else, and not that I would ever be anything but truthful in my review, but I thought I should let you know.

Ok, enough of that and onto the food. Overall, this is one of the best meals I have had (in Indy) in awhile (well, that and my last R Bistro meal, but you already know about that). So I had seen on the web that Chef Gates had put morels on the menu, so I needed to get in there (oh how I love morels). The menu had already changed, but the morels were still being used—of course, I ordered the item containing them for my starter. It was a spinach salad with bacon-Sherry vinaigrette, nice hearty hunks of blue cheese, red onions and of course, the aforementioned, crispy fried, morels. This salad came together beautifully. The dressing was pleasingly tangy and in proper amounts. Simply, I loved it. Hubby had the duck confit for his starter (seriously, that was a starter?). It was huge and hubby loved it. He was literally sucking the meat off the bones at the end, manners be damned. It was served over roasted asparagus and according to him, was perfectly cooked.



For our main course, we shared the skate (have I mentioned lately how much I love skate?) which was done in the classic Meuniere style (with lots of yummy lemon butter and capers on top) and served alongside house made linguine in a very light tomato sauce. I have also mentioned this before I think, but the Chef does fresh pasta so well, I am always happy when I get something with a side of pasta. You know it will be good. We also got a small order of the mussels from the bar menu which are also always good---I have told you about them before, but they are served with sliced garlic and topped with roasted tomatoes. And they are fresh, unlike certain restaurants around here apparently. Also, new to the bar menu are the skate fries which are fried strips of breaded skate, that sounded quite intriguing. Have I mentioned how much I love skate? I will say that entrees here are certainly big enough to share, and I find you can easily make a dinner of two appetizers.

We were so full that we passed on dessert (even the cheese) and just sat and digested with an extra glass of wineto share. I am happy to report though that not only was the food top to bottom outstanding, but the service was more polished than I have ever experienced while eating in the dining room. We happily recognized our server as a former L’explorateur server and service was attentive without being obnoxious. The wine was cold, the service good and the food amazing. Seriously, overall, this was one of the best meals I have had in since living in Indy. And this is a place with an ever-changing menu with amazing seasonal creations. Support our creative, inventive chefs who are still passionate about what they are doing and go have dinner!

Euphoria (and hey, they even have signs outside now!)
337 West 11th Street
Indy, 46202
317-955-2389
http://www.indycanal.com/
Update: 4/24: did another visit (after seeing Elements go under we wanted to be sure and support our faves) for dinner tonight and had a great meal and great service. Yummy steak tartare and the halibut with morel nage and spring veggies. Delish! The best patio in town too.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Chicago

Just got back from a big city escape and had some amazing food in Chicago so I thought I'd give you a brief taste, so to speak. We ate at several great places including North Pond, a craftsman inspired building in the middle of Lincoln Park (if you go make sure you know exactly where it is, or that your cabbie does or you may have trouble finding it). It reminds me a lot of Chez Panisse in Berkeley. Same feel on the inside and same seasonal menu idea. Some of the standouts on the Spring tasting menu were the olive oil poached halibut with lots of fresh spring veggies (hello early fava beans and baby artichokes!) and a wonderful saddle of lamb with another delicious veggie mix including beautiful asparagus and a sheep's milk ricotta tortelloni on the side.

Had lunch at a great "Gastopub" (where do they come up with this stuff?) called The Gage, right on Michigan Avenue across form the Art Institute. Had an AMAZING truffled egg sandwich--thick slices of boiled egg in a super rich truffle mayo with lots of arugula on a great baguette--oh and don't forget a side of tiny roasted fingerlings with blue cheese. This place is certainly on the repeat visit list. (They also serve dinner). And it was PACKED by the time we left with a 30 minute wait for lunch (they do take reservations though).

Finally, we had dinner at L2O, also in Lincoln Park. This place is superb. The service is impeccable (I mean, they drove us back to our hotel in their town car when we asked them to call us a cab), the ambiance is very modern, but also warm. Some of the items that really stood out were the bread selection first of all--6 different housemade breads (and the teeny tiny rosemary croissants, I could eat about 20 of them) and housemade butter which was so good (I don't think I have had housemade butter in a restaurant since I lived in Europe). The second course was the most unforgettable for me and hubby--we actually shared them equally. We had the peekytoe crab in a foie gras emulsion (can you say rich and decadent in all the right ways) and the housemade papardelle imprinted with parsley leaves (beautiful and delicious) with asparagus and morels in parmesan foam. Wow. Also, a standout--hubby's seared pork belly with a truffle sauce and little rounds of yukon gold potatoes stuffed with cheese. Perfectly crisp on the outside and just delicious!

Anyway, even though it wasn't an Indy restaurant experience, I thought, hey, Chicago's not that far away and I just had to write about these meals. What a great culinary experience! (Sorry there are no photos--I really wanted to take them, but hubby refused to let me) We're thinking the next time we go, we are going to take the kids and do some of the family sightseeing stuff--anyone have any suggestions for good restaurants in Chicago where you can take kids? I would love to hear them!

North Pond
2610 North Cannon Drive
Chicago, IL 60657
773-477-5845
http://www.northpondrestaurant.com/

The Gage
24 S. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60603
312-372-4243
http://www.thegagechicago.com/

L2O
2300 Lincoln Park West
Chicago, IL 60614
773-868-0002
http://www.l2orestaurant.com/

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Taiwan Tea House


I finally got over to the Taiwan Tea House after a near miss once before (FYI, they are closed on Mondays). It has been on my list for awhile, and has been recommended by a few readers. It is one of those places in the middle of a strip mall that you may drive by 100 times and not even notice. But it is worth a stop.

The Taiwan Tea House has an extensive tea list (go figure) as well as the various fruit smoothie type drinks. You can also add Boba (or tapioca pearls) to your tea for an additional charge. I went with a friend and we settled on one of the green tea choices and perused the menu. I noticed several different fried chicken entrees (fried chicken which was whole pieces of chicken and popcorn chicken which was described as well, nuggets.) I was just curious about this because I had never seen so much fried chicken on a Chinese menu. There are lots of different other options though with shrimp, chicken or beef and plenty of veggie options as well.

For our lunch, we ordered 2 different chicken dishes just to try out different seasonings, etc. We ordered the chicken with asparagus (you can order it with whichever meat you want) as well as the Mapo sauce chicken (again you can get whatever meat you want). I also ordered a shrimp and chive cake appetizer just to see what it was like.

We were first brought a bowl of soup and our tea. The soup wasn’t overly exciting—just a thickened chicken broth with some veggies. But it was included with the meal which was nice. My shrimp and chive cakes were only ok—the shrimp were teeny tiny and sparse--they were really more like green onion cakes than anything else. They were lightly fried and very hot. They definitely had a strong flavor of greens. If they had had a bit more shrimp, I would probably order it again, but as it stands, I probably won’t. There are also several other appetizer options including several dumplings, which are always a favorite of mine, so next time we’ll try some of those. Interestingly, they also came out after the first main dish had been served, even though listed as an appetizer.

The real stars here are the main dishes, the chicken and rice. They give you a very nice sized portion of chicken and vegetables served with a bowl sized serving of steamed rice. All the ingredients they are using are very fresh tasting, the chicken is all white meat and the quality is top notch. This is especially true when you consider that the dishes average $6.99 for the meat & veggies, soup and rice. Oh, and they put two little crispy crab rangoons on each plate which I really enjoyed. Usually crab rangoon is not my favorite thing, but these were light and didn’t have too much cream cheese.

The chicken and asparagus (shown here) was good and delicate tasting, again, the ingredients fresh and tasty, with quite a bit of asparagus as well as broccoli mixed in, but this dish wasn’t as good as the second dish we ordered, the Mapo chicken. When I asked what it was, it was described as a spicy sauce and I think he mentioned something about beans. Anyway, this sauce was certainly more flavorful and not really spicy, although you could see some red pepper flakes in it. I really liked it and of all the dishes, it was my favorite. It was served with lots of onions and broccoli and some red peppers and celery.

While I am not one to generally order the most spicy things in say, a Mexican place, I find Chinese “spicy” is usually not really that spicy and actually just more flavorful. I am sure it is different if you actually eat in China, but in the places I have eaten, I have found this a pretty universal truth.

Now, I have read very unkind things about service at this restaurant but I found the service to be very prompt and pretty friendly (a bit of awkwardness over asking for some explanations of dishes due to a slight language barrier—and the menu has pretty much no descriptions of the dishes, but otherwise, quite courteous). Our pot of tea was refilled with fresh hot water at least 3 times (you get a nice pot of tea with lots of loose tea and they just pour some more hot water over it occasionally) and we were pleasantly thanked as we left. I actually commented to my friend that the service here was better than half the restaurants in this City.

I also really liked the actual dishware—they were quite lovely and sturdy, not the typical ware you might find in your run of the mill restaurant supply company (and I used to work at one so I am familiar!) I will certainly be returning for lunch or carry out. They also serve dinner but do not have a liquor license—so no way will I get hubby there for dinner (plus it is a little sparse décor-wise in my opinion for dinner, but that’s just me). I think it would also be a great place for kids as there are many items that kids would probably like. If you can’t get them to eat regular stir fry, I am sure they would probably like the popcorn chicken or noodles. All in all, this place is a great value for high quality and tasty Chinese food. Give it a go. And hey, what is your favorite Chinese place? Let me know. I'll add it to my list to try!

Taiwan Tea House
4040 East 82nd Street
Indy 46250
317-598-9733

Friday, April 10, 2009

R Bistro


Finally! We had a meal in a restaurant in which everything came together. R Bistro is one of the few restaurants around that just exudes professionalism with just about everything that goes on from the hostess, to the servers, to the food itself. You are greeted promptly and like they are actually happy to have you (no eye rolling involved) and seated at a table that isn’t right next to the only other seated table in the place, and promptly greeted by your server who asks if you want tap water before it is poured. I tend to like sparkling water myself (as does hubby) but once the water is already poured, I just let it go.

So I got my sparkling water, ordered some wine and decided what to get. I asked the server some questions about the menu, which he answered with great knowledge of each item. I have never had a server here who wasn’t extremely knowledgeable about the menu, and very professional. I think I understand why they put their names on the menu now. I should say we generally walk in knowing what we want, because we get the changing weekly menus emailed to us. Whenever we see one we both like, we know we have to go, because whatever it is, if it is ingredients you like, when it is cooked at R Bistro, you can be confident it will be cooked well. My only problem is sometimes it can be awhile (particularly in the fall and winter I find) before I see a menu that really strikes my fancy.

This menu, however, struck a cord with both of us, and there were several items I could have happily chosen. But I decided on the scallops appetizer which was perfectly seared and caramelized scallops (three of them) served a top a crisp tortilla with avocado spread, which were layered on top of chopped tomatoes and drizzled with a sort of chimichurri-type sauce that was just delicious. All the components worked so well together to make an outstanding dish. Hubby had one and agreed.

Hubby started with the lamb carpaccio which I had a bit of, which was also super good. Carpaccio is generally very thinly sliced raw meat served with different things on top. I am not sure, I think this lamb may have been flash seared before being sliced, but no matter, it was perfectly tender and flavorful. It was served with R Bistro’s take on traditional tartare accompaniments, capers, mustard aioli, diced cornichons (I think) and diced onion. I had a hard time deciding which I liked better.

For my main, I had the clams with spicy sausage, fennel and fettuccine. When I saw this dish on the menu, I flashed back to a meal I had at some little dive in Portugal which consisted of clams and small pieces of sausage in a spicy, smoky broth. It was one of those things I stumbled on and never have forgotten, so I was anxious to try this dish. It was different, not as brothy, and the pasta made it more of a pasta dish, but it was still really good. I liked that the sausage was more like a ragu on the pasta than really big pieces of sausage (of which I am generally not a fan). The flavors were more delicate but just as good, if in a different way.

Hubby had the quail and also really liked it—I had a small bite and it was nice. It was served with warm potato salad and amazing bacony Swiss chard.

Anyway, it bears repeating, thank you R Bistro for producing a consistently high quality, wonderful dining experience in this City (including making the customer feel welcome). And thank you for caring enough to change the menu every week—there are so few restaurants in Indy that change their menus enough and nothing gets me more excited than knowing the next time I come, the food will be completely different, but consistently good!

R Bistro
888 Massachusetts Ave
Indy, 46204
317-423-0312
http://www.rbistro.com/

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Binford Café


Again we stumbled onto this place because we were trying to go somewhere else a reader had recommended that wasn’t open (seems to be happening a lot lately). It is a little breakfast/lunch spot I have noticed driving along Binford a number of times.

It was a Sunday lunchtime when we went, with the kids, and the place was almost full, but there were a couple tables still available. The menu is very basic, and very breakfast oriented (especially on Sunday actually, because they don’t serve anything on the lunch menu except some basics like grilled cheese (my daughter was happy)). So I figured I should probably go for breakfast and just got the full on bacon and eggs, hash browns and toast. It was fine, but a lot like what you would make at home, no better really. And the hash browns were clearly the frozen kind that weren’t cooked quite crispy enough.

Hubby had biscuits and gravy and I could tell he wasn’t a huge fan because he was pushing a lot of it around on his plate. He said the gravy was really peppery.

The kids had the aforementioned grilled cheese and pancakes (which they put little smiley faces on which was cute) but the pancakes were a bit soggy. And a funny thing when I asked about the banana nut pancakes on special, specifically what kind of nuts were in them (my son is allergic to some kinds), our server said, “I don’t know, it’s a mix.”

This server must be one of the owners, she was pretty much running the front of the place and she seemed like she had been doing it awhile. Her attitude was, well, quite brisk to put it nicely. None of that “how are you today” or anything like that, just straight to the point (ie, “I don’t know, it’s a mix.”)

Basically this place is a very cheap place to go and get breakfast that you could make at home if you just don’t feel like it or don’t know how to cook. The food wasn’t offensive or anything, and the bacon was pretty good actually, but you could easily do better at home if you’re so inclined.

Binford Café
6406 Rucker Road
Indy 46220
317-466-9631

Friday, April 3, 2009

Meridian-Revisit

Consistency, Consistency, Consistency. It is so important in a fine dining restaurant (I think anyway) and Meridian has some problems here. Not just from visit to visit, but even within the same meal.

This was my third trip to Meridian—the first being not so good, the second being very good and this last one, probably closely tied with the first. I am going to jump around a bit with my description of what we had, because I have to touch on the fried oysters first as my example of the consistency problem. The last time I went, hubby ordered the fried oysters and they were so good, they stuck out in my memory. We dined this night with another couple who had their own similarly good fond memories. No one wanted to share, so we ended up with 3 different orders, hubby and one of our friends ordered them for appetizers and I ordered mine as a main dish. First of all, I noticed right away how much larger the oysters are than what I remember and for me this is not necessarily a benefit. I like the small most tender ones best, not the ones as big as your head. Plus, I think the size of them just seemed to throw the proportions off because the tiny piece of bacon on top was totally lost in the hugeness of the oyster as was the creamy spinach mixture underneath. All you could really taste was the fried oyster and none of the other things that had made this dish so yummy. If you are going to use such large oysters, you need to up the amount of the other ingredients. The next problem with the oysters that arrived as appetizers was they were not crispy enough. I don’t know if the oil wasn’t hot enough or they weren’t cooked quite long enough, but they suffered. When mine came out later, luckily, I think the oil was properly heated as mine were much crispier, but again, consistency was a big issue. And again, I still think they were too big.

Before the oysters, we had ordered a plate of fried calamari that was a special on this night served with 3 sauces, Meridian’s version of a cocktail, a truffle aioli, and a remoulade. The calamari suffered from the same problem as the first round of oysters in that it wasn’t crispy enough. The calamari itself was good quality and I liked the cocktail and the truffle aioli, but a little crisper crust would have made this dish shine.

For my appetizer (I said I was skipping around a bit) I had a grilled asparagus dish served with truffle vinaigrette, blue cheese, bacon, and some little polenta cakes. It was okay, but the asparagus was the size of a small tree, and similarly woody. I tend to prefer thin tender asparagus, but maybe that is just me again. It was nicely grilled, and I liked the little polenta rectangles, but I couldn’t really taste the truffle in the dressing.

Hubby had duck and said it was actually undercooked which is unusual (seems like most kitchens tend to overcook duck vs. undercooking it.) He ordered it medium rare (what the kitchen recommended) but it was very rare. Other than that he said it was ok. Our friends split the Cajun jambalaya pasta and were not overly impressed either.

It was nice to have one of the former waiters from L’explorateur wait on us, and service was attentive but not annoying. In other words, service was very professional, the way it should be (why is this such a problem in Indy?) The interior of this restaurant is very nice, but I think it will be awhile before I will go back based on the lackluster food experience.

Meridian
5694 N. Meridian
Indy 46208
317-466-1111
www.meridianonmeridian.com