Saturday, December 26, 2009

Oh Yumm - December Revisit

Sigh… Well, we were having a really hard time figuring out what we wanted to eat on this particular night—we wanted it to be fairly close and quick. Oh Yumm used to be one of our favorite places for such a meal, but after the last dinner visit, when the service was really abysmal, we hadn’t been back. This time, while it appears that they have worked on their service issues, unfortunately, these problems were replaced by kitchen execution issues.

It looks like they have turned what was one of their best waiters into a maitre d' of sorts—he greeted us and seated us. Unfortunately, when we asked for a larger table (a 4 top) even though there were only 2 of us, we were told no, that there were people coming in for those tables (last time we were there they actually gave us the larger table when we asked, they were just grumpy about it). If they really needed the tables, this would have been fine. But as we left, all of the tables for 4 in our section sat empty. This really annoys hubby to no end for several reasons. First, we always order tapas—once you get 4 (or more) plates on the table as well as your own plate to eat from, a bottle of wine, water, etc., you are out of room. We had to sacrifice the bread basket and plates in order to fit everything. As we were walking out I thought hubby might lose it. I mean it is one thing if you have reservations booked for these tables, but if you are just saving them with the idle hope that some larger parties will come in, at the expense of paying customers, that are already there, this seems risky. And it was a Tuesday night at 5:45; I mean how many restaurants in this city are full on a Tuesday night?

Ok, enough about that, let’s get to the food. Well, first a quick note about the service. Like I said, our server was very friendly and attentive and everyone seemed enthusiastic on the whole. We ordered tapas—the fried calamari with sambal aioli, the artichoke fritters with lime chili aioli, the flatbread pizza with pesto, smoked Gouda, caramelized onion and kalamata olives, and the baked chipotle goat cheese with marinara and crostini. The thing is, even though we specifically told the waiter that he should just bring them out as they were finished in the kitchen (as is normally the way with tapas), they brought them all out at the same time. Unfortunately, it was pretty clear the calamari had been sitting a bit because it was barely warm. Now, I love the calamari here on the whole, the batter that it is fried with is super light and airy, and the calamari is not chewy or anything. However, when it is just warm, and not hot, it loses quite a bit. The sambal aioli was a slightly spicy aioli that was tasty and complimented the calamari nicely.

Now the artichoke fritters must have been fried last, because they were exactly the right temperature (uh, hot) and were served in a metal cup lined with wax paper which was also great for keeping them warm (maybe try that with the calamari). They were really delicious. Basically, just little deep fried artichoke hearts served with a similar aioli to the calamari. Although, according to the menu, it was “lime chili” I thought it was the same (as did our server when I asked him). But it was just as tasty.

The goat cheese was nice as well, and served at the appropriate temperature. It was a basically a plate of warm marinara sauce with a nice portion of goat cheese flavored with chipotle chilies. It was nice. Hubby especially liked it—and the crostini were appropriately toasted and held up well to the cheese.

Now, when the server placed the flatbread on the table, even he took one look at it and knew it was burned…I will give him credit for that, he instantly said he would take it back and have a new one made, which we took him up on. When it came back, it wasn’t so burned for sure. Unfortunately, the mini flatbread pizzas have always been one of my favorite items at Oh Yumm, but they have changed the crust from what used to be a thin tortilla that was crisped up in butter, to what looked and tasted pretty much like pita bread that was grilled in a panini press. It wasn’t crispy and it was too dense. The toppings were a really nice combination, but the crust just detracted too much for me. I told hubby as we ate it that I wouldn’t order it again, although he disagreed.

We also wanted dessert and the server read off a long list, with several good sounding items. What we really wanted was the chocolate chip bread pudding which is our longstanding favorite and when we asked, we were told it was on the menu. I don’t know if he just forgot to mention it, or if they just keep it around for people who ask. It was just as good—and I have always really liked it.

Unfortunately for Oh Yumm, it seems just as the get one thing fixed, another problem seems to show up. Hopefully one of these days, everything will get worked out at the same time.

Oh Yumm! Bistro
5615 N. Illinois
Indy, 46208

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Papa Roux

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my readers? You guys give me tons of recommendations and really, I do try and get to as many of them as I can. Recently, we ventured to Papa Roux based solely on a reader recommendation—it is located out at 10th and Post and that is certainly not an area I am familiar with and I never would have found this one on my own.

Another reason I have just now gotten around to this place though is that I really wanted to take hubby with me on this one. Papa Roux is a Cajun restaurant that specializes in many typical New Orleans cuisines, including several types of “po boy” sandwiches. Hubby was an undergrad at Tulane in New Orleans and spent 4 years eating his way around the Big Easy. He also has close relatives that have lived in New Orleans for many years, so even before college he spent a lot of time there. Therefore, I knew he would be the person to tell me the authenticity factor (at least of people I know).

After finally getting there (and realizing we should have gone a different way that would have saved us a good 10 minutes) I was pleasantly surprised by the place. It is very well-marked and once we stepped inside, the place was buzzing with lots of lunchtime diners. This is a place where you order at the counter—and the people working there seem genuinely friendly and like they actually like their job. That was nice. They wanted me to know when you order a full meal; you can have as many different sides as you want free of charge. This was a nice way to try several items.

The main thing we ordered (we both ordered the same) was the shrimp po boy sandwich. Shrimp and oyster po boys were hubby’s fave in New Orleans, so he wanted to give this one a try. I just love shrimp, so that was my choice too. The first thing we (mainly he) noticed was the bread. Apparently, it is pretty authentic to a po boy sandwich, and apparently one of the most commonly screwed up items outside of New Orleans. Now these rolls are traditionally toasted, and these were not. But, they were freshly baked French rolls, with a thin, somewhat chewy, somewhat crunchy crust. Hubby says that since they are usually toasted, they are usually, a bit more crunchy, but other than that, he thought the rolls were pretty authentic and I thought they were delicious. Big, but a great flavor, and soft, but still just a little chewy.

Now, apparently, these po boy ingredients (at least with shrimp and oysters) are normally fried, which I am sure would be good as well, but Papa Roux is going their own way by not frying the shrimp. They are I am guessing boiled, and are totally properly cooked (not chewy and hard) and they are shrimp, not the huge prawns you see most of the time on shrimp dishes. The shrimp are actually from Zirlott’s Gulf Products—shrimp caught from the Gulf, which are true local shrimp (well, local to New Orleans). The sandwich is also topped with the house recipe Cajun sauce and the house “creamy tangy” coleslaw. I am telling you that sauce is amazing. Just the right amount of spicy combined with a big of tanginess from the mayo base—it was really outstanding. I guess a typical cheap po boy in N.O. would be the fried seafood, mayo and shredded lettuce. These are going beyond that by turning the mayo into a flavorful sauce and the lettuce into tasty tangy coleslaw. I liked the additional flavors that this entailed and so did hubby. In fact, he told me he used to basically try and make a similar sauce on his po boys in N.O. by adding Louisiana hot sauce. Which by the way, they had on every table in huge bottles (ok, hubby swears that the only real hot sauces in N.O. are either Crystal or Louisiana hot. If you see Tabasco, he says, walk away. Anyhow, he is partial to Louisiana hot, and it's the only kind we have at our house, so he was happy to see it all over this place). So I guess, really the sandwich wasn’t really authentic, but one restaurant owner's own version of a po boy, but I thought it was really good and so did hubby. So variation is good. They also have pork and chicken po boys, which actually are fairly prevalent in N.O. as well, and hubby used to eat a chicken po boy quite frequently in college. He is certainly intrigued to try one of them next time.

We also tried several sides—the red beans and rice, the Creole with rice, and the cornbread. And hubby was happy to see Zapp’s chips, in spicy Cajun crawtator flavor (I know that sounds strange, but basically just seasoned chips that are native to N.O.), which we also shared a bag of. They were quite tasty, and they had them in several flavors. The red beans and rice were tasty—hubby really liked them a lot, although he likes a little bigger plate or bowl to mix them together. I thought they were quite good as well. The Creole is a vegetarian tomato sauce with some rice in it—the flavors were nice, not really spicy. Not really that exciting just on its own—maybe with something else. The cornbread was a little too dry for me—but you don’t need it anyway if you get a sandwich—that bread is great.

They also have daily specials—and on the day we were there, one of them was the Chicken chili Frito pie (Thursday in case you're wondering). Chicken chili served on Fritos with sour cream and cheese—sounds like not the healthiest option—but a very popular one I saw. And I have to say, I was certainly intrigued. I may have to give that one a try…

Anyway, it was a great lunch and we were glad we went. It isn’t a huge place, maybe 10 tables, and it clearly has a good following of regulars. But if you want something different, that the owners are really putting their soul into, and that location works for you, you should give it a try. I know we will, regardless of the drive.

Papa Roux
8950 E. 10th Street
Indy 46219

Papa Roux on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 14, 2009


I have been reading all the chatter about Pizzology both before and after it opened, particularly on twitter, and have been intrigued to try it naturally. Pizzology is the new project of Chef Neal Brown formerly of L’explorateur (which was one of my favorite restaurants in Indy when it was open). This is a totally different concept (pizza), in a totally different land (Carmel) and although pizza isn’t something that gets me terribly excited, I figured if some place could pull it off, it would be here.

So these pizzas are cooked in an 800 degree wood burning oven –there are pizzas with red sauce (rossa) and pizzas without sauce (bianca). They are all the same size (about 13 inches). There are several set pizza combinations or you can make your own from a list of ingredients. Certainly more cost effective to go with one of the house combos though. There are also several salads as well, and about 6 kinds of pastas and a risotto of the day. (Can I just say again how much I love that the pastas are offered in half order and full orders? Because if I was faced with a full order, I would be overwhelmed, but the half orders are a really nice size).

It was a cold night, but we wanted a salad, so we started with the warm spinach salad. It was fresh spinach with basil, capers, fairly large dices of pancetta and a poached egg on top. The dressing was a warm pancetta and red wine vinaigrette. I really enjoyed it—I thought the flavors were great, and I loved the addition of the poached egg to add even more richness. (Ok, maybe a poached egg on just about anything makes me happy—I love a good egg) But the capers and the dressing (which was tossed with the salad, hallelujah) balanced it with the right amount of acidity. Most of the capers and pancetta sunk to the bottom of the salad though, so you had to make sure to spoon them all out to make sure you got all the flavors. I really enjoyed the salad, although hubby wasn’t as excited about it. He liked it, but he didn’t love it. I saw several of the chop salads come out as well—they looked nice and also come in a half order size, which is nice if you don’t want to split with someone.

So originally we were going to get two pizzas, one red and one white, but once we saw how large they were, we changed our minds and just added a half order of one of the pastas. So we went with the mushroom pizza, which was red sauce, wood roasted wild mushrooms, olives and cacciacavallo, which is a type of cheese, made in a style similar to mozzarella (sorry about the pic, it was my phone). The cheese was fairly mild in taste, but was good with the pizza. The only disappointment was the mushroom topping. They tasted good, but the mushrooms were pretty sparse (there was one piece that just had one 'shroom on it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like an over-topped pizza, but I sort of envisioned a mixture of several types of mushrooms and a few more of them—I am not sure that there was anything other than diced portabellas on there, but I could be wrong. The olives were very good, and were cut into at least half, which I liked because you didn’t get too much in one bite, and they were strong cured olives, not the flavorless canned black olives you see on most pizzas.

The best thing about this pizza though, clearly, was the crust. The menu touts that it is made with wild yeast, spring water and Caputo Pizzeria “00” flour. I am not exactly sure how all that translates into good dough, but man, it does. The crust is thin, but not so thin that you don’t get a bit of the flavor with every bite. It is crispy on the edges, and still nice and chewy on the inside. Seriously, I can see why so many people were ordering breadsticks (I am assuming they are made with the same dough). I think my favorite part of the meal was taking the crust from the edges of the pizza and dipping it into the leftover sauce from the pasta we got. I could eat that for days.

Speaking of the pasta, we had the penne with artichoke, prosciutto, and olives. Hubby thought this was amazing. (“This pasta freakin’ rocks!”). I thought it was good—the artichokes were roasted (they are clearly making good use of that wood burning oven) and they make most of the cured meats in house I believe. The prosciutto was nice—and more of those olives—yum. I think some of the pasta is freshly made, but not the penne I don’t think. The sauce on it was not a heavy sauce, nice garlic-y olive oil type sauce that turned a bit creamy with the cheese on top. Like I said, dipping my crusts in the sauce at the bottom of the bowl was my favorite part of the meal.

I will certainly go back, and apparently a lot of people feel the same way. At just after 6 on a Wednesday night with the snow and cold weather, nearly every table was taken. We didn’t have to wait, but got one of the last tables. And they were turning tables the whole time we were there.

They have a great Italian wine list as well, with slightly more unusual wines—and the pours by the glass are generous the first go round, which is unusual in most places (you know how they always give you smaller pour on the first glass to make sure you order the second one, and then they give you a decent glass?). But not here. Both glasses were generous and there is a nice selection by the glass.

Next time I really want to try the white pizza with the clams…for sure. Or maybe one of my own combos with an egg on top—that was one of my favorite things in Italy. Or maybe those fritters….

13190 Hazel Dell Parkway
Carmel, IN 46032

Friday, December 11, 2009

Fogo de Chão

Wow. This place certainly does not need my help to keep it in business that is for sure. I don’t think I have been to a restaurant this busy since I have been in Indy. We had reservations and were still given a pager. And then after being hustled back to our table, and very quickly acknowledged by what was clearly a very harried server, we started our meat extravaganza.

So in case you don’t know, this restaurant is an all you can eat Brazilian steakhouse with “gaucho chefs” carrying around skewers of meat that they carve for you at tableside. It is a set price and you can have as much meat, sides and salad bar as you want. I had been warned by several people to skip the salad bar because you don’t want to fill up on that stuff when you have all that meat coming. So that is what we did. They give you a little round disc that is red on one side and green on the other—when you are ready for the meat onslaught, you turn it to green and they start bringing the various cuts of meat. When you want a break, you turn it to red, and they will leave you alone for a bit. We found it was good for one person at the table to stay on green just so you don’t miss anything. (You can always tell them you changed your mind after all). Anyway, one of the first cuts we got was the bottom sirloin. It was quite tasty. Interestingly, they spend more time on the seasonings with some of the lesser cuts of meat, and many of them have a better flavor because of it. We tried just about every cut of the beef that was offered (about 6 I believe) and both of the lamb options (chops and leg). Interestingly, I noticed, with the seasoned cuts of meat, they always want to give you an outside piece (with the seasoning), so once they slice all sides off of the meat, they take it back to the kitchen and season and sear them again.

Probably the best pieces were the bottom and top sirloin cuts, because, like I said, of all the seasonings, but the ribeye was tasty too. And it is pretty cool how they can cook one piece of meat and find nearly all temperatures of doneness on it depending on your preference. I had my doubts about this, but pretty much all my pieces were properly medium rare. The only thing (which I waited around for) that I didn’t think was very good was the leg of lamb. It was too quickly cooked, and this is a piece of meat that is not complimented by this form of cooking—the quick outer sear, slices off the edge, and then seared again. Leg of lamb needs some slower cooking to break down the fat I think. This was the only thing that I wouldn’t eat again. (There were also some chicken and pork options, but they did not intrigue me).

The top sirloin, or Picanha, is what they call their signature steak. It is prime top sirloin. It was really tasty and nicely seasoned. I think this was probably the favorite piece of the table. Many helping were had. I also really liked the Fraldinha, or bottom sirloin. It was a bit more flavorful and had really nice seasoning. I also liked that it was very thinly cut. Honestly, there was so much meat coming it was hard to keep track of them all. I can tell you probably the least exciting was the filet, which is often my favorite cut at other places. But just nothing exciting about it, like there was with the others. The lamb chops were nice too; properly medium rare and you got two chops per serving.

Oh! And before I forget, in case you go for the first time (as it was for me) when they carve the meat for you, you are supposed to pick up your little tongs and pull the meat away. Just a head’s up!

They also constantly bring out (and replenish) side dishes. There were sautéed bananas, mashed potatoes with a bit of cheese on top and deep fried squares of polenta. The bananas I would have preferred as a dessert honestly. They were sort of nice, but I tend to not like to mix sweet and savory that much. The potatoes were fine, nothing outstanding but I do like some starch with my meat. The polenta was the standout I thought, although it didn’t show up until about halfway through the meal. They were little thin squares (well, more like rectangles I guess) of polenta that were deep fried very crispy; with just a touch of softness inside (they were thin like I said). They were dusted with cheese and were yummy. We went through several orders of these. The other things that were quite tasty were the little cheese rolls they give you instantly (pão de queijo). They are warm and so tasty; they don’t need butter or anything. Sort of like a cheese-flavored popover. We went through quite a few of these as well

After several rounds of the meat, I did go up to the salad bar for a few things just for a change of pace. They have some nice things—smoked salmon and various cured meats as well as different marinated veggies and cheeses (and of course typical salad fixings). Honestly, I didn’t think any of it was as good as the meat and polenta and rolls, and if I went back, I would probably totally skip it, or maybe just get a green salad.

Ok, because we must have been crazy, we did get some desserts to share too (there were 4 of us). We had the chocolate molten cake, crème brule, and the signature papaya cream. The desserts were all okay, nothing to write home about as far as I could tell. The papaya cream is supposed to help with digestion (good idea). Not sure if it worked or not, but I didn’t find the flavor overly exciting—a fruit flavored cream isn’t my ideal dessert I guess.

It was a fun evening, and I will certainly not be anemic after that meal, but while several items were tasty, there was nothing so good that it makes me want to rush back. No real standout. But as I said at the beginning, judging by the crowds, whether I go back or not, this place is here to stay.

Fogo de Chão
117 E. Washington Street
Indy, IN 46204
(317) 638.4000

Fogo de Chao Churrascaria on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 7, 2009

Canal Bistro

I have been bad lately about getting to some new places for lunch—things just get so busy this time of year! And honestly, I have just been in a mood lately for comfort food and places when I go out for lunch, so I have been hitting a lot of usuals. But I finally managed to get somewhere new the other day with the BFF. We went over to Broad Ripple and ate at the Canal Bistro.

I was pretty happy with this place—there were some hits and some misses, but all around I would put it on the repeat list. I had the mazza plate appetizer sampler for my lunch so I could try lots of things (you know I love to do that). It had hummus, tabouli, spinach pies (i.e. spanikopita), a couple of falafel and various marinated and non-marinated veggie garnishes and olives.

The things I liked about this plate the most were the hummus and the spinach pies. The hummus was not too thick and not too thin—a pleasant consistency that was thin enough you could dip straight in with your pita, but not so watery that it didn’t have the heft that hummus should have. I liked the seasoned olive oil on top with a few diced tomatoes as well. I love a bit of olive oil on top of hummus, adds a nice richness.

I also really liked the little spinach pies. They were very little triangles of the phyllo stuffed with feta and spinach. I think I have told you all how much I love these little crispy things before, and these were certainly great ones. The fillings were still moist and the phyllo was pleasantly browned and appropriately crunchy. Next time I would certainly get an order of just these. They were yummy—and there were only two on the sampler and I wanted more for sure.

The tabouli I wasn’t as impressed with. The flavors were very fresh, the herbs obviously very fresh, and there was a fair amount of lemon. But there was so little of the cracked bulgar wheat that it seemed like a Mediterranean pico di gallo almost. Not bad to slap on top of some other things, but alone, just couldn’t spoon it directly into my mouth.

I thought the falafel was pretty dry and didn’t have a lot of flavor. But then again, I think that about falafel in general. These were a little over fried maybe and even mixed with some of the other things and sauces on the plate; I just didn’t see the appeal.

Loved the olives (big surprise) and I love mixing an olive with just about any bite of the other stuff. And in fact, my friend had the restaurant’s version of a grilled cheese which was grilled feta with olives, cucumbers, tomatoes and other seasonings on pita. She gave me a piece of it (quite a generous portion) and it was very tasty. I would order that again as well. Actually, there are a lot of good sounding entrées on the menu that I would like to try for dinner, but for lunch they seemed too big. I will certainly go back and give them a try one of these days.

The servers were super friendly and the food was pretty fast. The chairs are a bit uncomfortable (don’t tell hubby or I’ll never get him in there for dinner). But a pleasant experience for sure.

Canal Bistro
6349 Guilford Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46220

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Deeter's Nasch & Nip

We settled on Deeter’s the other day (the casual side of the long running Glass Chimney restaurant in Carmel) because hubby was itching for some liver and onions—he had had it before and remembered it being really, really good and he wanted to see if he remembered correctly.

Anyway, this place is very old school—the décor is what hubby describes as “early mortuary” and I have to say he is about right. I don’t think it has changed in the 30 years or so it has been open. Wood paneling, textured walls, red velvet chairs and dark paintings. Well, you get the idea.

I think the menu is probably the same as it has been as well, with the addition of certain specials (which I think were the specials the last time we were there nearly 2 years ago). Also, I think the servers and assistants are the same as well and they know this place inside and out. Now, in the last couple of years the original chef owner retired and there was quite a time when it looked like the two restaurants would close. However, obviously that didn’t happen, and the investors who bought the restaurants obviously saw that the formula and recipes were working, and didn’t change a thing.

The food is old school too, but the ingredients are high quality and executed pretty well. All the entrées come with soup or salad, and the entrées are pretty good sized, so you don’t really need an appetizer at this place, but we got one anyway. I wanted the sautéed chicken livers, but since hubby was having veal liver for dinner, we got the fried calamari instead. You know, when we saw them, we were a little skeptical. But when you ate them, you realized, they were actually pretty good. They were nice and crunchy (pieces of the main body only, no tentacles) and the squid itself was soft and not rubbery at all. They were served with lemon and cocktail sauce. The cocktail sauce was good—pleasantly spicy, but not so over the top that you couldn’t taste the underlying food (and you gotta love it in the silver server). The calamari was also really good with just a squeeze of lemon. I ate some both ways, and enjoyed them. And the portion is certainly big enough to share.

We both went with the house salad with the house dressing, green goddess, with our dinners. It was a decent salad with a nice dressing. The green goddess was a bit like ranch dressing with more herbs and I think a bit of celery in it. The salad was a basic lettuce—iceberg and romaine with some sliced red onions and a tomato. Nothing spectacular, but not bad.

For my entrée, I had the pan fried walleye, which our server said was her favorite. It was two large filets of walleye, pan fried so that it had a crispy crust and served with a lemon butter sauce and capers. There were certainly capers, but I didn’t see or taste much of a lemon butter sauce. The fish has a great flavor on its own though, so I still enjoyed it, but maybe a bit of actual sauce would have been nice. I squeezed a lemon over it and enjoyed it. With each entrée, you also get a choice of a side—I think the standard sides were sautéed cabbage, the house potatoes or the vegetable of the day. You can also “upgrade” to certain other sides. I went with the spaetzle and hubby upgraded to French fries. Both our sides were good as well. I thought my spaetzle went really well with my fish (there was a TON of it though). The pasta was lightly crispy on the outside (I assume it was lightly pan fried as well) and had a nice texture and flavor. Hubby’s fries were really good too—they were very lightly battered, seasoned fries. They were really crispy and had great flavor. Not sure why they were so addictive, but they were.

Hubby had the veal liver and onions and enjoyed it once again. He didn’t think they were quite up to the memory he had from the last time. But he did really like it—and grumbles about not being able to find them more often.

All in all, this is a restaurant that is continuing to put out a good product—of course, you would hope after 30 years of preparing these same dishes, they would have them down, and they do. They give you a lot of food for sure, and you really don’t need an appetizer. The wine list was a little limited for me, and I had a hard time making a choice. Hopefully, in the main dining room, it is more extensive (I have eaten there before but it has been quite awhile, so I don’t clearly remember). I do like the more casual side of Deeter’s better I think, because while the décor is similar in both, Deeter’s more casual feel balances the cheesiness of it. Whereas, the last time I was at the Glass Chimney, you feel like you are really in a time warp (especially when you are dressed up yourself).

Anyway, this is a very traditional restaurant, with a traditional menu, but like I said, the quality of the food is good, and we enjoyed ourselves.

Deeter’s Nasch & Nip
12901 Old Meridian Street
Carmel, IN 46032