Monday, March 15, 2010

Northside Social

As the BFF and I drove to Northside Social the other night, not sure exactly where it was, she commented to me that it must be close to the place where a friend once ran a BBQ place about 20 years ago. Turned out it wasn’t close, it was in the same location. Talk about timewarp. Smokestack Lightning was the place where I got hooked on chicken wings and mustard based barbeque sauce. Ahhh, but I am off subject again. Anyway, what a shocker to see the inside of this place all gussied up and hip-like. And apparently, quite popular. As we arrived, around 6:30, we got the last table there and it pretty much ran on a wait the entire night (and I know because we were seated right next to the host stand).

Anyway, it was nice to see a fairly new independent restaurant doing so well. They clearly are not having any trouble getting customers. I am thinking it is probably a good addition to the brewpub-heavy Broad Ripple area with its slightly more upscale menu and more modern interior. I say “slightly more upscale” because the menu is still a basic comfort food heavy one, with a few twists. There are things like pork chops, and meatloaf as well as cedar plank salmon. The menu also includes pastas and sandwiches. Kids are welcome until 9:00 and this place is so noisy, even if they are unruly, it is unlikely anyone will notice.

We started with the “black and blue” fondue appetizer which was pieces of filet, roasted tomatoes and chunks of bread served with what was billed as a blue cheese fondue. The beef was pretty good, and was not overcooked and had a nice juiciness and seasoning on it. The only problem I had with it was I got a couple bites that had enough fat in them I had to spit them out. Which happens with pretty much any cut of beef, but if you are serving cut up pieces, I would recommend trying to cut out more of the fatty bits. The tomatoes were nice and big and meaty and a nice compliment to the beef and rich fondue. The fondue wasn’t bad, but didn’t really seem blue cheesy at all. More just cheesy. Definitely could have used more blue cheese flavor for sure. I like what they were doing—and that they gave you enough wooden skewers so you didn’t re-dip the same skewer into the cheese if you were sharing. But if you ask me, it just needs a little more pizzazz to make it really good.

I had the fish in a clay pot. It was basa fish, which is a mild white fish, served in a terra cotta baking dish, in a broth with white wine, lemon, olives and more of the roasted tomatoes. The flavor of the broth was nice—you could really get the lemony flavor from the broth and the fish, well after it cooled for quite a while; it was so hot I couldn’t touch it for quite awhile-- was certainly infused with the flavors. There was a wild rice pilaf type side item which added a nice nutty flavor. The whole dish was good. It wasn’t anything out of this world. And the flavors are simple—certainly nothing complex going on here. But that’s not really what they are going for anyway, I don’t think.

The BFF had the meatloaf and was a bit underwhelmed I’d say. Which is what I would say about pretty much any meatloaf, but she is a fan of it in general. She said there was nothing special about it.

We also shared the bread pudding for dessert which I had read somewhere was very good (and I do have a weakness for good bread pudding). But this was a little too dry for my taste and only served with whipped cream on the side. Give me some good old fashioned vanilla ice cream any day. The pudding was in the shape of a square, perfectly cut from a big pan obviously, and just held its shape too well. I like it a bit mushier and free form I guess.

By the time we left, the bar was pretty much heaving and it was so noisy, it was hard to talk. But judging by the crowd which appeared to be a slightly older (older than the 20 somethings you see on Broad Ripple Avenue anyway) singles scene of sorts, I don’t think they are necessarily coming for the food. Which isn’t bad, but in my mind, isn’t so compelling this place will jump to mind when I am looking for a meal out. The prices are reasonable though. If you are one of the mobs of people eating at this place, tell me why you like it so much. Is it the food, or the scene? Just curious.

Northside Social
6525 North College Ave
Indy 46220
317/253-0111
www.northsidesocial.com


5 comments:

  1. I agree with much of what you have written..basically an upscale sports bar..but with some nice music in the background. NON SMOKING is a huge draw for me. I have tried most of the items on the menu and most are competently prepared. I didnt realy find anything with a "wow" factor..but perhaps that is intentional. A pasta dish with shrimp found the shrimp to be perfectly cooked...not over cooked as is often the case. Regretably the pasta is not fresh...an easy thing to make in the kitchen...or..purchase some excellent pasta from Nicole Taylors just down the street.

    Wine selection was o.k...beer selection well thought out.

    I also was saddened to see large chalk boards not being used to shout out the special for the evening ! Usually a good sign when a restaurant has chalk boards...often an indication of a creative kitchen taking chances :-)

    Hopefully the obvious initial success of this restaurant will allow the chef to waver a bit from current safe menu.

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  2. lorand:

    agree, "competent" is a good word to describe the food. But not enough to inspire me to run back. Agree also the non-smoking is a really good thing too--I was worried about this when we went and was glad to see it was smoke free.

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  3. I dined at the restaurant Friday evening and ordered the Grilled Pear and Prosciutto Salad. Definitely no complaints from me. I think it is a dish I will crave and go back for. Very glad to see a venue like this in the Broadripple area!

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  4. It's annoying that any restaurant in this day and age really has nothing for vegetarians. I think it's not too much to ask, or difficult, and it is expected, especially in Broad Ripple.

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  5. Several options for vegetarians, order one of the several pasta or large salad dishes with no meat... What do you want a marinated seitan steak with tofu crumbles?

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