I really wish there were more really good restaurants in Broad Ripple Village. I am always amazed by the fact that there are so many bars and bar food-type places and that people don’t get tired of them. But maybe I am just old. There are a few places that I frequent, and when we first moved back, I always thought Midtown was a good basic place where you could count on getting a decent meal. Over the last couple of years, they have re-vamped their menu a few times, with the most recent change being one toward being more of a tapas place.
Honestly, I think what they are going for is to re-make themselves into a bar with better food, as they have also remodeled the inside as well. While they have made it look a bit more modern, and they have certainly maximized the bar space (bars dominate both sides of the restaurant), but the food, well, based on my experience, has not been improved.
I was intrigued by the menu, there were several items that were at least an attempt at being unique, and a couple that sounded interesting. However, when I asked our server what she recommended, she chose all the things that you pretty much see on every other menu in Indy (wedge salad, shrimp cocktail, etc). So ok, I pretty much didn’t get anything she recommended. But there were several nice sounding things.
We started by splitting a grilled romaine salad. I will just start by saying this was the best thing that was put down on the table all night. The leaves were nicely grilled and slightly crisp on the edges and it was covered by some smoked tomatoes, and a nice tangy Ceasar-ish dressing. There was certainly more than enough dressing, and it was underneath the lettuce, so you could sort of put it on as you wished. Like I said, this was the best thing we had all night.
Unfortunately, as they started bringing out the tapas, things went downhill. We had the bruschetta with traditional tomato and basil mix. Ok, you could tell there were some decent flavors going on in this, it had the right tomato-y, basil flavor with a bit of vinegar and olive oil, but the execution was off. The bread wasn’t properly toasted and was actually pretty much completely soft. Which just leads to mushy bread when you add wet toppings. The tomatoes weren’t totally ripe, which could certainly be improved on. I know you can get your hands on better tomatoes than this these days. And there was a bunch of cheese all over it, which personally I thought was unnecessary.
Execution was a huge problem with the fritto misto plate we also ordered. The menu said it included calamari, scallops and shrimp. I love all of these things, and thought this was an interesting take on the classic fried calamari appetizer you see everywhere around town.
Unfortunately, while they did cut the scallops up and cut the shrimp in half, it appeared to me that they still threw it all in to fry at the same time, which cooked the shrimp well, the scallops a little too much, and completely fried the calamari to little, burnt, nearly unrecognizable nuggets. Because they were so much thinner, they needed to be put in later than the rest of the items, or else they needed to cut up the other shellfish into smaller pieces (which may not really be feasible). This is also a bummer because the original incarnation of Midtown that we went to, they had a nice fritto misto with calamari, and as I recall, lemons and fennel.
We also had the potatoes au gratin, of which I have yet to find a good version of in Indy (which kills me because you could buy frozen pre-made ones in England that were delicious). Sadly, these weren’t it either. The slices of potato were slightly undercooked (this seems to be a problem with me and potatoes lately) and therefore a bit too firm, and just covered in ooey gooey cheese. Even if the potatoes had been properly cooked, this lacked any depth of flavor to make it special and had way too much heavy cheese (I think there was probably as much cheese as there was potatoes).
Finally, we had the blue cheese stuffed lamb meatballs. Hubby was really intrigued by them and I agreed simply because, well, they had blue cheese in them. Normally I have never really met a meatball I have liked because they are always too dried out. Well, these were no exception. After a bite or two, I gave up on them as well. The idea was nice, and in theory, I think ground lamb could impart a unique flavor to a meatball, especially paired with the blue cheese. But they were doused in a thick, sweet red wine sauce that sort of covered up any underlying flavors that might have been there. Again, a unique idea that was poorly executed.
Overall, that was my theme for Midtown. There were some interesting menu items that were pretty much all (with the exception of the salad) poorly executed. There seems to be a lack of interest in the kitchen about how to wow people when the food hits the table. It seems like someone dreamed up the menu, and then didn’t bother to train the kitchen about how to prepare the food.
815 East Westfield Blvd.