Friday, January 29, 2010

Taki Japanese Restaurant

****Taki appears to be out of business as of 1/1/11**************

I don’t think I have ever mentioned this, but my kids’ favorite place to go to dinner, if it is totally up to them, is Benihana. They love the whole dinner and a show thing. And the nice thing about it, they love pretty much everything they serve and have something to occupy themselves. Recently a new Japanese steakhouse opened just up the street from our house, and it is not a chain, which got me kind of excited, so we thought we would give it a try. Apparently, they used to be in Des Moines, but have moved the whole place here.

This restaurant is very large and offers both the teppanyaki (cooking at the table in front of you) and a large regular sushi area with a sushi bar and regular bar. It was not too crowded yet, as it has really just opened in the last few weeks, which was sort of nice for us because we had our whole table to ourselves and our kids are a little crazy. The menu is very similar to Benihana, except they offer more reasonable prices for their kid’s meals.

So the kids and I both ordered shrimp dinners and hubby ordered a combination dinner with steak and scallops. All the meals come with soup and a salad as well as fried rice. For the soup you can have the classic Japanese steakhouse soup of broth with fried onions and sliced mushrooms or the traditional sushi restaurant miso soup with tofu. The kids got the broth, which tasted like it might be beef broth and was pretty good. I had the miso which was very good miso soup—lots of tofu which I always like.

You can get the salad with a soy vinaigrette or a ginger dressing. I am not usually a fan of soy vinaigrette but I did enjoy the ginger dressing. However, Japanese salads with the iceberg don’t usually get me that excited. These did have a bit of other field greens mixed in with the iceberg, but they weren’t super exciting.

The chef came out and cooked next and I have to say, he was super friendly and put on quite a show for the kids. If you had asked the kids which place they preferred, before even eating their food, they would have chosen this place based on the chef alone. First off, he started with making a giant flame on the table, which I have read Benihana will no longer do for liability reasons. So they were into that. Then, as he cooked the fried rice with egg, and some diced veggies, he offered to let my kids cook with him. My daughter, who has always been quite appalled by the lack of female teppanyaki chefs, of course jumped at the chance. My son, being my slightly shyer child, passed. Anyhow, he let her flip the egg around and she was thrilled. And the fact that he promised to let her do it anytime she came certainly endeared her to the place. At this point, I was just praying the food was edible since I already know where she will be requesting on her nights out.

Everyone seemed to like the fried rice (I had steamed). There is no shrimp appetizer included in the dinner however (like at Benihana), so at this point he started cooking everyone’s dinner. They have two sauces to serve with the meat, a sort of creamy slightly mustardy sauce and a thick ginger sauce. Interestingly, they recommend the ginger with the red meat and the creamy sauce with the seafood (which is the opposite of Benihana). Personally, I love the tangy-ness of the ginger sauce (as does my daughter) and have always used it for everything. But here, I had to ask to get it since I was having shrimp; initially he only gave me the other. But it was really good, thicker and even more gingery then at Benihana. The one thing I did not like though, was that they actually cook the shrimp on the grill with some of the creamy sauce, which I would not get the next time. But if you like that sauce with your shrimp, cooking it with some extra would certainly not hurt. The kids seemed to like it anyway. They also served the shrimp whole, instead of chopping it up, which bummed me out a little since I then had to cut it up for the kids. (Normally that is one of the beauties of the Japanese steakhouse. Everything comes sized to order for the kids.)

They also did veggies—onions, broccoli, carrots, and zucchini and made a very exciting volcano out of the onions which of course the kids also loved. Hubby really liked his scallops—and they looked like nice ones and were cooked well. I had quite a bit of his steak (he upgraded to a filet) which was really good, possibly my favorite thing. But the kids ate really well, and really enjoyed themselves, which is most of the battle when dining out with them. And hey, it wasn’t chicken nuggets or grilled cheese.

We also got a piece of chocolate cake, and our server was very careful to check the ingredients and let us know that is was made somewhere that processes peanuts, because my son is allergic. The cake was clearly one of the pre-made refrigerated jobbies (I hate cold cake) but my daughter loved it and mentions it, along with the fact that they have chocolate milk, and that she got to cook, whenever she tells someone about it. Oh and did I mention all the fish tanks? Also a big draw. But for adults, it has a nice modern feel with some interesting water/light features and soothing color scheme.

So we will certainly be back (it is almost a guarantee with as much as the kids loved it) and with a few tweaks for me (no sauce on the shrimp when it is cooking, or maybe one of the steak and seafood combos), I am glad to have a place to go that is local and where the people are really into their jobs. And while our server (who brought the drinks, soups and salad) was clearly still learning, she was really friendly and helpful. They were extremely accommodating to the kids, even down to the cheater chopsticks and free refills on the chocolate milk.

Hubby and I also decided to give Taki a quick try for lunch before I posted this review. We ordered a couple of rolls and some tempura shrimp. The tempura was nice, a little different from most I have had, almost has a consistency of panko crumbs on the outside, but it was nice and crunchy and I liked that the tempura sauce was served warm, which helped keep the whole thing warm til the end.

The rolls were good. Not amazing or anything, but not bad. Ok, I think I have told you all that I am generally not a fan of rolls because I don’t like the seaweed. Lately I have been noticing a lot of rolls made with soy paper, so I thought, hey, this might just be the perfect scenario for me. So the roll I wanted to try was called the “Dynamite Lola,” which was soft shell crab (and you know how I love soft shell crab), spicy tuna, avocado and spicy sauce, and was described as being wrapped in soy paper. So, it was wrapped in soy paper, but there was still an interior part of the roll that was wrapped in seaweed, so it didn’t really help this aversion for me. The ingredients themselves were all well done and tasty, but I guess I am learning I am not a roll person. Hubby, who loves the seaweed has learned he is not a soy paper person, having never had it before. He did not care for the consistency of it.

The other roll we go was the “Taki” roll, which he liked better. It was salmon and crab tempura. It was pretty tasty (other then that pesky seaweed). They do have a ton of different rolls and sushi options, pretty much some of everything. And the fish itself seemed to be very good quality, and that is the most important thing right? They have just started serving lunch, and there weren’t a lot of people in there when we were there, but our server told us their dinners are getting more and more crowded. I do think it is a good alternative to have in this area, which is so heavily dominated by mediocre chains. I am going to go back and try a Bento box next time for lunch and see how that goes.

It is a pretty place, and a very friendly staff. If you have gone, or do go, please let me know what you think, as I am interested to see how this place does.

Taki Japanese Restaurant
4040 East 82nd Street
Indy 46240

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Devour Downtown 2010

Hi all-

As you know, Devour Downtown is going on through February 6th, where you can enjoy three course meals at many of our downtown restaurants for just $30.00. It is often a nice way to try restaurants that you might otherwise think are too pricey. At the request of a reader, I am making this post, asking you guys to post a comment about your devour downtown meals so that others might see some good options (and maybe some not so good ones too) for these weeks. If you have already been to a few, let us know if they were good or bad...and maybe we can all help each other out!



Monday, January 25, 2010

Kona Jack's- Lunch

The other day we were on our way to pick up some fresh seafood for dinner at one of the few places you can count on it actually being fresh, and decided hey, why not actually eat lunch here too? We have eaten at Kona Jack’s for dinner, and to be honest, it sort of bores me…so it has been awhile since we have been back. But we thought we should give it a go for lunch. I mean, honestly, they have the freshest seafood at their fresh fish counter of anywhere in the City (well the Goose too but you have to order it), and I buy it for home cooking rather frequently. It is really the only place I buy fish on a regular basis.

Anyhow, when we went for lunch, we literally got what I think was the second to last table in the place. It was jammed! We perused the menu and just when I thought I had decided, the server went over the specials which tempted me. I was torn between a very yummy sounding sushi roll and what I ended up ordering—the beer battered fish (cod) and chips. The fact that they had two kinds of fish and chips, a breaded fish (perch) as well as the beer battered one gave me faith that maybe this would be good. It obviously wasn’t just a “fish” that was frozen and dumped in a fryer and called fish and chips right? And I love a good battered fish and chips.

Anyhow, while the fish itself was pleasantly juicy and the batter had a nice flavor, with just the right amount of beer flavor, they did not quite pull off the requisite crunchy exterior. You need a really crispy outside shell right? And still soft but moist fish inside. There were a few bites that were crunchy, but most of them were a little soggy—i.e. soft on the outside. That does not make for good fish and chips. The chips, or French fries, were the big steak fry type, which are the traditional English-style chip, but they just don’t really do anything for me. I wish I would have ordered that roll. And judging by the amount of sushi rolls coming out of that part of the kitchen, a lot of people were ordering them.

Of course, this only brings me to me next quandary…I can totally appreciate using raw fish in a creative and tasty way, but somehow, if you have the quality to start with (which Kona Jack’s certainly does), how hard is that? You gotta be able to cook it properly too right? Well, they didn’t pull off the fish and chips so well and frankly, it is a little frustrating considering the high quality of their ingredients.

Hubby had an oyster po boy sandwich with breaded oysters and bread with a bit of cole slaw. First of all the oysters looked huge, and I think they were sort of above average in size (which I am sure you regular readers know is not my favorite thing). But as hubby explained to me (I didn’t even want to try them, they just didn’t look that appetizing) actually there was so much breading, you could barely taste the oyster—and that they actually weren’t that big. So, overall, I would venture to say, he would likely not order this again either. Again, frustrating to see a quality ingredient that just wasn’t very good once it was cooked.

So, this wasn’t a great lunch. This is true. But I have to say, watching the stuff coming from the sushi portion of the kitchen inspires me to go back. And I know the fish is good. And regardless of whether I eat in the restaurant, I will be a loyal customer of the fish market for a long long time.

Kona Jack’s
9419 N. Meridian Street
Indy 46260

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Noah Grant's

One of the things I really like about writing this blog is that I go and try a lot of places that I probably never would have otherwise. I am sure that it would be very easy in this City to get stuck in a rut and go to the same few places all the time. Now sometimes these places are hits, and often they are misses, but either way, the sense of adventure is fun, and the need to keep trying new stuff gives me constant hope that I just might stumble onto a gem.

Well, I will just get it out of the way quickly, Noah Grant’s was certainly more of a miss food-wise, but hubby and I still had a very nice time exploring Zionsville a little (took us a few minutes to find the place) and the service was really fun and enthusiastic. It was a fun night, even though the food was not outstanding.

So, Noah Grant’s specializes in seafood, and has quite an extensive menu. Although strangely, while this menu is large, there is not a lot on it that really leapt out at me. Not sure why. But they sort of do that old school seafood thing with various sushi rolls as well (and of course steaks). And our server was as friendly as can be, and was happy to offer up her honest recommendations (and lack of recommendations on certain items) which I always appreciate.

She heartily recommending a couple of the salads, so I went with the Noah Grant’s version of a chopped salad. I have been really into chopped salads lately because I can really appreciate the varying ingredients, and the fact that they are so easy to eat, since the lettuce is typically in small pieces---you can grab a forkful and be sure to get a bite of all the flavors as well as usually a proper amount of dressing as well. I also like the fact that just about every restaurant has their version of a chop salad, but every restaurant’s version is different. Not like the “wedge” which is nearly identical in almost every restaurant you go to. Don’t get me wrong, I like the ingredients in a wedge, and sometimes I order them. But every time I see one on a menu, I sigh. I mean, it just seems so uninspired.

Anyhow, the salad was a little strange. It was not actually “chopped” lettuce at all—it was rather large pieces of romaine that were actually bigger than most regular pieces of lettuce in a regular non-“chopped” salad. Which was odd. It was mixed with blue cheese crumbles, tomatoes, bacon and a couple of slivers of avocado. The dressing was the basil vinaigrette which sounded nice to me, but was strangely sweet and was not my favorite. The pieces of bacon were really nice, real bits of recognizable bacon with good flavor. All in all though, I would probably pass on this salad again, and I would certainly pass on the dressing.

We did really like the dipping sauce that came with the bread though—it was a garlic and herby kind of mix in olive oil—really heavy on the garlic. I mean, really heavy. Some people probably would not like it because of it, but we did. The bread was simple slices of French baguette, but went well with the dip.

Hubby had 2 of their oysters Rockefeller and 2 of their shrimp Rockefeller (they sell them individually) to start. I had one of the shrimp which was a shrimp in an oyster shell and I suspect their spinach dip (because they have spinach dip on the menu as well) over the top and heated up. It was a creamy sauce mixed with pieces of spinach and parmesan on top. The shrimp were nice and pleasantly cooked, not rubbery at all. It was a nice mix of flavors if not a totally traditional Rockefeller. Unfortunately (since I only got one) this ended up being the best thing on the table all night.

For my main dish, I ordered, based on the server’s recommendation, the shrimp scampi—she said it was one of the best things on the menu. It was nicely presented with some pasta underneath (and not a ridiculous amount I was happy to see). And the sauce itself was great—the buttery garlic sauce cut with the right amount of lemon and wine to keep it thin and tangy—it wasn’t one of those sauces that seems like it is too creamy for its own good. Yes, I really liked the sauce. Unfortunately, the shrimp were so overcooked, they were pretty inedible. I don’t know, I sort of had higher hopes for a place that specializes in seafood… And it was frustrating because the shrimp on hubby’s appetizer weren’t so rubbery.

Hubby ordered ½ pound of King Crab legs. Now, I know there is no guarantee about the size of legs you are going to get, but these were some of the skimpiest legs I have seen. There was so little meat in them (they were sliced in half) that what was in there was really dried out. Also a disappointment.

We did have fun, and the people were very friendly and checked on us several times. We also enjoyed giggling at the fact that there are two chair rails in this place, and neither of them were saving the walls from the chairs that have unusually pointed edges—there were dings all over the walls—right between the two chair rails. (What can I say; we have a weird sense of humor).

I don’t know, maybe sushi is the way to go here, a lot of people seemed to be ordering it. But based on our meal, and the drive, it will likely be awhile before we go back.

Noah Grant’s
65 South First Street
Zionsville, IN 46077

Noah Grant's Grillhouse & Raw Bar on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ruth's Chris Steakhouse

So the other night we had a last minute babysitter and we really could not decide where to go to eat. We literally drove out of the house not sure where we were headed. After toying with the idea of Miyagi’s, and sort of heading in that general direction, at the last minute we thought we would check out Ruth’s Chris’s bar and get some appetizers and skip the steak.

We wanted to sit in the bar because hubby is not a fan of the interior of the Northside location—and I have to say, the bar is much preferable. Our table next to the window was pretty cold though-we had to switch seats.

We started with the chop salad, which we split. I appreciate that they split this for us in the kitchen. But man, I can’t imagine having the whole salad myself. It would be enormous. The half portion is plenty big. Plenty. But I had seen a picture of it in one of the local magazines and thought it looked so good, I really wanted to try it. So it was chopped lettuces (spinach, iceberg and radicchio) mixed with lots of things—boiled egg, olives, avocado, hearts of palm, bacon, croutons, red onions, mushrooms, blue cheese and with fried skinny onions on top. The dressing was lemon basil vinaigrette. I really enjoyed it. It was kind of interesting though, there were so many things in it, you didn’t necessarily get a bite of every ingredient each time, but in fact every bite was a little different. But is well dressed and the dressing was the right combination of creamy and tangy.

So we ordered the barbeque shrimp, which is one of Ruth’s Chris signature items—and it is the type of “barbeque” that is found in New Orleans. It is a butter, wine, garlic and seasoning sauce (heavy on spices and I would say a bit of Worcestershire sauce). This is something that as long as hubby and I have been going to Ruth’s Chris (which we have on occasion since our San Francisco days) we have been ordering. The shrimp are properly cooked, and the sauce is delicious. Probably my favorite part is just sopping it up with the nice, warm, French loaf you get there. The shrimp were a little smaller than I remember, bust still good. The only bad part about them, is that apparently when they were bringing out our food from the kitchen, they dropped one of the other items, and had to remake it (a cold item) so by the time they got it all together, the shrimp were not exactly hot. More like lukewarm which kind of detracted.

We also ordered the crabtini which was lump crab meat served in a tall martini glass (hence the trouble carrying it out on a large tray). I really liked this one. I appreciated that they actually tossed the crab in a citrus-y vinaigrette before then also serving it with their very tasty version of a remoulade. The crab was really good quality, and the mix of flavors was more than your ordinary cold seafood cocktail.

Finally, we had their version of the steakhouse side dish of mac and cheese (it was a special). Now it seems like everyone has one of these, with lobster, or with truffles. This one was actually both lobster and truffle mac and cheese, at least according to the menu. Honestly, I did not taste the truffle at all and as far as the lobster goes, they were very small pieces. Now the pieces I did find were quite tender and not overcooked like so many are, but they were so small it was hard to really get the flavor with all that cheese. The pasta was very cheesy, with a lot of additional cheese melted on top. Maybe all the cheese was so strong, it just overwhelmed the flavors of the truffles and the lobster. It wasn’t bad, but for the price, I wouldn’t order it again.

Our server was really professional (how nice!) and very helpful with the menu. And I really appreciate that he did not seem put out in the least that we didn’t order steak or even an entrée for that matter. Other then the slip up with the dropped crab (and hey, accidents happen, and I don’t think he was the one who actually dropped it), service was pretty near perfect.

I enjoyed this dinner, and the professionalism of the staff at Ruth’s Chris. And I do like their steaks as well, although I don’t think they are the best around. But I would certainly go back and do a similar meal again.

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse
9445 Threel Road
Indianapolis, IN 46240

Ruth's Chris Steak House on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


If we are in the mood for a little drive, Kincaid’s is still one of our favorite places to go for lunch. I love love love this salad they have—which I have reviewed before, the Maytag Blue Cheese and bay shrimp salad. I have a really hard time not ordering this when I go because I like it so much, but I did manage to get a soup and salad combination this time to try the clam chowder as well.

Now in the combo when you get the salad, you usually do not get the shrimp on the salad, just the lettuce, blue cheese, almonds, and crumbled egg with the blue cheese dressing. But I asked for some shrimp to be put on top anyhow, and they did this for a few extra bucks. As usual, the salad was really good (especially after a squeeze of lemon over the shrimp). And as I prefer, it is tossed for you so you get the proper proportion of dressing to leaves. You sort of have to dump it out of the bowl though to really eat it, because it is so full. And really a pretty nice size for lunch, especially with something else. But it was just as good as always...

The clam chowder was enjoyable as well—not the best I have ever had, but it was nice and chunky with large, recognizable pieces of clam as well as quite a bit of diced potato. It was a nice hearty soup on a cold day. And hey, at least I tried something new right?

Hubby had fish and chips and they were very good as well—nicely battered and the cod inside was flaky but still really moist. The fries are also quite good—the thin seasoned fries that are the ones I like best...

The kids really like this place too—my son had fettuccine alfredo and loved it. And with a side of fries with your pasta, how can you go wrong? I included a picture of his meal just so you could get an idea of what the kids portions look like (actually pretty much the same portions as the adult combo meals). They also get what the restaurant calls “the world’s smallest ice cream sundae” which is far from small as far as I can tell. A large scoop of ice cream and chocolate sauce and whipped cream.

I have also mentioned before the bread they serve—herby focaccia bread with a garlic butter melted on top. I really like this bread. Unfortunately, so do the kids, so we fight over it (they will bring you more though if you need it).

All in all, as I have said before, this is a great place for lunch. Although one thing about it confuses me—the dinner menu is not nearly as exciting as the lunch menu. Whenever we have thought about going up for dinner, the menu just doesn’t intrigue us that much—more of a basic steak and chop house menu. Not sure why the lunch menu is so much more creative.

14159 Clay Terrace Blvd
Carmel, 46032

Sunday, January 10, 2010

# 2!

Hey you guys!

I just realized that a couple days ago was my second anniversary of writing this blog! I can't believe it. But I wanted to take another minute to thank all of you who read my blog and to those of you who write to me or post comments. I am just so pleased that my goal of getting people together to discuss our little restaurant scene has been realized. And I have enjoyed trying lots of places that I might not have otherwise without this blog.

I would love to hear from any of you about anything that you think would make this blog better, and as always, I would love to hear your thoughts on your favorite restaurants.

Eat well,


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Brad Gates Catering and Events

This is not my typical review, because it was my birthday dinner, and it was a catered dinner I had at my house. I wasn’t going to review it at all but then I thought, hey, anyone can hire them as well, and well, the food was so damn good, I needed to share the info. And really, when you think about how much you spend on a nice dinner out, it really isn’t any more expensive per person—so get your closest friends together, pool your money and have a dinner party!

I hired Brad Gates Catering & Events to do my birthday dinner, because he is one of my favorite chefs in Indy, and since leaving Euphoria, has started his own private catering company. And hey, a small dinner party with a few friends at my house sounded pretty good to me right? Someone else cooking and serving but in the comfort of your own home…and it was one of those milestone-type birthdays (damn, I am getting old) so I figured why not?

It worked like this—Brad sent me a sample menu, and I made a couple of small changes to a couple of the courses, mostly based on what I thought my guests would like, but overall, he supplied me with a menu for dinner that sounded amazing and I went with his instincts for seasonal food. It was quite a menu for sure but I couldn’t really say no to any of the courses so we went with what ended up to be a couple of appetizers served before dinner and then a 6 course seated dinner.

The appetizers were amazing- 2 of my favorite things from when Brad worked at Euphoria—the tartares- tuna and beef. He served them in individual portions, the beef on potato chips and the tuna on crispy wontons. The beef was amazing-super fresh (has to be) mixed with the onions, capers, a slice of the cornichon and a part of a fried quail egg on each one and with mustard on the side to put on yourself. Perfect. The tuna was also really good—served with a tomato, onion and avocado mix and horseradish vinaigrette on crispy wontons. I loved the way these were served in individual portions—I sorta thought they would be served communally, but this was even nicer and even though hubby and I argue about how to best mix (or not mix) the ingredients in the beef tartare, this was the perfect solution—someone else did it and did it perfectly—you got a bit of every flavor with each bite.

Ok, obviously, I cannot go into great detail with every course because there were so many and I know I will probably lose you all at some point, but the first course of the seated dinner was certainly one of my favorites—(and coincidentally one of the few I remembered to take a picture of). It was Edgartown bay scallops in a shallot-verjus nage. Wow. These scallops were amazing. It was also one of the ones I was most concerned with because I had a couple of people at the table who didn’t think they liked scallops. But everyone loved these. Everyone. They were super fresh, very sweet and the sauce was perfectly balanced—the right amount of acidic flavor with a touch of butter and the little pieces of shallot. Outstanding.

The next course was also great—skate Meuniere with sage mashed potatoes and hedgehog mushrooms and lemon-thyme pan sauce. This is one of the courses I added in place of something else because I love skate so much. It was also great—the fish was lightly pan fried and crispy and the sauce had just the right amount of lemon. Several people at the table hadn’t had skate before and really liked it.

The next course, which was probably the richest, and thus the one I could eat the least of, was pork cheek risotto. It was risotto, with a nice piece of slow cooked pork as well as roasted cauliflower, cipollinis and Parmigiano Reggiano. It was really good—the risotto was properly cooked (hello! not hard as a rock) and the flavors were totally winter and hearty and everything you look for in such a dish. So rich though. Wow. I could only eat about half. But really tasty.

Our next course was lamb chops with butternut squash puree and roasted Brussels sprouts. The chops were small and tender and had a lot of flavor. They were seasoned with a balsamic reduction and had a slightly sweet taste, which may not be to every one’s taste, but I quite liked them and they were nicely prepared medium rare.

We also had a couple of great cheese boards and a small trio of desserts including a vanilla profiterole, a caramelized banana tart and a molten chocolate cupcake. Of course my favorite was the banana tart—I have loved that banana tart since when Euphoria used to have it. I do have to admit though, a lot of wine was consumed at this dinner, so by the time we got to the last two courses, it became hard to remember all the fine details.

Oh, and let me mention the wine as well—I know usually I don’t get into the wine part of my meals as much—but in this instance, we had our friend Ashley from Cork and Cracker pair wines with each course. Wow. This was amazing—the wines were beautiful and made this dinner extra special. I have included a picture of the wine list that Ashley chose and as you will see, she worked hard on it. Every one of them was great, and I can’t wait to go buy some of them at the shop.

I am telling you, this was from top to bottom one of the best dinners I have had in Indianapolis—and it doesn’t hurt when you have good friends, great wines, and your own music playing (and I even got to use my own china at my request). I am seriously thinking that more small catered dinner parties are certainly in my future.

(P.S. I also tried some of Gates Catering’s “to go” type items—there are several products you can order and have delivered. This was also a great way to have some really good food at home for a reasonable price).

Brad Gates Catering & Events

Saturday, January 2, 2010

14 West

Wow! A pleasant surprise for a change. It had been a couple of years since we have been to 14 West—the first time hubby had a really good meal and I didn’t, and the second time I had a pretty good one and he had a bad one, so I haven’t been able to get him back there. But the other night, just after Christmas, we were looking for something different but sorta fancy (had the in-laws with us) so we decided on 14 West.

I have always liked the interior of this place. It is modern, but feels like you are in a nice restaurant. I was slightly annoyed that I had called ahead and had been told there was a valet, only to find there was not when we got there, and we sort of needed one that night. But luckily we scored a very close street spot purely by chance (I mean, there was a Colts game this day). Which was the only other thing that was slightly annoying (to me anyway, maybe not to the men at my table)—the game was playing throughout the restaurant. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Colts, but I also like a nice dinner without hearing the game in my ear. I mean, play it in the bar, and leave it at that.

Anyway, let’s talk about the food—it was really good. We started with 2 orders of the Southern fried oysters. They were outstanding. The oysters were small and really crunchy—there were 6 of them per plate. I loved that you could really pop the whole thing in your mouth at once. In the middle of the plate were several sweet potato pancakes with a Brussels sprouts gratin. I loved this. Loved it. The gratin was amazing—nice hunks of the sprouts in a rich creamy sauce. The whole plate was also drizzled with a nice remoulade which was great combined with both things. The only thing that didn’t excite me on the plate was the potato pancakes; they didn’t have much flavor—seemed pretty much just a base to scoop up the Brussels sprouts. They served that purpose but didn’t really add anything else. You want some really good fried oysters, which are the right size, next to Z’s Oyster Bar; I think these are the next best. (And by the way, if you don’t do oysters, you can get the gratin as a side dish. You should.)

I had a salad course as well, because I ordered another starter for my main dish. I had the chopped green salad which included chopped greens, avocados, cucumbers, blue cheese, tomatoes, red onions, and bacon tossed in a house made ranch dressing. The salad was good. Not amazing, but quite tasty. And I like a chop salad that is properly dressed and tossed. I did ask for it without cucumbers and got them anyway (and my mother-in-law ordered the hearts of palm salad and asked for it without olives, but got them anyway as well). Her salad was probably a bit better, more of the tangy flavors I like, and hubby and I ate all the olives for her with pleasure.

For my main dish, I ordered the crab cake from the appetizer menu. The one thing I remembered about 14 West that I didn’t particularly care for from the previous visits, was that the portions were pretty enormous. I also ordered a side of their version of lobster Brie mac and cheese (called a “signature” dish). The crab cake was served with bacon, a sunny side up egg, mushrooms and hollandaise sauce. I told you, throw an egg on stuff, and I usually love it. Anyhow, all these flavors made it sort of slightly breakfast-y in taste, but I enjoyed it. The bacon was actually small dices on the side though, so it wasn’t totally like an eggs benedict or anything. But it was extremely rich, that is for sure. The crab cake was made up mainly of lump crab and was well done. There was only one, but it was big—if I ordered this for an appetizer by myself, to be followed by an entrée, I wouldn’t be able to get through half of it. As it was, I didn’t finish it. Hubby had a couple bites and agreed with my assessment. The mac and cheese was good—not the best in Indy (doesn’t everyone seem to have lobster mac and cheese these days?). The pasta part was nice, and there were quite a few lobster claws in there, but I found the lobster itself to just be ok—maybe a little mealy.

I had a bite of my mother-in-law’s seabass as well—it was seared fish with red wine risotto, mushrooms, and basil aioli. She commented several times that it was “fabulous.” The bite I had was really good—I had a flashback to San Francisco—I used to only order fish when I was out for quite a good while because everywhere seemed to cook fish like this—a super crispy seared outer edge and still super flaky moist interior. And the risotto and aioli were really nice accompaniments. Hubby loved it as well. Speaking of which, he had the duck confit. He said it was good, but the weakest point of the meal for him. I think he liked everyone else’s food better. My father-in-law had the lobster ravioli and raved about it as well. I never got a chance to try it before noticing his plate was clean.

So the food was really good—the service was a bit slow considering we were one of about 3-4 tables in the whole place pretty much the whole time. There was quite a delay between our salads and entrées. But it was okay, because the game was letting out and we didn’t want to get into that traffic for sure.

I apologize for the lack of pictures—forgot my camera (and the one of the oysters is dark I know—a phone pic). But hey, at least there is hope again at another downtown restaurant.

14 West Restaurant
14 West Maryland
Indy 46204