Thursday, September 8, 2011

City Café

I randomly stopped at City Café when I was downtown the other day.  I remember a couple of people recommending it to me and looking at the menu, it looked very appealing.  I walked in a little after noon on a weekday, and while it is a fairly small place (probably 12-15 tables), all but one were full (and it was being cleared).  The place stayed full the entire time I was there, which always (ok, usually) is a good sign for me.
So they have a homemade soup of the day (well, they call it “yesterday’s soup, because we all know it’s better the next day”) and on the day I was there it was chicken and rice, which is always one of my favorites.  So I ordered “the tenderloin” sandwich and substituted a cup of the soup for my chips.  (Sandwich is $9.50, sub soup +$2.75).  The soup was not what I was expecting, but it was very good.  The server told me it was a little on the spicy side, and I was sort of imagining you classic heat.  But actually, it was spicy, as in had a lot of unique and different spices from what I was expecting.  It had a kind of almost Indian flavor to it—tasted like it had curry as well as turmeric in there as well (and based on the color).  There were some pieces of chicken and lots of soft rice as well as some veggies—I noticed mainly carrot and some mushrooms.  So, it did have a fair amount of spice, although not in the heat way you normally think of “spicy” and the more I ate it, the more I wanted.  I really liked it.
The sandwich was one of the best I have had in awhile, and probably one of the best steak sandwiches I have ever had.  It was grilled roast beef, most of it very rare, with caramelized onions, bacon, and blue cheese on sourdough that was buttered and toasted.   It was a perfect sandwich.  The meat was so tender, it practically melted in your mouth, and there was a fair amount of super soft (actually caramelized) onions with lots of black pepper flavor.  The bacon was good, although was probably a bit unnecessary, but who is going to argue about gilding the lily with a little bacon?  And it was all balanced with just the right amount of blue cheese to cut the over the top rich meatiness.  And it was evenly spread across the bread, giving you a bit of the blue cheese in every bite of the sandwich.  And they even went the extra mile to make sure the bread was great too by taking the time to butter and toast it.  So, I only ate half since I had eaten the soup and was getting full, and also because I am the nicest wife in the world and wanted hubby to try it.  I rushed it home to him for him to try, and he promptly declared it “freakin’ awesome.”  He had already eaten his lunch but said no way would he let this sandwich go to waste and ate every bite.
The other thing that impressed me was that while the menu said each sandwich comes with a dill pickle spear (which it did), they didn’t mention the lovely slice of a beautiful meaty orange tomato.  Usually I completely ignore tomatoes as garnishes on plates because they are usually crappy, but this one looked really good, and tasted really good.  
The service was a touch slow for me, although they were quite busy, so I assume maybe this was the problem. I don’t think it was just me though as I watched several other people wait awhile for service.  However, after eating the food, I think it is worth the wait and I am excited to try other items on the menu (they also do breakfast, which is always a challenge around town).  They state on the menu that they use local ingredients from local farms, which of course is always a good thing as well.  It’s funny.  Obviously people know about this place based on the crowd, but I haven’t heard a lot of people talk about it.  So, have you ever been there?
City Café
443 North Pennsylvania Street
Indy 46204
(they’re on facebook)

City Cafe on Urbanspoon


  1. Joe in Montgomery OHSeptember 8, 2011 at 8:53 AM

    Was there a few years ago and liked it. No pretense, just good, honest well prepared dishes served by a nice staff. With too many "chains" downtown, this is welcome relief and worth a trip.

  2. We go there frequently for breakfast - and it's equally awesome, although the service is equally slow. I think that's just sort of their vibe. The eggs benedict is so good, I don't order that dish anywhere else now because I know I'll be disappointed.

  3. Hey Erin,

    I love City Cafe and wanted to mention that their breakfast service is also really great. They always have savory and sweet specials and more often than not, I end up getting one of those.

  4. I LOVE City Cafe. Their breakfast oatmeal is out of this world. I also love their Cafe Salad with feta, chicken, Greek olives, etc. I think they make all of their dressings, too. My favorite is their blue cheese. Definitely go back and give some other menu items a try!

  5. City Cafe is absolutely top notch and they sourced locally before it was such a buzz thing to do. Lunch specials truly are special there (not old stuff they're trying to move). Saturday morning breakfast is usually a madhouse by 9am, likely due to their standard "sweet" and "savory" breakfast specials only available that day.

    Their veggie hash for breakfast is one of my go-to items. Wonderful little pieces of asparagus, peppers, carrots potato and whatever else is seasonal, seasoned just right and sauteed to perfection.

  6. Everything I've ever had there has been wonderful. Their breakfast specials are always unique and delicious. The service though is a problem; and once kids came into the picture, has become a deal-breaker.

  7. And now, for something completely different...Can you recommend a good gyros place in town? I've been kind of craving them lately, and my few attempts thus far haven't really hit the spot.

  8. Big fan of City Cafe. They make their own dressings and even their own ketchup. They also have great cinnamon rolls when you go for breakfast.

    And... not to be picky, but you do know that curry is not a specific spice, right? Curry is a generic term for a mix of spices. As far as Indian curries go, some of the most common spices used in curry are cumin, turmiric and coriander.

  9. @beffuh - IMO Indy doesn't have any stellar gyros (even the best of what we have is from a mixed/pressed 'loaf' - unless you order schwarma). But there are still some good ones. Al Basha (locations in Fishers and Broad Ripple) and Sam's (multiple locations) both stand out.

  10. Everyone, thanks for all the comments, now I really look forward to breakfast at City Cafe.

    beffuh, Hubby is really the bigger gyros fan in our relationship (they aren't my favorite). He really likes the meat at Santorini but for the overall experience, he liked the one at Canal Bistro, although it is almost more like a gyro burrito.

    Anon, yes, I am aware that curry involves a mix of spices. I mentioned the turmeric specifically because it was obviously included based on the color.