I was patiently waiting for a decent amount of time to pass before I went into Rook, but my friend @Indyfoodswap convinced me to go just a teeny bit earlier (it wasn’t hard). I am always excited to go to a new place and I am particularly intrigued when someone is trying something new like they are at Rook.
It’s a small menu, just sandwiches (all $8), a couple of “snacks” (both $2.50), and 4 flavors of macaroons ($1.75 each, 3/$5 or 5 for $8). The sandwiches are various non-traditional Banh Mi sandwiches inspired by various Asian flavors. A Banh Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich that can be filled with various things, as the term “banh mi” refers to the bread itself. This is exactly what Rook is doing—it’s the same basic sandwich (they all come with pickled Korean radish and carrots, mayo, cilantro, and jalapenos) and they change up the meat (or protein). Suzanne and I tried the “Rook” (we had to get the namesake right?) and the “Raven.” The rook has the setup mentioned as well as pork roll and chicken liver terrine. We both enjoyed it. I loved the crisp flavor of the topping. The pickled radish is my favorite. The veggies were crisp, but cut very thin so the light pickling made them slightly tender. They had great acidity (lime in there? And a touch of sugar maybe?). I didn’t get a ton of chicken liver flavor, which made me a little sad, but all in all it was a good sandwich with a nice combo of flavors and textures. The bread is soft and easy to eat and the sandwiches are not ridiculously overfilled like some places.
The raven is made with marinated steak that is sliced and grilled. It had a great seasoned flavor that was also really nice with the tangy toppings. There seemed to be more meat on this one than the rook, and felt quite a bit heartier. Honestly though, I loved the toppings and their flavors so much, I can’t wait to try it with all the different meats. We had both snacks, the shrimp chips and the pork cracklings and both were very good as well. I would recommend getting at least one of them because the crunchy saltiness is a great balance to the sandwiches. We both loved the shrimp chips and were fighting over the last few crumbs. They are light and crisp with just a small hint of the shrimp flavor. I could munch on those for days. The pork cracklings were very good too, but well, it’s pork skin that’s fried so they are richer and I couldn’t eat an entire order of them at once. (Hubby happily polished off our leftovers when I got home though). Loved that they were both slightly warm when we got them.
|Half and Half with the snacks|
They are keeping it local with meats from Smoking Goose and macaroons for dessert from Circle City Sweets. Yes, of course we had to try the macaroons as well. They are doing interesting Asian-themed flavors like lemongrass, wasabi white chocolate, black sesame, and green tea. We had all but the green tea. They were just right as far as macaroons go—crisp outer shell giving way to a slightly soft chewy interior. I am torn as to whether I preferred the lemongrass or black sesame the best. The sesame had a distinct almond flavor to me that reminded me a little of Christmas and the lemongrass had a very slight tartness that I like. I personally wasn’t a fan of the wasabi/chocolate combo, but I am generally not a huge lover of wasabi and while I appreciate the creativity, I certainly can pass on it in my dessert.
I like the focus on a very small menu. It makes you feel like there is a real focus on the ingredients. I like the uniqueness of the menu and having another cool alternative in the area. They are also open 7 days a week. Love the modern, alley-like interior with the power lines busting through the wall. Rook is another great example of how much Indy has changed and grown in the last number of years, and I am happy to see it.
710 Virginia Ave