Here’s the thing—I have been avoiding Ralston’s because well the menu just looked too sweet for me. If you read me regularly, you know that while I love my sweets for desserts, too much sweetness during the savory part of my meal can really put me off. It’s all about balance. There’s a fair amount of fruit sauces/reduction on the menu for sure. But I was looking for somewhere new to go, and after asking on twitter, I took @kirbysam’s advice and went for it. Last minute we asked some friends to join us, and we were good to go (side note, hubby and I spent several hours before dinner wandering through Midland Antiques which is an awesome place).
Love eating with friends, especially friends who share and like to order a lot, which these friends do, so we started with several appetizers. We had the cheese stuffed mushrooms ($9), the fried pumpkin ravioli ($6) and the fried Brie stick ($7). Ok, the first thing we realized is that we had ordered three items that were all the same color and shared similar breading. Also, there was a lot of sweetness in this course. The food was good though—my favorite appetizer was probably the stuffed mushrooms. There were 4 mushroom tops, one stuffed with goat cheese, one with gorgonzola, one with cheddar, and one with smoked gouda. Each one was topped with a paired fruit sauce. I really enjoyed the goat cheese one the most because the balance was great with the sharpness of the cheese and the sweetness of the sauce. They were prepared very well though—nice a crunchy on the outside but not greasy.
The brie was good as well, although it was a large wedge of the cheese and you really wanted more of the breading once you got toward the middle. Maybe slightly smaller wedges? It was topped with one of the same sauces from the mushrooms, the blackberry Champagne reduction. It was good with the brie, but had I known the dishes would be so similar I would have chosen something else. The last appetizer was the fried pumpkin ravioli. Ok, this one was soooo sweet none of us could eat too much of it. I think there might have been cinnamon and sugar on it, that’s how sweet it tasted. We all discussed how awesome this would be as a dessert with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream. If you like pumpkin pie, you might want to try this for dessert sometime.
Overall, I thought the main dishes were much more successful (and less sweet). I had the eggs benedict sandwich ($7.50). It was a really good flavor combo of sliced ham, a fried egg, smoked gouda and their housemade honey mustard. It was served on a pretzel bun that was perfect—soft enough to eat without wearing out your jaw. The honey mustard wasn’t overly sweet at all and there was a nice whole grain mustard kick. Most dishes come with your choice of a side and they have lots of different things to choose from, which I appreciate. I had the fried rosemary potatoes at our server’s suggestion (she thought they were slightly breakfasty to go along with my sandwich). I enjoyed them. They had a distinct rosemary flavor and I liked that they were cut fairly small so they stayed crisp.
Our friends had the recession burger ($10) and the black and blue chicken flatbread ($9). The recession burger was also very, very good. The beef is mixed with shredded potatoes, topped with aged cheddar, their own special ketchup and mustard, mixed greens, and bacon. It was served on the same pretzel bun. This burger was very, very tender (potatoes—who knew?) and I liked that they tell you right on the menu they cook it on a flat top. In my opinion, they’re always better cooked in their own grease. There was a side of onion straws with this one and they were seriously great. I wouldn’t call them straws so much as chips. Like White Castle, only 100 times better. Even though I liked my potatoes, I was sad I didn’t get these on the side of my plate and will not make that mistake again.
The black and blue flatbread was a flatbread topped with grilled chicken, blue cheese and drizzled with a Sriracha-flavored sauce. I was impressed with how crisp the crust was—one of my biggest pet peeves about “flatbreads” is they’re usually soggy. This was not, even with the generous toppings. I would easily try some of the other ones as well. Ok, it wasn’t as good as the eggs benedict and the burger, but still good.
Hubby ordered the “French Egg Roll” ($9), which was my least favorite entrée. It was a sausage topped with goat cheese and wrapped in a crepe that was topped with bacon more of the blackberry Champagne reduction. This one crossed the line again with sweetness for me and there wasn’t enough of the cheese to balance it. And really, the sausage kind of overpowered it. It was hard to keep it in the crepe. (Ok, insert crude joke here).
We all shared the s’mores brownie ($5.25) with vanilla ice cream and it was outstanding. Even though we were all pretty full, like I said, we like to order a lot. I would get this again in a second. Loved the marshmallows baked into the warm from the oven brownie.
There are a lot of other things I really liked about the place. First, I liked our server (Kathleen) a lot. It made me realize how much a difference it can make when someone cares about her job and does it well. The place was very busy but our service never suffered. We had drinks when we wanted them and there were runners constantly bringing out food. They have a big selection of beers on tap which I know is a big thing in Indy, and I like the way they offer suggestions on the menu of beers to pair with certain food items. The patio is nice (where we sat) and hubby and I enjoyed playing table shuffleboard while we waited for our friends.
I went in with my doubts, but I was pleasantly surprised. What else is good to eat here?
Ralston’s Draft House
635 Massachusetts Ave