I have been anxious to try Taverna, because it is really pretty darn close to my house. I would love to have some more independent, but slightly nicer, places to go for dinner. We went with our friends who are neighbors and checked it out. The interior is nicely done and we were greeted warmly at the door. The front entry is a little strange, but the dining room is warm and decorated in dark shades. Several different servers approached us throughout the night, and several different people took different parts of our order, making it difficult to know who was really waiting on us. Everyone was nice, but there was certainly a bit of greenness with most of them—not knowing the menu items or bar lists, etc.
Our friend ordered a Bourbon and was impressed with the very generous pour that he received (although it wasn’t cheap at $13). His wife had a raspberry mojito and really enjoyed it as well. One of our servers told us about a few of her favorite menu items, one of which was the Taverna grilled wedge ($9) which sounded interesting, so hubby got one to start, and our friends split one as well. It is an interesting combo of things—grilled romaine hearts with heirloom tomatoes, bacon and avocado and served with a housemade roasted garlic/feta dressing. I thought it was a decent salad. I am torn about grilled salads. A little too much and it just becomes too wilty. This one had a fair amount of dressing, and the dressing sounded good but was a little bland. There was no real kick to it, it just needed to be zipped up.
I also got the tuna tartare ($18) starter because I always have a hard time passing it up. This one was interesting because it had things in it I have never had in a tuna tartare. Like strawberries. In theory, the strawberries and cucumbers in it could have been interesting if the strawberries were very ripe, but because they weren’t, it had a sort of flat taste to it. It definitely needed a squeeze of acid. The menu described it as having a spicy nuoc mam flavor, which would be a spicy fish sauce, but I didn’t get any spiciness or really much flavor other than the mild cilantro oil underneath and the crisp flavor of the cukes. It was served with some crispy wontons. The whole dish just needed more pizazz.
My favorite part about the first course were the pretzel croissants that came along with everything. They were delicious. Soft, warm, flaky, and buttery like a croissant but with a tad of a firmer pretzel flavor exterior. We liked these so much we asked for extras. That was a unique and tasty touch.
I opted for an appetizer as my main dish because I was intrigued by the lobster rolls. You don’t see them on menus that often around here and I do like a good one. The app came with three mini ones (good for sharing). The bread was spot on—toasted and buttered and split in the middle. The lobster was butter poached and I liked that it was not tough from being overcooked. There were fine bits of celery and chives in there as well. Not much else going on in there besides the mayo. Purists would probably say this was pretty traditional, although I tend to like a little more seasoning in mine. This was a good, solid lobster roll though. I could see getting this again, especially to split between 3 people as an app.
Hubby had the Italian gnocchi ($18) with Italian sausage, spinach and garlic in a red sauce. The sauce had a nice fresh tomato flavor which I enjoyed. The dish overall was pretty hearty and had some nice flavor combos going on. I think he enjoyed it, although wasn’t raving about it. I also had a bite of my friend’s Taverna pesto pasta ($16). I liked the thick ribbons of pasta. It had a strong pesto flavor (even stronger than the classic pesto because it also had arugula in it). I would have had a hard time eating an entire portion of it because it is so strong, and she didn’t finish it.
So overall, while I think it is too pricey (they have entrées that are over $30), especially for Broad Ripple, I would go back to try the food again. It wasn’t amazing, but it was interesting enough to make me want to try it again. The biggest problem here is with the service. It started out friendly but weird (giving us all giant drinks menu but no regular menus, having a lot of random people showing up at random times) and fell off the rails as the night wore on (my last glass of wine came about 4 minutes before the check did although I had ordered it much earlier). Hubby thinks they are experimenting with hiring people who have never served before or something. I think they just may need to train a little more and work out the kinks. I would love to know what you guys think if you have been there.
1850 Broad Ripple Ave