Monday, December 29, 2014

Cerulean - Revisit

So, Cerulean has a new chef—Alan Sternberg -- and I hadn’t been back since he starting cooking. I have had some ups and downs with Cerulean, but it was time to go back. We are lucky to have such a modern place in Indy with such innovative work going on in the kitchen, and I was happy to see what the new chef had in store.

The menu has gone back to a more traditional appetizer/entrée/dessert format, which I guess may be more pleasing to the masses but I sort of enjoyed the small, medium and large plates of days gone by. But regardless, for me, it is all about how good the food is, regardless of the size of the portion.

I started out with their version of beef tartare ($12). Of course I couldn’t pass this up. The beef was very high quality and very tender and I really enjoyed the surprising take on the flavors—not your typical beef tartare flavor profile. There was a distinct Asian flavor with hoisin sauce and black garlic. I loved the freshness brought from the pickled ramps, watermelon radish and romaine and the little bit of crunch from the crispy quinoa. And the presentation (as you can see) was beautiful.

My second favorite appetizer was probably my friend’s beet cured wild salmon ($15) with white bean puree, olive oil, clementine and crispy garlic. I loved the acidity and freshness from the clementine and the salmon was really tasty—with that slight pickled flavor. This is my kind of appetizer—light with a lot of fresh, crisp flavor. The beans kept it somewhat grounded though.

Hubby had a special—the braised pork cheeks with parsley sponge. The sponge was very intriguing-it looked like it belonged under the sea with its bright green color. It was pretty mild in flavor though—not much could really shift focus from the extremely rich pork. One bite of another’s friend’s gnudi ($9) demonstrated a very tender ricotta dumpling. They were good—nicely cooked, but with the sunflower sage pesto, smoked oil, Parmesan and nutmeg, maybe just slightly one-dimensional. I was hoping for a little more contrast from the tang of the ricotta I guess. 
pork cheeks
Overall though, so far in this meal, we were pretty impressed. The food was beautiful to look at, and generally had a nice complexity of flavors. Also, our service was quite friendly and helpful—and when we had a second bottle of the same wine we had started with, and it was bad, they didn’t bat an eye at bringing us a new one (which is something we had a problem with in a previous visit). Also, they have stemmed wine glasses for everyone now, which I know will make some of my wine snob friends happy.

As we moved into the second course, I was just hoping to keep going with the same momentum and I am happy to say, we did. In fact, I think the entrées may have even slightly outshined the appetizers.

I had the “fried chicken” ($29), which was almost more of a take on chicken cordon blue. Regardless, it was delicious. There was wonderfully seasoned crispy pieces of chicken that were topped with Taleggio cheese (a wonderfully stinky soft cheese), pieces of Edward’s country ham, and a slight hint of truffle. You got a little smoky sweet flavor from the ham and the strong taste from the cheese. This was a dish I couldn’t stop eating. There were also some scoops of stuffing alongside, which I also really enjoyed, and I am not typically a stuffing person. It had the right amount of softness inside and slight crispy edges. And it was nice to have something to eat with the gooey chicken. This is a great, although quite rich, dish.

Hubby and I argued over whether my chicken was better, or his spotted bass dish ($27). It was an excellent piece of fish served with clams in a white wine broth with chives, lard, asparagus and pickled shallot. This was a great combination. Loved the thin-sliced asparagus and the extra crispy skin on the fish. It was perfectly cooked and I appreciated they didn’t stack anything on top of that skin making it soft. The pickled shallots added a great pop of acid. This was an exceptionally well-composed dish. You can’t go wrong with this or the chicken.

We all shared sides of the mac and cheese ($8) made with two-year aged cheddar and caramelized onions. It was tasty, and I liked the slight smoky taste from the onions. I mean, how could you not appreciate a little mac and cheese with fried chicken? Necessary? No, but it still tasted good. We also had the crispy Brussels sprouts ($7) with maple gastrique and bacon. The sprouts were cooked really well, which is the challenge so often with these, unfortunately they lost the crispy edges once they were tossed on the gastrique. In itself, it wasn’t bad—slightly sweet, slight acidic, but it took away from Brussels sprouts that otherwise would have been so nice and crisp. 
We also had a couple of desserts. I am becoming less and less of a dessert person, but Cerulean is one place I love to get dessert because of their talented pastry chef, Pete Schmutte. He has a distinctive style that carries on the beautiful presentation of the food. We split the bento box ($12), which is a fun combination of different sweets—there were cookies, macaroons and those yummy, super fruity jellies. We also had one of the more composed dishes—it was “bavarois” flavored with buttermilk and blue cheese and an intense Concord grape sorbet. Sort of like a cheese plate in dessert form. There were some sweet croutons alongside. It was a fun and tasty dish, even if I wished it had a little more blue cheese kick to it.  It is totally worth doing dessert here.

Glad to see some new energy in Cerulean—like I said, we are lucky to have such a cool, modern place in Indy and I think they have really come into their own. Things seemed mellow, the service was professional, and the food was very good. They seem settled and I am glad to see it.

339 South Delaware Street
Indy  46225

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy Holidays!!

Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season! See you next week!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2014

The District Tap

Guess What? There’s another tap house in town! Hard to believe I know. But seriously, The District Tap opened in the defunct Brewstone location—a location that does not seem to have a lot of luck with restaurants. And since it is right by my house, we had to give it a try. We went with some friends and their son, who is best friends with my son. Here’s something annoying though—they take reservations, but NOT for parties over 6 people (we had 7). So even though they do have some tables that can be made large enough, they just don’t take reservations for such groups, so we ended up waiting for about 20 minutes to be seated. (Side annoyance on the way out, I noticed a table set up for like 20 people, although the people weren’t there yet. So obviously they must take reservations for SOME large parties, just not ours. Ok, end of rant.)

When we did get seated, our server came over promptly and was pretty familiar with the menu. We already had drinks from our waiting around time, so we ordered a couple of appetizers. We ordered 2 orders of the jumbo pretzel sticks ($8) and an order of the spicy red pepper meatballs ($9). The pretzel sticks were a hit with everyone-- were decent sized, and nice and soft and warm. There was a side of a beer mustard sauce as well as a white cheddar cheese sauce. Seriously, these were really tasty. The biggest gripe is that they aren’t cheap at $2 a stick, and you are going to want your own, which is why we had to order a second order. That said, I would order them again. I like the cheese sauce and the fact that it wasn’t just another bright orange nacho cheese dip and the mustard had a nice kick to it.

Surprisingly (for me anyway), I also really liked the meatballs. Not something I would typically order but these were really tender and the spicy red pepper sauce was actually pretty spicy. You could determine the amount of heat you wanted by taking more or less of the sauce. At this point in the meal, we were feeling like we had found a pretty good spot—all the food was well done.

Unfortunately, while the main dishes were fine, they weren’t as good as the apps. Well actually, hubby ordered an app as his main—it was the short rib nachos ($13). There was a ton of stuff on a massive pile of chips—it was all fine but not super special. I thought the meat itself suffered from being a little too crispy on the edges, as though it had sat around at some point. I did like the Sriracha aioli on top. I had the buffalo mac and cheese ($12) (there’s a whole mac and cheese section of the menu, which I found intriguing). I enjoyed it, and it was very creamy and I liked the blue cheese that was added to give it some kick and that flavor you expect with buffalo chicken, but the actual buffalo aspect of it was just a drizzle of buffalo sauce across the top which wasn’t really enough to season all those noodles and chicken. Also, even though the menu said it came with a breadstick, mine did not (although my friend’s Cajun mac did). I liked it, but I think I would rather eat this as a side (well, shared with some people) with something else. 

My daughter had the tap sliders ($13), which were three mini hamburgers. They are supposed to come with some good sounding toppings, but she’s a kid, so she had them with cheese only. The funny thing about these—they were cooked nicely—pink inside (even without having asked her how she wanted them) and the meat was nice and tender, but they were strangely cold. Maybe they had sat a bit too, I’m not sure. Another friend had the chicken parmesan sandwich ($11), which I did not try, but she wasn’t thrilled. Since it was made up of chicken strips, I am not surprised. Any menu item with crispy chicken seems to be made with chicken strips, which leads me to the next guess, that that stuff is all coming from foodservice and I would avoid.

Some things were surprisingly good at the District Tap, and some things were more of what I expected. The service, once we were seated, was very good and efficient. We were in a bit of a time crunch and we got out in plenty of time. I think I would go again if even just for the pretzel sticks and meatballs. And maybe another appetizer. Has anyone been and had something they really liked?

The District Tap
3720 East 82nd Street
Indy  46240
317/ 288-8251 

District Tap on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thunderbird - Revisit

I hadn’t been to Thunderbird since shortly after it opened, and had enjoyed my visits then. I had heard since that the menu had changed a lot and was more toward a sandwich and fries genre, which wasn’t exciting me to try again. So when I heard they had gone back to a more interesting menu again, with someone new in the kitchen, I looked forward to going back. 

We started with some cocktails because that’s their thing at Thunderbird right? So I had the Murder City Devil ($10) with two kinds of rum, Ancho Chili liquer, lime, grapefruit, and pomegranate demera (a sweet simple syrup). And it was on fire. Well, my lime was on fire. It was tasty—a little heat and a fair amount of acid and sweetness. I couldn’t drink more than one though and switched to wine after. One friend had the “Roppongi Sour” ($10), a lighter drink made with gin, Midori, lime, sugar, egg white, cucumber, salt and bitters. It was tasty too, although maybe a bit on the sour side for some. They do a nice job with cocktails here, and the cocktail service is speedy.

Since we were with friends so we started right off with an order of the deviled eggs ($2 each) of the day. Luckily they were with us, because hubby is hard to convince of deviled eggs on most days. According to the menu, the preparation of the eggs changes daily—on this day they were doing a smoked whitefish version and they were really, really outstanding. In fact, we ended up ordering a second order because we liked them so much (and because the kitchen was a bit overwhelmed and it was a little slow to get our food). They tasted extremely fresh and the eggs were cooked just right so the white wasn’t over hard and the filling was light and fluffy with just the right amount of the fish flavor and a fair amount of acid (lemon I am guessing.) These were the best deviled eggs I’ve had out.

They also brought us a plate of an item that was not on the menu—something they’re trying out I guess. They were crispy polenta sticks with a cheesy sauce. They were super crisp on the outside and very soft on the inside—a fun take on a version of a fry. I enjoyed them.

Sadly, I really wanted to try the chicken liver nuggets, but they were all out. Apparently they are very popular and they go through a lot. I still need to try them. We did try the pimento cheese grilled cheese ($9), the fried chicken ($18), the pork belly ($14) and two sides—the mac and cheese ($8) and the “Kill Lettuce” ($5). By far, the favorite was the pimento cheese grilled cheese.  They give you a nice toasty sandwich filled with a pimento cheese and it’s is sitting on top of a mustard slaw  with some bread and butter pickles. I really enjoyed the mustardy heat and acid from the slaw with the sandwich. I just wish I got to have more than one quarter of it—I would get this again.

The pork belly was pretty good as well-the meat tender with a decent amount of flavor. We kind of argued about how much everyone liked it. Some definitely more than others. The stuff underneath was a bit underwhelming for me. There was a waffle, collards and apple butter as well as a fried cheddar cracker. There was just not a good balance here for me with the sides, all of it was a bit sweet, but also a bit bland.

The fried chicken was the most disappointing for me. It suffered the fate of not very good fried chicken in that it was overcooked. The white meat was dry and the dark meat a tad rubbery. The sides here, biscuits and more slaw weren’t helping much. The slaw is good, as it was with the pimento cheese sandwich, but the biscuits were super floury and dry. They were crying out for some gravy to cover them. The crust on the chicken was nice and crisp and had some decent seasoning, but not enough to save the chicken inside. To be fair, the place was slammed, particularly the kitchen and I think they were a little overwhelmed.

Speaking of sides, we also got the mac and cheese and the “kill lettuce”. I really liked the kill lettuce, which is a bowl of nice fresh leaf lettuce topped with a warm vinaigrette with big dices of crispy bacon in it. The lettuce wilts down and the vinaigrette was pretty spot on with lots of, well, vinegar. This was a perfect balance to all the other richer dishes we had ordered. The mac and cheese was pretty solid with caramelized onions and green chiles, another good accompaniment to the other items, and honestly, I preferred it as a starch with the pork and the chicken.

The beignets we had for dessert reminded me more of doughnut holes than beignets, but they were tasty cinnamon and sugar coated doughnut holes and we enjoyed them.

Overall, we had a really fun time. The friends we took had never been to Thunderbird and really enjoyed the place—they have done a great job with the interior of the place and it always seems to have a good buzz. I’m glad to see the menu has gone back to the sort of “creative southern” cooking that they started with and several items were very good. I look forward to trying some other things soon. And as always, it’s a great place to get a cocktail.

1127 Shelby Street
Indy 46203

Monday, December 15, 2014

Bento Café

My friend Suzanne and I often seem to be swayed by Asian places, and a couple of people had mentioned Bento Café in Fishers to me so we decided to give it a try. It’s a cute place inside—nicer than a lot of Asian restaurants, with some modern décor and a fairly spacious dining area. If it was a little closer, it’s a place I’d try for dinner with the kids.

We started out with an order of the seafood gyoza ($4.50) and Suzanne got a bowl of egg drop soup ($2). The soup was pretty standard egg drop—a thickened chicken broth with wisps of egg in it—it had a lot of egg in it. Not really anything else in there. The gyoza (6 in an order) were really, really good. If you aren’t familiar, gyoza is just the Japanese name for dumplings—they are basically like pot stickers, only the wrapper on these is super thin and light. You can get them with various fillings, but the seafood we chose was really good and I would recommend it. It was a light mix of seafood that was probably dominated by shrimp. They were served with a light soy based sauce that had some vinegar in it. A little lighter version of the sauce you usually get with potstickers. You could tell they were housemade and very fresh. I would get these again in a second.

We also ordered two sushi rolls. They have a pretty extensive sushi menu, from really simple to very complex. We ordered the “Sweetie” roll ($11.95) and the “Oh My God” roll ($9.95). I think my favorite was the Oh My God roll even though it was enormous. It had shrimp tempura and avocado on the inside and then (a lot of) spicy tuna and tempura crunch on the outside and was topped with masago (those teeny fish eggs), eel sauce, and some scallions. Generally these are all some of my favorite items in a sushi roll. It had the right amount of crunch between the fried shrimp and the tempura bits. The tuna wasn’t the super high quality you sometimes get with spicy tuna—more of a fine, almost puree. But it still tasted good, even if we had to cut them in half with a knife to eat them.

The sweetie roll had avocado and salmon inside as well as some tempura crunch (you know I like that crunch). It was topped with thin slices of salmon that I think were lightly seared (or torched) and then spicy mayo and salmon roe. Maybe this one didn’t have quite enough variety in taste or something, because while it was good, I didn’t like it as much. I am not a huge fan of salmon roe either because sometimes it tends to be a little too fishy. This roll was a little smaller, but we still tended to cut the pieces in half to eat them.

All in all, I was intrigued by this place. Those dumplings were good enough that I would want to go back and try more of the non-sushi side of the menu (even though there are lots of other interesting sushi rolls on the menu too). There are some noodle dishes that sound good as well as bento boxes that have lots of different combos you can try several things.

Bento Café
9778 E. 116th Street
Fishers, IN 46037

Bento Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Road Trip--Joseph Decuis Revisit

It was hubby’s birthday and if he has any say in it, we usually try to go to Joseph Decuis in Roanoke, Indiana. We also splurged a fair amount and overstuffed ourselves a bit!

Hubby really wanted to start with a charcuterie board ($18). They do a great job with these—there were a couple selections that were made in house, and some from Smoking Goose here in Indy. They also pair them with lots of great things, from grainy Local Folks mustard to pickled deviled eggs and a couple of kinds of pickled veggies. I loved the one with the celery tops and cornichons. Hubby was very happy. 

For my starter, I ordered a special that was smoked salmon served unlike any I have had—it was just such a surprising use of smoked salmon. It was a Mexican kind of dish with a cumin cream on the bottom, black beans, some lightly pickled cucumbers, some jalapenos, and some mango. I loved that there was lots of acid in this dish. I just loved this dish. The salmon was great quality and all the flavors and textures were great together. Unusual and delicious.

Hubby ordered the sweetbreads for his app and they were good as well, but not as good as my salmon (I won this round!). They were fried and served in a sweet maple glaze on top of really well seasoned and tender greens. This was a good, rich, wintry tasting dish and very good, but I liked the lighter more acidic salmon dish.

For my main, I ordered another special of the night that was actually an appetizer. It was chipotle seasoned pork tenderloin. Hubby ordered the rabbit ragu ($12) (also an appetizer. Ok, in this round he totally won. While I enjoyed the flavors in my dish, particularly the goat cheese to add creaminess and some tanginess, his rabbit was amazing and my pork was a very small tenderloin, and a bit overcooked. The rabbit was a bowl with extremely creamy mascarpone polenta, some braised San Marzano tomatoes, and that amazing, tender rabbit ragu. And a dollop of ricotta cream on top—again, just the perfect thing to bring out another layer in what was a warm, rich dish. This would be on the must-order list again.

For dessert we ordered a cheese plate ($15), which I think Decuis does exceptionally well. The plate itself comes with a lovely selection of cheeses as well as some fresh fruit (apples, pears and grapes). Then you can add additional accouterments as you see fit, which makes it perfect to turn into a dessert or a starter. We added the oven-roasted marcona almonds ($3), which were super hot and tasty with the cheese. And they gave you a lot of them! The cheese was at perfect room temperature and was a nice variety—we loved the Old Kentucky Tomme goat cheese from Capriole. The semi-firm cheese was Manchego (if memory serves) and there was a lovely soft blue as well. Like I said, perfectly well rounded.

We also stayed at one of the new rooms out by the farm—while our room was small, I liked that you had access to the main house, which is a 1880s farmhouse that has recently been restored. They have started offering small farmhouse dinners there as well and I totally want to go to one of those. We got to meet some of the Mangalitsa pigs which are as cute/ugly as they are delicious. Seriously, it’s crazy. They look like they should be on the Muppet show.
We always have a great experience at Joseph Decuis. The service is always very professional without being stuffy, and the food is always good. We have eaten there enough that I almost always order from the specials (the rest of the menu only varies slightly day to day, but does change seasonally). It’s a great place and a nice little getaway. 

Joseph Decuis
191 North Main Street
Roanoke, IN 46783

Monday, December 8, 2014


I kept forgetting about this place. Unfortunately, I think part of it may be its location. It’s on the canal, which I hope becomes a more well-traversed place, but when the weather is really bad, it’s hard to imagine the location to be a super popular one. Also, it doesn’t help that the parking is a bit confusing. But just so you know, there is a garage that is attached to the restaurant—just drive west on 9th Street until it dead ends. There’s a parking garage there that you can park in for free if you ask for a validation from the restaurant (park on the bottom level and you can park right at one of the restaurant’s entrances).

I met my friend @wibia—he’s always willing to try a new burger place. We ate early and we’re the only ones there for a while. Like I said, I worry about this location—the crowd picked up a bit, but the place was never very busy. I ordered the “Haus burger” ($9). You get to pick your cheese and add additional items if you like. They come standard with bibb lettuce, tomato and sliced red onions.  I just got cheddar (it’s white cheddar) and told them to leave the tomato off because I am wary of tomatoes in the winter. I also asked them to add garlic may—I find often a special sauce on a burger can really make a difference. They also asked how we wanted them cooked. I ordered mine medium and wibia medium rare. I was interested to see how this came out. I liked the soft brioche bun—it held up well to the burger but was soft enough to squish down so it wasn’t so big. The lettuce and red onion were nice and fresh and crisp and I liked that they use bibb lettuce because I like the relative softness of it—I hate when you get a big piece of hard Romaine heart on a sandwich. I also liked the thick cut dill pickle slices served on the side of the burgers.

The cheese was nice and melty and I appreciated the additional moisture from the mayo, particularly since, as it turned out, they did not cook that burger medium. I would say well done was more like it. And @wibia’s burger was at best, medium-well. Sigh. I mean, it was still decent because the beef was high quality, but it could have been a lot better if it was actually cooked to order. 

As for the flavor of his burger, he tried one of their combinations, the Monaco ($13). This had a beef burger, white cheddar cheese, sautéed onions and mushrooms, avocado, arugula and burgundy wine mayo served on a pretzel bun. It sounded interesting and included all things that I like for sure. Not sure how I felt about it all together. It may have been just a little much. It was kind of so many things; you couldn’t really appreciate any of them a lot. I was not a fan of this pretzel bun because it was really dense. I guess in some ways that is good to hold up to so many toppings, but the top of the bun didn’t mush down and it was one that was for me, hard to fit into my mouth. Overall, I preferred mine with fewer toppings and the softer bun.

We both had fries alongside our burgers. They were served in very cute little miniature fry baskets, and were fresh and fairly crisp. There just wasn’t anything about them that really stood out. They were just kind of middle of the road fries. They do offer a bunch of fries prepared and topped in different ways—I’d be tempted to see if they would offer this with the side of fries. Spicy blue cheese or garlic parmesan sounds good.

I’m glad to see a new restaurant going in along the canal. It is certainly an underserved area. As far as the food goes, it was a decent average burger for me. Not sure it was enough to make me want to go out of my way to get another one. There were some tasty sounding things on the appetizer menu—I wonder how they are? And there’s a fairly extensive craft beer list (And I like the way they give you beer pairing suggestions with many of the food items), but you know that’s not luring me in. Anyone else been?

335 West 9th Street
Indy 46202

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Kona Jack's - Revisit (sushi edition)

Hubby and I stopped in at Kona Jack’s after an appointment that took us nearby. We haven’t been in quite a long time, and I’m not sure that we’ve ever gone in with just the intention of getting sushi only. I love that an independent place is so busy even after all these years.

It was kind of cold so I started with some miso soup ($2). It was a fairly large bowl of soup, and I loved all the giant chunks of tofu in it—really big tender pieces, not the little bitty dices you usually get. The only thing about the soup though was it was pretty darn salty. Not sure if it’s always that way or just this one was. Still good, just a little heavy on the salt.

For sushi we got the special of the day, which was called the “Tampa roll” ($14). It had battered and fried grouper inside along with avocado and wasabi tobiko (the little teeny fish eggs) and was drizzled with spicy mayo. It was really super delicious. Too bad it’s not on the regular menu, because I would totally order it again. Fried grouper is not something I would get in a sushi roll at most places but at Kona Jack’s, because they do a lot of fresh fish, I had faith it would be good and it was. It had nice crunch, just a touch of wasabi flavor (I don’t usually use wasabi with sushi, but I liked this hint of the flavor) and the spicy mayo was just the right amount. They were a little on the big side, but manageable.

We also ordered the hot and spicy tuna roll ($8) and it was good as well. Not quite so much going on, but still a good mix of flavors and textures. There was spicy tuna inside as well as baby radish sprouts, giving it nice fresh crunch. The tuna was good quality—better than what you often get with spicy tuna—chopped but not so fine it’s almost a paste. The menu also said there was Kona sauce, but I didn’t see any sauce.

All in all, I think Kona Jack’s is a good place to grab a quick sushi lunch. I love that afterwards I can check out the fish counter and bring something home for dinner too.

Kona Jack’s
9419 North Meridian Street
Indy 46260

Kona Jack's Fish Market & Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 1, 2014

City Café- Breakfast

I was celebrating my BFF’s birthday the other day and she chose City Café to go for breakfast. I was excited because while I have eaten lunch here a fair amount, I had yet to eat breakfast (it’s only served until 11:00 at least during the week). It was hard to decide what I wanted. I settled on the migas ($8). This is sort of their version of a chiliquiles and it was delicious. It is three scrambled eggs with Monterey jack cheese mixed into it, as well as their housemade salsa and really fresh tasting, super crispy tortilla strips.

It is pretty simple and straightforward, but really good. The eggs aren’t overcooked and the bit of tomato in the salsa gives the acidic kick. The cheese makes it, well, cheesy and the tortilla strips stay crisp the whole time and add excellent texture. The only thing I would change or add would be to get a side of their lime cilantro sour cream with it (I actually tried, but I think my server forgot about it). It didn’t really matter though, because it was still delicious and I licked the plate clean. I would get this again in a second. In fact, I wish I could get it right now. 

I also got a side of their breakfast potatoes ($1.75)—they are little dices that are fried. More like home fries. They were just ok to me. Like I have said before, I am more of a hash brown kind of girl. I like my potatoes on the crispy side. The eggs also come with a couple of sliced of multigrain toast that was buttered and tasty. 

My BFF got the roast beef hash and it was also quite good—very hearty. More of the diced potatoes but mixed with teeny diced of peppers and onions and then hunks of the roast beef. It had a wintery, almost stew-like taste. She got her eggs scrambled. I would probably opt for a runny egg to add some more moisture, but this was a nice dish as well, even though I wouldn’t choose it over my migas.

The people who work here are always quite friendly and this time was no exception. It’s a cute little place with good quality food. If you haven’t tried it yet, I would recommend it.

City Café
443 North Pennsylvania
Indy 46204
City Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm taking the day off from posting something new to take it easy and eat with family. If you're on here though, and you're bored, would love to hear your favorite Thanksgiving traditions or new things you have done to mix up your feast.

Last year I spatchcocked my turkey from Goose the Market for the first time and it was delicious. I highly recommend.

before and after cooking
Have a wonderful day and I will see you back on Monday with a brand new post!


Monday, November 24, 2014

Stacked Pickle

I randomly met a person who works at the Stacked Pickle and I was interested in tasting their burgers after what he had told me. Sounded like they try to make pretty fresh burgers. It’s a small chain located just throughout central Indiana. We figured it would be an easy place to take the kids—and it was. They have a pretty wide menu featuring the usuals of what is essentially a sports bar. Burgers, fried stuff, wraps, salads, and pizza.

Since I wanted to try a burger, I ordered, well, a burger. The hangover burger to be precise (still not sure why an egg on a burger makes it a hangover burger, but whatever). It is a ½ pound burger topped with a fried egg, bacon and cheddar cheese ($8.39). You also get a side with it. I opted out of the fries, since both kids were getting them, and got the fried pickles at no upcharge.  The burger was a pretty decent burger. They asked me how I wanted it cooked, and get this, they actually cooked it that way. And the menu shows the egg cooked sunny side up (and thus, runny). While it wasn’t sunny side up, it was still runny and broke all over when I cut into it. Perfect. (I hate it when a menu depicts an egg that way and then cooks it hard). The bacon was okay—for some reason, rarely does burger bacon measure up to just straight up bacon. I guess maybe places don’t want to waste the good stuff on a burger, but I would appreciate a quality crunchy piece.  Overall, a pretty juicy burger with a good taste. I liked the fresh set up on the side too—lettuce and tomato as well as my favorite—razor thin slices of red onions.  The fried pickles were some of the better I have had. Fairly thick slices of dill pickles—but not over-pickled pickles and they were hand breaded. The ranch dressing that hubby got with his pickles (I didn’t get a sauce for some reason) was out of a bottle and not exciting, but the pickles were good.

Hubby had the Cuban sandwich ($7.99) and really liked it. It wasn’t exactly traditional, but was pretty tasty. There was pulled pork topped with ham, mustard, pickles (the same ones from the fried pickles, just not fried), sautéed onions,  and Swiss cheese all on a pressed hoagie bun. I love mustard and pickles, so I am a natural for this sandwich, but I was surprised how much hubby liked it, since he isn’t usually a fan of pickles on sandwiches. He kept talking about it. It was very soft bread, not as flat as a traditional Cuban, but the pork was well-seasoned and tender. The ham was almost unnecessary. I know hubby would happily come back and eat this. Or my burger.

My daughter had the fish and chips ($10.49) and they were a let down. There are three large pieces of cod, and they look nicely battered, but as soon as you bite into them, it seems pretty clear they aren’t being battered in house. The outside crust is pretty much totally separate from the fish. I’d take a pass on these. Their fries are beer-battered and are decent battered fries, if that’s your thing. My son had the buffalo chicken sandwich and I felt like it was pretty weak too, especially compared to some you can get around town (and I should know, since I went on a buffalo chicken sandwich bender a few weeks back). It says it’s hand-breaded, but I dunno, it didn’t have a lot of crunch to it. I hated the blue cheese dressing they were using. It tasted all preservativey and fake. The blue cheese dressing is one of the key factors of the buffalo chicken sandwich for me, and this one was subpar.

Overall, go with things that are made fresh here, and you’ll do pretty well. Make sure and question any fried things and dressings—but the burger and the Cuban were solid.

Stacked Pickle
4705 E. 96th Street
Indy 46240
Stacked Pickle on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Georgia Reese's

I have been waiting to go to Georgia Reese’s for a bit to give them a chance to work out the opening kinks. I had heard there were times when they were out of certain things and I didn’t want to take the chance that they might run out of fried chicken.  Well, when we walked in, this first thing I noticed was that it was jammed. Liked literally, standing room only, every square inch taken with people. I thought, hey, we have a reservation, so we’ll be fine. Well, as it turned out, ALL of the people waiting had reservations. So, first thing—they are either overbooking or the kitchen is too slow. Either way, they need to figure that out. We managed to get a seat at the bar after about 10-15 minutes of waiting. One friend was told by the bartender that they didn’t have vermouth to make the drink he wanted. So, not a good start. We ended up getting seated 30 minutes after our reservation time.

When we did get seated, our server, while a bit frantic, was pretty quick about taking our orders (we did wait later when we just wanted more drinks). We quickly ordered some apps—the deviled eggs ($6.95), the volcano hot rocks (their version of oysters Rockefeller) ($3.75 for 2) and the alligator poppers ($9.95). The best things were the alligator poppers—they were quite spicy. Hubby could barely believe they were actually jalapeno peppers inside there and not a spicier pepper. But they were whole peppers stuffed with spicy cream cheese, and apparently alligator, but I couldn’t really distinguish it amongst the other things. Again, they had some heat, and a nice crispy exterior. They served it with a lemon-chive aioli that was strangely thin in consistency. But overall, I liked them. 

Deviled eggs are something I really like and they were good as well. They give you a classic version, a shrimp version, an asparagus version, and a smoked salmon version. I liked that the filling had a fair amount of acid (lemon I assume) and the eggs tasted fresh. They were a nice variation from what ended up being a lot of fried stuff.

The volcano hot rocks? Well, they were just downright bad. The oysters were not fresh and smelled bad. Really bad. One friend actually spit hers out of her mouth. That bad. I’m not going to go into more detail about this, because you get the picture, but if they aren’t turning over oysters fast enough to keep them fresh, these should be taken off the menu. Fast.

As we moved into our entrées, I was excited to try the fried chicken ($16.95). Of course I was. You get four pieces-a breast, wing, leg and thigh. The chicken was fried really well—super crisp on the outside. I particularly enjoyed the dark meat pieces, as they were nice and juicy. The breast got a bit dry, as they often do. The biggest problem with the dish, and honestly most of our dishes, was it was under-seasoned. Add some seasoning into the breading mix and you could have some killer fried chicken. Heck, even salt helped (and our salt shaker made its rounds around our table several times). The entrées come with two sides and I enjoyed my sides of Indiana creme corn and mac and cheese. The mac had some texture to it, from actual cheese—again it wasn’t super seasoned, but would have been the perfect balance with the chicken if the chicken had been a little spicier. I liked the creme corn as well—had a nice crunch from corn and diced onions. Again, a sweet mild flavor, but tasty. As they were, I’d order both again.

My friend’s fried catfish was similar in its preparation. It was well cooked, the fish tender and the breading nice and crisp—it just needed more flavor. Because she had read too many reviews beforehand complaining about the lack of spice, she brought tobasco and garlic salt in her purse (that’s how she rolls). After the addition of these, that fish was pretty darn tasty! They just need to amp it up a bit themselves. The same was true of the order of fried green tomatoes ($5.95) we had as a side as well (it’s actually an app, but we wanted some on the side, so we ordered them with our dinner). Nice crunch, not much flavor in the crust. Also, the tomatoes were a little thick for my taste—I like ‘em a bit thinner so your ratio of crust to tomato is more balanced. 

Hubby ordered the fried bologna sandwich ($8.95) and he really, really liked it. It had a lot of good stuff on it—some more fried green tomatoes, and lime aioli. There were also some greens on there. Nice variation in texture and flavors—I liked the crunch of the tomatoes with the slightly crisped bologna and the tangy aioli. This might have been the best thing we had as an entrée overall. The sandwiches come with one side and hubby got onion rings—these were more of the onion string variety, which I like a fair amount. I can’t say these seemed house made and were similar to those you could get anywhere.

Overall, I think Georgia Reese’s has potential. It obviously is drawing a large crowd (a bit too large perhaps) and I like the vibe of the place. They have live music on the weekends that started while we were there and was nice. You could hear it without it being so loud you couldn’t talk. The place has definitely got a buzz to it. I think the foundation of the food is mostly good—they just need to loosen up with seasonings—everything was pretty universally under-seasoned (even salt would help). If they do this (and take the oysters off the menu or else keep them fresher), as well as figure out their reservations issues, this could be a really great place to get a southern meal in an upscale atmosphere, which is something Indy doesn’t really have. Also they do a big weekend brunch, which is a nice addition as well. I would love to hear what you guys think if you have been there.

Georgia Reese’s
3454 West 86th Street
Indy  46268

Georgia Reese's Southern Table & Bar on Urbanspoon