Monday, September 28, 2015

Love Handle

At our last lunch at Milktooth, @indyfoodswap and I decided we needed to try Love Handle asap. We planned a date to go a couple of weeks later.  It’s over on the east side—sort of Irvington-ish I guess, but a little on the less developed end of 10th Street. Right across is Pogue’s Run Grocery though, and I was happy to check it out for the first time as well. I left there with a nice bag of local products.

Anyhow, Love Handle is a cute little place, maybe slightly on the sparse side décor-wise, but is not without its charm nonetheless. It’s certainly not a fancy place. We were there early for lunch, but they also serve breakfast, so we did a little of both and tried a couple of things. This place is all about the cured meats for sure, one of the chef/proprietors (Chris and Ally Benedyk) once worked at Goose the Market before opening a shop in Milwaukee and then back again in Indy. You’ll see lots of cured meat on the ever-changing menu for sure.

The meat was the star in “The Hardesty,” ($10) which I assume is named for our own local chef Greg Hardesty? Anyhow, the smoked beef brisket was cut real thin and stacked with peppers, onions and Taleggio cheese. I loved the slightly stinky, but super creamy cheese with this hearty meat—and I really enjoyed the smashed flat baguette the sandwich was served on. This addition of such a distinctive cheese made this sandwich extra special. The sandwiches all came with a side of the house pork fat popcorn, which was probably my least favorite thing—seemed sort of flat to me, but we still managed to eat it all.

Like I said, it was on the early side, so we also got the biscuits and gravy with crimini mushrooms and hatch chilis ($6), which I think is vegetarian. But we added bacon (+2) and a jellied egg yolk (+$2), thereby killing that aspect of it. It wasn’t a huge dish, but it had a lot of flavor. There was a lot of stuff going on in that little bowl. At the bottom was a fresh biscuit topped with the mushroom gravy. And that was all topped with pieces of slightly chewy bacon pieces and the egg yolk—which like something I have never quite had before. But it had a runny yolk in the center of the aspic-type substance, so I was content. Honestly it was almost too much to get the taste of everything. I would like to try the biscuits and gravy on their own but still get the bacon and egg on the side. Oh yeah, and it was all topped with pickled red onions, so again, happy. 

I feel like this is like no place we really have in Indy. It’s an extremely creative menu, but it’s also a much more casual and homey feeling place than say somewhere like Milktooth. More rustic fare, and certainly more meat (and even more specifically, on the day I was there, organ meat)-centric. Everything was well done though, and I would like to go back and try some other things.

If you’re looking for a super casual, but warm atmosphere (and the owners are super nice), with some extremely unique food (for Indy anyhow), check this place out. And then report back. 

Love Handle
2829 East 10th Street
Indy 46201

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Kona Jack's--Revisit

I hit Kona Jack’s the other day with my friend Suzanne for lunch. I keep telling myself that eating sushi is healthy, even if I like ordering the ones filled with fried bits of things. It’s called rationalization. Or denial. Whatever.

We did however decide to get the tuna tartar (their spelling)($15) as well because we have both been missing the one from H2O Sushi. The flavor here is a pretty close equivalent—with radish, ginger, green onion, cilantro and a sesame dressing. This one has a more distinctly sesame flavor to it, but that is not a bad thing. The hunks of impeccably fresh tuna are cut on the slightly larger side, almost like a poke size, if you are familiar with that dish. So yeah, this may be a little healthier than many of the rolls…until you factor in the fried wontons, which of course you have to do because you need some vehicle to scoop it up with right? And you of course need that crunch to go along with the smooth tuna. It’s a very good version of tuna tartar and it is more than enough to share—at least with two people.

We also got a couple of rolls. And yes, they both had fried bits in them—the first was the shrimp tempura roll, which is pretty classic -–shrimp tempura in the middle with avocado, and then wrapped with rice and Kona’s uses soy paper for this particular one. Not sure why exactly, but I am good with either soy or nori, so fine with me. It’s topped with spicy mayo and eel sauce. It was pretty much what you expect, nothing that made it shine more than others really, but still good. They were on the big side on this visit, which isn’t my favorite thing because then I have to cut them in half, which is not ideal.

Same went for the Tampa roll ($14), which I have had before and really enjoyed. They indulged us by making it for us, even though it wasn’t the special that day. It was good, but just not quite as good as I remember the first time I had it. It has fried grouper inside, along with avocado and wasabi tobiko, which were all good, but I couldn’t put my finger on why it didn’t excite me as much. Maybe the grouper was not as good or something. I think maybe it wasn’t as crunchy, and I like the texture variation in my rolls. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it. Again, I found myself cutting them in half because they were so big.

I feel like Kona Jack’s is a solid option to remember for fresh sushi, particularly on that side of town. And I would happily eat the tuna tartar pretty much any day of the week. It’s also one of my favorite places to buy fresh fish (particularly tuna, halibut and walleye) even if the fish market is a little on the pricey side.  But this place has been around for over 20 years, so they must be doing something right.

Kona Jack’s
9419 North Meridian Street
Indy 46260

Monday, September 21, 2015

Mediterranean Grill

We went to meet my sister and brother-in-law the other day for dinner at the Mediterranean Grill in Avon. Sadly, they gave us a gift certificate for Christmas and we are only now getting around to using it. Crazy.

Anyway, it’s a little family-run place in a strip mall. Everyone who was working there was very friendly—they all recognized my sister and her family as regulars. There were quite a few of us, so we tried several appetizers. We had the hummus ($5.45 for small, $8.95 for large), the spanakopita ($6.50) and the tiropita ($6.50).  I think the appetizer portion of the meal was probably my favorite—they were all quite good. My favorite was the hummus. It’s hard to tell what makes one hummus so much better than others, but this one had it. It had just the right consistency—enough creaminess without being watery at all or overly oily. But also not too dense. I liked that they seasoned it a bit with spices and olive oil and added some olives. More olives are always better. The tiropita and spanakopita were also quite good. One is just a cheese pie and one is spinach and cheese. I probably liked the spinach one better just because there was more going on there, but you get a bigger portion with the cheese one. They were nicely wrapped in phyllo, something I absolutely adore, although I would have probably made them a little browner, and therefore crisper, if I were in the kitchen. We also had the saganaki (opa!), or flaming cheese. They put the flame out with lemon, so the cheese has an acidic edge to it, which naturally I like. It was tasty—and one of hubby’s favorites.

The entrées come with a soup or salad—hubby and I shared the Greek salad. It had a decent vinaigrette, a pretty classic Greek restaurant salad. The soup was really quite tasty though (my daughter ordered it). It was avgolemono soup, which is also a typical Greek dish. It was a super thick and creamy version. It was filled with bits of chicken and orzo that was very soft and pillowy. It is a lemon soup, and has a distinct lemon edge, but it also has a lot of creaminess here, and there is egg in there as well. It’s a dense soup. This bowl would probably fill me up if I ate the whole thing, but it tasted good.

Hubby went with an order of falafel (appetizer) ($6.95), I had the eggplant casserole ($14.95), my son had lamb chops ($24.95), and my daughter the tuna steak (she’s currently addicted to tuna) ($15.95). I had a bite of my sister’s beef souvlaki as well. Mine was probably the best entrée—soft, creamy eggplant cooked in a tomato sauce and mixed with ground beef. It had a nice homey taste to it—and was seasoned nicely. The rice that came alongside was more filler as far as I was concerned—I just pretty much skipped it. The lamb chops were also seasoned very well and weren’t terribly overcooked. My son may have thought they were a little too seasoned for him, but they were tasty. My daughter’s tuna was way overcooked unfortunately (we had to have a talk about this with her, that she needs to tell people she wants it rare, that not every place does it that way). She was pretty disappointed in it. My sister’s beef was a little more cooked that I would have liked, but that’s a matter of preference. It also had a nice flavor—I would consider ordering it again, but would ask it to be cooked medium rare and see if they could do it that way. The falafel was quite strange. Like nothing we had had before. And to be perfectly honest, neither of us cared for it. These were almost like little dense mini muffins made out of garbanzo bean flour. Very dry and not a lot of flavor. I would take a skip on these. 

I think if I eat here again, I would make a very nice dinner out of appetizers and be content. Oh! And dessert. We had both of the desserts offered—baklava ($2.49) and the loukoumadis ($4.99). I am not sure which I liked better. I am normally not a huge baklava fan, but this one was super delicious—super crisp and just the right amount of honey sweetness. I am not sure what made it so good, but it truly was. This is a good size for only one or maybe 2 if you aren’t that hungry. If you want to share a dessert, I would go for the loukoumadis because they are basically little balls of pastry—almost like littler doughnut holes and they were sitting in a sweet but thin honey syrup and sprinkled with a bit of cinnamon. I liked the syrup, although I preferred the balls on the top of the pile, because they stayed crispier since they weren’t sitting in the sauce. As you can see, there are a lot of them, so they are very easy to share with a large group.  But seriously, both were super tasty.

The wine selection is pretty minimal—I think they only had one or two white wines available and the one we had was kind of funky, so don’t go expecting a large selection on this front. Again, it’s a nice family-run place with friendly people and good food-particularly appetizers and desserts. My sister tells me a new Mediterranean place has opened in Avon since then and she wants to try that one with us too. So I’ll let you know.

Mediterranean Grille
10230 US Hwy 36
Avon, IN 46123

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Milktooth - Revisit

After hearing so much about Milktooth lately (I mean they can hardly get more good press right now can they? Did you see them in Bon Appetit?), I was itching to go back, so I made a date with my friend @indyfoodswap to meet there. We were both starving when we got there and wanted to order everything on the menu. We restrained ourselves somewhat, and just got 3 different things—one was technically listed as a side, so that really doesn’t even count.

We had the Cuban lamb frita ($9), which is the current version of the lamb patty melt I had (and loved) in the past. This is seasoned differently (hence the “Cuban” part) and was equally delicious. The lamb patty is served on a bun and topped with white American cheese, pineapple, pickled jalapenos and chile ketchup. You can add a sunny side egg up for $2.50. Is there any doubt that we went for this as well? It had a delicious blend of flavors with the briny but spicy jalapenos and the richness from the cheese and egg. The brioche bun holds up well here. They also season their eggs nicely, which is good since there’s no salt or pepper on the table (more on that in a minute).

The other thing we ordered, as it turns out, was a perfect dish to combine with the hearty burger. It was the blue cheese and baby red potato salad ($12). The red leaf lettuce, tender whole potatoes, and thick sliced marinated matsutake mushrooms were a nice balance to the sandwich. The lettuce was sort of stacked on top and was covered with super thin red onions (one of my favorite garnishes on nearly anything). The blue cheese aspect was in a thick rich dressing sitting underneath everything else and it was amazingly dense and blue-cheesy. The light acid that coated the lettuce and that was in the mushrooms was perfect with it. I really enjoyed the salad, even if it seemed a tad on the small side for the price. 

The only slight disappointment was the quinoa grits ($4) that we had topped with bacon, scallions and an egg for an additional $3. Nothing wrong with the bacon here, but the saltiness just wasn’t enough to carry the egg and the large bowl of quinoa. They made the quinoa into what really was a nice creamy pile of grit-like goodness, but the whole dish was under seasoned and could have benefited greatly from a salt and pepper shaker on the table. 

But, oh, my, we also shared a "boozy campfire chocolate chip cookie." ($4). I am always a sucker for a s'mores type anything, and this cookie was no exception. It was super chocolately and topped with a wonderfully charred marshmallow. There was a sprinkle of salt on top which just added a little pop to everything else. Totally worth ordering.

I’m always impressed by the amount of creativity going into the menu at Milktooth. I love how they mix things up and are constantly surprising you with new menu items. I’m happy for them that they are getting so much good press. It’s nice to see great place in Indy getting attention for a change.

540 Virginia Ave
Indy  46203

Monday, September 14, 2015

Blind Owl Brewery

We have been watching Blind Owl Brewery come together over the last few months and have been excited. It looked like a family-friendly place and it is not a chain, and it is close to our house. We are itching to have a good locally owned family-type place near us. I can’t say we have found any that we all agree on so far.

Blind Owl is a pretty big place—the décor is minimal—a kind of industrial feel-- much like most brewery places these days I think. The main features are the tanks they are brewing beer in. Apparently they have a great big outdoor area with bocce and cornhole and such, but we couldn’t get out there the night we went, so we ate inside. The server was nice enough, but service was pretty spotty overall—and when I went to the bathroom, most of them were standing around chatting near the kitchen so I’m not overly surprised.

The menu is pretty basic. Nothing particularly unique or adventurous. That doesn’t bother me as long as it’s good, but I think you need to do something to make the food stand out a bit. My kids wanted to order the homemade pretzels ($7.99) from the appetizer menu, but they were already out of them for the night (it was around 6:00). We were kind of in a rush, so we just skipped an appetizer and went on to entrees. I had the patty melt ($9.99), which was supposed to have caramelized onions, cheddar and Swiss, and Thousand Island dressing all on marble rye. I don’t know—this just didn’t really do it for me. When I think of patty melts, I think of a slightly thinner type of burger. This was a huge patty that was cooked more than I asked, and was very light on the toppings. Or maybe the patty was just so big, they got lost in there. The fries are pretty tasty though.

Hubby went with one of their “signature” dishes—the pork tenderloin sandwich ($9.99). This was a pretty thin one, and was pretty dry. Honestly, it was almost like a premade fritter. I am surprised it was on the “signature” area. He had the usual toppings—mayo, lettuce and onions. It was just an ok fried tenderloin sandwich. Below average, even. He ordered the house made potato chips with his. They were on the whole good, except when you got one that was not fully cooked and soggy. Yuck.

My daughter had “The Coop” ($9.99), and I can’t really get excited about anything about it either. It was one of those big chunks of chicken breast that get tough and are hard to bite into. And actually, the smoked gouda and apple slices on top weren’t doing it for me either. I am not a huge fan of really smoky flavored cheese, so I wasn’t a really big fan of this sandwich. And the apple slices didn’t help matters.

Overall, sadly, everyone in the family thought this place was pretty average. And I would say that’s being generous. There was nothing that made anything shine here. I’m a little surprised that it’s not better to be honest. They are owned by Lux group, which owns several local places—one is Meridian. They make a mean burger. The one here was very sad in comparison. Maybe those pretzels are really good, but we didn’t get to find out. Has anyone else had them?

Blind Owl Brewery
5014 E 62nd Street
Indy 46220

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Siam Square - Revisit

Had a chance to meet up with a friend the other day for lunch downtown, and we decided on Siam Square. Neither of us had been in ages, and I was craving some ginger. Seemed like a good choice. 

At lunch they offer a good deal—they don’t have all their entrées offered here, but many of them are offered in a reduced size, with soup and an eggroll and most, if not all are priced at $8.99 (+$2 if you want shrimp as your protein). The place was bustling, but we got seated right away.

The spring roll is pretty good, as they go. It’s filled with veggies—cabbage, carrots, etc. and is fried nice and crisp. There’s no sauce served with them, but they were good dipped in the soup that came with it. The soup was Thom Yum and it had some heat to it. It’s a thin broth; with flavors of lemongrass-but also some heat as I mentioned--maybe chili oil? There were chunks of mushrooms in it (in this case). It’s definitely not your average bland free starter soup, that’s for sure. Not a lot of stuff in it, but still a lot of flavor.

I had the “Siam Ginger” dish, with chicken as my protein. This dish is sautéed chicken slices with carrots, celery, mushrooms and lots of julienned pieces of ginger. Exactly what I was in the mood for. Like I said, I wanted ginger, and this dish is full of it.  It’s sauced with what tastes like a light soy-based sauce, but again, the real flavor that comes through is the ginger. You also get a scoop of rice to eat with it. I really enjoyed this. In the past, I have occasionally had problems getting the spice level right here, but I ordered this medium, and it was just how I wanted it. A bit of heat, but you could still taste the food. And the ginger has its own kind of heat as well, so I had all I needed.

My friend’s pad seuw with beef added was also quite tasty. This is one of hubby’s favorite dishes as well. There are nice wide rice noodles stir-fried with the meat, broccoli and bok choy. It has a nice garlic flavor and has some egg mixed in as well, giving it a creamy sauce. No rice with this one (duh, noodles), but it’s just as filling—maybe even more so. It was also medium, and it was just the right amount of spicy.

All in all, Siam Square is always a great option in the Fountain Square area, and if you’re like me and get strange cravings for ginger-heavy food, this is your place (well, at least for this dish!).

(P.S. What’s up with Naisa? They never seem to be open when I think of going—I’ve heard it's closed indefinitely. Anyone know what’s up?)

Siam Square
936 Virginia Ave
Indy 46203

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

B Spot

The fam and I hit B Spot the other day. I was kind of psyched about the idea of a hopefully good fancy burger place pretty near us. And I had generally heard good things (with a couple of notable exceptions), so it was time for me to decide for myself. If you aren’t aware, this is a project of celebrity Chef Michael Symon. Apparently the crowds were pretty fierce when it first opened, but we walked right in early on a Friday evening.

Their thing is all their main dishes start with a “B.” They have burgers, brats and bologna sandwiches (ok, and also big salads). I ordered a burger—the “Thin Lizzy” ($8.99). The thin lizzy is a beef burger with griddled onions, mayo, dill pickles and cheddar cheese. The quality of the meat is very good and they cook it properly to order (there’s even a chart on the menu to show you what’s what.) My problem with the burger is how soggy the bottom bun got within a couple of minutes. The burgers are thick and need a good bun to hold up to it. I’m not sure if it’s because my burger was medium rare and juicier than a more well-done burger might be, but it kind of bummed me out. I think I would ask for some lettuce on the bottom next time or something to try and prevent it.

My daughter had a build your own turkey burger (the base is $7.99 plus toppings) with provolone and cilantro. Actually, I was a little surprised at how good this was—I imagine a turkey burger as totally dried out, but this was not at all. It was very tender. Surprisingly so. She was quite pleased with her choice.

Hubby had the “New School” bologna sandwich ($7.49), which I liked more than he did. It is interesting—they take a really thick slice of bologna and score it with a knife, which keeps it from getting tough and hard to bite into (if you can imagine a piece of inch thick bologna that’s been fried on its own, it might be too much). It also was nicely tender and I liked all the toppings pretty much. It had Russian dressing, pickled red onions, sweet hot pickles and a sunny side up egg. There was something that had a slightly odd taste to it that hubby didn’t love. I am not sure if it was from the pickled onions or the sweet hot pickles, but it put him off a little. I thought it was tasty though, and loved the way the egg added to the dish. But then again, don’t I always?

We had Lola fries ($3.99) and onion rings ($6.99). The sandwiches don’t come with sides, so you need to order them if you want them. And I think you do. I really liked the fries—they fry them in lard, so that should really be all you need to know about that to know they’re going to taste good, but I also liked the sprinkle of rosemary. I asked for a side of blue cheese dressing to dip them in, and all was right with the world. Hubby loved the onion rings the best, and they were good as well—the batter was super hot and crisp. They are just really thick, which are not my favorite kind—because sometimes when you take a bite of them, the onion slithers out of the breading. They’re knife and fork onion rings for me. But they did taste good.

Um, have I mentioned the s’mores milkshake ($6.99)? It was the seasonal shake special when we were there and both my kids had it. And it was delicious. Really delicious. They served it with toasty marshmallow stuff on top, which they then slowly stir in as the pour the shake into a class. So you get little sips throughout with that toasty marshmallow flavor. They are also huge—you can easily get two full glasses out of one shake, so I would recommend sharing. We ended up bringing two full shakes home, stuck them in the fridge, where they turned into delicious ice cream later.

They also have a pickle bar. That’s right you heard me right. A whole bar full of pickled items that you have full access to. So that can’t be a bad thing right? Service was friendly, although pretty slow at times, particularly when you wanted a drink refill. They do have food runners, so even though it was hard to get the server’s attention, the food came out in a pretty timely fashion (getting it ordered on the other hand was another story). 

It’s a place with some really great burger meat. I really enjoyed the sides as well. They just need to work on service and figure out how to keep the buns from getting so soggy. It’s a good place to take kids though, and they do have a nice patio (need to work on some sun blockage there though based on where it is located during sunset). I know some of you guys have been-- what do you think?

B Spot
2727 East 86th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46240

Thursday, September 3, 2015

U.S. Adventures- NYC

Recently I took a super quick trip to New York City—it was a trip spurred on by a night with too much wine, and the fact that a bunch of Indiana chefs were cooking at the James Beard House. Several girlfriends and I figured, hey, why not? (I told you there was wine involved). Not going to spend a lot of time on the actual Beard dinner other than to say that we had fun and it was a cool experience to go there (seems kind of pointless to go through all the dishes, etc. since it’s not something you can do). Suffice it to say, there was a lot of great Indiana food and a lot of great Indiana talent represented. If you’re interested in learning more about Chef’s Night Out, who are the group of chefs that put the dinner on, you can check them out on their facebook page.  So again, I’m covering a bunch of places in this one post, so just click on the link to go to their webpages.

(Here's a couple pics from the James Beard dinner though):

We were only there for like 48 hours, but we managed to fit in 4 other meals, starting with our arrival right at lunchtime and a meal at Gramercy Tavern. This place was walkable to our hotel, and seemed like a good old school place to start. It’s a bit more formal feeling than some of the places we ate, but the food was very good. A friend and I started with a spaghetti appetizer ($18) that was light, with just a touch of cream, some corn and a bit of chile and had a nice breadcrumb topping with a few clams—the portion was smallish (the pic is of half, they split it in the kitchen). Tasty, even though we both we wanted a couple more clams.  I had a starter of beef tartare ($16) as my main dish, because I wanted to eat fairly light knowing the dinner that was ahead of us at the Beard House. It was solid—the meat was tender and fresh and it was fairly well seasoned, but overall I would rate it as average amongst the beef tartares I have consumed in my life. Luckily, I was sharing with my friend Jen (we shared the pasta as well) and she gave me some of her arctic char ($25) and it was amazing. Seriously, the fish could only be described as buttery. It also had parmesan-ish foam that was really good with the fish. I was a little jealous. We didn’t order dessert, but they brought us a little tray of petit fours. It was a lovely lunch, even if our server was a little aloof (you’re almost disappointed if you don’t get at least one like that while you’re in New York, right?).

The morning after the Beard dinner, I woke up early and decided to hit up Buvette in the West Village, based on the recommendation of my favorite (and only) hairdresser. A couple of my girlfriends were game to come along with me, and it was a straight shot on the subway. It’s an adorable little French place that specializes in lots and lots of egg dishes in the morning. Totally me. Apparently, they cook their scrambled eggs with their espresso machine steamers or something like that. Whatever they’re doing, they’re making some deliciously creamy scrambled eggs (something I don’t normally order out). Mine came on two small pieces of toast and was topped with caviar and crème fraiche ($25). I just couldn’t resist. Also, don’t pass up on the little plate of tiny croissants ($7)--they were also extremely delicious (and so super cute).  They serve them with a spoonful of soft butter and jam. The fresh OJ ($7) was delicious as well. Everything in this place is diminutive—the restaurant, the tables, the pastries and the food. But just right to start a day of lots of eating.  They’re open til 2:00 am as well, and I can imagine this place is always doing a bustling business.

We continued our meal plan looking for things that aren’t as easy to come by in Indy. So for lunch, we went with Ivan Ramen. There were five of us and we wanted to try pretty much all of the apps, so we basically did. I think my favorites were the meatballs (go figure) ($13), which were made with pork and covered with bonito flakes, which kind of fluttered in the breeze. There were also two sauces—one was a buttermilk sauce and one was called a bulldog sauce. The meatballs were super tender and had tons of umami with the fish flakes and the pork and the sauces. Also a great accompaniment was the pickled daikon dish ($10) that was light and tangy and then topped with crumbles of what was actually dried shrimp and scallops, but tasted like little crisp bits of garlic or something. A great combo. We also enjoyed the Chinese greens with garlic ($9)—I really liked the pickled garlic slices on top. All the dishes here were well done when it came to combining pickle flavors (acid!) and rich savory flavors. We also had the LES buns, which were buns stuffed with pastrami, karashi mayo and daikon slaw ($11). I only tried one small bite of these, but they were my least favorite. Still not bad, but the other stuff was just much more interesting.  I had the more traditional Tokyo Shoyu ramen ($15), which is your classic ramen type dish—noodles (these were rye noodles) served in broth in a bowl (this was actually chicken and dashi stock) and topped with pork and egg and slivered scallions. It was a tasty dish—simple but with a rich broth. The piece of pork was maybe a little fatty for me, but I ate every bit of the noodles and broth. The egg was perfect too. It may not have been my favorite ever, but it was solidly in the running. My sharing friend Jen ordered the tonkotsu tsukemen ($16), which was something I had not had before. It was a bowl of cold whole-wheat noodles served with a separate pork broth that you dipped the noodles into. It came with crispy “burned” garlic, chile oil and scallions to add to your broth. It was tasty as well, although I think I preferred the whole thing being already assembled in my dish. Jen added the egg, crispy fried pork and roasted tomato option (+$5) and that crispy pork was quite nice. The server was super nice and they had a nice little patio that we enjoyed.

For our final dinner, we went with a southern Italian place in Soho, because, well you know how hard it is to find interesting (good) Italian food in Indy. We chose Sessanta kind of randomly off the Eater Heatmap.  It’s a cool little place as well—you definitely feel like you’re in New York. We again had a great table on the front outdoor seating area—this one was on the street, and the weather was amazing and it was a great time. This is another place that I wish we had something like in Indy—I think the closest we have is Bluebeard, in that they serve more than pasta etc., but I think Sessanta is more focused Italian. We started with several appetizers—and they brought us some little fried gnocchi as an amuse to start. We ordered the tuna crudo ($19), which was so tender and so good, and was topped with caper berries (nicely sliced into edible pieces), shaved zucchini and pickled lampascioni—which are hyacinth bulbs. Not sure I had ever had these. The dish was dressed with lime juice and all these flavors together were delicious. The fritto misto ($ 15was also good—it included shrimp and other veggies—zucchini, broccoli (another of my favorite fried items) and my personal favorite touch—some fried lemon slices. If you cut them really thin and fry them, they are a great acidic crunchy kick to eat along with the more standard fried items. This was a good misto. We shared the arancine ($10), which are fried risotto balls. They were crisp and tasty as well, but just didn’t hold my attention the way the other things did.

Jen and I also shared the Mozzarella Pugliese ($19), which were lovely pieces of soft, fresh mozzarella on top of marinated eggplant, bits of pistachio and fried capers. A great mix of textures and flavors and a nice variation from always serving mozzarella like this with tomatoes. We also shared the eggplant ravioli “alla Norma,” which was also delicious—nice ravioli and some toasty eggplant (we obviously like eggplant. We also shared the roasted branzino ($32)—a really nicely seared piece of fish with crisp skin sitting on top of spigarello (like broccoli rabe), tomato and special Italian almonds. A great piece of fish complemented by lots of varying flavors and crunch from the nuts.

All in all, it was a whirlwind of a trip, but was filled with fun with friends, some great food, wonderful weather and a couple of educational experiences (we fit them in between meals). I really need to do this more often.