Thursday, July 30, 2015

U.S. Adventures: Boston, MA

We had a family trip to Boston this month and instead of doing a post of each restaurant individually, since it’s far away, I am just going to do a post of the highlights and lowlights. There are so many places to eat in Boston, though—sort of overwhelming.

My favorite place that we ate was Oishii Sushi in the South End. They have sushi rolls, and they were tasty—I mean, one of our rolls included truffles and proper caviar on top ($25). The other one had lovely, soft supple salmon on top. But the real highlights here were the appetizers. My favorite was the Kobe beef Carpaccio topped with micro greens, fried shallots, and tempura pickled cherry blossoms ($25). It was amazing. My daughter fought with us for the last piece…it truly just melted on your tongue. We also had this wonderful appetizer called “salmon over fire ($30),” which was raw salmon hung over a rod over an open flame. It was seasoned perfectly and the heat just barely warmed it. It might have been a little gimmicky, but my kids thought it was cool, and I thought it was delicious. My son ordered their version of teriyaki beef ($35), which was a huge ribeye steak topped with a wonderful sauce, that was much more savory than sweet. Normally I don’t even eat these kinds of thing with so many other options, but this was delicious. The soft shell crab ($28) and tuna sashimi with fried seaweed with mango weren’t bad either. The menu is huge and I would love the chance to experiment with all of it. I could eat a different meal here for weeks. I so wish we had a place doing this level of Japanese food here in Indy. And it isn’t cheap, but wow, what a great meal.

Speaking of which, you know how I always complain about Italian food in Indy? Well going to Boston didn’t help matters. We ate one dinner at Trattoria di Monica in the North End, which is the Italian section of Boston. The restaurant was adorable—it totally reminds you of a restaurant in an old alley in Europe. Small and with tons of charm. And they take reservations! It was packed the entire time we were there. Our special starter was a bruschetta special ($12) with asparagus and a runny egg and burrata cheese. Note: bruschetta actually means it’s grilled bread, not only that it is topped with a tomato mixture. Also, I really appreciated the drizzle of balsamic on it (and they used it to some degree on most things) to give a touch of acid to everything. We noticed the pastas were huge, so we just ordered three to share (you really only need two for four people). The best was the fettuccine al nero—it was squid ink fettuccine topped with seared scallops, leeks and carrots in a barely creamy white wine sauce ($26). Wow was this dish good. They make all their pasta (ALL OF IT) in house and it shows. I loved the lighter sauce that allowed you to taste the seafood and the nuanced flavor of the pasta. It was great. My daughter would talk your ear off about how much she liked the spinach gnocchi ($23) though—she loves her gnocchi! It was pretty darn tasty too. It had a light braised pork ragout on top that didn’t overpower. My other favorite items were the light tempura fried artichoke hearts ($11)—I love artichokes in most forms, and these crunchy little bites were no exception. Loved the sliced cheese underneath and the little salad beside. Plus there was a spicy aioli to dip in as well. Not sure why none of the local Italian places use this much fresh pasta in their menus, but they should. It makes such a difference. 

We also had a meal at B&G Oysters, which I had read about somewhere and is highly rated in Zagat. It’s a cute little place—oyster bar-ish with a small patio. I was pretty blown away by the apps we had—the fried oysters were such a hit with the entire family, we had to order a second round. They were small, super fresh oysters deep-fried (I’ll bet the fried clams there are great too), but remaining light and then served on top of what they called a house tartar sauce. It was also light, more liquidy than most, and super delicious. Also, they do several things from the raw bar besides oysters and we had the ceviche of the day ($4), which was super acidic and fabulous. The crabmeat cocktail was crab mixed with Dijonaise and was also really good. They were nice dishes to have together because the flavor profiles were so different. My son loves clam chowder and had it pretty much everywhere. This was his favorite of the trip. If I lived in Boston, I can see frequently making a meal out of these apps. Unfortunately the main courses we had were not quite as good. Not bad, just didn’t stand out like the apps. The lobster BLT I had had some nice lobster on it, but just wasn’t much else going on. Hubby’s crab taglietelle was also lackluster. It’s a nice place, but I would stick with the top half of the menu. And like I said, I would have it often if it were an option for me.
one fried oyster

Of course, we had to take the kids to the Union Oyster House—it’s the oldest restaurant in Boston, or something like that. The food is pretty much what you expect, the clam chowder was solid—classic thick chowder with hunks of clam and potato. It was my favorite part of the meal. My lobster roll was fine, but I have kind of ruined myself for lobster rolls I think because I like a little more moisture and seasoning in mine than your classic lobster roll. They use just a touch of mayo and that’s it, and there’s a ton of celery in it, which I don’t use in mine. I like some lemon and some Dijon, but that’s probably not traditional. Hubby’s fried seafood platter had some delicious fried fish on it and the shrimp were good too, but nothing amazing here. It’s a cool place to end up for lunch after walking the Freedom Trail with your kids. It’s a huge, rambley kind of place with strangely shaped booths and the weirdest, smallest bathrooms. We enjoyed ourselves.

One of our favorite lunches of the trip was at Brasserie Jo, which we popped into after getting off the Duck Tour. It’s a French Bistro and it was really tasty. I had a crepe with egg, Gruyere and mushrooms, and even though it wasn’t buckwheat (my favorite), it was really good. Nice crisp edges and nice runny egg yolks. My daughter and hubby shared the bistro steak frites and both loved it. My daughter loved letting the giant hunk of herb butter melt all over the meat. My son had clam chowder (he was on a quest to try them all) and enjoyed it as well, even though it was more of a French version—slightly thinner. We all enjoyed the warm loaves of French bread that would appear regularly when the kids (ok, and us) plowed through one. The topper for the kids though were the giant profiteroles with their own pitcher of rich dark chocolate sauce to pour on as you wished. They loved them (and they were pretty darn good).

My least favorite dinner was at the Atlantic Fish Company—it was very near our hotel and easy to get a reservation for 8 people because we were meeting one of hubby’s college roommates and his family. It was more along the lines of any of your big chain seafood places, like McCormick and Schmicks or Mitchell’s. It was fine—I liked the bag of fried clams we had as an appetizer, but my tuna tartare was pretty bland and hubby’s haddock was really overcooked.  Not a place I would likely return, but it won points for convenience.

Oh, and I can’t end this post without mentioning the cannoli. The cannoli I had in Boston were amazing. I have pretty much lived my life thinking I don’t like cannoli because all the ones I have ever had were not fresh (it they are coming out of the fridge, forget about it) and the pastry was not crispy and flakey. Now I know, I like cannoli. Good cannoli. And we had them at two different bakeries in the North End, one not so crowded (Bova's Bakery) and the other one was Mike’s Pastry with lines out the door. I’d say they were equally good, and I may have even liked Bova's best because it was a little smaller and easier to eat. Regardless, I am now a fan of cannoli.
Bova's Cannoli

And one last thing, we took the kids to the Max Brenner chocolate restaurant. It was terrible. The service was bad, the food (we just had dessert) was bad, and overall I hated it. The kids will defend it to a certain extent, because it is a chocolate restaurant, but I don’t think even they would fight to go back (which is never gonna happen). 

That’s it, in a nutshell, our food adventures in Boston. It’s a great walkable City with a lot of really great places to eat. Also, because I’m super lazy, I am just linking the restaurants throughout this post instead of listing all the addresses. So click the links on each of their names if you want to learn more.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Bluebeard -Revisit

Some good friends of ours are getting ready to move away (sad face) and had never been to Bluebeard, so hubby and I decided we needed to remedy that situation. We were also going to a concert downtown, so we needed to eat early, which is sort of ideal when you are going to Bluebeard since they don’t take reservations and usually get pretty crowded any time after 6:00.

Since they had never been before, we started with the bread plate—the small size ($4). It’s always a good choice. Slices of whatever Amelia’s bread they’re featuring that night plus various spreads. This night was almond butter, garlic oil and anchovy butter. I like them all, although I find the anchovy butter just a little too strong. I like anchovies, but this stuff is intense.

We also started with a large Caesar salad ($15) because it’s one of hubby’s favorites. It isn’t your classic Caesar, other than it is tossed with Caesar vinaigrette. They use romaine and frisee and add onion, tomato, basil, parmesan and duck confit. It’s a really good salad, and the duck is super tender and adds heft to the salad.

We just decided to continue with sharing, so we all ordered a bunch of stuff and split it. Everything was good, but I am thinking my favorite item of the evening was the Banh Mi. There was pork belly, Sriracha aioli, pickles carrots and cucumbers, cilantro, and jalapeno on a brioche bun. It was such a great combo of flavors—and had more going on than a lot of traditional banh mi. I liked the addition of the Sriracha to the mayo to give it a bit more heat, and I liked that they put a decent amount of it on the sandwich so it was really moist. The bun was nice and soft, but held up to everything. They also added some little fried bits of shallot, which gave a nice addition of crunch that was different from the crunch of the pickled vegetables. A really great sandwich. I wonder if they offer it for lunch.

We also had the pasta with Bolognese ($26). Usually this is done at Bluebeard with papardelle, but this time they used a different shape of pasta that was sort of a spiral, like a snail shell. I think their Bolognese has nice flavor with fennel and basil and I have always thought it was done well. I still don’t get that excited about it, but it is a crowd pleaser and an easy and plentiful dish to share, and it’s almost always on the menu.

We shared the truffle egg toast ($16) as well, which is a perennial favorite with hubby and me. They change it up regularly, but I have had a similar version before. They give you a big hunk of Pullman bread that has an egg cooked in the middle of it—then there’s cheese on top and whipped St. Andre cheese underneath and then there were peas, mushrooms and bits of crumbled pistachio. And of course, there’s truffle oil in there too. I love this dish because, well, eggs.. I like that they often have some variation of it on the menu, and I nearly always order it. It’s rich for sure, but in all the best ways.

We also shared the halibut ($18) and enjoyed it as well. I really like the way they added morcilla sausage to the dish. I’m a fan of seafood and sausage combinations—adding depth and salt to the seafood. There was also a bunch of veg on the plate, rounding it out as well. I particularly liked the lemon and capers added, because you know me, I like some acid and some salt with just about everything. It was a solid dish, even if the fish were just a tad on the overdone side for me.

We split a piece of chess pie for dessert, and it tasted really good—it’s almost like a sugar cream pie but a bit richer. The crust tasted really good, although it was really hard to cut through—like maybe it had been sitting a day or two. But everyone really enjoyed it.

I have recently heard some complaints about the service at Bluebeard, but I have pretty much always found it to be efficient and knowledgeable. It may be a bit brusque at times, but I just assume that’s because they’re so busy. I still think it is easily one of the top five restaurants in Indy.

653 Virginia Avenue
Indy, 46203

Thursday, July 23, 2015



Hubby and I had a date night, and as usual, I wanted to try something new. I gave him a few of the menus of some of the latest openings and he picked Nourish.  We were trying to picture where exactly this place is—on South East Street—and it made sense when I saw it was right next to Bosphorus Café.  We debated what the space was in its past life. I’m not sure, but we settled on a video store based on the layout and windows.

They have done a nice job with the interior though—they’ve made what are steel beams look like wood, added booths and nice lighting. The bar was cute with the shelves looking like tree branches. The whole place has a slightly more organic, feminine style than most places these days, and I appreciated the variety. (My one knock, the windows are set high up so once you sit down in the booths, you can’t really see out of them—I think I would have raised the booths a bit).

Anyhow, our server was extremely friendly, and was enthusiastic about the menu. She wasn’t overly familiar with the wine list, but we worked through it. They were offering wine specials the night we were there—not sure if it was a weekly thing or what, but it was nice.

The food is fairly sophisticated sounding—and also incorporates a lot of healthier options. There are more vegetarian options than many restaurants (and even some vegan) and they use lots of grains, etc. instead of things like potato and pastas for sides. I’m always a little worried with these kinds of menus, wondering if they can really make “healthier” taste good.

Our first courses were the zucchini tortilla ($6) and the grilled radicchio ($7). I enjoyed the tortilla. It is the Spanish version of a tortilla—which is almost more like a quiche with layers of potato in it. This version incorporated slices of zucchini as well as Idiazabal cheese on top. There was a very strong  smoky pepper sauce underneath that honestly was a bit overwhelming to me with this dish, a little went a long way. But I enjoyed the tortilla, even if it was a fairly simple dish.

Unfortunately, the grilled radicchio did not fare as well. This dish was a couple of radicchio heads that were simply split in half and then grilled—and I think not long enough. If you are familiar with radicchio, you know it is pretty bitter on its own. I think softening it by grilling it is a good plan, but this didn’t go far enough. Also, the menu described it with feta and olives. There was a light creamy (I’m guessing feta-based) sauce under it and on it, and while it was tasty it just couldn’t stand up to that bitter radicchio. As far as olives, there were 4 halves, so didn’t add a lot. I did appreciate the super thinly sliced red onions, which are good on just about anything really. However, when our server noticed we ate very little of the dish, she asked us for honest feedback and we told her what we thought. The manager offered us another salad (we said no) and without saying anything, they just simply took the radicchio off the bill. This is proactive customer service and I really appreciated it.

This was a place where we enjoyed the entrées substantially more than the apps. I ordered the miso chicken ($16). It was a beautifully prepared miso brined chicken breast with lovely crisp skin. They used rye berries as the grain underneath it, and the whole thing was in a ginger scallion sauce—it had a salty kick from the soy but a really nice ginger flavor as well. And the grains had a nice nutty flavor, but I really liked it with the sauce and the chicken. I was impressed with how tender the chicken was and, while it did feel healthier than many restaurant entrées, it still had all the flavor and skill of a high-end dish.

Hubby liked his walleye dish ($17) just as much, and in fact we argued over which was better. I really enjoyed his as well—and it had a richer flavor profile from the mascarpone cheese mixed into the faro that was used here as the side. There were also wilted leeks in there, and a nice drizzle of lemon oil giving it further richness and a hint of acid. The fish was cooked very well—not dried out at all and with a nice crispy skin (just like the chicken). I really like it when the fish or chicken can be so tender, and the skin rendered so crisp. Not only does it add more flavor, but texture as well. The use of both of these grains was done superbly.

All in all, we were pleased with our meal (I would not order the radicchio though for sure). And so far, I’d order heavy on the entrées here, although I am keeping an open mind. I am also looking forward to trying lunch here. If you’ve been, I’d like to know what you had and what you thought. 

931 S. East Street
Indy 46225

Monday, July 20, 2015

Friendly Tavern

Looking to meet up with my friend @wibia on the west side of Carmel, and realizing there aren’t many options there (you guys have any for me?), we ended up deciding on Zionsville. We ended up at Friendly Tavern, which has literally been on my list for years. Every time I do a “best of” type list, people mention it to me as a place to get a good tenderloin sandwich.

This is the kind of old school place you want to like as soon as you walk in—it was pretty well packed for a mid week lunch—mostly with older people and also some business people. I knew I wanted to try the tenderloin ($7.99), so we agreed to get it and split it and also to split something else. So we went with a regular cheeseburger ($6.49) as well.

Honestly, overall I appreciate the fact that they are making most everything in house. The burgers are made with ground chuck and are “hand-pattied” daily according to their menu. They also ask how you want it cooked, and pretty well kept it where I ordered it. The burger was straightforward, but it was a pretty solid one. The patty was tender and cooked close to the medium I ordered (I’d go with medium rare next time). They give you the necessary accompaniments to go with it—red onion and pickles and once I put some mayo, ketchup and mustard, I was pretty happy with it. It won’t blow your mind, and you’re not getting any fancy sauces here, but it’s a good burger. We had the standard fries with the burger, which were just that—pretty standard.

Honestly, the tenderloin wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t one I would probably put on my “best of” lists for tenderloins.  It was one of the super thin giant sized ones that more than covers the bun. We ended up cutting it in half and stacking it on top of each other and then adding the classic toppings—onion, mayo and pickles. It tasted decent, and they are making them there, but it was a touch too dry for me. Overall, I would prefer the burger. Or those fried chicken wings I saw coming out of the kitchen later—they looked delicious. For our side with this one we had the Buffalo Chips. These were more interesting and better than the fries. They were almost like waffle fries but without any holes that are seasoned. I wouldn’t say they tasted a lot like buffalo-flavored things, but they were nicely seasoned. (There is a slight upcharge to get fries or other sides).

I can see why this place stays around even if the food doesn’t blow your mind. It’s a cool, in an old-school divey kind of way, kind of place. The people there are friendly and you can tell it’s a place with a lot of regulars. Even though none of it stood out particularly food-wise, you feel welcome there and you sort of want to go back. And like I said, I need to at some point just to try those fried chicken wings—these aren’t like buffalo wings (which they also have), these are like pieces of fried chicken, but in the form of just little drummies and wings. They looked delicious, so if any of you guys have had them before, please let me know how they are!

Friendly Tavern
290 S. Main Street 
Zionsville, IN 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Dancing Donut (Food Truck)

So far I have left donut reviews to my twitter friend @GwenderWoman who loves to try them all and write about them for me, but the other day the kids and I were at the Indie Arts and Vintage Marketplace and there was a Dancing Donut truck there, so we decided to take advantage of the situation and give them a go. My problem with donuts is that I never seem to want them for breakfast, when they are most available. I am just not a sweet eater in the mornings.

We tried two different kinds of donuts that they had on this day, the chocolate glazed yeast ($2) and the brown butter crumble ($3). So I was the one who ordered the brown butter crumble because it seemed like a grown up fancy donut that I should try. My kids wanted the chocolate glazed.  So guess which one was the best? Yep, the chocolate glazed. And it was fabulous. First of all, it’s huge, but it is also super soft and airy, with just the right amount of choclately goodness without being over the top. It is a simple donut that shines because of the simplicity. I ended up finishing both of theirs off.

Don’t get me wrong, the brown butter crumble was good too, but really just over the top sweet. It was a slightly denser yeast donut (and not quite as big) topped with a very rich buttery icing and then crumbles of nut-looking topping and brown sugar crumbs. I was sort of expecting the “brown butter” aspect to give it a different kind of flavor, but it really was just full on sweet. I enjoyed it, but after a few bites, I couldn’t eat any more of it.

So that’s it, the only ones I have gotten to try so far, but I welcome other suggestions about other flavors to try, and other donut places to try, so let’s hear them.

Dancing Donut
1134 East 54th Street
Indy 46220

Monday, July 13, 2015

Henry's Tavern

For Father’s Day, we wanted to take my Dad out for lunch and weren’t sure where to go—he likes to be helpful with my blog and said he would just like to go somewhere new, and they live further north than we do, so we decided to give Henry’s a try. This is the latest incarnation in the building (and from the same restaurant group) that was originally Kincaid’s and then for a short time, Stanford’s (in Clay Terrace). Henry’s has an even more casual feel and they have even taken over part of the dining room with a shuffleboard table and pool tables that are free to play for diners. My kids were fans of these options. It’s more of a bar feel, and it seems to be working for them, because it was more crowded than I had ever seen the other two places.

We got a bunch of starters, because everyone wanted something different, and I was happy because I got to try a lot of things. After a recent trip to Wisconsin, hubby and I were intrigued to try their cheese curds, because we had enjoyed the ones we had there. So we ordered those ($8.95), my parents wanted calamari ($11.95), and my kids wanted the soft pretzel ($6.95).

I think the best thing we had out of the appetizers was probably the calamari—not chewy at all and with a nice breading. There were also some hunks of fried jalapeno in there if you wanted something with a bit of heat. They served it with two dipping sauces—a cocktail sauce and a bacon-jalapeno tartar sauce. I actually enjoy good fried calamari, even if it has become such a ubiquitous appetizer option. It’s so rarely done well, and this one was. The cheese curds were good too, although not quite as crisp on the outside as the calamari. It was more of a tempura type light batter, which was good but didn’t stand up totally to the thick cheese curds inside. I did enjoy the fried pickled peppers that were mixed in there. I was not a fan of the pepper jelly to dip in, and instead just used more of the tartar sauce.  Dipping into any kind of jelly is hard—jelly is a spreadable item in my mind—maybe to spread with cheese on crackers.

The kids got the pretzel. I enjoyed the presentation of it hanging from a big hook. Interesting. The pretzel itself was just okay—didn’t have anything that made it stand out among soft pretzels, and honestly it wasn’t all that soft or warm.  You are given several choices of dipping sauces. We got the Ale Cheddar and onion sauce, which was my favorite. Well, my daughter also chose Nutella, but I had no desire to eat that as an appetizer. I appreciate that more places are moving away from using just that neon nacho cheese in situations like this, and this cheese had more flavor than most. Overall though, I’d probably skip the pretzel in the future. The kids were fine with it though.

We were all pretty satisfied with our apps, and I was intrigued to see what the main dishes would be like. Since we had ordered so much to start with, hubby and I elected to split a main dish—we had the fish and chips ($12.95 for the two-piece version). This dish was a pretty big letdown, particularly after having had two nicely fried appetizers. The fish was pretty dry and somewhat flavorless—they seemed more like they came from foodservice, even though it’s listed as a specialty on the menu. I did like that they added capers to the tartar sauce. My parents had fish tacos, made with the same fish. I didn’t try them, but like I said, I thought the fish itself was a letdown.

My daughter had the fancy mac and cheese with chicken ($15.95 with the chicken added). She seemed to really enjoy it. The noodles were in a parmesan and cheddar sauce. It was decent for a fairly straightforward mac and cheese—it almost came across as Alfredo-ish, probably because of the parmesan. I liked the texture from the breadcrumbs on top. I would probably skip the diced pieces of chicken breast, they didn’t really add much.
All in all, it looks like this place might be finally finding its groove—it’s more of a casual bar experience with some half-decent pub food. The menu is fairly wide-ranging and I think it would be pretty easy to please most people with something on there. Some things were pretty good (appetizers mainly) and I think some things were just ok, but it’s a family friendly environment and has a nice casual feel. I would try it again and see how it is, but as far away as it is from me, it isn’t something I will probably rush to do.

Has anyone else been there?

Henry’s Tavern
14159 Clay Terrace Blvd
Carmel IN  46032

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Sangrita Saloon

Hubby and I wanted a kind of light, early dinner the other night after traveling all day and he mentioned Mexican food (not exactly light) and Sangrita popped into my mind. I didn’t know a ton about it, but I knew it was more of a cocktail place (saloon they call it) with small dishes and a somewhat limited menu, so we headed over there. Plus, it’s NEW! 

First of all, as I said, it isn’t a huge menu—a few appetizers and 4 kinds of tacos and sides pretty much, but I really appreciate the fact that the kitchen is focusing on these things and not trying to do too much. The drink menu in this is way bigger. They have a huge list of Agave-based choices.

We did get a couple cocktails because, you know, research and all. Hubby started with the Margarita classic ($7) and I got the Margarita Jardin ($9) just to be different. Both were very good—lots of fresh juice and nice quality booze being used here. I liked the addition of the grapefruit and basil in mine—it really did make it sort of taste like my garden, which is full of basil. I can’t stand mint in drinks, and this was a nice variation. The only knock I have for either was that they were on the small side (lots of ice) for the price. But it didn’t stop me from ordering a second. And they were very good drinks.

The food, though, wow, I really enjoyed it. Especially the tacos. We started with a bowl of the queso fundido ($6) plus Smoking Goose chorizo ($2). I liked their version of cheese dip—it had a nice flavor from the sautéed onions and poblano peppers that were mixed into the queso blanco. They then throw some pieces of the sliced chorizo in there. I liked the taste of the chorizo in there, although I would probably prefer more, smaller pieces, rather than the 4 or so slices that were in there. I just cut mine a little smaller to make them go farther. It’s not a super spicy chorizo, but added some heft and smoke to the cheese. Then the top was drizzled with red chili oil. We added a bit more of the chili sauce they provided on the table and we really enjoyed it. The chips are also good—light and crisp, but hold up well to the cheese. I would like to try the salsas as well next time.

They have a selection of 4 types of tacos. The way they are listed on the menu, you choose two (of the same type) and get 2 sides with them (the meal is $12 for the meat tacos and $10 for the veggie version). I really wanted to try more than just one type of taco, so we ordered them a la carte and got one each of the meat varieties. I think they charged us like $3-4 bucks per taco this way.

The tacos were really, really good. The meat is the star here, as it is supposed to be in straightforward traditional tacos, but they really know what they’re doing. My favorite was actually the chicken ones, and after we tried them all, I got a second one of these. The chicken thigh meat is marinated in tequila, citrus, garlic, and jalapeno and is wonderfully tender and you can really taste the marinade. It isn’t dry at all, and then with the addition of crema, onions and cilantro, it was just the perfect combo of creamy with the meat shining through. Loved them.

Our second favorite (and hubby’s first favorite and the one he got a second one of) was the pork—it was spiced Coca Cola braised pork belly and shoulder with Pasilla salsa, onions and cilantro. The salsa was a little spicy, but mostly smoky and added even more moisture to already super tender meat (like I said, they’re killing it with the meat here).
Second round--1 chicken, 1 pork

We also had the skirt steak taco, and don’t get me wrong, it was mighty tasty too—it was super tender and is marinated in Chipotle seasoning, which gave it nice depth of flavor too. This taco is topped with poblano crema, charred scallions, cilantro and radish. I liked the variation of toppings in each version, and I liked that they all added not just extra flavor, but extra moisture to the tacos. They were small, and only used one corn tortilla shell (which I prefer so it doesn’t dominate the flavor of the meat so much).

They’re a cross between very traditional tacos with just the meat, cilantro and onions and the super gooey ones with all kids of stuff added. For me, it’s the perfect middle ground—not overwhelming (or hiding) the meat, which here is wonderfully seasoned and cooked, but also adding just some complimentary things that just take it to another level of deliciousness. 

We also sat outside on a gorgeous day—they have a lovely deck (it’s not huge though) right on 64th Street in Broad Ripple. Our service was very attentive and the food and drinks arrived promptly. Seriously, this is one of my favorites of the new places that have recently opened in Indy (that I have been to, of course). I can’t wait to go back and try the other things on the menu. And next time, I will likely get a platter so I can try the sides now that I have a favorite taco. Although, I really need to try the veggie taco too….

Sangrita Saloon
834 East 64th Street
Indy 46220

Monday, July 6, 2015

Penn and Palate

I got to hit one of the new places in town the other day with my friend @wibia. I am very excited by the sheer volume of new places to try right now. I am trying to be patient and not go to them all too quickly, but I figured since these guys run the Legend in Irvington already, they’re probably ready going to know how to run a place.

They’ve done a nice job with the interior, although there are areas that feel kind of empty—I guess  maybe they are leaving space in case they have people waiting. The menu is pretty straightforward American fare with a couple of twists. I like the touch of having pictures of local artists on the walls—a nice diversion from sports figures. I wished for some background music though, it had a strange silence when I first got there and it wasn’t very busy. Our server was very friendly, and checked in on us frequently.

I had the chicken and bacon club ($10) and a side order of pommes frites ($3). The ingredients on the “sandwich” were good quality, but it was served open-faced, which made it difficult to eat because of the ingredients involved. The chicken was fairly chunky—like pieces of rotisserie chicken pulled from the bone and there were large, dense pieces of bacon on top. You kind of had to eat with a knife and fork, but cutting through it all was difficult. I am torn because I appreciate less bread, but I think I would prefer this particular sandwich as an actual two slices of bread sandwich that you could pick up and eat. Maybe with some very thin bread so it’s not overwhelming. There was also spinach on it as well as Swiss cheese and pesto aioli. Again, I liked all of the ingredients, it was just a bit tough to eat. The fries were really tasty—it’s nice to see a place doing great fries, as it seems as many places struggle with this. They also offer several dipping sauces (you know that makes me happy). I tried the garlic aioli and the yogurt blue cheese dressing. I liked the aioli the best—it had a nice classic garlic flavor and richness. The blue cheese was interesting—very tangy with the yogurt, but almost too tangy for me.

Wibia had the Brie burger, which was half beef, half pork ($10) and a side of apple slaw ($2). The Brie was nice on there and it was plentiful, and I liked the fresh arugula for a fresh spicy kick. Not sure I loved the pork/beef blend—seemed a little dry or something. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I like to keep pork out of my burgers. I can appreciate a full lamb burger or a full bison burger, but pork mixed in just isn’t my thing. The slaw was pretty sweet with the apple and dried cranberries (plus cabbage and fennel), but it had nice crunch.

All in all I am glad to see more restaurants opening up in this area of downtown—I like the charm of the restaurants going into old rehabbed buildings. I think the food has potential for sure, and I would like to try the place for dinner. It didn’t totally wow me yet, but it is early days. 

Penn and Palate
28 East 16th Street
Indy 46202

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Bento Cafe- Revisit

My daughter and I decided to go back and try Bento Café. The first time I went, I really enjoyed the dumplings –and the sushi wasn’t bad (just enormous!), so I was curious to see if the other food was good. The menu is quite extensive ranging from noodles to what else-- Bento boxes.

We both got a lunch Bento Box. Considering the amount of food you get with them, the $7.95 price tag is pretty reasonable. You get a crab Rangoon, a fried spring roll, 4 pieces of California roll and then your entrée, which you choose. Ok, it’s a lot of food, but honestly, the only thing that stood out for me was my entrée, which I really enjoyed. I had the basil ginger chicken, which had a nice slightly spicy edge and lots of fresh basil in it, giving it a lot of depth of flavor. The white meat chicken was very thin and actually very tender—the slices were pretty big, I would have actually appreciated a knife and fork to cut them with. There were a bunch of veggies in there—my favorites were the zucchini, the onions and the mushrooms. There were also very thin sliced carrots and some green bell pepper. The California rolls were basic and are never my favorite, so I am not a great judge. These were fine, but fake crab is pretty meh to me. The spring roll and crab Rangoon were nice to add a bit of crunch to the whole deal, but honestly, I would just be happier with the entrée and some rice. It does not appear that just ordering a rice plate is an option.

My daughter ordered the chicken teriyaki and we were both less impressed with it—it was a filet of chicken breast that was grilled and covered in a very sweet teriyaki sauce. The chicken suffered from being a little tough and chewy—it was not at all like the chicken in my dish, which was clearly stir-fried and much more tender.

Both entrees also came with miso soup. This was a pretty good one—it had a lot of very small dices of tofu and a slightly lighter, but more opaque color than most. I don’t find a huge variety in miso soup, but if I were going to rank it, I’d put it slightly above average. I didn’t re-order the seafood dumplings this time because I felt like we had so much food coming when we ordered that it would be too much (I was correct) but they are still the best thing I have had at Bento Café and I wish I could get a small rice or noodle dish with an order of those instead of all the extras that come in the Bento Box.

It is a cute little interior with modern light fixtures that my daughter declared were very cool. It has a little more design flare than a lot of quick service sushi places. The servers are pleasant.

So anyone else been there?

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