Hubby and I met up with our favorite sharing dining friends (I love people who share all the food) at Tinker Street the other day. We hadn’t been in quite awhile and the items on the spring menu intrigued me. It was also a beautiful night so we sat out on the patio. We got there on the early side because when it first opened, it was hard to get in—but while they were doing a steady business and were pretty much full the entire time we were there, we didn’t really have to wait to be seated (except that they won’t seat you until your whole party is there).
We started with the hoecakes ($8) and the crab cakes ($21 for a double order). Both of these dishes were very good—I probably liked the hoecakes a little more. We were worried they would come across too sweet, but they did not. There were two fluffy cakes with a nice corn flavor topped with preserved peaches, ramp butter and hickory syrup. There was enough acid coming through from the peaches to make it well balanced. The crab cakes were served with apple slaw and preserved yellow tomato. I liked all the ingredients together, although I expected the lump crab to be a little “lumpier.”
Our next course, from the “botanical” section of the menu, was the Indiana asparagus ($12) and the fresh bucatini ($16+ $10 for morels added). The asparagus was delish—it was blistered and served with quinoa, preserved lemon and crispy garlic chips. It had a great lemony flavor, and I liked the fact that the quinoa made it a touch more filling and I loved those crispy garlic chips for crunch and more flavor. They were cooked just right—sometimes they get a bitter taste if they are cooked too much. This was a nice riff on grilled asparagus. Sadly, the bucatini was probably the biggest disappointment of the evening, even with the morels added in. It sounded great—ramp pesto, pine nuts, peas, asparagus and parmesan, but it was really flat. We all agreed it needed salt and acid. We did add some salt, which helped, but compared to everything else we had all night, this was the least favorite.
For our main courses, we ordered two of the special of the night, lobster, the pork belly ($17), the tuna ($20), and we ordered a side of fries (they’re actually an appetizer) ($7) because we saw them at other tables and they just looked so, so good. That lobster dish? It was spectacular. It was an entire lobster taken out of the shell and served with tarragon gnocchi, peas, asparagus, local tomatoes and it was served on a creamy onion sauce. It was also drizzled with curry oil. Everything about it was good—the lobster was tender and cooked just right, and the gnocchi were nice and tender too. It was an artfully constructed and tasting dish. The pork belly at Tinker Street is always good, and was one of the favorites of the table (not necessarily my favorite, but it was very good). They give you a nice hunk of pork belly that’s been seared crispy and serve it with a perfect sunny side up egg. It was served with kimchi, forbidden rice and sorghum glaze. It had a lightly sweet taste, but was balanced with the saltiness from the pork belly. Across the board, they do a great job with pork belly, and it is nearly always on the menu as far as I could tell.
I enjoyed the tuna a fair amount, although it was less popular with the table as a whole. I liked having something at the opposite end of the spectrum from the other dishes—it was much lighter, but with a kick from wasabi peas and ginger. The tuna was tender and cooked medium rare. The noodles were served cold, but again, added an nice juxtaposition to the rest of the dishes. The fries? The fries are so, so good. I will never be able to go to Tinker Street again without ordering them. They are super skinny shoestring potatoes that are fried very crisp and were served with a ketchup dip (I didn’t eat this one) and some sort of pesto vinaigrette or something. That vinaigrette was just delicious with the super hot, super crisp fries. The late addition of them to our order was the right decision.
We also shared a couple of desserts. The stand out dessert was the banana pie. It was a creamy, very banana-y dessert. Loved the bruleed banana slices on top. The strawberry rhubarb Napoleon was just a little too sparse with basically the fruit and slices of crisp phyla. There was little else holding it together—it needed some sort of a creamy filling to pull it into a cohesive dish. There was also a little strawberry sorbet served alongside that tasted nice and fresh. I would stick with the banana dessert here, or else the s’more dessert, which is also delicious from past experience.
Overall, this was my best experience at Tinker Street to date. And honestly, one of the better meals I have had in Indy period in quite awhile. The service was very good and consistent, the food was excellent, and our wine was also exceptional. It also didn’t hurt that it was a lovely and warm spring night (those have been so few and far between this year). I look forward to going back.
402 East 16th Street