For whatever reason, it has taken us awhile to get back into Vanguard—not sure why. I have always enjoyed it and they have a new(ish) chef (Adam Ditter) who came from the now-shuttered Longbranch (hard to believe that already two restaurants have closed in that same space). Anyway, hubby and I stopped in recently without a reservation and scored one of the last tables.
We started with the salmon pastrami dip with house kraut and house made pretzel bites ($7). This was a really tasty share plate. You have to really enjoy the seasonings in pastrami, as they are strong here, but a bite with the acidic kraut and the absolutely wonderful, soft pretzel bites was great. It is a unique dish and quite tasty…Perhaps just a couple more of the pretzels would be great though, as the dip is quite plentiful.
Next we shared two starters—the gnocchi salad ($11) and the carnitas ($12). I loved the gnocchi salad. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but it was truly most like a green salad with gnocchi mixed in. And tomatoes, peppadew, banana peppers, red onion and nice hunks of feta. There was a sherry vinaigrette on it, and it was dressed all the way through (hallelujah). I read this menu descrition and thought, it sounds like it will have nice acid, and it did. It was very good.
We also shared the carnitas, which was presented very attractively. There were two crusts that were described as cheddar piecrust, which was filled with the carnitas. There was also apple sauce and crème fraiche served with it—the apple sauce was on the dish, the crème fraiche on the side. I sort of wished it had been reversed. I didn’t care for the sweetness that the apple sauce gave the dish, but I liked the slight sour flavor of the crème friache. The meat was very tasty. It was hard to really get a full feel of the taste of the crust because of the apple sauce, which was a little bit of a bummer, because I was very intrigued by the idea of the cheddar crust.
For our dinner, we split the fried chicken ($21). We were torn between it and a tuna special that came highly recommended, but I hadn’t had this new version of the fried chicken and wanted to check it out. They brine it in adobo and it is served along with coconut cauliflower rice. The dish has a decidedly Asian flair to it, and I really enjoyed it—especially the chicken. It had a great spicy, sort of smoky flavor that went all the way through to the tender meat. The dish was served with several lime wedges, which were good both on the “rice” and the chicken itself. I love a dish with extra acid on the side. You get four pieces of chicken, so it is certainly easy to share. I’m a little undecided about how I feel about the cauliflower rice. It is certainly different, and lent a unique flavor….but still tasted like vegetable rather than a starch.
We decided to get dessert because it was Texas sheet cake, which is a family favorite. What makes it “Texas” in my mind though is the addition of a fair amount of cinnamon, giving it a slightly spicy flavor. That seemed to be missing from this version. They also put nuts in the icing, which I skip when I make it, because I prefer it with a smooth texture. It was a fine dessert, but not outstanding. They served it with a scoop of ice cream.
All in all, if you haven’t been, or haven’t been in awhile, it’s worth going back to Vanguard—especially with so few grown-up restaurants in Broad Ripple.
6319 Guilford Ave