Monday, December 31, 2012

Recess - Revisit

It has been awhile since we’ve been to Recess—not sure why, it is still one of the best restaurants in town. I guess maybe it seems like such a commitment, time-wise and food-wise.  The good news is, it is totally worth it.  It was on my in-laws list of places they have wanted to try in Indy, and it was the holidays, so a good excuse (not that you really need one).

I am sure you know by now that Recess is a price fixed menu—you get 4 or 5 courses—usually you have  a choice for the largest protein and often there is an additional supplemental course for an extra charge (this night it was $56 with a $12 up charge for the pate).  So you have to go on faith with what they are making that day.  Most meals I have had have been good to really great, although there are always courses that I like better than others.

The first course on this night was the weakest one for me (and I think everyone at the table). It was mixed greens with sliced jicama, radishes and tortilla chops and queso fresco.  There was a little dab of avocado puree there as well as what was described as a roasted poblano vinaigrette. The problem was there was so little dressing you couldn’t really taste it at all and it made the salad really hard to eat because it was like trying to fork dry leaves off the plate—there was nothing to stick them together.  The particular greens used were also very bitter –without more dressing to smooth them out, they were pretty assertive.

The next course was fluke (which is a semi firm white fish) and it was perfectly done. I have always appreciated how well fish is prepared at Recess. It was seasoned and seared and served on top of cauliflower puree with arugula and artichoke hearts and hunks of bacon.  The flavors were nice—it didn’t feel ridiculously heavy for a seafood course, but had a nice wintery feel to it with the bacon and the roasted artichoke hearts.

After that, we had the supplemental course that you could get if you wanted for $12. It was pork pate with caper berries, mustard and pickled red onions. We got one order to share between the four of us, and I think it as plenty to share (I saw one table where everyone got the supplemental course—no way could I have eaten the entire thing on my own). The pate was good—quite strong on its own, but I loved a bit of it on the bread with a little bit of each of the other accompaniments. They were a perfect combo. In the past, I have not been a huge fan of caper berries, even though I love capers and olives, because the ones I had were really firm.  These were great with it though, and were soft.  This was the kind of dish in which you realize every ingredient had an integral part—it was really well done.

Next was the main dish and on this night there was a choice between tombo tuna or hanger steak.  I had the tuna and everyone else got the steak (although my mother-in-law and I agreed to share our two dishes). The tuna was amazing. It was quickly seared on the outside and served on top of wild rice, roasted Brussels sprouts, golden raisins and tot soi (a green). The sauce was perfect with it—it was a soy based glaze flavored heavily with ginger and lemongrass. I loved it all. The wild rice gave it some interesting texture in contrast to the buttery tuna. A little sweet burst from a raisin every once in awhile was a nice surprise as well. Honestly, this was a dish that I wouldn’t have ever designed because some of the ingredients aren’t typically my favorite things, but it was perfect.  It was a dish that makes you appreciate the lack of choice at Recess because it makes you step slightly out of your comfort zone.

The beef was also very good (hubby and I argued over which was best) but I liked the tuna better. The beef was a great dish too though. It was nice medium rare slices of hanger steak with celery root, mushrooms, snap peas and served with a red wine beef sauce.  A rich, hearty wintery meal for sure. For me, it just couldn’t compare to all the different flavors in the tuna.

The last course was dessert and it was also really, really good. It was a little apple fritter with a side of bourbon maple ice cream and topped with spiced nuts.  The fritter was fried and had little bits of apple inside it. The fritter with the ice cream was really nice—again, a nice wintry dish that felt rich without being too heavy.

We did the wine pairings as well, and I think they do a very good job with them. I think the pours are fairly generous (not quite a full glass). I don’t think there were any selections that I didn’t like.  The biggest downside of the meal was actually the pacing. Service was quite slow in between a couple of the courses—and not because of the server himself, but the kitchen just seemed to be having trouble keeping up or something.  The place was pretty much full most of the time we were there which was nice to see. I was surprised to see that Room 4 was not very busy on this particular night for some reason.  I haven’t been in awhile. I wonder how their business is going. Anyone been in awhile?  Anyhow, Recess is certainly one of Indy’s culinary gems and we are lucky to have it.

4907 N. College Ave
Indy 46205

Recess on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Rock-Cola 50’s Café

You have to love it when you pull up to a place and the kids say, “Is THAT where we’re eating?” That was the impression the exterior of  Rock-Cola gave my kids. (The restaurant's motto after all is “Just like all the high class places…without all of the high class.”) Once they got inside, they instantly changed their mind though—they loved all the 50's kitsch. My daughter always wants to sit at the counter too, but we settled into a booth.

The service was a little strange, the lady who was cooking behind the bar on the flat top was really very friendly, but the lady who was waiting on tables said little to nothing the entire time she waited on us. She was kind of eyeing us suspiciously the first 10 minutes or so. I get the feeling maybe they don’t get a lot of kids or something. Anyhow, immediately my kids ordered a can of Choc-ola (which you can only get at Rock-Cola apparently). They were completely intrigued by a chocolate drink that comes in a can and isn’t fizzy. I am not sure if I have ever had Choc-ola before, but if I have, it was a long time ago.  I would say my daughter summed it up pretty accurately when she said “it tastes like hot cocoa that is cold.”  That is basically what it is according to the ingredients—cocoa, sugar and milk.  They thought it was cool because they liked the cans (what can I say, they are easily entertained).

We all ordered cheeseburgers ($4.99 or $8.99 as a combo which adds fries and a drink). We also got a side of onion rings ($2.99).  I totally should have gotten the kids one burger to share (they don’t have a kid’s menu apparently) because they are pretty big.  Big yes. Tasty? Eh, I wasn’t overly impressed.  The menu says they are made from hand pressed, fresh beef, but they seemed like maybe they were a little overworked or something—not very tender (and all cooked beyond the point I like to eat a burger). One side of all three of them was a little burnt from the griddle.  My daughter told me she kind of liked the slightly charcoal-ly flavor, but I don’t know if I buy it since she didn’t eat that much of it.  I also had grilled onions and bacon on my burger.  The bacon was pretty thick and meaty and had a good taste. I liked the thin little onion string type grilled onions they used because they were cooked evenly and were easy to eat.  It was just too bad the burger patty itself wasn’t very good.  The onion rings were fine, tasted like typical food service rings, the fries were crinkle cut food service type (I am not a fan of crinkle fries). 

All in all, we had fun and my kids decided they really like Choc-ola.  I can’t say there was anything for me that stood out about Rock-cola food-wise, although it is a place that makes you think they might possibly make a good breakfast.  Anyone a regular there? What’s good?

Rock-Cola 50’s Café
5730 Brookville Road
Indy   46219
Rock-Cola 50's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Hi everyone!

Just wanted to take a minute to let you know I am taking a few days off from posting any restaurant reviews...I should have something up by the end of the week, so check back. I am going to be relaxing, spending time with my family and friends, eating, cooking, and counting my blessings--particularly my two healthy, happy, children. 

But in the meantime, enjoy your Christmas (if that is a holiday you celebrate) and enjoy all the wonderful food this time of year so often provides! 

Peace and joy to you all,


P.S. Would love to hear what you are eating over the next few days--are you cooking? Going out?  Please share!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A couple of rolls - Wild Ginger and Wasabi on 82nd

So I have randomly eaten a couple of rolls at a couple of different places—both when hubby was out of town, and both with my kids, who seem to always be game for Japanese food.  And I always appreciate that there is no fear my son having an allergic reaction, since Japanese food rarely uses any kind of nuts. Interestingly, Wasabi (the second one I discuss here) was originally owned by the people who own Wild Ginger now.  So I guess it isn’t surprising that there are several similar items on the menus.

Anyhow, the first dinner was Wild Ginger on 116th Street in Fishers—the kids were totally into it, I have to say.  They loved the origami crane light fixture (a cool idea) and our table in the window (the place is certainly kid friendly).  They split an order of chicken teriyaki and I ordered a roll and a couple of orders of nigiri to split with my son. 

Wild Ginger

The roll I had there was the “mistake roll” ($7) which was spicy tuna inside and then the entire thing is lightly tempura fried.  There was also spicy mayo drizzled on top.  Honestly, I didn’t really care for it that much mainly because all I could really taste was the rice and the sauce.  The amount of the spicy tuna inside was very minimal, and the amount of rice certainly dominated. I appreciated the crunch on the outside, but overall, there wasn’t enough of a fish (or really anything else) flavor to make it interesting for me.  The couple of pieces of nigiri ($4.75 per order) were kind of mixed too—I liked the albacore with the ponzu citrus sauce that is served under it (although I had to ask for it even though it is listed on the menu), but the fish on both orders of nigiri was not as tender as I would have liked—it seemed like it might have been sliced awhile ago or something.
Indy Roll- Wasabi
The other roll I had more recently with the kids once again, was at Wasabi on 82nd. The kids also enjoy this place because they like sitting at the sushi bar and watching them make everything. I ordered the “Indy roll” ($15)—this one was stuffed with shrimp tempura and then topped with thin sliced tuna, salmon and avocado.  The whole thing was drizzled with eel sauce and mayo and topped with a bit of fish roe.  Not including the sauce, this is my kind of roll—a little bit of nearly all my favorite things in a roll—crunch from the tempura, tuna, and avocado—and the fish was nice and very thinly cut. And it was a roll I could fit into my mouth without any crazy contortions.  I thought the sauce was a little over the top though.  I really could have lived without the just plain mayo (I scraped most of it off).  I like a little bit of some sauce just to add some moisture, but I think I would ask them to hold the mayo. The eel sauce (a sweetened soy based sauce) was good, but there was maybe just a bit too much as well (although a lot of it was on the plate, so it was easier to avoid if you didn’t want too much).  The tuna nigiri ($4.95) here was very good—it seemed really fresh and tender and was a very generous portion.

Of the two, I certainly preferred the Wasabi roll, although they are so different, it is really unfair to even compare them.  I would be willing to try either place again, although Wasabi is much more convenient for me. I do think it tends to be a little on the expensive side. So what are your favorite rolls at these places? 

Wild Ginger
8235 East 116th Street
Fishers, IN 46038

Wild Ginger on 116th on Urbanspoon

Wasabi on 82nd
5025 East 82nd Street
Indy 46250

Wasabi on 82nd on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 17, 2012

Rosie's Place

I had to be way north the other day, so naturally my mind wandered to where I could grab lunch that was new.  I thought of Rosie’s because several people have recommended it and I have read about it a couple places.  I didn’t realize it was right on the square in Noblesville—right in between the Asian Grill and Matteo’s. It’s a pretty big place, and I loved all the sweets piled up as you walked in.  The lady who greeted me (and was my server as well) was super nice and very friendly.

The menu is half breakfast items and half lunch—the lunch side is made up mainly of salads and sandwiches.  I was torn about which way to go—honestly, everything sounded good and I am really looking forward to trying breakfast as well. Those breakfast tacos have my name on them.

So in order to try as many things as possible since I was by myself, I got a “pick two” ($7.50) and had a half sandwich and a soup—ok, and I also got a side of mac and cheese ($2.50).  The sandwich I got was the roast turkey club.  The sandwich was sliced turkey, bacon, slices of cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato and basil mayo.  A sandwich like this can go one of two ways—it can be fine, but kind of boring, or there can be something special that sets it apart.  This one was pretty special.  The main thing that made it for me was the basil mayo—it was really good—and was on the sandwich in an ample amount to actually taste it with just about every bite.  It added the tangy flavor that sets a sandwich like this apart (the thing that Taste does in spades). The bread was also really good too—it was fairly thick sliced wheat bread, but which was perfectly toasted and soft enough that it didn’t turn the sandwich too bready.  All the main ingredients were great too, but without that little extra that came from the mayo and the great bread, it would have just been a sandwich.

I had a cup of one of the soup specials—the chicken velvet, which is a popular Hoosier specialty. I mean I assume it is served in other places, but you certainly see it in Indiana a lot. I know it was a famous item from the LS Ayres tea room, but I wonder where it was actually invented. Anyway, I have had it several places before, and this one was good—I mean this is a soup based on cream and butter that is thickened and has hunks of chicken added—it is super rich, and this was no exception, but it was well done and I was amazed with how tender the pieces of chicken were that were in there.  So often with soup, because the chicken has been heated so long, it tends to get tough and stringy, but this chicken was not.

The mac and cheese is homemade, and it wasn’t bad, although it didn’t blow me away.  It is a creamy sauce, although it isn’t a really saucy mac and cheese.  There was also melted shredded cheese on top. I would probably add a little more seasoning to it (I added salt and pepper and then liked it a lot more) because it was a little bland on its own. 

All in all, this is hearty stick to your ribs kind of food done with just the right amount of flair—when the weather is warm again, I look forward to trying one of their many salads—they sound really good as well.  The ingredients being used are high quality and they are appealing to down home sensibilities, but at the same time offering some slight twists on classics.  The day I was there they were offering a fried pork tenderloin sandwich as well—it looked pretty intriguing. My server was really friendly, and I left the place feeling full and like I had been well taken care of.  I certainly would like to go back and try some other things.  I also would love to hear other recommendations for Rosie’s or Noblesville in general if you have them.

Rosie’s Place
68 North 9th Street
Noblesville, IN 46060
Rosie's Place on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 13, 2012


 Sakura is the old guard sushi place in Indy—I think it opened when I was in high school (Lord, I’m old) and was the only one of its kind for awhile. Nowadays, sushi is everywhere, and in varying quality.  I am pretty sure the décor has not changed one iota since it opened, right down to the fake flowers hanging on the walls.  Honestly, I am surprised I haven’t written about it before—we have been lots of times, although the last time we went I swore I would never come back because the service was so horrible (and of course we were with the kids).  It can get crazy crowded, and when it does I find often it seems the staff sort of hovers in the back corner and the sushi making becomes progressively slower.

I started with a bowl of miso.  As I have said before, I have never really found a lot of variation in miso soup other than sometimes they have a little  more tofu (yay, this one did!), or a little more seaweed.  Other than that, what I can say about it was that it was scorching hot. Burned my tongue hot, which is not a great precursor to sushi, but oh well.
Anyway, I was in the mood for sushi, it is probably one of two of the closest sushi places to my house, and it was still early enough that we knew it wouldn’t be too crowded yet.  Also, as a bonus, sushi is 20% off at Fridays for lunch.  We ordered three different rolls to share—the crunch (around $6-7, it was a special), the rock ‘n’ roll ($8.40), and the Gabe roll ($6.30).  The crunch roll was good—pretty straightforward—it was shrimp, krab, and avocado on the inside with little tempura bits on top.  Even though I don’t usually order things with krab, I went with it because it sounded like a good basic roll, and I like the little crunchy bits.  They served it on top of a little spicy mayo which was nice to give it a touch of heat—otherwise the roll didn’t have a ton of flavor on its own.

Hubby’s favorite was definitely the Gabe roll. Basically, this is Sakura’s version of a spicy tuna roll—however; the quality of it is much higher than most sushi places.  They actually call it tuna tartare, and it is nice chopped pieces of Ahi—it is mixed with green onions, flying fish roe, and “spicy sauce.”  They fill the inside of the roll with it and then mound it on top as well.  It is mounded so high, it is nearly impossible to gracefully fit it into your mouth.  I ended up sort of eating the top of the stuff on its own and then the roll.  It was good, but there was nothing really to break up all the tuna salad type texture. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.

The last roll (rock ‘n’ roll) had a lot more going on, but it was probably the least favorite of both of us.  So it had the seaweed on the outside, then rice, then avocado, smelt roe, eel and crab.  The whole thing was deep fried for 20 seconds so it was slightly warm and had a very light tempura batter.  It seemed like it had all the things I liked, but there was something that was just a little too strong about it—maybe too much eel sauce, maybe the very generous amount of smelt roe—it just came across as overly heavy—it was hard to really taste the various ingredients.

In past visits, I have also had udon which was pretty good (love the poached egg in there)—and a nice idea on a cold day (although if it’s Friday, you can’t really pass up 20% off).  I posted my picture from that visit, just for fun. I appreciate that they served the tempura on the side so it didn’t get soggy.

I know Sakura is the original sushi in Indy, but I can’t say it is the best in my opinion—although I am sure there are those that would disagree.  But it is nice that we have so much variety these days.

7201 North Keystone
Indy  46240
Sakura Japanese on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 10, 2012

Hubbard & Cravens

Back up in Carmel to meet my friend Suzanne for lunch again—she is becoming one of my best “try a new restaurant” dates.  Sometimes it is hard to find people as enthusiastic as I am about trying new places.  Anyhow, we decided to go to Hubbard & Cravens after we both had looked at the menu online.

There were a couple of pleasant surprises for me when I checked out the website. First, I really thought this was a large chain, but in fact it is locally owned—there are several locations, but all in the central Indianapolis area.  Next, I was kind of excited to see all the local products being used—lots of Smoking Goose meats, Trader’s Point cheese, and many other local farmers (as well as several local beers).  The one weird thing about the website is that they list a breakfast menu and a dinner menu, but no lunch menu—just an FYI, the lunch menu is the same as the dinner menu online (also, the prices aren’t totally up to date).  We went to the Carmel City Center location which is located in the back of the complex.

The first thing we had was the breadsticks ($8).  They were thin but soft breadsticks that were brushed with what they call “fire sauce”—we found out it is a combination of hot sauce and garlic oil.  It did give a nice little heat to them, and they were really good dipped into the broiled goat cheese.  You had the tangy cheese with the spicy breadsticks—we agreed this was a dish worthy of a recreation at home.

We decided to share a flatbread and a sandwich as well. We had the “ramp and ham” flatbread ($12) because it sounded good even though we were both a little unsure about how they were getting “Indiana-grown ramps” this time of year.  We just assumed they were just using regular leeks and that seemed to be the case. The flatbread also had Smoking Goose city ham, thyme, mozzarella and goat cheese.  It sounded like a really good combo, and I am not sure exactly what the problem was, but it just didn’t do it for either one of us.  One of the most obvious problems was that the bottom of the flatbread was burned black—luckily, you could kind of peel off the bottom layer and eat it without the black part.  Unfortunately, when you did that, it was no longer crispy at all, just kind of soft.  But the biggest problem was that somehow, even with all those ingredients that I inherently like, the whole thing just seemed kind of bland. Not exactly what an improvement would be off the top of my head—maybe a sprinkle of finishing salt or 
something would help.

The rustic chicken sandwich ($11) was better, but had its own problems.  The main one for me was that the bread was way too big—which made it hard to really taste much else.  There was herbed sliced chicken, Smoking Goose bacon, arugula, pesto aioli and roasted tomatoes.  We had it with a side of greens.  My half only had a small little piece of the bacon on it, which made me sad because I generally love Smoking Goose bacon.  The pesto seemed more like straight pesto and not so much aioli—and while I was tempted to eat it without half the bun, since the pesto was on the bread, much of the flavor would have been lost. I liked the roasted tomatoes a lot—they were in the salad and the sandwich.  When you got a bite of one of those, it added a nice sweetness and slight acid kick—and they were very soft and not chewy at all.  I don’t know what it was, but again, even though I liked the sandwich better, it still didn’t really do it for me.  It was a little dry and just too bready for me.

It is a nice interior for a lunch place and they were doing a good business—interestingly (to me at least), it was a largely male clientele which I found surprising based on the menu.  I think I would try it again just because of all the things that made it attractive to me in the first place, but overall, I found it kind of disappointing.  I would love to hear what you guys liked if you have been there.

Hubbard & Cravens
703 Veteran’s Way (in the City Center complex)
Carmel, IN 46032
Hubbard and Cravens on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Road Trip - Joseph Decuis - Revisit

We have been having some great dinners lately.  And a couple of weeks ago it was hubby’s birthday and at his request, we headed up to Joseph Decuis (not like he had any trouble convincing me).  We checked in at the Inn, where we had not yet stayed, and walked down the street to dinner. I love Roanoke at the holidays because it is such a cute little town anyway, and then when you add lots of lights, it is even cuter.

For dinner we were seated in the glass atrium part of the restaurant, which was also new to us. I was a little worried it would be cold in there with all the glass (and it was a cold night), but it was well insulated and well heated—a nice change of pace for restaurants in Indiana. All the little twinkly lights gave it nice atmosphere. Hubby and I usually split pretty much everything and since it was his birthday, I sort of let him choose the path.  The first thing he wanted to do was to skip any kind of soup or salad course and get the charcuterie platter ($18).  It was one of the best ones I have had in memory.  There were about 6 different house cured meats (well, apparently one came from Smoking Goose) and they were delicious. I liked that they gave  you lots of different accompaniments as well—everything from a little wedge of cheese to various pickles and sweet chutney. I also really liked the hearty mustard they served with it—this is one of my favorite things to eat with charcuterie.  Who needs greens when you can have an amazing selection of cured meats right?  We had a hard time deciding which was our favorite.

For our second course we ordered a special (they always have quite a few specials, so don’t make up your mind until you hear about them) which was polenta with mushrooms and parmesan. Wow, was this good. It may have been my favorite item of the evening.  The polenta was creamy and rich, but just coarse enough to give it an interesting texture and not taste like you are eating baby food or something—the mushrooms were cooked with bits of pancetta and the whole thing was drizzled with white truffle oil.  I seriously could have licked the plate on this one. I had a hard time sharing.

We also shared the Oysters casino ($15) which we have had on another visit as well.  They were topped with Tasso ham, green onions and parmesan and then broiled (supposed to have bell peppers as well but we skipped them).  The Tasso ham made them a little spicy and added a definite salty taste which was great—and it reminds you of New Orleans (the restaurant has a definite Cajun/Creole bent to many dishes).  The green onions were very plentiful—not used just like a garnish as they often are and gave it a nice slightly crunchy flavor as well as a gentle onion taste.  The top was a little crunchy from the cheese and I think a bit of breadcrumbs.  I tend to prefer my oysters briefly cooked, and these were a great example.

For our main dish we shared one actual entrée, the Creole seared grouper ($36)(picture is a half portion). The fish was a total New Orleans-style dish and they pulled it off really well. The fish was perfectly seared and tender and served on top of dirty rice, crab étouffée and with collard greens and Hollandaise.  There were a lot of flavors going on, but they are all things that complement each other so well, and I liked the tangy Hollandaise to lighten up the spiciness from the other things (and the heat built on your lips the more you ate it).

At this point we were pretty stuffed, but we were completely spoiled when they brought us a very generous cheese plate to take back to the Inn with us.  And since we had the whole inn to ourselves that night (sheer luck) we sat in the dining room and enjoyed it with our leftover wine.  The cheese plate was great—loved the marcona almonds which are a slight addiction for me right now. I also loved that on both the cheese plate and the charcuterie, they toasted the bread just right. It still had some softness in the middle, but some nice grill marks that gave it a nice toasty flavor (and made it not so soft it was hard to spread cheese on it). I always love some sweetness as well, and we got that with apple slices and dates.

This is one of our favorite restaurants in Indiana, and we seem to always hit it around hubby’s birthday and Mother’s Day (go figure) (if you go in the spring, and they have the fried morels, they are a must order—I included a picture from our last visit).  We need to figure out another time of year to go I think so we can try some of the other seasons’ food (or maybe it is just an excuse to fit in another trip).  Hmmm….and I would love to see that carpaccio back on the, that was delicious. Regardless, next time you want a road trip (about an hour and a half from Indy) and some really, really good food, I highly recommend Joseph Decuis.

Joseph Decuis
191 North Main Street
Roanoke, Indiana 46783

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

12 Chefs of Christmas Ticket Giveaway!

****HEY EVERYONE, I have picked my winner. Congrats to Patrick Wright! And thanks to everyone who left me a comment. I hope to see you next Saturday!***********


I don't do these things very often, but every once in awhile an event comes along that I am excited about--so if I happen to get a couple of tickets to give away, I am going to do it. Brad Gates Catering and Flat 12 Bierwerks got together with a bunch of local chefs and producers to make this event happen to benefit the City Market on Saturday, December 15th from 7:00-10:00 pm.

I love the idea of the event because as you guys probably know, I am not overly knowledgeable about beer and this seems like a fun way to try a bunch of different beers that have been paired with food. Of course, if you actually know something about beer, I assume this is going to be a fun event for you too because I'm pretty sure these chefs know what they are doing. 

A couple of sample menu items are things like duck breast pancetta over white beans and stone spice from Chef Craig Baker of the Local paired with White Beard Wit; a great sounding goose confit from Regina Mehallick of R Bistro paired with Chestnuts Roasting Brown Ale; and Brad Gates is doing scallops over a salad of cod cheeks, Goose bacon, and Eden Farms lettuces paired with Glazed Ham Porter. There are a bunch of other great chefs participating as well (check it out below) and there will be live music. 

If you would like to win 2 free tickets, leave a comment on this post and around 1:00 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday the 5th), I will choose a random person to win (tickets to be picked up the night of the event). I will post the winner in the comments below tomorrow afternoon (and you'll have to give me your name and phone number to give to the event coordinators). So be sure and check back (if I don't hear back from the winner in 24 hours, I will do another random draw).

Also, if you want to buy tickets, they are on sale at each participating restaurant, by
phone at 317/445-0105 or online at .

I look forward to seeing you there!

Monday, December 3, 2012

JT's Grille & Bar

On the hunt for yet another new breakfast spot, the family and I decided to give JT’s a try—it is in the former location of Just Judy’s.  It is a similar menu and while the interior has been somewhat redecorated, it is not too different.  The kids are fans of breakfast in general (particularly French toast) so it is a meal that is easy to get everyone to agree on.  They also have a wide-ranging menu including lunch items, so if you go in the late morning you can go either way (as we did).

I had my standard breakfast (which here is appropriately called “Mom’s Breakfast”)—2 eggs over easy, bacon, toast and I again decided to try their version of the hash brown casserole ($5.49 + $2.95 for the casserole).  The eggs were pretty good (one was a little overdone) and the bacon was decent--crisp on the edge and a good flavor.  The toast was cut really thick and had little butter on it, so it wasn’t my favorite.  The most disappointing thing was the hash brown casserole though. I think I am going to have to give up on ordering this and just get my in-laws’ recipe and make it myself.  This was literally a scoop of what tasted primarily of soft, shredded potatoes and more cream soup (similar to Steer In, although these had no texture really at all).  I wasn’t a fan, especially for an extra $3.  The other breakfast food is straightforward though and satisfies the craving. Next time I would get some other potatoes and try a biscuit or something else for my bread. 

Hubby was pretty pleased with the burger he ordered.  He wished it was done a little less (story of our lives) because it was pretty medium well, but he thought it was still decently tender and the toppings (bacon, cheese and onion) were all fresh and exactly what he wanted.  The bun was soft, but toasted and wasn’t too big or too dense.  Basically, a good burger.  The fries were standard, nothing to even discuss (you can get the gist by just looking at the picture).
The kids, as always, enjoyed their French toast and bacon ($5.95).  Our server was very nice although the service slowed a bit toward the end of the meal.  It isn’t a fancy place, and it is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, although I am not sure if I would venture beyond breakfast and lunch. 

JT’s Grille & Bar
2210 East 54th Street
Indy 46220

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Thursday, November 29, 2012


I have been hearing a lot of hype about Cerulean with all the pre-opening dinners they have had around town, and was hoping the food would live up to it. Hubby and I have been anxious to try something new and decided to give it a go on its first weekend officially open.  This isn’t something I normally do because I like to give a place a chance to work out the kinks, but this time I just decided I’d try it and maybe not write about it.  But our dinner was so good; I figured I needed to share.

The first thing you notice about the restaurant is how clean and modern the interior is—there is a giant wooden “nest” in the restaurant which looks pretty cool, but I was kind of glad we weren’t seated in there just yet because it still smelled of pretty fresh timber and of new construction, which I think would have distracted me a bit from the food.  Once it settles in though, it is a nice slightly more private part of the restaurant.  The rest of it is made up simple, streamlined furniture and several banquettes—although I didn’t think it was so modern that it was too cold.  I liked the small vases of flowers on the tables.

The food overall was pretty damn good.  I like the way the menu has very small plates (that range from $3-4 each and are maybe 2-4 bites depending on the size of your bite), medium plates, and entrée plates.  We were intrigued by nearly every one of the smallest plates, so we decided to get all but one of them.  The first two that they brought out were the corn macaroon ($3) and the mushroom custard ($4).  The corn macaroon was great—two corn flavored macaroons sandwiched around a perfect, tender piece of pork belly sitting in a rich smoky cheddar flavored sauce and a smear of what was essentially like arugula pesto on the plate. It all went really well together and I appreciated the creativity of the dish.

The mushroom custard was probably our least favorite dish of the evening.  They presented it in a tall skinny jar with the custard on the bottom and “herb crumble” on top.  Apparently, the idea was that it look a bit like a terrarium. It was nice to look at, but not user friendly in the eating department. The jar was barely big enough for the spoon and it was nearly impossible to mix the two together, meaning the first few bites were pretty much all herb crumble which was a bit dry without the custard.  The custard was served quite cold and that detracted from the flavor for me as well.  Basically, this one was a misfire. I think it could be improved if the custard were warm, it was served in a more shallow dish, and with less of the crumble.  But that would sort of be remaking the entire dish now wouldn’t it?

The other three small plate items we had were the “tator tot” ($4), the marrow fritter ($4), and the rabbit rillettes ($4). All of these were very good—hubby and I disagreed on a favorite, but agreed that we liked the entire lot.  The tator tot was my favorite.  It was a hot, crispy potato pancake topped with a teeny barely cooked quail egg served on top of pepper paste (a lot of “paste” type things going on).  It was super crunchy, like a traditional tator tot, but made of fresh potato and just lightly seasoned. There were several sauces underneath—I am thinking green and red peppers were involved here.  I liked the super crunchy texture of the dish.  The marrow fritter was interesting. It was almost like a beignet—a deep fried dumpling kind of a thing. Because it was served on top of a fairly sweet apple cider sauce (with pecans and a fried sage leaf), it almost came across as a dessert. I could have happily eaten it as a dessert.  The marrow came in the form of powder on top, which was interesting.  Not the rich fatty marrow flavor you are expecting, but it added a subtle marrow flavor. It was good for sure, and well prepared, but wouldn’t say it was my favorite. The rillettes were really well done as well, and were the thing hubby picked as his probably favorite of the small dishes.  Rilletes are meat cooked down with fat so that it becomes a spread of sorts.  This was smooth, and I liked that it was served closer to room temperature rather than really cold.  It had the intense meat flavor and when you took the crispy kale chip and just a little of the horseradish cream along with it, it was a great combination.  The cream gave a little balance to the meat flavor, and the horseradish the touch of heat you wanted.  It was really well done.

At this point, we skipped ahead to the entrée portions and at the suggestion of our server, both got dishes that involved pasta (several of the dishes involve pasta in them).  I had the chicken sausage with red pepper fettuccine ($23).  Hubby had the duck breast with lemon fettuccine ($28). Finally. A restaurant in this town taking care to make their own pasta and not just drench it in a marinara or alfredo sauce.  These dishes took a protein and used the right pastas and other ingredients to make a cohesive, thoughtful and delicious dish.  Mine included the pasta, the chicken sausage, gorgonzola, dried tomatoes and lime. And the whole thing was sitting in the bowl surrounded by creamy cilantro milk.  There was pasta and the salty, rich flavor of the cheese and sausage (but because it was chicken sausage, it wasn’t too heavy), and there was acid! There was acid from the tomatoes, which were rehydrated and super tender and from the lime.  And the cilantro milk added just the right creaminess. This people, this is what I am talking about when it comes to a well executed pasta dish.

And hubby’s was just as good.  His had acid flavor in the lemon pasta and salt from pancetta and duck skin cracklings.  The pasta was in a creamy carbonara sauce that was flavored with marjoram as well.  My only complaint was that the duck was a little more toward medium than medium rare, but it was still exceptionally tender and delicious.  I would say it was maybe slightly less complex than mine, but equally as good (well, I liked mine slightly more and hubby liked his slightly more). I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of his before he dug in, but I did include an “after” shot. Yeah, he hated it (he also polished off the rest of mine when I was full).  The other thing I liked is that while they were not skimpy portions at all, they did not serve this completely over the top amount of pasta that puts me off before I even take a bite.  And did I mention they make it in house? (I know I did, I am just really excited.)

Finally, we had the “chocolate and citrus” dessert ($9).  We both thought it was pretty incredible.  There was a little scoop of earl gray chocolate ice cream, little pieces of brown butter cake, and some citrus wedges and citrus flavored foam.  What a great combo once again.  Again, I loved the inventiveness and the fact that a chocolate dessert wasn’t so one dimensional. I know some will say foam is out of fashion in the culinary world, but it was perfect here.

The staff was very enthusiastic—they are clearly excited to be working there. There seems to be a great energy.  I don’t think they have tried a lot of the food yet though—our server was a little hesitant talking about some of the dishes.  I wouldn’t exactly call the service “polished” either, although it was very friendly and down to earth.  Our server seemed a bit nervous, particularly with the wine service. I loved that they asked for feedback on nearly every dish—and they genuinely seemed to want to hear it (little did they know I’d be writing an entire blog post about it). Also, when it took a little longer than they wanted between courses, they brought us a free bowl of the sweet potato soup (it was good, although doesn’t tend to be my favorite thing).  We weren’t even feeling like it was taking too long, but I loved the initiative they took by being aware that things were a little slower than they wanted and doing something to keep the customer happy.

I liked the old world vs. new world wine list too.  It is a decent list but isn’t so overwhelming like some of the ones you see at restaurants.  They have some interesting sounding cocktails as well as beers

Yep, I liked it.  I hope they keep up with the quality that we had. I did notice a TON of people working in the kitchen—hard to say if they were more staffed for the opening week than they might be later, but I look forward to finding out.  I can’t wait to see what they put together for spring.  Parking is a little weird, but if you walk a couple of blocks, street parking is plentiful (see now, this is a place that could use a valet, instead of the north side restaurants with giant parking lots). And hey, if you have been, or go, please let me know how your experience is.  There isn’t a lot out there about it yet as far as people’s opinions.  I for one am excited about this one though.

339 South Delaware Street
Indy  46225

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