Thursday, May 30, 2013


I ended up trying this place twice before I wrote about it. I have to be honest; I wasn’t overly impressed on my first visit.  I really didn’t think I would return. I took the kids one day when hubby was out of town.  The first thing you notice is the sea of televisions screens all around (including at every booth). I guess if you want to watch 6 or 8 sporting events at the same time, this is your place. For me it was a little sensory overload (and if I want my kids to stare at a TV while we eat dinner, I could pretty easily make that happen at home).

That first time the kids and I split the garlic knots, which were pizza dough tied in knots and sitting in garlic butter ($5.49). I liked these. The dough was pretty tasty, and come on, garlic butter? You can’t really go wrong.

My sandwich was not impressive though. I had the “Cali club” ($9.29), which was a croissant with ham, turkey, avocado, bacon, lettuce and pesto mayo.  Eh, it was basically cold deli meat (and cold bacon, no thanks) on a cold croissant.  They make their potato chips in house but on this day, mine were a little inconsistent in whether they were done or not (some were crunchy, some soggy). 

The next time we went with hubby for dinner. A friend had recommended the pizza, and I felt that in order to give it a fair shake, I should try it (not to mention I am on a quest for a place near my house for good pizza).  

We started with an order of the “tornado potatoes” ($7.99), which are their housemade potato chips topped with cheese, and bacon.  This time, the chips were on, and these were tasty.  There was a little bit of nacho cheese as well as quite a bit of real cheese that was melted.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about the nacho cheese, but hubby really liked it and I will admit, it added a little creaminess of the cheese.  The only thing I would have added was a bit of something to dip in (sour cream, ranch maybe?).  We all liked these, even the kids.

Next we had a pizza and it was really pretty darn good as well.  The best thing about it was the crust (we had the thinner style crust).  It was fairly crisp on the bottom and had a great chewy texture to the edges.  We ordered a 10” "gourmet." It was red sauce, cheese, kalamata olives, capers and prosciutto.  At first I thought there weren’t enough capers on it, but you could really taste them and you really didn’t need anymore (ok, I love capers, but I may have decided they aren’t my pizza topping of choice). The rest of it was very good though and I am definitely leaning towards the Greek next time.  The pizza was nice and cheesy (they use a blend of different cheeses) but not over-sauced. And like I said, I really liked the crust.  The kids just had a regular cheese pizza (10 inch was $7.99) and it was just as tasty (and much better than the kid’s meal pizza which one of them had the first time and was not made on the same crust and was $5.99 so not that much cheaper).

All in all, my second visit was much better. The pizza was pretty good and we got sat in a part of the restaurant away from all the TVs.  The service was a little over-enthusiastic, but certainly friendly. One weird thing was the menu though—big photographs of food are usually not a good sign in a restaurant for me anyway, but these were odd because most of them were strangely out of focus. However, I do potentially see some carry out pizza from here in our future.

3716 East 82nd Street
Indy 46240

Oobatz! on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 27, 2013

Road Trip - Jean-Robert's Table - Cincinnati

Our second day in Cincinnati, hubby managed to get a little time off so we could stay in town long enough to have lunch.  I asked one of my longtime readers from Cincinnati where we should eat, and he recommended Jean Robert’s Table (among other places). It was conveniently located a couple of blocks from our hotel, so it was perfect.

It’s really a cute little place—run by the former chef of the Maisonette, which seemed like the perfect way to finish the full circle of our eating experience.  It is obviously a place frequented by local business people for lunch, as it got quite crowded. They also offer a 4-course $14 lunch at the bar in less than an hour, which is pretty cool.  We opted for the regular restaurant though so we could order whatever we wanted.

I have to mention the bread and butter first thing. It was so good. This was slices of a French baguette—so tender inside and crisp crust.  And they were nice and warm.  They were served with amazing rich, salty, European style butter that was slightly soft.  I really couldn’t stop eating it. It was the kind of bread and butter that you could eat as the only thing in the meal and be perfectly happy. It kind of makes me drool thinking about it.

We started with the goat cheese, asparagus and onion tart ($8) to share. It was totally not at all what I was expecting (a tart filled with goat cheese and asparagus) but it was really, really delicious.  Basically, it was a small “tart” of puff pastry topped with spears of asparagus that were perfect crisp tender, a dollop of herby goat cheese and then shaved endive and this, wonderful, perfectly balanced Banyuls dressing. (Banyuls is a fortified French dessert wine.) The whole dish was a little tangy and a little sweet. It was so good.  I was using the bread to sop up every last bit of the dressing.

For my main, I had the Jean Robert version of a Croque Monsieur ($14.50). I was intrigued by the description of this, which included chicken confit and sautéed chicken livers.  Again, I loved it. It was so perfectly put together; it made it clear this kitchen knows how to create amazing food with amazing finesse. So at the bottom of a bowl, there was frisee that was perfectly dressed with a tangy vinaigrette.  On top of that was the sandwich itself including the usual thinly sliced ham and cheese, but also pieces of tender chicken confit.  The bread was perfectly grilled with a nice crispy exterior. THEN, there were two sautéed chicken livers and a few more pieces of the chicken confit. And THEN, there was a perfectly seasoned sunny side egg on top. Seriously, this was perfect. It had a ton of richness (obviously) from the livers, egg, and the sandwich, but the salad underneath and the yolk mixing into it all made it reach a completely different level.  I know I am a little obsessed with lack of acid in food, but this was just a shining example of how a little acid and balance can make for a truly amazing and memorable dish.

Unfortunately for hubby, who had, shall we say, overindulged a little the night before and decided he really wanted a burger ($11.50), his meal was nowhere near as good.  I have to say, the burger sounded pretty tasty (it had blue cheese and caramelized onions) but he asked for it cooked medium rare and it wasn’t. And it was almost too big to eat as a sandwich.  The frites were good, and I liked the aioli they served with them, but my dish was just so so much better. I would actually really like to go back here for dinner.   Top to bottom, for me, food-wise, I am not sure which meal I enjoyed more in Cincinnati. They were both delicious.

Jean-Robert’s Table
713 Vine Street
Cincinnati, OH  45202

Jean-Robert's Table on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Shanghai Lil - Dim Sum Revisit


I heard a rumor the other day that Shanghai Lil might be closing (hopefully that is all it was) so the other day when hubby and I had a free day for lunch (and got shot down attempting to try a new place that as it turns out was only open for dinner), we decided to drop in and have some dim sum. It had been awhile.  And I figured I would remind you about it just in case you had forgotten (I would be sad if it closes).

The meal started with a little amuse bouche before our lunch (even for lunch which I thought was a nice touch).  This time the one they gave us was delicious as well. It was a little duck and cabbage salad with a piece of soft, wonderfully cooked eggplant (I am a sucker for eggplant).  It was super tender and had a nice soy based, slightly sweet sauce.  The salad part was more acidic and they were nice together.

We ordered several things—our usual ha gao ($3.95) and spring rolls ($3.75) were a no brainer. They are some of our favorite basic things, and they are very well done at Shanghai Lil.  Ha Gao are shrimp dumplings and they are generally pretty straightforward—shrimp inside a soft steamed dumpling.  The shrimp is fresh and doesn’t have that fishy taste that it sometimes can if it’s been sitting around too long, and it was properly cooked.  The spring rolls are good as well—super crunchy and containing actual shrimp and lots of veggies.  They are also thinner than your classic egg roll and easier to eat.

We also got shrimp siu mai ($3.95) which is similar to the shrimp dumplings, except the steamed shell is filled with shrimp that has been minced with other things—I am thinking scallions here, so it has a slightly different flavor.  The dough used in the dumpling is a little different too—a little firmer than the ha gao.

We also tried the fried tofu with scallion sauce ($3.95) and the shrimp and chive cake ($3.95).  I generally like tofu, and this was pretty good, particularly along the pointy parts where you got nice bites with crispy edges. Once you got to the middle it was just a little too much gooey tofu with nothing else.  The sauce had very little flavor to me. We ended up adding some soy to it.
The shrimp and chive cakes were interesting and a nice variety (we usually try and get at least one new thing when we do dim sum).  Interestingly, there was actually pork in there too, which I didn’t mind, but it was a little surprise.  They ingredients were minced together, put in a dumpling skin (more like the siu mai thickness) and then pan-fried which gave them a nice little crunchy side.  There were a lot of chives and scallions in there, and they had a very grassy flavor because of it.  I appreciated the additional variation in texture (I try to balance between steamed, fried and pan fried) although this was probably my least favorite item of the day.

Overall the quality is really very good, and the dim sum menu is quite large.  We don’t have a lot of good Chinese food on the northeast side, and Shanghai Lil is definitely one of the better ones. And I am glad they do dim sum (they also have some good looking non-dim sum lunch specials I would like to try as well). 

Shanghai Lil
8505 Keystone Crossing
Indy  46240

Monday, May 20, 2013

Road Trip - Sotto - Cincinnati

Hubby and I took a quick road trip to Cincinnati recently to see a band we like.  The purpose of the trip was the concert, but naturally as soon as we decided to go, I started figuring out where we could eat before for dinner and lunch the next day.  So we had a very early dinner at Sotto, which is the new, more casual, restaurant from the same people who own Boca, which we loved

Boca has recently re-opened in the space that used to house the Maisonnette, which was the old school “best” restaurant in Cincinnati. When the Maisonnette was open, there was a casual French restaurant run by the same owners called La Normandie.  Now Boca is up top and Sotto is below (a very cool thing is that hubby and I had the opportunity to eat at both places before they closed as well).

I love the atmosphere of Sotto—it is basically underground, and full of brick. The first thing you notice is how dark it is, especially when you come in from full daylight.  Think lots of wooden chairs, weathered looking walls and one of my favorite things—a big pillar candle on each table.  I loved the wine pit that they had created out of the former fireplace. There was also a great soundtrack playing. 

Anyway, the menu looked great and we had a hard time choosing—we decided to get something from each different course and share.  The first thing we had been from the bruschetta menu (i.e. grilled bread with different toppings).  We had the oil packed tuna with hard boiled egg and chili oil ($10). A perfect portion to split between two—it was one toasted piece of bread cut into two pieces. Ours was topped with a thin layer of caper mayo, the super tender tuna, slices of hard boiled egg and drizzled with chili oil. It was delicious.  I have had similar preparations and never liked it as much as I did this.  I loved the addition of the chili oil (and the sprinkles of salt on top) to give it an extra dimension of flavor

At the same time we were also served our antipasti course, which was polenta with a fried egg, lomo, brown butter and parmigiano. Oh. My. Goodness.  This was amazing.  The polenta was soooo fine and creamy, the egg was perfect and runny in the middle and the lomo (a very thin sliced cured pork tenderloin) was so tender but had a lot of flavor, but wasn’t overpowering.  And brown butter and parm? How can you go wrong?  We both loved this one. We split it exactly down the middle and scraped the dish clean with the bread that they bring to the table.  Speaking of which, the bread was great as well. It is from a local (to Cincy) bakery called Blue Oven.  It was an Italian country loaf that was cut into wedges. It had just the right amount of tender middle and chewy crust.  They serve it with a great grassy olive oil.

For our primi course, we went with the housemade tonnarelli pasta ($14).  Tonnarelli is a thicker long pasta (like spaghetti)—it is more of a square shape though and is textured a little so it holds onto the sauce pretty well.  There were only two housemade pastas which surprised me a little.  The sauce on the pasta was a simple creamy butter sauce with salt and pepper. Lots and lots of cracked black pepper. We enjoyed it, and it really kind of grew on us, but it was probably our least favorite item of the meal. I think I would have enjoyed it more as a side dish with my main dish, instead of on its own, but it was still good.

For our main dish, we shared the salmon with anchovy white wine sauce ($19). It was served on a bed of cooked spinach.  It was also perfectly prepared. The fish was grilled and was at the perfect medium rare—the center quite rare.  The sauce though—it is what made the dish.  You probably wouldn’t have even known it had anchovy in it if you hadn’t seen it on the menu—it just gave it a depth and slight saltiness that was so good with the slightly acidic wine sauce. I loved the sauce. I could have just dipped bread into it all night long.  

We still had a decent amount of time, and since we were having such a good meal, we decided to split a dessert as well.  We had the ricotta doughnuts ($6) with three dipping sauces.  These little fried doughnut holes seem popular these days, but these were unique in that they were made with ricotta so they were really moist inside.  They were served with dark chocolate, pistachio cream, and salted caramel sauce. Loved that salted caramel sauce. Loved it with a little bit of the chocolate and a lot of the salted caramel.  Hubby really liked the pistachio cream. Actually, hubby won't stop raving about these doughnuts.

The service was very good. Our server was attentive but not annoying. He knew a lot about the menu and made great recommendations. They were great about bringing the right silverware and dishware with each new course.  It was polished but not stuffy.  The whole dinner was a great experience, and I look forward to returning. Although I feel like I have to try the new Boca first. We poked our nose in there and it was a cool atmosphere too—very different from Sotto—light and lots of upholstery with a giant chandelier. Definitely a “fancier” feel.  But Sotto is a really great value for truly excellent food.

118 East 6th Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Sotto on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Oishi Sushi

A bunch of you guys really like this place and since I have been a recent sushi binge, I figured it was time to try it so I met up with my friend Suzanne to give it a go. It’s good to have friends who will travel to distant places for lunch because hubby grumbles about it. It is also good to have an open mind, because, well, the exterior of the place is a little worn out. I got there a little early, but I was greeted promptly upon entering and brought a drink right away. They have a ton of rolls on the menu, and many that sound very interesting, so I was glad to have some extra time with the menu.

I had some miso soup to start ($1.95) and it was good. I mean, rarely does a miso soup amaze me or anything, and there wasn’t anything about this one that changed that opinion. It was fine. 

For rolls, we ordered the Afghanistan Roll ($12.50), the Dinosaurs Roll ($13.95), and the Sushi in the Sky #2 Roll ($13.50).  We both really liked the Afghanistan and Dinosaurs.  The Afghanistan is unagi (eel) and avocado on the inside and is “erupting” (says the menu) with spicy shrimp tempura (in other words, the shrimp bits are on top of the rolls that have been placed on their sides. There was also a bit of masago on top (fish eggs). It was really good. Probably my favorite.  The roll itself was pretty petite though, which I like because you can fit it in your mouth and because the flavor isn’t dominated by the rice (it was actually a little crumbly though which made it a bit hard to pick up with chopsticks).  The crispy bits on top had a nice flavor, and were still nice and crunchy.

The Dinosaurs roll was fried soft shell crab inside with eel and avocado on top. Ok, so similar kind of thing to the Afghanistan, only kind of reversed, and also really good (note that they sometimes say “eel” on the menu, sometimes “unagi.”). The crab was chopped up and there was a fair amount of it inside the roll.  Nice and crunchy too.

The last roll we got was the Sushi in the Sky #2. It was ahi tuna, avocado and eel inside with torched yellowtail on the outside. The fish was all good, and I liked the middle of the roll, but the yellowtail on the outside just had too much of the “torched” taste I guess. It almost tasted like gas if you know what I mean. I think I would take a pass on the torched options in the future. We ended up sort of peeling the fish off the top and just eating the rolls. Then it was pretty good, although I still liked the others better.

All in all, this was one of the better new sushi experiences I have had in awhile. The food was good and the service was very efficient and friendly.  They were frequently refilling drinks and checking on us. I wish it wasn’t so far away from my house, I would like to go back.

Oishi Sushi
6929 East 10th Street
Indy 46219

Oishi Sushi & Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mississippi Belle - Revisit

This is a revisit, because it is one of those places that I feel an obligation to make sure you guys go to even if you missed my post from like 3 years ago.  Well, if you like fried chicken anyway.

We actually carry out from here a fair amount, but the other Sunday, we were driving around with the kids looking for somewhere to eat on the way to the Children’s Museum and everywhere was crazy busy.  We knew the kids would like it because, well, they’ve had it before.  I don’t know if Sunday for lunch is the best time to eat there because you pay full price (their lunches are more reasonable) but we ate for days on the food we took home (it is all you can eat for Sunday meals and dinner and the meal is $13 for your choice of meat and 4 sides, less for kids).

Normally when I do a revisit I try and branch out and get something different. At Mississippi Belle, screw that. Fried chicken. Mac and cheese. Mashed potatoes.  That’s the way to go and you will be happy.  My daughter, who isn’t as huge a fan of fried chicken as I am (how does this happen?), actually did get the turkey plate, which is an interesting shredded turkey.  It was pretty good—moist and tender and easy for her to eat. Better than the chicken? Heck no.

My advice is to go with all dark meat—it is just so good and so tender.  I love the crispy skin on their chicken over all, and you just get more of it on the dark meat pieces. The breasts are so huge you just don’t get enough of the skin. Although the wings are pretty tasty. Anyhow, it’s the seasoning makes this chicken stand out.  The only negative for me with the chicken is that they are obviously cooking it constantly because it comes out really fast though and occasionally because of this, you can get a piece that isn’t quite as fresh as others.

The mashed potatoes are good, and are generally a necessary component to a fried chicken meal for me.  Like I have said before, they taste like potatoes—and even without gravy, they are fairly creamy—not stiff like a lot of potatoes are when gravy is used.  There’s some pepper in there too.  One of my favorite things though is the mac and cheese. It isn’t fancy, and I am guessing there is some processed cheese in there because it is so smooth, but I love the peppery kick to it. It’s just right with the meal and I will never go there and not order it.  And they give you so much of it; I am serious when I say we were eating it for a week.

The hot water cornbread—which are like little discs of cornbread that are fried. Again, I would love a little butter or apple butter or something with them, but they’re pretty good too.

Anyhow, if you want some darn good fried chicken, skip the fast food and check out this place. You will certainly not go home hungry, I will guarantee you that.

Mississippi Belle
2170 East 54th Street
Indy 46220

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Ruth’s Pull Up a Chair Café -Revisit

Ruth’s a place I eat fairly regularly, and I have written about it before, but recently I was in and noticed they were adding on to their space and had a new menu, so I figured it was time for a re-visit.  Ok, truth be told, one of the reasons I haven’t written about it before is because I almost always ordered the same thing and it seemed boring, but they took one of the things I used to order off and there were some new things, so I decided to try one of the new sandwiches.

It is simply listed as “turkey” ($9) on the menu—it was super tender slices of turkey with spinach, Havarti cheese, lots of nice ripe avocado, bacon and spinach.  There was a pesto sauce as well and the bread (your choice, I went with sourdough) was grilled in a Panini press.   This was a great sandwich.  Had all the elements I like—it wasn’t overstuffed and hard to eat, had some additional seasoning besides just the basic ingredients (pesto) and the ingredients themselves were really good.  Plus I loved perfectly grilled bread.  Normally I order the chicken c
obb, which is also really good, and has blue cheese on it which gives it that extra falvor, but I think the turkey on this one was better than the chicken I have had on that sandwich in the past.

I also got a side salad with blue cheese dressing which I really liked as well.  First, when I get a side salad, I don’t need a bunch of other stuff on it—some nice leaves are enough for me.  This was basically that just with a few thin slices of parmesan and diced tomato.  The dressing was obviously homemade and had a great flavor and lots of crumbled blue cheese added in.  I will admit I may have dipped my sandwich into it a few times.  I would be happy to order one of their salads with this tasty dressing.

We have had several breakfast items here in the past and have enjoyed them as well.  Last time we were here, hubby had a salmon version of eggs benedict that was done very well.

They have also doubled their size and, best of all, changed the front door to the other store front, making a little entry way which blocks the cold wind from blowing directly into the restaurant, which was always my biggest pet peeve about eating at this place for half of the year.  The service was good, the interior is cute and they had a fairly good crowd. It’s nice to see a small independent restaurant (particularly in the Castleton general area) doing well enough that they can expand.  I definitely need to expand my horizons at this place and stop ordering the same thing every time (although I will certainly be ordering the turkey sandwich again), so if you have a favorite, let me know.

Ruth’s Pull Up a Chair Café
3343 East 86th Street
Indy  46240

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Top 50 List?

Since everyone was talking about the Indy Star's 50 "Top Restaurants" List yesterday on twitter, on request (thanks @zigged for the idea) I have decided to post links to my posts about the ones I have been to (I have been to 43 of them, although I may not have reviewd them all).  So if you want to know what I think about a lot of these, click on the restaurant names below. I have to say I vehemently disagree with several of the choices and feel like there are some major omissions (uh, Oakley's comes to mind).  But mainly, I want to hear what you think. Do you agree with the list? Which were ones that shouldn't have been included and what are some that were left off that shouldn't have been? I would love it if you post your thoughts in the comments below so others can see them too... (I love your twitter responses, but not everyone will see them.)

And in the meantime I will be mulling over what my top list would be....

888 Massachusetts Ave.

4907 N College Ave.

653 Virginia Ave.

38 E. Washington St.

8605 River Crossing

922 Massachusetts Ave.

1912 Broad Ripple Ave.

5694 N. Meridian St.

5164 N. College Ave.

339 S. Delaware St.

1134 E. 54th St.

Corner Wine Bar (I have been, but don't have a post)
6331 Guilford Ave.

840 E 65th St

6360 North Guilford Ave.

1011 E. Westfield Blvd.

114 E. 49th St.

13190 Hazel Dell Pkwy., Carmel

5646 E Washington St. and 401 Market Plaza, Greenwood

multiple locations

317 S. College Ave.

Milano Inn (I have not been)
231 S. College Ave.

946 S. Meridian St.

234 N Belmont Ave.

various locations

Jazz Kitchen (I have not been)
5377 N. College Ave.

Slippery Noodle Inn (I have been, but haven't written a post)
327 S. Meridian St.

127 S. Illinois St.

Hollyhock Hill (I have been but did not write a post)
8110 N. College Ave.

808 S. Meridian St.

4901 N. Pennsylvania St. and other locations

2960 N. Meridian St.

The Legend (I have not been)
5614 E. Washington St.

8950 E. 10th St.

1311 N. Shadeland Ave.

multiple locations

7201 N. Keystone Ave.

Heidelburg Haus (I have not been)
7625 Pendleton Pike

401 E. Michigan St.

8867 Pendleton Pike

2444 E. Washington St.

Abyssinia (I have not been)
5352 W. 38th St.

Greek Islands (I have not been)
906 S. Meridian St.

1417 Prospect St.

1831 N. College Ave.

132 N. East St.

Judge's Tip-of-the-Rib (I have been, but have not written a post)
2104 W. Michigan St.

1904 Broad Ripple Ave.

King David Dogs (I have been but have not written a post)
135 N Pennsylvania St.

5211 W. 10th St.

Peppy Grill (I have not been)
1004 Virginia Ave.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Bakersfield Mass Ave

Man, I have seen a lot of good feedback on twitter about this place. I have to say, I am always a little suspicious about places when I see SO much tweeting and re-tweeting. I don't know why exactly, but call me a cynic. Do people REALLY like it that much or are they just excited to try the hot new place? Anyhow, I am writing this post based on two visits which is not my normal way to do it, but I felt like since I only had one of the tacos before we ended up leaving the first time (I did have other things), I couldn't talk about a taco place without getting more.  

On the first night, the first thing I noticed was the noise. Seriously, one of the loudest restaurants I can remember.  I mean, the place is obviously popular, but it also is just really, really, loud.  We ordered some chips and guacamole ($6) to start. I liked it. Lots of big hunks of avocado, and lots of lime. It was very tangy.  Not super spicy, but nicely seasoned with onions.  I also had a house margarita ($6), which was good too.

We decided to split one of the tortas and figure out which tacos we wanted in the meantime.  So we go the Milanesa torta ($8), which had a deep fried breaded chicken cutlet, arugula, black beans, avocado, and a lemon mayo, with salsa verde on the side. It is on a firm bread called a telera roll.  I was impressed with how tender the chicken was even though it was flattened and fried.  It was nice and crispy and still moist and tender.  The other things on it really added a nice combo of flavors—you can’t go wrong with more avocado, and that plus the black beans gave it a creamy rich consistency and it had a fair amount of acidity from the aioli. I was actually surprised at how much acid both the first two items had.

We only got the huitlacoche taco ($4) that night because the torta had been so big (and the guac is a large order as well) that we were pretty full (and we were having a hard time talking to each other because of the noise level). This was the biggest disappointment for me of the evening.  The tacos are smallish, but very full—this one with corn truffles, roasted poblano peppers, onions, corn, cotija cheese, and cilantro. What is a corn truffle you ask? Well, it’s basically fungus that grows on corn (aka “corn smut” which probably doesn’t sound as appetizing).  It is supposed to be a delicacy in Mexico, but the whole thing just seemed kind of bland to me, particularly compared to the other things, which seemed to have a lot more flavor (and acid).  Some of the salsa on the table helped (I liked the green salsa the best).

On the second visit, I was there with hubby and my friend wibia and his wife.  We got guacamole again as well as the queso with chorizo ($6). Honestly, the guac had about the same flavor, but I thought the chunks of avocado were just too big this time. You couldn’t even scoop it out with a chip they were so big. A little bit more mashing would be a good thing.  The queso wasn’t bad—you can’t go wrong with a little melted cheese with your chips (and I appreciated the server’s suggestion to get the queso and chip and then a side of guac to save a few bucks).  The chorizo was a little over-fried I thought and kind of dry.

We did try the premium margaritas ($12) this time which I did like a little better than the regular ones because they were less tart, but they come in a really narrow glass that doesn’t have a big enough rim for the salt, and whenever you drank from it, the salt ended up on your nose. We asked them to make our second one in a different glass and they were happy to oblige.  They were strong as well.  Strong, but very tasty.  But I am not totally sure they are worth double the price of the house margaritas.

So hubby and I decided to just try all the tacos except the vegetarian ones. (The tacos are all $4 each). The tortillas are homemade and are quite good. My favorite was definitely the fish taco. It was fried mahi with a nice crunch and a nice limey Tabasco flavored sauce and citrusy slaw.  It was a good balance—the fish was tender but crunchy on the outside, the lime shone through, and it had a nice slight heat.  The slaw gave it the fresh crunchy taste.  My next favorite was probably the mole, which was chicken (but it was braised in the mole sauce which had a deep spice to it).  It was served with pickled onions and queso fresco. It had a complex flavor and I loved the pickled onions with it.

Honestly, the rest of the tacos were not bad but none blew me away. I preferred the short rib on the short rib torta ($9) based on the bite I had of our friends’ sandwich.  The bread was just a better conduit for the very rich hearty meat—and the flavors on the sandwich were really good together (it was more balanced with more cheese, caramelized onions, arugula and black beans).  There was just too much meat to other ingredients ratio on the taco.  We had both the pork tacos and I have to say, all the braised meat starting running together.  The pastor had a lot of pineapple though, which made it stand out somewhat, although for me, not in a good way, because it sort of dominated the taste.  The chicken verde had the pickled red onions too, but the chicken itself was just okay.
Here's a picture with a flash. Not very pretty, but you can see them better

So my problem is that the tacos—well, other than the fish-- just didn’t really wow me that much. And this time, we got seated downstairs, which may have been a touch more quiet (barely) but the place, even fairly early on a Wednesday, was heaving, and was still really, really loud. But at least my ears weren’t ringing the next day like they were after my first visit (seriously I worry about the staff’s hearing).  But top the noise level issue off with the fact that the tables downstairs are picnic tables with no backs, and hubby has basically declared he will probably be unlikely to return.  So I guess maybe we’re just too old for this place or something. Or maybe it is just so popular because it’s new and pretty reasonably priced, and the food isn’t bad, and maybe it will calm down at some point.  But I have heard of people being told there was a three-hour wait at times. No way would I wait that. (Our first visit we did have to wait about 30 minutes for a table on a Friday night).

The service is good—both times I was there, our servers were knowledgeable and the service was prompt.  Both times the two different women checked in regularly and made sure we had what we needed.  It’s run well, it’s just too damn loud.  At least for me.

334 Massachusetts Ave
Indy 46204

Bakersfield Mass Ave. on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Pizzology - Revisit

A friend asked me to meet her at Pizzology for lunch the other day, and I realized how long it had been since I had been there. Lunch is a good time to go to Pizzology because the crowds are not so intense (I have never had to wait at lunch) and they have a nice lunch special—a soup or salad, a lunch sized pizza, and a soft drink for $9.  Ok, it is going to be more than $9 if you want any other toppings besides cheese, but still, not a bad deal (my total was $11.50) for 3 things.

I had the salad—the option on the lunch menu is the house chopped which tends to be my favorite anyhow.  And even though it can be a little inconsistent sometimes in the amount of toppings (blue cheese, roasted tomatoes, shallots, sliced olives and prosciutto), this time it was pretty good—enough that you could taste them with the chopped romaine.  I like that they roast their tomatoes, especially this time of year because it makes them sweeter.  I also like the dressing—a citrus vinaigrette. Nice and tangy.

For my pizza I got a white pizza (no red sauce, just olive oil) with a farm egg and mushrooms.  I really enjoyed it—as usual I am a sucker for a runny egg. I salted the yolk a little and dipped my crust into it. There were also a lot of mushrooms which I appreciated. They are roasted and the flavor gets amped up a little because of it. As I have said before, the crust is the thing here, but it can vary between really well done and not done enough.  This one didn’t have the black charred spots that I know some of you like, but personally, I enjoyed it this way (I am not as big a fan of the charred taste).  The bottom was crisp and the crust was chewy. There was a lot of cheese on it and I was happy.

My friend had roasted tomatoes and sausage on her pizza (with red sauce) and seemed to enjoy it quite a bit as well—I never managed to try it before I realized I was really full.

One of my favorite things about the lunch experience on this visit though was our server Candice.  After some recent service debacles, it was so refreshing to have a great server.  She was good at her job and she was really friendly and personable.  We enjoyed chatting with her a bit.  She even drew a cute smiley face on my take home box. It’s amazing how much someone who cares about her job can add to your dining experience.

13190 Hazel Dell Parkway
Carmel, IN 46032