Monday, April 28, 2014

Blaze Pizza

I met my friend @wibia the other day for a quick bite downtown. He had wanted to try this new Blaze Pizza place (what is it about men and pizza?) and I liked the idea of a quick-fired thin crust pizza (thin crust is usually my favorite).

So you walk in and this place is sort of a taqueria-style (or Subway-style I guess)—you wait in line and either order one of their specialty pizzas or you can build your own. They press the (handmade) dough in front of you constantly and then pass it down the assembly line. At the end they throw it in a hot oven for like 3 minutes, cut it and serve it. It only takes 4-5 minutes from ordering to getting your pie.

I went with one of their combinations—the “veg out.” This was mozzarella, Gorgonzola, zucchini, mushrooms, red onions and dollops on red sauce. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the zucchini knowing that sometimes pieces of zucchini can make a pizza soggy because they contain so much water. But they had this all figured out—the zucchini was diced and pre-seasoned and cooked so that it wouldn’t leach water and make a soggy crust. I enjoyed it—and I liked the smaller bites of the zucchini. I also like that since you are walking through the pizza assembly line, you can easily customize a little as you go if you see something you want. For instance, I saw olives and wanted some, so I had them do the zucchini on only half and black olives on the other half. No problem.

Overall, for the $7 pizza cost, I thought it was pretty good and a pretty good deal. The crust was pretty crisp (the way I like it) but still soft enough to fold in half. I really enjoyed the kick from the Gorgonzola on mine. They know just how many toppings to put on the pizza so as to not overwhelm the crust. One thing I would change next time is I would not get the dollops of sauce—those bites were just too saucy. I would just go with the even sauce on the pizza. They also offer a spicy marinara and a white sauce. I might try the spicy one just to maybe zip it up a little.

I didn’t try @wibia’s pizza—he designed his own with sausage, olives and pepperonicini. He seemed to genuinely enjoy it though and agreed it was a good deal.

In a strip mall that is full of chain restaurants (of which Blaze is one) near IU downtown, I can see how this might be a choice above some of the others (except maybe City BBQ, I love that place). They are offering a freshly made product and the ingredients seem pretty decent. It’s fast and it’s cheap for a fair amount of food.

What do you guys think? Have you been there?

Blaze Pizza
913 Indiana Avenue
Indy  46204

Blaze Pizza on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 24, 2014

U.S. Adventures: The Roosevelt - Richmond, VA

We recently took a family trip to Williamsburg and Washington DC. Since we were starting in Williamsburg, we flew into Richmond, VA. Never one to pass up an opportunity to eat in a new city (I don’t think I have ever spent any time in Richmond), I did a little research and we ended up at the Roosevelt. It was a Sunday so we were in prime brunch hours—and my kids love a good brunch, so it seemed perfect. 

It’s a cute little restaurant—quite busy, but the tables no so crowded together that you felt like you were on top of people. They don’t have a kid’s menu per se, but several items on the regular menu that were quite appealing to my kids. My son had the biscuits and gravy ($7)—there were two fluffy biscuits with lots of sausage gravy—some pretty big chunks of sausage in there and two slow cooked eggs—assuming they were sous vide eggs because they were still wonderfully runny inside. It was a big meal for him, but he enjoyed it. Although not as much as my fried oyster omelet ($8). 

That fried oyster omelet was so good. I don’t normally order omelets because I find the eggs so often to be overcooked and too firm. Wow, this was super light and fluffy. It was almost like a soufflé. They eggs itself made the dish special and biting into some spicy fried oysters certainly didn’t hurt. Ok, so then add homemade bacon hollandaise and homemade hot sauce and this dish was a clear table favorite.

Hubby’s pork cheek and potato hash ($11) was unique and very good as well. I was torn between whether I liked his or mine better and still unsure. It was pieces of the pork with chunks of fingerling potatoes with another one of those slow cooked eggs and topped with salsa Verde. I really liked the freshness that the salsa verde added to the flavors.

My daughter’s fried catfish sandwich was pretty well spot on too. Super moist fish with a corn meal type breading—nicely spiced though. They served it with a good tangy remoulade and buttermilk slaw. The fries served with it were also really good, homemade and fresh and crisp.

This is the kind of (reasonably priced) brunch place Indy needs. The food is really well done and creative—it’s all approachable but with just the right of pizazz. As far as something like it in Indy, I for one am really looking forward to Milktooth.--based on the preview brunch I have been to, I think they might be on to something similar here in Indy.

The Roosevelt
623 N. 25th
Richmond, VA 23223

The Roosevelt on Urbanspoon

And we got some Dixie Donuts later on in the day. Can't go wrong there! 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Shoefly - Revisit

We were having a family “discussion” the other day (it was a weekend) about where to have lunch. We all have our favorite places and no one could seem to agree. Hubby mentioned Shoefly because even though I had been twice, he had not yet been and wanted to give it a go. I was looking forward to trying something different, so of course I was game.

Based on several recommendations, I decided to get the duck wings off of the appetizer menu ($6) with honey Dijon sauce (you have your choice of several sauces) and the small house salad ($4). The duck wings are pretty darn delicious. The extra meaty and just slightly gamey wings (think of a large chicken wing made with dark meat) were messy but a favorite of the table. My son decided on our next visit he would get an order of these without any sauce. I am not sure I made the right choice as far as the sauce goes—I think maybe the slightly sweet chili oil might be better with duck. I am intrigued by the chimichurri. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the flavor of the honey Dijon (lots of grainy mustard), but I think it would be better with something else.  I was kind of disappointed by the salad. It was mainly romaine lettuce with a bit of radish, a few capers, a boiled egg , Parmesan ,and some green beans (I believe). It was tossed in a lemon/olive oil dressing. I don’t know, the whole thing was just too lettuce heavy and I couldn’t really get much lemon (I need my acid) in the dressing. I love capers, but it’s hard to get one on your fork in a salad. It was just kind of bland. Oh well.

Hubby had the beer battered walleye at my recommendation (half order $11). It was just as good as the first time I had it—moist, tender fish with a light Bier Brewery batter. The fries were some of the best I’ve had on my visits—these were quite crisp. And I love the tartar sauce they serve alongside, as I said in my first post.  We also shared an order of mac and cheese for the table ($7). I still think it could use a little salt and pepper, and unfortunately this one wasn’t quite heated all the way through, but we all enjoyed it anyway.

My daughter had Anna’s gnocchi ($6). Ok, she had two orders of Anna’s gnocchi (so make that $12). She loves gnocchi and enjoyed it. Not thinking it was housemade or anything, but cooked well. It looks like they have changed the menu lately though and it is now ravioli which might make her sad. My son had a burger ($9 w/ cheese) off the regular menu (there isn’t one on the kid’s menu). He quite enjoyed it.

We had the brownie batter wontons for dessert ($5). (My daughter always checks the desserts before she even reads the regular menu). I really quite liked them. They really tasted like raw brownie batter fried into wontons. They were served with a cream sauce alongside which sadly spilled out of its little cup making the parts it touched go a little soft, but it was tasty as well.  I hate to say it but they took these off the menu too in their recent changes because I would get those again too!

I am glad to see they are changing the menu up occasionally (looks like seasonally) even if they do take some of our family favorites off. I appreciate the variety in a family-friendly restaurant like this. I am particularly interested in trying the new asparagus and goat cheese fritters.

Shoefly Public House
122 East 22nd Street
Indy  46202
Shoefly Public House on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Movable Feast -Revisit

I met my favorite Pilates instructor for lunch the other day at Movable Feast—it’s quick and right by our houses. Although their chicken salad is one of my favorite usuals, it was so cold on this day, I had to get something warm. It was Wednesday and the special of the day (and every Wednesday I believe) was the jerk pork sandwich ($6 I believe). I wasn't even gonna write about this lunch, but then I had the sandwich.

This sandwich is great. Really, really great. It is roasted pork tenderloin that is seasoned with jerk seasoning and sliced pretty thin. It is served on a fairly soft baguette with melty Swiss cheese, lettuce and jerk mayo. The thing about this sandwich, besides for the exceptionally tender pork and the kick from the jerk seasoning is that there is a touch of tanginess. I am not sure if the lettuce was lightly dressed or the tanginess was coming from the mayo, but it was a perfect combination of flavors. I tend to avoid sandwiches like this because so often the heat is the dominant thing, but this one was just balanced in the right way and still had a fair amount of heat. I intended to eat only half of it and ended up eating the whole thing. And I went home and told hubby about it because on a Wednesday very soon he needs to try it as well.

I also had a cup of clam chowder to start—it was the classic New England style—this one heavier on the potato aspect than the cream aspect. It made it a starchier taste than some. It had a good flavor although nowhere near as exciting to me as the sandwich. I liked that there are saltines on every table, because I like to crumble crackers in my soup—particularly clam chowder.

We also shared a red velvet cupcake (I barely got any before she ate it before we even got our lunches). Nice and moist with just the right amount of cream cheese icing. As popular as cupcakes are these days, it’s nice to eat a simple homemade one that is just as good as those cupcake places (and cheaper).  They do a really good “outrageous” chocolate chip cookie too (just beware there’s peanut butter in there).

I couldn't even get a pic before
she ate half of it.
I really enjoy this place. The people who run it and friendly and seem to know a lot of their customers well. Oh, and as a public service announcement, my lunch date wants me to tell everyone that eats here that when it is cold outside to please close the door behind you (it doesn’t automatically close). It’s a small place and when the door is left open, it is really cold.

Now I am wondering about other specials…you guys have any favorites?

Movable Feast
5741 East 71st Street
Indy 46220

Movable Feast on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 14, 2014

Road Trip- Fireside Inn, Enochsburg

Hubby has a very good friend who lives in Cincinnati, but we never seem to be able to make our schedules work to hang out very often because we are all so busy. We decided we would just pick a random place in the middle and go on a weeknight instead. Exactly (literally, the restaurant was exactly 1 hour and 7 minutes away from each of us) in the middle was the Fireside Inn. They specialize in fried chicken. So yeah, no brainer.

It is really a teeny tiny town (Enochsburg) with pretty much just this restaurant. And it’s really a little bar with a family side, which looks like it was built in the 1960s and hasn’t changed much since. Completely casual. You have to laugh when you look at the menu—pretty much every single thing is fried.

We started with an order of the fried pickles (I didn’t take note of the price, but I think they were under $2). They were probably the best fried pickles I have ever had and were probably the highlight of the meal for me. They were super-pickley. Not thick, cucumber-type fresh pickles, but the thin, really salty types you find on burgers. They were battered in a super crisp batter and were just delicious. They were served with a creamy horseradish sauce. I couldn’t stop eating them.

We also had an order of chicken livers ($3.25) because I love them and they are only available on Thursdays, which was the day we were there. Unfortunately, these weren’t very good because they were really over-fried and burnt. That slightly gamey, soft chicken liver flavor was completely cooked away. I am not sure if they were just badly done on this particular day, or this is the way they do them, but I would take a pass. And get some more pickles.
Fried Chicken w/ Chicken livers behind

Hubby and I split a whole fried chicken because our server told us it was the most economical way to do it (it was $12.95 for an entire chicken). You could really tell they were taking a whole chicken and cutting it up—it was hard to decipher some of the pieces right away because they cut them different from typical pieces of fried chicken. They cut the breast pieces into smaller bits—maybe to be able to cook them uniformly. The chicken was good. It was the kind that was probably just lightly seasoned and then fried without little if any batter or breading. Just the chicken skin. A little salt and pepper and it was a tasty meal. Not the best fried chicken I have ever had, but certainly not the worst. And hubby and I managed to eat that whole chicken. Sides are separate –and they only have mashed potatoes on certain nights and only until they run out. (I really would like to try them because it sounds like they are very popular and run out quickly). I had a baked potato just because I couldn’t imagine getting another fried thing.

If you ever find yourself in that area and want a cheap, independent place to grab dinner (a fried dinner that is), this is a good place to stop. Just pay attention to the directions—one route we took had us going down a gravel road for a mile or so before we found the place. The restaurant is run by a family, and the people working there clearly care about the place. I would say it could use some updating in the décor, but if they did, it would take away part of the divey charm.  I hope they don’t change a thing (well, except maybe the chicken livers).

Side note, anyone got any good places to recommend in the Batesville area for our next rendezvous?

Fireside Inn
2174 County Line Road
Greensburg, IN 47240

Fireside Inn on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Tegry Bisto

I know there is really good sushi, and sushi that is just okay, but this was my first experience with bad sushi. Hubby and I were going to a party near Brownsburg and thought trying a new sushi place was a good idea so we didn’t eat too much for dinner so we could partake in the hors d'oeuvres that would be served at the party as well.

I was happy to find an independent restaurant on this side of town, amongst what looks like a lot of chains. I was impressed with how crowded the restaurant was as well; especially considering it was pretty early still. I was a little nervous about service after reading some things online, but our server was prompt and brought us drinks right away. I ordered a bowl of miso soup ($2.50) and she brought it quickly. The broth was one of the better ones I have had, a little more depth to it, not just a clear broth. The stuff in it was weak though. Very few very teeny cubes of tofu and just a couple of pieces of seaweed and scallions.

We had already ordered our sushi at the same time and this was the part where I started to realize what people were talking about with service. It wasn’t our actual server; it was the length of time it took to get our sushi. And then after looking around, I realized most people had not gotten their food yet either and they were here before us. So we settled in for a wait.  It was probably a good 45-55 minutes before we got the sushi.

I guess the best of what we ordered was probably the caterpillar roll ($8.75) but probably because it actually had the least amount of fish in it. It was a roll that had eel on the outside and was topped with thinly sliced avocado and eel sauce. It was fairly simple and not bad. Not great, but not bad.

So yeah, the other rolls just weren’t very good. I wouldn’t say the fish wasn’t fresh, but it wasn’t the level of quality I have had nearly everywhere else. One roll, the crunch rainbow ($12.99) was particularly bad. The varying types of fish across the top were off. There were at least two pieces of fish that I had to actually remove from my mouth because they were so chewy. The inside of that roll was shrimp tempura, spring mix and avocado. It was really chewy inside too, which was pretty off-putting as well. The shrimp had clearly been fried quite a while ago and the tempura coating on it was soggy. I have seen sushi places use panko-crusted shrimp that were pre-fried, but if you are using tempura, they need to be fresh. And crisp on the edges.

The last roll we had was the cherry blossom roll ($11.99), which was spicy tuna, cilantro and jalapeno inside and tuna on the outside with 3 sauces. Again, the tuna on top wasn’t very good and the herbs and jalapeno, which should have given it crispness, did not. 

Hubby also had a couple of pieces of salmon nigiri ($4.99). This really tells you about the fish quality because, in general, sushi places seem to save the best cuts for this type of presentation since it is really just the fish. These pieces of salmon were practically flavorless and were not as tender as nigiri should be.

Part of the problem was every part of the experience was off somehow, not just the fish. The nori inside the roll was too chewy, the rice was crumbly and the rolls were just put together very sloppily. And it sort of seemed like one of them may have been sitting awhile before they brought it to us (which is crazy considering how long it took). Even the soy sauce tasted funny. Almost too salty or something. It tasted cheap. And I am pretty sure they store the wine in the same fridge with the fish. At least it tastes like it.

Needless to say, this is a place that we will not be repeating and to be quite frank, between the quality of the food, and the length of time it takes to get it, I am quite surprised the place is so busy.

Tegry Bistro
1521 North Green Street
Indianapolis, IN 46112

Tegry Bistro on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 7, 2014


I finally got over to Thunderbird with a bunch of girlfriends the other day—all of us are into food and none of us had been, so we were looking forward to trying the hot new place. I also went back more recently with hubby and some other friends for a second try.
"Slapped Actress"

The first thing I noticed on that first visit was the interior is quite comfortable—a lot of wood, but I liked that it wasn’t overwhelmingly filled with seats and tables so you could still carry on a conversation all the way throughout the night, even when it got quite crowded, and even when they turned the music up at the end. Our server was exceptionally friendly and helpful, going out of her way to help one of our party who had dietary restrictions. I also appreciated that there were no long delay to get our drinks, which seems to be a problem with fancy cocktails these days. And although it is the new hip place, I appreciated that it didn’t feel snooty or too hipster-ish. Even for someone my age. Again, on the second visit, the server was a bit more down to business, but extremely efficient. We never waited for drinks or foods and she checked on us often.

Pimento Cheese Grilled Cheese
(thanks Suzanne!)
Clearly, a lot of thought and creativity has been put into the cocktail list, which is much bigger than the wine and food list, but it is meant to be a bar, so it is only fitting. I started with a “Slapped Actress” which was a tangy blend of vodka, apple brandy, lemon, lime and sugar ($9). I really enjoyed it and because it was so tart (which I like), it made me sip it a bit slower than I might have otherwise. On my second visit, I tried the classic daiquiri ($9)(not your frozen 70s type). It was similarly limey and quite tasty as well. On both occasions, I then switched to a glass of wine from the very small, but decent list.

Fried chicken hoecake
We all ordered a bunch of food and luckily, I was with people both visits who are amenable to sharing. The things I enjoyed the most were the pimento cheese grilled cheese ($10), the biscuit with duck neck gravy and a sunny side up egg ($10), and the fried chicken and hoecake sandwich ($10). I like that they are smaller portions so you can try several things—also, they are all fairly rich flavors and any more of any of them would probably be too much.

As they were, they were creative riffs on comfort food (sensing a “comfort” theme throughout). I really enjoyed the pimento cheese grilled cheese because it was very well balanced.  On our second visit, we all liked it so much, we ordered a second one. I like pimento cheese in small doses, but I find often the flavor of the cheese overwhelms everything else in a dish. This one had a layer of pickles and slightly underripe tomatoes with the cheese, which brightened it up. I am not sure if the intention was to use slightly green tomatoes, but these tomatoes along with the pickles were just right on the sandwich, adding a bit of bitterness with the rich cheese. The bread was perfectly grilled as well—giving the exact right buttery crunch when you ate it. Again, I am not one to order pimento cheese often, but I would (and will) get this sandwich again—probably on every visit.

Shrimp & Grits
The piece of fried chicken on the hoecake sandwich was a thigh and was decently seasoned (I could have stood just a bit more spice on the actual chicken). It was topped with melted cheese and served between two thin, light slightly sweet, slightly savory pancakes (hoecakes).  I appreciated the pickled red onions that were served alongside, giving the sandwich a punch of acid when you put them on top as well (and you should). I had part of one on each visit and enjoyed it both times.

The biscuits and gravy were similar—a tender biscuit under a generous portion of the gravy, which had good flavor, although I didn’t get a lot of meat in mine. The egg was perfectly cooked—runny yolk, solid white. (There are a lot of fried eggs topping things here and they seem to have cooking them just right down). A touch more spice might have been nice (at least a bit more salt and pepper), but the dish was tasty.

hush puppies
Slightly less successful for me was the shrimp and grits ($10) which I had some of on both visits. There was nothing inherently wrong with it—the shrimp were actually cooked right (butter poached) and the grits had nice texture. It just seemed a little plain to me. Not bad, but just didn’t wow me. I would have said the same about the croquettes ($8) after my first visit, but on my second visit they were much better--the second time they were more tender and ham-flavored (they list ham hocks as an ingredient). The first time, we didn’t really get a lot of ham in them. I appreciated the kick from the red pepper aioli.  It was also a good portion and easy to share (more of a snack to share though than something you would want to eat on your own as a main dish). On the second visit we also had the hush puppies with gravy aioli. Ehh…I definitely preferred the croquettes. These just didn’t have as much flavor to them.

Kale salad
On my second visit we also tried the kale salad ($10), which was a nice fresh alternative to what is a lot of fried items. The dressing was creamy and had a tangy kick to it—there was a poached egg as well. Once the yolk was broken, it added even more creaminess to the mix. There were also some sweet potatoes and pickled peppers. 

Pickle plate
There were mixed reviews at our table on my first visit about the pickle plate ($4) because the pickled veggies had a distinct clove flavor, which not everyone was a fan of (I didn’t try any but the onions and I really liked the onions).  Also, the cornbread ($4) drenched in maple syrup came across more as a dessert because it was so cloyingly sweet (again, I didn’t try it, as it just looked too sweet for me to eat with the savory courses). 

Both times, we did have the beignets for dessert—they were tasty—more like little doughnut holes—lighter than traditional beignets. The espresso cream cheese sauce was quite sweet.  I thought the baby fennel was unnecessary in a dessert, even though it added color.

I like Thunderbird and I think it very successfully fills a niche in Fountain Square. The comfortable atmosphere and the well-executed bar food with Southern character makes you want to return. It’s food that is familiar but designed with flair by Chef Carlos Salazar—you can certainly see his distinctive style in the plating. It’s a place to grab a drink and some tasty tidbits. (Especially since you can get your drinks quickly!) I look forward to return visits.

1127 Shelby Street
Indy 46203

Thunderbird on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Long Thanh - Revisit

Hubby and I had a quick lunch the other day at Long Thanh. We needed it to be close to home and we wanted something not horribly filling because we had a big dinner ahead of us. 

We went in with the intention to order the Vietnamese pancake ($6.95) and the rare lemon beef ($7.95), which we did, but then as I scanned the menu, I noticed something called “butter wings” ($3.50).  Described as chicken wings fried in butter and garlic, how could I say no? (My prices might be slightly off, as my carry out menu is pretty old).

The pancake was good—as you might know, these are one of my favorite things in Vietnamese restaurants. This one falls squarely in the good category. I like that all the stuff inside the crepe (shrimp, pork, bean sprouts and onions) are all warm and have been lightly sautéed (even the sprouts). I like sprouts, bit in a warm dish, I like it when they have just a little of the raw edge off of them. I also liked that they gave you not only fresh lettuce to wrap with the pancake, but fresh cilantro as well, which I used all over my half. I like the fresh green flavor. It is a good crepe, just slightly crisp on the edges but hearty enough for al the fillings, which are generous at Long Thanh. I like the seasoned fish sauce-this one having just a bit more chili flavor than most.

I love the rare beef salad. I recently listed this in my favorite things post, and it still stands. It is really tangy with lemon (and lime I am guessing) and even with the freshly fried rice chips, you feel like it is pretty healthy. There is shredded lettuce and julienned carrots and onions, which are all marinated well in the citrus and some chopped peanuts on top for a bit of crunch and salt. There is basil and cilantro mixed in as well. And little pieces of the very thinly sliced rare beef—the beef is very tender. I love making a bite with all the parts of the dish and putting them on the rice crackers and listen to them pop from the juices. 
The chicken wings were new to us though, and even though they were killing the moderately “healthy” aspect of our planned lunch, they were quite delicious. It was two whole wings split into pieces so you got two drumstick looking part and two of the flatter parts of the wing.  Then they tempura batter and fry them and they are seriously delicious. On their own they’re good, but in the spicy soy based dipping sauce they are even better. I can’t really think they are cooked in butter, but they do taste buttery. Seriously, you should give them a go if you like fried chicken. And dang, are they big wings….the kind that makes you scared to see the chicken they might come from.

We’re pretty lucky to have this little place in our neighborhood. There is some very good Vietnamese food in Indy, and I think more people are coming to appreciate it—and Long Thanh, while in no way fancy at all, is up there with the very good ones. What do you guys think?

Long Thanh
5707 East 71st Street
Indy  46220

Long Thanh on Urbanspoon