Thursday, April 30, 2015

Ichiban- Revisit

You gotta love the somewhat divey exterior of this old house out on Bash Road near the Castleton post office. Once you get inside, it’s actually a little nicer than a dive—they’ve updated their chairs with decent looking wooden ones in the last couple of years and have attempted to “remodel” the place to a certain extent. Hubby and I chuckled over the quality of some of the work though—for instance the women’s bathroom door doesn’t really shut and definitely doesn’t lock and all the trim in the place is crazily installed.

Regardless of all that, it’s a cool place. The servers are very friendly, if not a tad overworked on this particular day. Apparently people know about this place, and people like this place, because it was pretty well full. We got one of the last tables and after waiting a few minutes (I think a second server came in during this time) we placed our order and after that point, service was very efficient. We decided to venture out from our usual order of sushi and yaki ramen with pork and order some new things.

We started with an order of shrimp shumai. It was a fairly generous portion and tasted pretty good. Pretty straight forward—lots of minced shrimp in there. I really liked the dipping sauce—a soy/vinegar combo with scallions. My only gripe was that a couple of them were kind of cold in the middle still—I am still going to hope they are making them in house and then refrigerating them and steaming as needed. I just wished they had cooked them a bit longer.

We also tried the oyakodon donburi bowl, which is rice, a fried chicken cutlet, lots of veggies mixed in and, according to the menu, a poached egg. Actually the egg is basically cooked on top of the chicken cutlet, giving it sort of another layer of coating. (Apparently oyakodon means “parent and child” referring to the chicken and the egg together.) They cook the two together and then add a sauce—which is a light sauce. I’m guessing mirin and soy and maybe dashi. There were also some lightly pickled veg in there giving it a nice acidic touch. After adding a touch more soy, I really enjoyed the dish overall. It sort of ends up tasting like a really good fried rice once everything is mixed together. There were a couple of gristly bits of the chicken though. I would recommend the same dish with the pork cutlet, which is an option as well.

Speaking of pork cutlet, we did stick with one classic (you know, just to make sure we had something we knew we’d like) and got the yaki ramen with pork. This is a really yummy dish of ramen noodles, but stir-fried, rather then in a broth (they do those too). There are lots of slivered veggies mixed in—zucchini, onions, scallions, and carrots and the noodles are tossed in a light, tasty sauce. The pork cutlet is thin and fried, yet still tender and not tough, and gives the noodles a little something to stand up to. We both love this dish.

They have a pretty wide-ranging Japanese menu from sushi to various noodle dishes and Bento boxes. The prices are reasonable—I didn’t keep track specifically but an appetizer and both dishes plus tea and miso soup was just under $20. Check it out and let me know what you think. Or if you have other favorite items, let me know that too.

Ichiban Noodles
8355 Bash Street
Indy 46250
(No website, boo!)

Ichiban Noodles on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 27, 2015


It’s true; I had never been to Culver’s until now. My friend @wibia would always mention it to me, and then a couple of you guys mentioned patty melts/sourdough melts there, so when @wibia mentioned it for a lunch, I was sold. Lately I totally have this thing for patty melt-type sandwiches that aren’t on rye (not my favorite). Lucky for me, Culvers offers a “sourdough melt” (single is $3.29, double is $4.69). Somehow, although I wanted a single, I ended up with a double. I also got the “value basket” with it, which includes a drink and a side (+$2.80 for regular side, +$3.80 for a premium side).

The sourdough melt comes with grilled red onions and cheddar cheese. It’s a solid sandwich. Nothing mind blowing, and it was a little meat heavy with the two patties for me, but a decently juicy burger with nicely grilled onions. Honestly, it needed a little ketchup or something just to add another dimension to it, so I added some. I really liked the super crisp grilled bread for sure though--that's what's got me so addicted to melts right now I think. A couple of bites of wibia’s "Culver's Deluxe"($4.09 for a double) was probably a bit better. Mainly because they but lots of stuff on it (lettuce, mayo, pickles, onions, cheese and tomato) (I would leave off the tomato, too thick and under ripe). Again, they’re the thin burgers with the crispy edges that I like, but I guess I was sort of hoping for something to make them stand out a little more—maybe some special sauce or something? Anyhow, I would gladly eat it again, but there are certainly other burgers I would go to first. Also, when they use the term “butter burger” I sort of thought it meant cooked in butter, but actually I think it means they butter the bun (not as exciting in my mind).

For sides, I had a premium side, the fried Wisconsin cheese curds. I appreciate the uniqueness of having such a side in what is essentially a fancy fast food place, although they were just okay. Honestly, they tasted like mini mozzarella sticks. Overall, you can’t go wrong with fried cheese, but again, nothing mind blowing. Wibia had fries, which were crinkle cut, and well, that’s all you really need to know about that as far as I am concerned. I don’t think I have ever had a crinkle cut fry that was really any different from any other crinkle cut fry in my life. Overall, they just don’t do it for me.

I do find the place to be different from how I imagined it. It is more like a “fast casual” type place—an interior more like an Applebees or Chili’s—a little nice than fast food, but you still order at the front, although they bring the food out to you. They also have a very large menu—there’s fried chicken, pot roast, fried fish, fried shrimp and shaved prime rib sandwiches, for example. I am curious to know how the rest of the food is, as I always thought this was just a burger and custard place. It was also packed. And freezing inside (nothing like cranking the a/c when it’s 55 degrees outside).

So there you go. What are your favorite Culver’s items? 

7105 East 96th Street (there are multiple locations)
Indianapolis, IN 46250
Culver's on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Plow and Anchor - Revisit

Even though I have written about Plow and Anchor a couple of times, I feel like this is almost a new post because they have a new chef in the kitchen—Toby Moreno. He took over this winter after John Adams left. Apparently he came from Restaurant Tallent in Bloomington.

I was excited to see all the cold meat and seafood dishes listed as appetizers on the menu—there was a tuna crudo, beef tartare, and rock shrimp ceviche on the night we were there. These kinds of offerings just get me excited.  I was also happy to see a few changes that have been made to the restaurant and the menu. They have taken out those too low, and too hard to get in and out of, church pews that looked cool but just were not user friendly. They have replaced them with regular chairs.  They have also added fries to go with their burger, which was something I have heard a lot of complaints about from people.

If I wasn’t going to get the beef tartare ($13), I would have tried the burger, but that seemed like a bit of overkill. The beef tartare though? It was awesome. Really super delicious. One of those things that when I think of it, I want to eat it again right now. It had a lot of the classic tartare ingredients—the raw beef, capers, mustard and a quail egg on top, which were all great and all things I love in tartare, but they also included some other more unique ingredients that pushed it over the top in deliciousness. There were little dices of Ol’ Kentucky Tomme cheese, bits of bread and butter pickles and bacon all mixed in there. I’m telling you, it was a great combination of flavors and textures. The cheese sort of stands in for the egg that is often included, but gave it some softness and creaminess and the bacon lent some smokiness and a little chewiness that was nice. Plus all the kick and salt from the capers and mustard and it was just great. They’re still doing the little fried fingerling potato chips, which are very tasty and very crunchy, but still a little challenging to use for stacking a hearty topping such as this.

We also shared the rock shrimp ceviche ($13), which was also very delicious and very different from the tartare. The little rock shrimp were marinated in orange instead of the more traditional lime or lemon, giving it a little bit of a sweeter flavor. There were pieces of smoked jalapenos, radish and grilled knob onions mixed in with it. It was all served on top of a black sesame tostada, which gave the whole dish a slightly Asian bent. I wished for a bit more of the tostada part, because you started to run out of it before you ran out of the toppings and the crunch of it was one of the things that made it so good. I loved the smoky flavor of the peppers, taking some of the edge off of them. I also appreciate the pieces of orange to add more acid, which the dish needed. Honestly, I would have liked even a bit more, maybe a squeeze of lime. But all in all, a really great, unique and creative dish. Hubby and I went back and forth about which we liked best. In the end I think this was his fave, while the tartare was mine.

I was so enamored with the appetizer part of the menu that I went ahead and ordered another one for my main dish—the octopus ($13). This was long tentacle pieces, smoked potatoes, fava beans (yay spring!), romesco, pickled chilis and crispy onions. Again, another beautiful and complex dish. I love that this chef integrates some acid in almost everything and the pickled chilis made the dish for me. The smoky potatoes were also creative and added a nice flavor with the grilled octopus. Lots of texture going on here too, which makes me happy.

Hubby was in the mood for a steak and was intrigued by the ribeye ($38), which is one of his favorite cuts when it’s done properly. This was one of those times. The meat is well marbled but was cooked just right allowing it to remain tender.  There was also this really awesome broccoli side dish with the steak—“Brianna broccoli.”  So I actually really like broccoli, but I would never get excited about it at a restaurant. Usually I find restaurant broccoli to be barely cooked and boring. This was delicious. I’m not sure what “Brianna” means when it comes to broccoli, but it was creamy and cheesy and had some onions mixed in there. Hubby and  are still talking about the broccoli.  There were also potato hash and housemade steak sauce. It was a top-notch dish.

Things were going so well, we really felt like we needed to try a dessert too and see if the kithen could carry through such a great meal. As it turns out, it did. We had the ice cream sandwich with blood orange confit and semifreddo, Melomakarona and candied walnuts ($8). I was just sort of intrigued by the fact that I couldn’t remember having a dessert like this. The outside of the sandwich was sort of the texture of a graham cracker and I loved the sweetness of it and the candied walnuts with the tartness of the blood orange. The melmakarona is a type of Greek cookie that involves honey, a cookie and walnuts. Clearly all those flavors were present here, although I think raised a level with the addition of the citrus.

All in all, a top notch meal. The kind of dinner that makes you excited about dinner out. Everything fell into place, and the food was all excellent. I look forward to returning soon.

Plow and Anchor
43 E. 9th Street
Indy  46219

Monday, April 20, 2015

Georgia Reese's brunch (revisit)

For Easter Sunday, we were looking for a good brunch place for lunch with the family. I had been interested in trying Georgia Reese’s Sunday brunch anyway, just because it is so hard to find Sunday brunch places that take reservations, and in this case we had a large party. My first visit to Georgia Reese’s had its ups and downs for sure, but I am always one to give a place a second chance, especially if there is fried chicken involved. Plus, like I said, it’s good to have a handy list of brunch places.

I was worried that they might be a bit overwhelmed on Easter (again, my first visit wasn’t ideal when it came to waiting for our reservation), but was pleasantly surprised to find the place busy, but not slammed. The bar was only about ½ full and we were seated right at our reservation time.

It’s a buffet ($24.95), so you can pretty much start eating whenever you want. They also leave little sheets of paper on the table on which you can create an omelette that they will then make to order for you in the kitchen and is included as part of the buffet. They will bring you most (non alcoholic) drinks included with the price, including orange juice, coffee and sodas.

We started down the line—there’s the usual brunch buffet stuff—bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, and cream cheese stuffed French toast, but they also had biscuits and gravy, which was a welcome addition. The biscuits themselves were quite delicious. I ended up going back for another one just to eat with butter. They’re the lighter, less greasy kind of biscuits and held up well to the gravy. The gravy had nice chunks of sausage in it, although the gravy itself was kind of thin. It served its purpose, even if it wasn’t the best gravy ever.
getting ready to refill the buffet

They also had nice chafing dishes of fried catfish and fried chicken. And the chicken was constantly being refreshed. It was always hot and juicy on both visits when I refilled my plate with it. I also think they have upped their spice game since my first visit because this chicken had way more flavor than the first time I went. You could see the pepper and seasonings on the meat itself. Based on this visit, this is a place I would go just for the fried chicken now. The catfish is good, but I don’t think the turnover is as high, so it didn’t seem quite as fresh. It could also stand a little more seasoning still.  They also have a carving station of ham—I just had a bite—I am not fanatical about ham and it was okay. A little chewy. I think usually they have prime rib, and I would prefer that.

There was also some alligator/chicken/sausage gumbo—it was spicy and had some nice hunks of the different meats. Hard to tell the difference between the chicken and the alligator, but I appreciate there was something different from typical buffets.

As far as the breakfast meats, the bacon was really outstanding. I mean, I prefer it a little crispy, but the flavor of it was really salty and bacony. There is nothing worse than bacon that doesn’t taste like anything.
As far as cold items, there was a large platter of shrimp cocktail and there was also a little table with a green salad and fresh fruit. People at our table raved about how ripe and juicy the pineapple was.

I can’t say the omelette was really my thing, even though it was a nice idea to include. I had mushrooms and cheese in mine, but it was too stuffed with the ingredients. I like the extra ingredients in an omelette (besides the egg part) to be something to enhance the eggs, not the other way around. But there are lots of options here to make an omelette if you like a big fat one.

They also have a dessert table—there were some really wonderful soft, warm chocolate chip cookies out there. They were slightly addictive. They also did hot peach cobbler, which wasn’t bad, but the cobbler topping was more of a piecrust almost. It was pretty sweet. There were also some little brownie/cake bites that my kids put a hurting on, but which I couldn’t fit. If I had extra room, I was filling it with fried chicken, which I think was probably the single best thing.  Loved the biscuits and the bacon too.

It’s a nice option to know about for a Sunday brunch, particularly if you have a group and need a reservation. The food is decent buffet food and I am glad to see they have improved the chicken.

Georgia Reese’s
3454 West 86th Street
Indy  46268

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Guest Post - The Dancing Donut

Love having a regular donut guest writer. I have yet to make it to any of the new donut places!

Thanks Gwen!

Donut lovers rejoice!  The Dancing Donut opened its doors Friday, April 3rd at 1134 East 54th Street in SoBro.  The Dancing Donut is the brainchild of Kate Bova Drury, owner of The Flying Cupcake.  Could customers handle her creative, kitschy brand of confection before their first cup of coffee?  I was about to find out.

When I arrived at The Dancing Donut a few minutes before their 7 am open time, the line already stretched out the door and into the parking lot.  There’s no missing the cheerful, smiling donut sign atop the store.  I couldn’t help but notice what an ideal location for a donut shop.  Just steps from the Monon Trail and several popular breakfast spots, I can imagine families stopping off for a snack in the middle of a bike ride or grabbing a donut while waiting for a table brunch table on Sunday morning.  Oh, and it’s two doors down from a gym, so you won’t have far to go when it’s time to work off those donuts.

Once inside, I was charmed by the atmosphere and décor.  The walls were lined with familiar paintings that you might see in a waiting room or your Grandmother’s parlor, except with colorful donuts tucked in unexpectedly.  In addition to ample tables and chairs, there is a counter with four stools in front of a window that looks into the bakery, providing a place for curious patrons to watch all the donut making action.  Overhead, two disco balls twinkled.  

As I approached the glass bakery case, I had a difficult decision to make: which of their many flavors would I try?  With tongue-in-cheek names like the Carmelo Soprano—a chocolate filled long john covered with caramel glaze--and the Fritta ‘staire—an apple fritter, I was a bit overwhelmed by all of the choices.  My partner in crime and I settled on a Brown Butter Crumble—a yeast donut topped with brown butter frosting and a crunchy sprinking of brown sugar, the Lemony Snickett—a lemon filled yeast donut, the Jelly Rippa—a strawberry jelly covered in sweet powdered sugar, and the Kevin Bacon—a long john topped with maple icing and crisply fried bacon.  Four donuts and two large Intelligentsia brewed coffees, my total came to right at $16.  

As I bit into each of the four pastries, I was delighted by the light, fluffy texture.  The donuts were delicate enough to be delicious on their own yet still able to stand up to the bold flavors of the toppings and fillings.  The bold coffee was the perfect compliment to these morning treats.

The Dancing Donut prides itself on serving “donuts so fresh you’ll blush.”  While a visit to this SoBro bakery might not make you blush, you’ll certainly be smiling.  Whether you sashay, waltz, or shimmy, get to The Dancing Donut for a delectable breakfast treat.  

The Dancing Donut
1134 East 54th Street
Indy 46220

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Capri - revisit

I went to dinner with a friend who just loves Capri. As I am sure you know if you read my blog, I am not a huge fan of the Italian restaurants in this town. I don’t know, none of them have ever really impressed me. Honestly, some of the gourmet pizza places like Napolese and Pizzology probably offer some of the best options.

Anyway, she chose it and I was happy to go and hang with her. I went with an open mind and decided to try some new things. First of all, the rolls they serve here are really delicious. Light and soft, but with a chewy exterior—and fresh from the oven so they are steaming hot. They also give you butter AND olive oil as choices for dipping, which is much appreciated.

I do find the wine list frustrating. If you aren’t ordering a bottle, the options are limited to their house wines, which are just listed as the types of wine without any other identifying information. I feel like in a place like this (it’s a pretty nice restaurant inside), they should offer a few more by the glass options.

Anyway, I ordered the eggplant parmesan ($12) for my appetizer because I am pretty sure one or two readers have suggested it, and it sounded good. It was quite good-the best of the things I ordered for sure. There were nice layers of tender eggplant (but not so squishy that it fell apart) topped with cheese and lots of red sauce. The sauce had a nice tangy flavor with some chunks of tomato in it. I was trying hard not to eat too much of it because I still had my entrée coming, but in retrospect, I should have eaten it all. In the future, I would just get a small salad and this as my main dish and call it a day.

For my main dish, I got one of the fish specials, the yellow fin tuna ($31). It came with an Italian tomato type topping (think what you would get on a tomato bruschetta). There was basil, and a bit of vinegar and some olive oil I am guessing. Sadly, even though I asked, and was assured it was cooked rare to medium rare, the fish was overcooked, which was a shame. It also seemed a little more fatty than most tuna steaks you might be served in a restaurant—a lot of tendon-ish parts making it hard to cut and chew. I sort of wished the tuna itself was marinated in something as well, just to give it a little more flavor—it seemed like the fish on its own really wasn’t seasoned. The au gratin type potatoes on the side though? They were delicious—and addicting. They were thin sliced potatoes that tasted like they were soaked in cream and cheese and butter. Really, you just couldn’t go wrong here. Simple and comforting. Maybe a slightly unexpected side dish with the fish (pretty sure they just use the same sides with everything), but I was glad they were there.

I can’t say my mind was changed much about Capri, but I did enjoy the eggplant parm quite a bit. I you’re in the mood for that kind of classic red sauce kind of dish, this one is well done. And I like that as an appetizer it isn’t ridiculously big, but still big enough it could make a nice small main dish. And the rolls are really, really good.

The service is very professional, and I really enjoy the interior of the bar—very warm and cozy with lots of wood and a fireplace. I was surprised there were no wood fired-pizzas on the menu, since they have built their own oven in the back. Maybe they only serve them in the bar. But I would be interested to try them as well. What do you guys think? Do you eat at Capri?

2602 Ruth Drive
Indy  46240
Capri Italian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 13, 2015

Bent Rail Brewery

Normally we reserve Sunday nights for family dinner but made an exception and took the kids and met up with friends at this new brewery in Sobro (it’s on the Monon behind Good Morning Mama’s). This place is in an absolutely gigantic building with somewhat sparse, industrial décor. The menu consists of mostly sandwiches with a few appetizers, soups, and salads.  To start we ordered 2 pretzel baskets ($5), chips and guacamole ($5), and pickled eggs ($5). I’ve never had just plain pickled eggs before (I’ve had them when they’re served as a garnish) so I was interested to try them.

The pretzel was good—I mean it is a soft, ballpark whole pretzel—nicely done, warm and just the right amount of chewy. But what I really appreciated about the pretzel was the warm beer cheese to dip the pretzel into. It appeared to be homemade and it was nice to have something different than the typical neon orange nacho cheese. They also served it with grainy mustard if that’s your preference (we had one of each because we ordered two pretzels, but I would highly recommend the cheese. The mustard was fine, but didn’t stand out like the cheese, although a bit of both was nice).

The chips and guac were also good. The guac was very chunky and pretty straightforward taste-wise. Not a lot of spicy flavor, but not bad. The chips were kind of usual store bought chips, but a nice easy thing to share with a bunch of people.

The pickled eggs (with various other veg as well) were interesting. They are obviously making an effort to do something different here—and they use a lot of different kinds of pickles throughout the menu, so I guess it make sense to offer an app as well. It was a nice variation with all the other flavors, but overall I preferred the other apps. And I preferred the pickled veg to the eggs because something about the pickling application that made the eggs seem kind of dried out.

The menu here consists mainly of sandwiches, and we ended up trying a lot of them. My personal favorite was the pork belly Cuban ($12). It consisted of braised pork belly Carolina BBQ, pickles, city ham, mustard and Swiss cheese. There was also a swipe of garlic aioli.  It was pressed flat in a Panini press, making it easier to eat than some of the other sandwiches, which were pretty large. There were a lot of varying flavors and textures, which is one of my favorite things about a Cuban anyway. The pork was very tender and I love the tangy/acid hit from the pickles, aioli and even the Carolina BBQ. 

I also liked my son’s pimento cheese and city ham sandwich ($9.50). I probably would have liked it better with all the stuff on it that he had on the side (the pickles and grainy mustard). It’s a good combo for sure, even though I may have preferred the ham to be sliced a little thinner. It ended up a little chewy because it was so thickly cut.

Hubby’s pork belly banh mi ($12) was also good—but man, the jalapeno peppers on it for some reason were just scorching hot. He’s normally a person who likes spicy things, but had to pick most of them off to enjoy the sandwich, which also was stuffed with cured pork belly, Smoking Goose kitchen sink sausage, pickled daikon and carrots, cilantro and garlic aioli. It was on a soft bun. I really like the pickled, slightly sweet flavors of the daikon/carrot mixture on a banh mi, and this one was a good one.

I didn’t care for the lamb terrine sandwich ($13) as much –it had lamb terrine, lamb bacon, whipped goat cheese, rosemary tomato jam and arugula and was served on marble rye. It just had an overly sweet flavor for me between the jam and the goat cheese. Others at the table really enjoyed it though, so different strokes…
Also good, but over the top in the spicy arena was “our favorite panini” ($9.50). There was a lot going on with this one—lots of house cured meats, housemade pickles, marinated hot peppers, cambozola cheese and garlic aioli. It was also pressed flat in a Panini press. These peppers—wow. They were hot. Again, you had to pick some of it off just to be able to eat it. But if you like really spicy sandwiches, this might be perfect for you and I liked the blue cheese kick from the cambozola.

My daughter ordered the pulled pork sandwich without anything on it but pork and said it was too spicy for her so didn’t eat much of it. I didn’t get around to trying it but hubby said that when all the parts were put together (the meat with the apple cabbage slaw, pickles and mustard aioli) it would probably taste good, more balanced and not as spicy. 

I love that all their desserts are from 4 Birds bakery—I can still get my cookie fix even though H2O has closed. I was a little sad they didn’t have the original cookie (a maple oatmeal) the day I was there, but enjoyed the peanut butter/chocolate chip one ($3) that I shared with our friends. The kids absolutely loved the brownies ($3) and want to go back just for them. It would be a little more of a full dessert-type experience though if they heated the cookies and maybe served them with some ice cream or something. As it is, you just get the cookie and that’s it. But I do appreciate that they have them, because I really love them.

All in all, it’s a good place to get a sandwich that will pair well with beer (they will be brewing their own soon, but for now offer a sampling of different local beers). They do also serve a few types of wine, just FYI (and which I appreciate). Although they tout themselves as family friendly (and they were extremely tolerant of the children on the whole), I wouldn’t say it is a place that has a really kid-friendly menu, especially if you have a picky eater (one of the kids with us was). They have PB&J, almond butter and jelly, and a grilled cheese to offer kids. (They do have shuffle board and an old-school Pac Man machine, both of which the kids loved.) The other sandwiches have a lot of strong flavors going on. They certainly do appeal to me though and I appreciate the creativity of them. Don’t go here looking for anything light though---the sandwiches are pretty meat heavy.

Bent Rail Brewery
5301 Winthrop Ave
Indy  46220

Bent Rail Brewery on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Barking Dog Cafe- Revisit


I am often asked about what “my favorite” restaurants are—for lunch, for dinner, for fish, for sushi, whatever. Barking Dog is a place that my family eats very regularly. When schedules allow (which is less often than I’d like), we’re here nearly every Saturday for lunch.

We all have our favorite dishes, but they also always have specials. Hubby often orders the specials and I get my usual and we share. My regular is the “Jeff’s single cheeseburger.” It’s a super thin burger with crispy edges that hang outside the bun and is topped with (wait, actually, it's underneath the patty) shredded lettuce, super thin onions, special sauce, pickles, ketchup and mustard. I have written about this burger before and it is my favorite thin burger in Indy. In the past, people have told me they didn’t like the bun because it was too flimsy—now they are serving their burgers on Amelia’s brioche buns, so that is no longer a problem. The bun is definitely denser and holds up well to all the toppings. I love this burger. My daughter also gets the burger every time (although with less of the toppings, which are partly what makes this burger, so I don’t recommend it. All the flavors together are just right.)

We also tend to get a side of fries—they are nice and crisp and I always get the side of the olive aioli with them. I love the little chunks of olives in there. It’s just the perfect salty/slightly tangy dip for fries.

The clam chowder is also really good and if we’re splurging, hubby and I will sometimes split a cup as well. I think it is probably the best New England classic clam chowder in Indy. This is my son’s favorite and he often makes his whole meal out of it. It’s a thick creamy version with some nice chunks of clam and potato.

double decker tenderloin
On this visit, the special was cod fingers and chips, which hubby got. He often goes with something fried here—one of his favorites is the fried oyster roll. We have also shared the double decker tenderloin sandwich as a special and it was also delicious. Oh! And we love the buffalo chicken sandwich when they’re doing that. Anyway, the fish fingers were good—nice fresh fish with a light tempura batter. They were served with a nice spicy remoulade sauce and a portion of fries. I can’t say I preferred them over my burger though. Hubby is better about trying something new here though.

The prices are maybe a bit higher than other lunch places (sorry I don’t have them listed out, but I hardly even look at the menu anymore and they’re not online), but for us, it’s worth it. It’s a true mom and pop shop with the married couple running the place (he cooks, she works out front with a server) and it’s one of our favorites for lunch. So there you go.

Barking Dog Café 
115 East 49th Street
Indy  46203

Monday, April 6, 2015

Cropichon et Bidibule

I have a thing for buckwheat crepes. When I first heard about this place opening, I gave a whoop for joy because…well, I love buckwheat crepes. A lot of fuss has been made about the name of the place and it being hard to pronounce, or remember, but honestly, the place that made me fall in love with buckwheat crepes, in Oakland, California, had a fancy French name that I couldn’t remember right now for a million bucks, and we just simply called it, “the crepe place.” So I’m not worried. I knew if I liked it, I would just call it whatever I wanted to. The owners of the restaurant suggest “CB.” I will probably just go with “the French place on Mass Ave.”

To be fair, it’s not just crepes—they serve a decent-sized French bistro type menu. This is cuisine that Indy is sorely lacking in, so it is a nice thing to see. The place is fairly large, and has a cute, French bistro feel with white tile and bistro chairs. The wait staff seemed enthusiastic. Our server warned us that a large party’s order had been put into the kitchen just before us and that our order might take a bit longer than normal. I appreciated that.  I also appreciated the complimentary half loaf of French bread and healthy dose of butter they put on the table while we contemplated the menu. It’s been awhile since I have been offered that at a restaurant that wasn’t a steakhouse. The bread was chewy and tasty, even if it wasn’t as crisp on the edges as most French baguettes. We both enjoyed it.

Ok, so the crepe you ask? The crepe was really quite good—it totally met my buckwheat crepe craving. I had “la galette complete” ($9), which is a flat buckwheat crepe stuffed with Gruyere cheese, country ham, and an organic egg (it’s served with a very runny yolk—but they do ask to make sure you’re good with this). The crepe was thin and had just a hint of crisp edges (I love a little crispy edge on my savory crepe). The egg mixed with the cheese and ham to give a creamy, salty taste. I like these kind of thin, flat crepes better than the super fat stuffed ones you find on a lot of menus where the stuffing dominates the crepe itself by miles.

My friend Suzanne’s crepe, “la galette forestiere” ($9) was also very tasty. This was a richer taste with a creamed mushroom mix and crème fraiche. You could add house-cured bacon for $2 more. She did get the bacon—I was a little surprised it was on top of the crepe instead of inside it, but the more I thought about it, it was probably for the best because it stayed nice and crisp. If it had been mixed with all that creaminess, it would have gotten soft. The crème fraiche gave a nice slightly tangy edge to the fairly rich insides. The crepe, again, was cooked nicely with just a touch of crispy edges. The bacon was also cooked just right. I preferred mine to this one, just because, well, there’s in egg in mine (duh), but both were good. (My ideal buckwheat crepe is egg, Gruyere and sautéed mushrooms in case anyone wants to make that for me).

Sadly, once you got beyond the crepes themselves, things started to suffer a bit. The mixed greens that came alongside were in fact, a nice mix of greens, and were clearly dressed with something, but whatever the dressing was made of, it needed to include some sort of vinegar or acid. It just tasted totally flat. After one bite, I gave up on them.

We also ordered a side of the frites with roasted garlic aioli and these were very disappointing as well. They look good in the picture, and I was excited to try them, but after one or two, they were all just way too soft and soggy and not worth the calories. I feel like with some perfecting, these could have some hope. Maybe another run through the fry-o-later or something. They are housemade, but they just lack the crispness that a good fry needs. I really want them to be good though, so I hope they keep working on them. The aioli was strangely brown in color, I think mostly roasted garlic and less of the mayo part of aioli, but neither of us really cared for it. I like a little more creaminess to my aioli. You can also get ketchup.

The main dishes were good—the sides not so much. I am looking forward to going back to give this place more chances though because the menu is promising and we need a little French place downtown in the worst way. Who else has been?

Cropichon et Bidibule
735 Massachusetts Avenue
Indy  46204

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