Monday, October 26, 2015

Road Trip: Gralehaus--Louisville, KY

When hubby and I visited Louisville recently for our anniversary, we wanted to try something new for breakfast/brunch and my lovely hairdresser Katie, who splits her time between Indy and Louisville, recommended Gralehaus wholeheartedly. After her Buvette recommendation in NYC, I trusted her completely. My friend @wibia reviewed this place for me last summer too when my wrist was broken--you can see that post here.

I was not disappointed either—this is a restaurant set in an old house—it’s actually a little difficult to spot at first—we were kind of looking for a regular storefront. You order at the register and they bring the food to you. The menu is creative, hipster-ish takes on traditional breakfast and brunch items. I had a hard time deciding.

Because I am a sucker for a crepe with an egg in it, and they had one, and thin crepes like this are not super common, that’s what I went with—the Country Ham and Egg Crepe ($9). It’s a very thin flour crepe (sadly not buckwheat, but you can’t have everything) and inside there was melty Gruyere cheese, country ham, a sunnyside up egg and some greens. Everything about it was done just perfectly. The crepe was light with just the right amount of crispy edges to the crepe—a runny yolk on the egg but not underdone whites, and the ham was thin and salty and delicious. But it wasn’t overpowering either.-I hate it when ham or pork is so chewy you can’t easily cut a bite. I wanted something that wasn’t ridiculously decadent and filling, and this was perfect.

Of course we also shared a side of the aged cheddar grits as well ($3) and these certainly were enough to fill you up. They were very good—creamy consistency with enough of the salty, melty cheese that you could really taste it. They were seasoned well so you didn’t wish for salt and pepper. I mean look at that picture—doesn’t that just make you want some?

Hubby had the crispy pork hash ($10), which was not at all what you would expect. It was large whole potatoes, and some turnips that were roasted and smashed. Inherently not a bad thing, but not exactly what you think of when you imagine hash. Or at least not what we thought of. The pork bits were tasty, but not as plentiful as the starchy elements, which was a little disappointing. The sunny egg again was perfectly done. The turnip green salsa verde tasted very green—super fresh and interesting. The broccoli was unexpected. It was an interesting and unique dish, but I don’t think it would be a repeat order for us. The crepe and the grits on the other hand, I could eat for days. 

I definitely want to go back and try the biscuits too-either in the form of biscuits and duck gravy or in one of their breakfast biscuit sandwiches. Both sound delicious.

It’s a small place though, not very many tables at all. And because they make their very good coffee a cup at a time, and you have to order at the counter, which often has a big line, if you think you might want more than one cup, I’d order them at the beginning. The freshly squeezed OJ was super delicious as well. I’d say it’s a place that we will certainly return.

1001 Baxter Ave
Louisville, KY 40204

Monday, October 19, 2015

Sushi Boss

I had heard about this place a while ago when it first opened and was intrigued by the concept. It’s kind of like the Subway, or the taqueria, of sushi places. You get in line and walk down in front of the ingredients and design your own roll (or chose from one of their creations). I am trying to watch what I eat right now, so this seemed like a good option to control how much of the gooey stuff went into my lunch. 

On the downside, sometimes you just don’t want to see what’s in the bologna if you know what I mean. The spicy tuna and spicy salmon were kind of freaking me out—they looked kind of like red slurry. It was that really mushy type.

But I was brave and ordered half of my roll with the spicy tuna (I was going to get the spicy salmon, but the tuna looked incrementally better) and half with just regular fresh tuna. I like that they have this option too—you can get half and half in one roll. And because they make pretty darn big rolls, one is more than enough, and you can get two different flavors.

I also had them add avocado and green onion into mine. There are other fruit/veg options here, but I am not a big fan of fruit in my sushi.  I had them drizzle the whole thing lightly with the “Boss” sauce, which is basically spicy mayo and since I was being good and got nothing fried inside, I figured a few tempura bits sprinkled on top, along with masago (those teeny fish eggs) would help give me the crunch and texture variation I crave without adding as many bad calories. It worked pretty well and the roll over all was a decent lunch. And if you don’t ask for light sauce, they give you A LOT (check out my friend’s roll).

I can see when you’re on campus (it’s over by IUPUI) as I am a couple days a week these days, running in there for lunch on occasion.  I appreciate that you can customize them to try and keep them a little healthier. My friend’s meat filled roll (“that one roll”) (filled with marinated short rib, asparagus and green onion and topped with spicy crab and lots of various sauces) did not look appealing to me though. So much so that I didn’t even try it.

I also got the add a soup and drink deal for $2.99 more and chose the clear soup with onions and mushrooms. I wasn’t a huge fan of this soup and didn’t really eat much more than a couple of bites. First of all, it wasn’t very warm and the mushrooms tasted a little rubbery. I would try the miso next time instead. I feel like you can’t screw that up too much.

It’s not amazing sushi, but like I said, it’s fast and hits the spot if you want sushi in the amount of time fast food would take. 

Who else has been?

Sushi Boss
805 W. 10th Street
Indy   46202

Monday, October 12, 2015

Road Trip - 610 Magnolia, Louisville, KY (Revisit)

It had been a few years since hubby and I had eaten at 610 Magnolia in Louisville, so when it got close to our anniversary and we hadn’t planned anything, hubby mentioned that he would really like to go back. The last meal we had there was one of the best we’d had in the Midwest, so we were excited to try it again. Chef Ed Lee’s cookbook, Smoke and Pickles is a great one, although somewhat complicated to actually cook from.

The way the menu is set up, you can get either a 4 course for $75 per person or a 6 course for $95 per person. The 6 course is the same as the 4, but just adds a couple of extra courses. I was really intrigued by the specifics of two extra courses, but we knew from our last experience that the 4 course was more than enough for us, so that’s what we went for.

They first bring you a little amuse—it has been the same both times we have been, and I think its their classic—it’s a little “BLT”  but with roasted tomato and bacon mixed in with the the “L,” which stands for liver—as in foie gras. It’s on buttery, toasty bread and is just a little bite (or two) of perfection. We joked about how hard it would be to work in that kitchen and not want to just snack on these all day long.

For our second course, we both had the charcuterie salad with shaved Brussels sprouts and endive mixed with pork threads and shaved foe gras, black radish bottarga, and Concord grape. It was topped with charred orange vinaigrette. I liked this salad a fair amount, particularly when you got a bite with the rich and creamy foie gras, but I can’t say I was over the moon about it. It was a good and interesting salad, but didn’t have any one thing that made it really stand out for me. Normally hubby and I get two different items for each course to try as much as possible—this was the only one we doubled up on as the other option was gazpacho, of which neither of us are big fans.

The next course though, we were back to trying two things and got one of each of the options offered here. Both were outstanding. Looking back, this was probably our favorite course of the night. The first was a seared scallop with uni, broken Carolina rice, pickled seaweed, grapefruit, pumpkin seeds and miso cured egg yolk. I loved this dish not only for it’s intense flavors—richness from the uni and the egg, acid from the seaweed and grapefruit and the perfectly cooked scallop—but also because it was a flavor combination that was very unique. The ingredients were all familiar, but put together in a way that made it seem like something you’ve never had before. The pepitas for instance mixed into the seaweed—a nice little crunch in the salad. The seaweed reminded you of a sushi taste, but the blast from the grapefruit changed that too. Really well done, even for a girl who sometimes feels like she has been overfed with scallops.

The other fish dish in this course was the “fish fry,” which was just as delicious, but totally different. There were four or five pieces of perfectly tempura-fried white fish mixed with super thin sliced and fried vegetable chips. Nothing was greasy at all, and all had the perfect crunch factor. The whole thing was drizzled with remoulade and chili-citrus hot sauce, giving it all the right amount of creamy/spicy/acid. It was perfect sharing both of these because I don’t think I necessarily would have wanted the whole fish fry to myself, but with the completely different seafood dish, it was just right.

The next course was the heavier protein course, and there were three choices here. We went with the pork dish and the beef dish. Of the two, the beef was the better one. It was called “steak and eggs” on the menu and consisted of a nice hunk of steak that was cooked nicely medium rare with vegetable hash on the side—it had nice crispy buttery tasting potatoes with squash and mushrooms mixed in on top of a Chimichurri sauce. And there was a perfectly poached egg sitting atop the potatoes. The steak itself sat on top of a Bordelaise sauce. I loved the hash—not sure what they were cooking it all in, but it tasted decadent. Maybe something like duck fat was involved? The steak was also good, but after cracking that egg into the potatoes, I was in love with that side of the plate.

The pork dish was not as exciting and the pork loin part of it was a touch on the dry side. The pork belly part was nice. It had that silky fatty taste without feeling gelatinous, the way pork belly sometimes can. It was served with sweet corn grits, Concord grape mostarda, grilled figs and candied beets. Something about this dish just didn’t let it get past the individual parts of it for me to turn it into a cohesive dish—although the grits and pork belly together were delightful.

For dessert we chose the cheese plate and the cornmeal cake. The cheese plate was the other highlight of the meal. It was simple as far as the amount of cheeses—but all the accompaniments made it into something really special. Just the super thin toasted slices of walnut raisin bread alone were great with it. I love it when a restaurant takes the time to make the bread with a cheese plate special. I also love it when it’s cut really thin so you can really appreciate the cheese flavor without being overwhelmed with bread that’s too, well, bready. There was also fresh fruit—pomegranate, apples and figs, but also a lovely jam. We ended up needing some extra bread to eat it all, which they happily brought us. Superb.

The cornmeal cake was unique, and good, but just didn’t stand up to the strength of the cheese plate. It was small course though—which I appreciated because by the end, you’re feeling pretty full. The cake was small pieces that were very tender—they were accompanied by peaches, berry pudding, corn and buttermilk ice cream. Loved the rich, but with just a hint of sour, flavor of the ice cream. 

We also enjoyed the wine pairing, which they do a really nice job with as far as what they choose. Our only complaint is that depending on your server, your pour size may vary. Our server was very light on the pours—so small that it was hard to make it last through to the course (because they poured it as soon as you finished the course before). We finally just asked for an extra glass of one of the pours to share so that we could have enough to sip on while we waited for our next course. They didn’t end up charging us for it, so I guess it worked out. Speaking of service though, one of the things that we loved about this place the first time was how friendly our server was. He was just chatty enough and always smiling. This time our server seemed like maybe he was having a bad day or something. A  little gruff and a little rushed at times, even though the restaurant wasn’t super full when we first arrived. We didn’t see Chef Lee milling around this time either, but since our last visit, he’s had lots of good press and is busy opening other new restaurants so he probably wasn’t there.

All in all, it’s still a great restaurant, with a great homey atmosphere and we still look forward to returning, even if this visit wasn’t quite as spectacular as our first. Maybe we just set our expectations too high. One of these days I want to get over to Milkwood (Chef Lee’s other restaurant in Louisville) and try it as well. It sounds delicious.

610 Magnolia
610 Magnolia 
Lousiville, KY 40208

Monday, October 5, 2015

Adobo Grill -Revisit

Hubby and I are such good parents, that we took our kids to see Taylor Swift recently when she was here in Indy. We both love music and wanted the kids to have concert experiences with bands they like, so Taylor Swift it was. Stupidly, we thought, “oh we’ll just run into Scotty’s and grab something to eat beforehand.” Like the other 10,000 parents of tweens apparently. So we ran across the street to Adobo and grabbed one of their last tables. Also with a roomful of parents and kids. There was a lot of glitter people. Everywhere.

However, I saw this as a golden opportunity to update my posts on Adobo. I just looked. I haven’t written about this place since 2009. Wowza. 6 years. Also, I just looked and I said I might never go back in that post, so I guess they have Taylor Swift to thank for getting me back there.

We started with the tableside guacamole ($8.99), because my entire family loves guacamole. My daughter strangely claims to not like avocado, but loves guacamole. Makes perfect sense right? Well, she’s 12, so yeah. Anyhow, they bring over the guacamole cart and mix it to order in front of you—if you like it spicier, they add more jalapeno, etc. Their guacamole is excellent. And I am choosy about it. They use all the same things I do and enough fresh lime to give it an excellent fresh kick. The guacamole alone may be enough to get me back in there for drinks and chips. Speaking of, their chips are pretty good too. Nothing super amazing but not the crappy thick chips that taste like they just came out of a cheap bag.

I ordered the tuna ceviche ($11.99). This was a mistake. I keep being hopeful of getting really yummy ceviche here and other places, and I keep on being disappointed. These were little dices of ahi tuna that I think were nice quality, but honestly they were cut so small they were a bit overwhelmed by the other stuff in there—there were peppers mixed in with the tuna and there was a nice amount of diced avocado on the bottom. And pickled onions on top. At first glance, you’d think it would be my perfect dish—lots of things I love all stacked up on top of each other. But there was also this sauce on it, they called it chipotle ginger sauce—but it was super sweet. I love ginger and am also a fan of chipotle, by thus must have been a simple syrup made of these things or something. Even with some squeezes of lime wedges I asked for, it couldn’t shake the almost syrupy sweetness.

My daughter ordered an appetizer, the Tlayuda ($10.99), which is basically a fancy Mexican pizza. And it was delicious. It was a crisp whole-wheat tortilla topped with black beans, chicken, red onion, cheese, sour cream and pico de gallo.(It is also normally supposed to come with spinach and avocado but she asked for it without.) Regardless, it was really good as it was—the chicken and black beans both nicely seasoned and it was topped with just the right amount of gooeyness. I would have enjoyed the spinach and avocado, but we just added a little guac. It stuck with me enough that I made a version of it at home for dinner the next week. Not overly difficult, but really good. It was big enough too that we all pretty much ended up eating off of it. Honestly some guac and this would be the meal I would want at Adobo.

Hubby had one of their casseroles, or “las cazuelas.” He chose the Cazuela de carnitas ($9.99). It’s an earthenware casserole dish filled with carnitas (pork shoulder here), black beans, salsa and cheese. The flavor was good, but the dish was sort of on the runny side, making it difficult to roll into the warm tortillas they served with it. Instead, hubby went with chips. It came across as more of a dip rather than a casserole based on its consistency. Not a bad taste, but nothing earth shattering here. I think hubby preferred the tlayuda as well. Actually all of us enjoyed that the most.

My son, who was a little cranky and not in the mood for Mexican that night, ordered chicken fingers off the kid’s menu. Normally I would barely mention this, but they were actually quite good for kid’s fried chicken strips—they appeared that they actually might be making them in house. Not the usual exact same ones you can get anywhere from Steak n Shake to Ruth’s Chris.

All in all it worked out and we had a good meal and I got a new post to write. And I found a couple of things I enjoyed. And I learned to stop ordering their ceviche. Taylor Swift put on a good show and the kids were thrilled.

Ceviche though…where to get it Indy?

Adobo Grill
110 East Washington Street