Thursday, June 30, 2016

Milktooth - Revisit

A couple months ago I posted about Milktooth and my friend who has recently moved from Indy to Austin saw the post and requested a trip there when she was returning to Indy to visit. Of course, I was more than happy to oblige.

And guess what?? They were featuring soft shell crab on one of their dishes. And guess which one I got? This dish was so unique, and so delicious. So it was this savory French toast—which was so tender and absorbed the deliciousness that came from the sunny egg that was on top of it. The crab was then fried and laid beside it all. There was a miso turmeric broth that everything sat in. Even without the crab, which was cooked just right, I would have been happy with this dish—the bread and the egg with the sauce was great. Add that crisp crab and the pickled veggies and capers and it was perfection. A bunch of things I never would have thought to put together, but a bunch of things that should be together. Sadly, the soft shell season is fleeting, but this is a dish I would order any day. I will say, they also had skate wing on the menu on this day, another of my favorite things that you don’t see enough on menus, so I am hoping to get to try it there one day too. My point is, when you eat there, don’t be afraid to try something totally out of your comfort zone or something that might sound like a weird combo. For instance, one of the friends who was with us also ordered the soft shell crab even though she had never had it before and really enjoyed it.

My friend who requested we go there was set to get the Belgian waffle ($13), which I am sure is delicious with its salted butter and parmesan combo and she asked what I thought. I told her she could eat a Belgian waffle anywhere, so she decided to try the Dutch baby pancake with strawberry rhubarb topping and toasted almonds. She seemed to enjoy it and the bite I had was very good. I don’t tend to order sweets for any meal, but this was a more original take on a sweet breakfast item, and I love strawberry rhubarb anything. The pancake itself has a nice crisp exterior and a soft airy interior.

Ok, I told you I can’t really go to Milktooth anymore without ordering those Korean chicken wings ($12) and I wasn’t lying. So I ordered a plate for the table. Just as delicious as always. So crispy underneath that delicious sweet/hot sauce. Squeeze of lime—perfection.

This is certainly one of my favorite places to eat right now, and every time I go, I am excited by the new items on the menu. And the chicken wings.

540 Virginia Ave
Indy  46203

Monday, June 27, 2016

Fire by the Monon - Revisit

The family and I were trying to think of somewhere new or newish nearby and settled on Fire by the Monon—a place we ate at ages ago, but since I have been repeatedly told about the “Greuben” sandwich by several readers, felt needed a revisit. And we didn’t have reservations anywhere on a Saturday, so we thought we could pop in. It worked out well, although the place was nearly full when we got there (when we left, there was a wait).

My kids are soft pretzel fanatics (they could probably write a whole blog about soft pretzels around Indy) so we got the pretzels to start ($8.95). The server was kind enough to ask if we wanted an extra one since it only came with three per order and there were four of us. We did. It comes with beer cheese, as seems to be the trend these days, and is a trend that I really like. Gone is the neon yellow nacho cheese. Beer cheese is often homemade (it appears to be here based on the non-uniform texture of it) and has a more interesting flavor than nacho cheese. Guessing it comes from the beer. This one was good and very appealing to the kids, although I would have liked a bit more of the beer part. I have made beer cheese myself and I know you can get large flavor variations based on the type of beer used—maybe something a little stronger would be better (they use Sun King Cream ale). It was still tasty though—lots of gouda and white cheddar. The pretzels were fine. I can’t say they stood out for any particular reason and I can’t say I thought they were making these in house. But a perfectly acceptable dipping mechanism.

Hubby and I did split the greuben ($12.95) and it was delicious. It was a large piece of fried grouper on grilled marble rye and topped with Swiss cheese, red cabbage slaw and Russian dressing.  The bread was very nicely toasted and the inside of the sandwich was great—the fish stayed nice and crisp but had moisture from the sauce and the cheese. I don’t know that I would call it what I think of as “Russian dressing”—I had a side of it with my fries, which were good—it was more of a cross between Thousand Island and remoulade. Tasty with the fries too. We both really enjoyed the sandwich and it was more than large enough to share as a main dish for us. 
However, when we ordered, we weren’t sure it would be big enough so we also ordered the “dirty mac and cheese” ($8.95) from the appetizer menu. It is made with rotini pasta and has smoked pulled pork and white cheddar cheese. It is a very large, very sharable dish—so big that we barely made a dent in it. If you want to get it, I would recommend it as a side dish for at least four people with other things—it is extremely rich. And very smoky from the pulled pork. We really didn’t need it with the other things we have, and honestly, while there was nothing wrong with it, I don’t think I would order it again.

My daughter had the hickory salmon topped with dill butter ($16.95). It had a nice flavor and the fish was cooked decently—they gave an ample amount of the dill butter—it was served in a cold pat on top of the fish, which was a little strange I thought, but it did melt nicely as the meal progressed. She wasn’t a fan of the lumpy-type potatoes served on the side. But she ate all the fish.

My son ordered a burger from the kid’s menu, but wouldn’t do it again. Across the board we find burgers on kid’s menus to be dry and overcooked. Maybe because of their smaller size.

Overall, it’s a decent family place to go. And hubby has already decided if we go back, he just wants to share the “greuben” and split the pretzels with the kids. So to those who recommended that sandwich, we thank you! Service was fine, although getting drinks was a touch slow. Our server was very friendly though and the food was served quickly. Who out there is a regular?

Fire by the Monon
6523 Ferguson Street
Indy  46220

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Sushi Bar - Revisit

Just because I want to, I’m writing about my go-to sushi place again-- Sushi Bar. People ask me all the time where I go for sushi now that H2O is gone (we still miss them) and Sushi Bar is what I tell them. There is one caveat though, if all you want is sashimi or nigiri (not rolls), I would choose somewhere else. That is just not their expertise. The rolls are also great because they are not the as big as your head variety. I like to be able to eat a piece without struggling to fit it in my mouth.

We were with the in-laws on this visit, so we got to get all our favorites (we usually get the same two and then vary the third choice) plus one we had never had before. One of the two we always get is the 2009 roll. It has shrimp tempura on the inside and spicy tuna and avocado on the outside with tempura flakes and spicy mayo. We also always get the Christmas roll ($7.99) which is spicy tuna inside and lots of avocado sliced on the outside and then topped with pretty red tobiko. We also alternate between the Spider wig, which is soft shell crab inside with spicy mayo and eel sauce and little piece of pineapple on top that adds a nice little kick of sweetness and acid, and the fantasy roll, which had tempura scallop inside with spicy mayo, avocado and crispy crab strings on top. As far as the spider wig roll goes, I am normally not a pineapple person, but this is just right. Sometimes the fantasy roll really wows me, but this time the scallop tasted a little fishy, so I only ate one piece. But I like the slightly crunchier crunch that it has over the regular tempura.

The new roll we tried was the wasabi roll ($10.99), which we ended up really enjoying as well. It might even go into the regular rotating alternative roll. It had tempura asparagus inside (there were two pieces side by side) and was topped with salmon, spicy mayo and wasabi tobiko. It had all my favorite things about a sushi roll—the requisite crunch from the tempura and a bit from the tobiko as well as the silkiness from the salmon and moisture from the mayo. It was a nice roll and the asparagus and salmon were a nice variation from our usual choices.

In general, rolls are between $5-$14 or so, sorry I don’t have all the specifics on my particular rolls, but I feel like they are comparatively well priced for rolls. Obviously, the more ingredients, the more expensive they become. The service is very friendly, particularly when you become a regular (they worry when only three of the four of our family comes in). They know what we drink and tend to bring them quickly. They are generally busy on weekend nights (when we tend to go), but I have never had to wait very long, if at all.

Anyone else a regular here?

Sushi Bar
911 Broad Ripple Avenue
Indy  46220

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Eagle

I have been wanting to go to The Eagle for a while—in fact I even tried to go once in Cincinnati, but got shut out by a long wait. I have been waiting for the crowds to thin a bit here, and a good opportunity to take my son, who loves fried chicken, so a recent Wednesday evening after school was out was perfect. The weather was nice too and they have a nice patio area. It was full though so we ended up at an inside table instead. Most of their tables are communal tables—so prepare to sit pretty close to some strangers unless you have more than 6 in your party. 

We knew we wanted chicken and hubby and the son and I all prefer dark meat, so we ordered the 8 piece dark platter ($15) and we each picked a side. We had mac and cheese ($5), biscuits ($4) and fries ($4).  The chicken is pretty good—it has a decent flavor to the crust, which is more of a lightly breaded style of fried chicken, and the meat was pretty tender inside, but I can’t say it ranked super high on my list of favorite fried chicken. It had a greasy edge to it and the skin wasn’t as crisp as I would like it. I would happily eat it again, because it’s fried chicken, and it’s decent, but not my favorite. It’s obviously cooked in advance and served when ordered because all our food came out in probably less than 5 minutes. Which is nice I guess if you’re in a hurry, but it makes you question how fresh everything really is. They give you a side of hot honey to put on the chicken. I tried it, but I find I really don’t like anything that contributes to robbing the crispiness of the skin. It tasted pretty much like hot sauce mixed with honey, and it certainly spices up the flavor of the chicken, but personally I would rather the flavor be worked into the breading so I can get my spicy kick without losing my crispy skin.

As for the sides, the mac and cheese was the star out of what we had. It was very rich and made with actual fresh cheese, including some extra that was on top. I liked the crunchy, buttery breadcrumbs on top as well—I like a texture variation with my mac and cheese and this one delivered. This would be a side I would order again. The fries were just okay. They are clearly standard foodservice fries that are being seasoned to make them different (a lot of pepper). They weren’t very fresh tasting or hot—like they had been sitting for a couple of minutes.  I did really like the slightly spicy aioli that came along with them. If the fries had been super hot, this would have been a nice combo.
The biscuits were fine, nothing really exciting about them in my opinion. Quite honestly, I would have gone with the spoon bread, but my son requires biscuits with his fried chicken and there can be no compromise (and like I said, we each got to choose one).  They were a little dry. I liked the soft whipped butter though.

It’s a busy place with a fun vibe—there were people all over and I can imagine the patio being a lively place to eat. The employees are very friendly and the service is certainly fast if you’re looking for a quick place to grab a bite before a concert, as the people next to us were. (I think they were in and out in less than 30 minutes).
I would love to hear what your favorite sides are, as I was only impressed by the mac and cheese and would like to try other things if we return.

The Eagle
310 Massachusetts Ave
Indy  46204

Monday, June 13, 2016

Table by Market District - Revisit

I really enjoyed my first meal at Table at Market District and was anxious to see if the second experience lived up to it. I met a friend over there for lunch to check it out. First of all, their business has picked up a fair amount since my first visit. The hostess asked if I had a reservation. I didn’t, and it wasn’t a problem, but it was pretty full.

This time I was trying to be healthy so I went with the rotisserie cobb salad ($12). It was marked as a “chef’s pick” so I thought I would check it out. When I ordered it, the server said they tossed it in the creamy buttermilk chive dressing. I said that was fine, but could I have a little extra on the side? So when I got my salad, it was not tossed with the dressing, which was a bummer. Cobbs can be sort of a pain to eat if at least the greens are dressed just because it’s so hard to get a bite of many things at once. There was nothing inherently wrong with the salad-it had egg, bacon, blue cheese, rotisserie chicken, avocado and some caramelized onions on top (although the menu just simply said red onion). The ingredients were fine, although the blue cheese was pretty scarce, but the salad was just ok. Nothing to make it stand out. The chicken was probably the best thing because it was shredded and pretty tender.

My friend had the CBLT ($12 with an upgrade to fries as a side). This is their version of a BLT with grilled chicken, arugula and pesto in addition to the bacon and tomato. First of, the fries are really good. Nice and browned and pleasantly crisped. They needed a little more salt, but that was easy to fix. The sandwich had a very distinct taste of the basil from the pesto. And the chicken suffered from the problem that large chicken breasts on sandwiches often do—it was big and a little tough and a little hard to eat. Would love slices of chicken making it easier to bite into. Or hey, maybe some of that rotisserie chicken.

I still think it’s a good option for a decent lunch in that area of Carmel. I would definitely lean back toward that pizza I had last time with the egg on it though, it was much more tasty. And the fries are very good, so maybe trying one of their various “knife and fork” fries options would be a good idea.

Table by Market District
11505 North Illinois
Carmel, IN  46032

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Road Trip: Nashville, TN

I had a quick girl’s weekend with my favorite Pilates instructor the other day—she has moved to North Carolina and we decided Nashville was a good sort of halfway point to meet up. So many great restaurants for me. And she likes to try out new exercise places (she’s so weird).

The first day, I drove in in the morning and we met for lunch at Biscuit Love (h/t @tokenwhitedude). There was quite a long line out the door, but we were happy to catch up with each other, and the line actually moved very quickly—only took about 15 minutes. It’s a place where you order at the register and they bring you your food. I knew I had to have the East Nasty ($10) based on @tokenwhitedude’s twitter picture he had sent me. It’s one of their homemade biscuits topped with a large fried boneless chicken thigh, white cheddar cheese and sausage gravy. Ok, not the healthiest thing I have ever eaten, but dang, it was so good. The biscuits were super fluffy and large—the chicken was so so crisp that it held up even to the gravy, which had a lot of sausage bits in it.  That sandwich was totally worth the calories.
At my friend’s request, we also shared the “bonuts” ($7) which are donuts made from fried biscuit dough, rolled in sugar and sitting on top of blueberry compote. There is a dollop of lemon mascarpone on top as well. Ok, this is not something I would typically order, but my friend has a bigger sweet tooth. Man, were they good though. That lemon mascarpone was killer and took away some of the pure sweetness of the dish. It was tart from the lemon and tangy from the cheese. My friend also had the “southern benny” and it was really delicious too. She was trying to convince me it was healthier because it didn’t have fried chicken on it. Ha! It was biscuits topped with country ham, sausage gravy, and two fried eggs. I would be hard-pressed to say which of the savory dishes I liked better. On the way out my friend said, “this trip is already awesome because of that meal!” And I will just go ahead and tell you now, when I had to cancel our brunch reservation at Husk (major sad face) that we had for Sunday because we needed to leave earlier than we thought, we ended up back at Biscuit Love for an early breakfast on our way out of town. She ordered exactly the same thing (bonuts and benny) but I tried the “SEC” which was a sausage patty sandwich with an egg and more of that delicious gravy. Also delicious. This place is a must stop. You have to have breakfast or lunch here when you’re in Nashville. Seriously. 

For dinner that night we ate at a place called 404 Kitchen. It’s a cool place—small and dark and totally packed with young people when we were there. Ok, we were not super hungry after that biscuit fest earlier in the day, so we ate a little on the light side. The first thing we shared was an appetizer of the gulf rock shrimp ($19). Oh. My. This dish was so good. I mean we were really tempted to just order another one instantly. There were pieces of the rock shrimp and similarly sized pieces of roasted cauliflower. The sauce, though, that sauce. It was made with brown butter and I’m thinking some lemon and there was also a winter greens pesto drizzled on top and then a dusting of crumbs made from marcona almonds. It was almost cruel that they didn’t give you any bread with this dish to sop up every single drop. It was a perfect dish. Sadly though, the rest of the meal, while fine, was nowhere near as good. I had the trout with arugula, ramps, duck egg, nutritional yeast and breadcrumbs. It was an interesting dish, but just a little meh. As far as the egg part, it seemed like there was just a bit of yolk under everything, it was hard to find. The fish was just ok, a little overcooked maybe, although it was very thin. The greens had a little too much of a bitter edge, but were probably the best part of the dish. My friend’s ricotta gnudi with lamb sugo ($18) was good—those gnudi were tender and nice with the very rich meat sauce. It was very rich. The biggest disappointment was the little skillet of cornbread with sorghum butter. The bread had a burnt grainy flavor and after a couple of bites, we just gave up on it. On the bright side, my friend discovered a wonderful cocktail made with Strega, an herbal liquor, and couldn’t stop talking about it.

The next day for lunch we hit up Hattie B’s—it’s one of the Nashville hot chicken places and was a short walk from our hotel. Since I posted some pictures from that meal, a lot of people have told me their favorite hot chicken places, so please feel free and share yours for the next time.

The line at Hattie B’s looked just a little longer than the one we saw at Biscuit Love, but it took way way longer. We waited for probably an hour, which was a little rough in the hot sun after a very, very late night. But we finally got in there and ordered. I had the small dark meat plate ($8.50). It comes with a thigh and leg combo and two sides. I got the potato salad and the pimento mac and cheese. I got my chicken  mild and my friend actually just got hers southern style—without any hot sauce at all. She had cole slaw and baked beans. The chicken itself was very good. I sort of wished it was a little meatier, but it tasted good. The mild was very mild; I would definitely go hotter next time. Or just stick with the fried chicken the way my friend had it—without any sauce. Honestly, I really think overall I prefer my fried chicken crispy and adding the sauce takes away from that. 

My favorite side was the potato salad, it was red skinned potatoes and mayo-based. I would have seasoned it a bit more myself (and I did), but it was the best. I was excited by the idea of pimento mac and cheese, but honestly, it was very bland and disappointing. I didn’t eat much of it. The chicken was definitely the highlight. Was it worth waiting in line for an hour? Ehhhh…. Probably not. I will say, the people are very nice there, and you will see people from all over in there eating because it is on so many “best of” lists. So, don’t forget, I need to hear your recommendations for another place to try on my next trip.

Our last night we had dinner at Lockeland Table in East Nashville. This is a cool, hip and buzzy place in a more neighborhoody part of town. I loved the energy of the place—sadly the service was a little off and not nearly as friendly as nearly everywhere else in Nashville. Anyway, again, we weren’t starving so we decided to go with a bunch of appetizers/small plates. Our favorites were the lobster roll tacos ($14.50) and the crab and corn fritters ($11). Both of these were the dishes with the most nuanced flavors—the fritters came with a tangy vinegar slaw underneath and some remoulade sauce. The tacos were so interesting because they used brown butter breadcrumbs on top, giving that taste of the bread that you get when you eat a lobster roll sandwich. They put the lobster on top of guacamole, which had a bit of lime, keeping the whole dish from turning into something that was too one dimensional.  The empanadas were also good ($9.50), especially with that tangy chimichurri sauce. They were filled with braised beef and the pastry was nice and crisp, but with just a touch of chewiness. The pork and shrimp dumplings with “ninja” sauce ($10) were the big disappointment of the night. I guess I should have asked what ninja sauce was, but it turned out it was a sappy sweet chile sauce and I was not a fan of it. Unfortunately the dumplings were sitting in it, so it was hard to escape. It’s a cool spot though, and we enjoyed ourselves.

Nashville is a great City. I haven’t been there since I was a kid and I am so glad I have gotten back there. It’s easy to reach from Indy (4 ½ hours in the car) and there are so many food options, that it’s almost overwhelming. And any city that has their own fried chicken named after it is ok in my book. On the whole, the people in Nashville could not be more friendly and are always looking to help—when I was shopping in a gift shop, a shop clerk pulled out a list of her favorite restaurants to share with me (I just seem to draw people to me to talk about food). I can’t wait to go back, so please share all your favorite places.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Big Lug - Revisit

I met a friend for lunch at Big Lug the other day. I have been wanting to get back and try their Nashville hot chicken since the first time I went—when I just got a bite of my friend’s. We met over there and I ordered the hot chicken sandwich (well, I got the slider size) ($6). Our server once again warned me that it was really hot, even if you ordered mild. So mild is what I ordered. I didn’t love the side salad last time, which is often my go to side, so I went with fries this time. The sandwich is topped with a piece of the seasoned fried chicken breast, shredded lettuce, pickles and green goddess dressing. I really enjoyed it. I feel like maybe they over warn just a little bit as far as the heat. I do not love super spicy things that hurt your mouth, but this was a tasty sandwich. I also like the way the pickles and the dressing cut the heat a bit. Sort of like blue cheese dressing with buffalo wings. I also really enjoyed the fries—those are good fries. Nice and crisp and great dipped in the side of the green goddess dressing that I asked for (you know how I am with wanting to dip my fries in something besides ketchup).

My friend had a combo with a half a goose melt ($7) and a half version of the “Willie’s Special” salad ($6). That goose melt is quite delicious as well. If you like Smoking Goose meats, you’re going to like this sandwich. There’s capacollo, city ham, mortadella, chopped romaine, parmesan vinaigrette, and Muenster cheese.  It’s all on a toasty sub roll. I love the vinaigrette dressing with all this wonderfully rich meat and cheese—it is the thing that makes this sandwich special. And it’s the kind of thing that makes casual restaurant food stand out. The salad looked fine—I didn’t try it since it was the same chicken I had (only it was hot). The salad also came with mixed greens, black bean corn salsa, diced mozzarella, avocado and Frito salt. It’s dressed with ranch.

Honestly, for a place that specializes mainly in sandwiches, I really like it. They are taking basic ideas and elevating them just enough to make them unique. It’s the kind of place that would be a great place to take my kids for dinner, but sadly it’s an adult only restaurant. I’d be curious to know why kids can’t sit upstairs (although I haven’t been up there to see it). It’s kind of a shame, because it probably isn’t a place I’d go on date night; so for now, it’s going to probably remain a lunch option for me. I’m so glad to have it in Nora though, where we have such a lack of good independent options.

Who has been and tried some of the specials option at Big Lug? I’m curious about them.

Big Lug Canteen
1435 East 86th Street
Indy  46240