Monday, December 26, 2016

Tinker Street-Revisit

I wasn’t even going to write about this meal, but I had such a good one, I figured I would share. We were with friends who had never been to Tinker Street--we started with a couple of different appetizers to share. One was a special that was meant to split between two people—it was actually a bison tenderloin with roasted mushrooms. It was an interesting choice to serve as an appetizer—I guess because it was on the small side, they thought maybe it wasn’t quite big enough for a main dish, but it would have been just right for me. We all really enjoyed it. I particularly thought the mushrooms were really nice. Roasted just right.

We also shared the escargot vol-au-vent ($13), which was puff pastry with an herb garlic sauce and several escargot (snails). One friend had never had them before and wanted to try it. Hubby was thrilled because he loves escargot.  These were very good. My biggest problem with escargot is that sometimes they are kind of rubbery, but these were not at all. They were a good size and very tender. And who doesn’t love puff pastry right? The sauce was nice and flavorful as well (which has been a problem for me with some dishes at Tinker in the past, that they were bland). This was nicely done.

Finally we shared the fried Brussels sprouts ($11). These were rich and very tasty with just a light crisp edge. They were tossed with a Dijon vinaigrette and topped with almond dukkah, which is a mixture of herbs, spices and ground up nuts (almonds here). I really liked the extra texture from this mix and the additional flavor that it added. I love nuts mixed into a salad or with vegetables to give it a little more heartiness.

For his main, hubby had the wild coho salmon with parsnips, creamed swiss chard and a miso glaze ($22). It was a great dish as well. It’s nice seeing the shift into slightly more wintery veggies being served with salmon, but still showing creativity. Both the chard and the parsnips were very good, and the fish was perfectly cooked medium rare.

But the best thing on the table for me was the dish I ordered for my main, which was actually a starter. It was the mapo tofu dish ($12). There were large chunks of tofu, pieces of rice cakes (not the flavorless dry diet things you think of, think of like a crab cake made with rice), lion’s mane mushrooms and fermented beans. The sauce is a ginger and soy based sauce with a fair amount of chili in it, as well as those fermented black beans. It had some heat for sure, but also I just loved all the soft but varying textures from the tofu, the mushrooms and the firm, yet slightly chewy rice cakes. I really liked this dish. Hubby agreed. We licked the bowl clean.

I think our friends enjoyed their first visit—one is a vegetarian (who sometimes eats fish) and she appreciated the many offerings they had on the menu. Hubby and I were happy that everything was so good. We’ve had some ups and downs here, but this one was a definitely up meal and everything we had was very enjoyable. If they have that tofu though, get it. I am going to have to try a version of my own at home.

Tinker Street
402 East 16th Street
Indy  46202

Monday, December 19, 2016


The other night I met my favorite sharing friend Jen at Livery before the Yelp Totally Bazaar (which by the way, until they move it to somewhere else, I am never doing that again—way too cramped and crowded) for an early dinner. This is the newest place from the Cunningham Group (Vida, Mesh, etc.) and it’s located in a really cool old brick building on College just off Mass Ave. One I have been eyeing for years. So glad to see someone took this place on.

It’s a very nice interior—highlights the brick and lots of dark wood. I didn’t really get a real Latin flair from the décor, but the menu most certainly is. Our server was very nice, if not bit harried, disappearing for significant periods of time. We ordered the two margaritas on the menu—the Livery margarita ($9) and the Carriage House margarita ($12). Both were very, very good, even though margaritas on a freezing snowy night are a little weird. The carriage house is more of a top shelf type margarita and uses orange brandy. The Livery was more your classic margarita, but was spot on. I love the little freebies they serve as you get your drinks. They called them something like chicharone wagon wheels, but they are not actually a pork product. I think they are actually called duros. Anyhow, they’re more like flour-based chip—I have had them before at other places, but I love the seasoning they put on these. Spicy chile with a huge dose of lime. They were addictive. We had a couple bowls of these (partly because our service was a little off).

We ordered several items off various parts of the menu, but I will discuss them in the order we ate/were served the items (we told them to bring them how they thought was best).  The first thing we were brought was the manchego crisp ($8) off of the ensalata portion of the menu. It sounded so intriguing when the server described it. It is basically a taco shell made of fried manchego cheese, and it stuffed with herb salad, orange, avocado, red onion, olives, fresno pepper and marcona almonds. Sounds interesting yes? But ehh, it was our least favorite thing of the evening. It’s hard to believe something that was such an acid bomb with olives and orange could be so one-dimensional. It was very heavy on mashed avocado. And as much as I love manchego, it doesn’t make a crisp in the same way that Parmesan can. Just doesn’t have as much flavor. I expected a bit more of the greens, since it was labeled a salad, but it was a bit of a mish mosh of ingredients that didn’t really coalesce.

Next we had empanadas. We ordered the barbacoa version ($9) based on a couple of recommendations, including from our server. It comes with a little salad of kale and peppers and chipotle salsa. We realized after a couple of bites that we did not in fact get those, but actually got chicken ones. The bite I had was pretty good, but probably would have been better with the right sides—green salsa and crema. Based on my limited bite, I’d like to try them though. The barbacoa version was tasty as well. A nice flakey crust and meaty, yet juicy, interior. The salsa and the greens on the side make the dish though. Without it, the empanadas wouldn’t have stood out in the way they did. The salad was dressed with some heavy citrus, but it was just what the empanadas needed to brighten it up. I also like the smoky depth of flavor from the chipotle salsa.

Next we were served the jamon Serrano ($10) from the primero portion of the menu and the pork pastor ($11) from the Segundo portion. The jamon Serrano was probably our favorite item of the evening. It was a terrine made from potato and poblano peppers with mushrooms, romesco sauce, crema and salsa verde. Oh, and of course, that Spanish ham, which is layered across the top.  This was decadent, and had a lot going on, but tasted really good. It reminded me of a classic Spanish tortilla, which is more like a potato omelet than what you might normal think of when you think of a tortilla that you wrap a taco in. The sauces and mushrooms were great, and if you haven’t tried Serrano ham, it’s a bit like prosciutto but richer in flavor. It’s a bit drier in texture as well perhaps.

The pork pastor tasted very good as well. It was little shavings of the pork mixed with a zesty (as is acidic) slaw, onions, cilantro, and pineapple and served on top of corn cakes. The cakes were a little sweet for me, but I enjoyed the flavors of everything else. I think I would have preferred it served with another vehicle to eat it, even just warm tortillas, but I was happy enough just eating it on its own. I like that so much of the food here is thoughtfully created to be balanced with enough acid, as well as with unique takes on traditional Latin cuisine.

I really want to try some other things—I can’t wait to try the ceviche, it was just too cold on this night. I love ceviche and I bet this one has good flavor. Time will tell if I am right. And pretty much everything on the menu sounds interesting. So to the rest of you who have been there, what have you had? What did you think?

P.S. They don’t take reservations. On a Thursday early, we just walked right in, but I have heard there can be significant waits on the weekends. But you know how Indy folks love a new restaurant…

720 N. College
Indy 46202

Monday, December 12, 2016

Byrne's Grilled Pizza - Revisit

The other day I took  my daughter to see Cinderella at Clowes Hall. I asked her what she wanted to eat before we went and she said poutine. So I tried to take her to Twenty Tap, but there was a 20-minute wait. On a Tuesday. Go figure (and good for them). So by then we were running low on time and just decided to go to Byrne’s again, because we had eaten there the last time we went to Clowes, had enjoyed it, and had gotten in and out fast.

They have added some art and there were a fair amount of people in there this time and it had a nice casual atmosphere going on. Knowing that their crust is more of a thin, almost cracker-y type of a crust, I was open to trying more non-traditional toppings on my pizza (it just seems like it makes more sense as a flatbread type of pizza for some reason) and contemplated the menu.

First though, we ordered a couple of breadsticks with the garlic olive oil dipping sauce. It’s a pretty simple sauce—literally just chopped garlic in olive oil—but nice and tasty and wholesome. No crazy bright orange cheese stuff (although they do have other options as well). The bread sticks are good—big and doughy. I wish they had a little seasoning on them or something, they’re kind of plain otherwise, but still good. They are filling though, so watch out!

So after looking over the menu for a bit, I decided to go with the “hot chick” pizza, which is their take on a buffalo chicken pizza ($10 for small). It was really good. It was the thin crust, buffalo sauce as the pizza sauce, pieces of baked chicken and then blue cheese, red onions, banana peppers as well as regular shredded cheese. It was served with a side of ranch. I really enjoyed it a lot. I have a weakness for buffalo items and it hit the spot. The chicken was tender—and not just white meat and the sauce had just enough heat to it. Loved all the blue cheese. The ranch to dip in was decadent, but a nice touch.

My daughter had “the Confessional” ($10) which is basically their version of a Margarita pizza. It’s tomato sauce, shredded cheese, large rounds of mozzarella, tomato, and basil. She enjoyed it. After three weeks in Italy, she really likes a basic margarita and said this was a good one.

The real reason she particularly likes this place is for the chocolate chip bread pudding though. A holdover from Oh Yumm Bistro before them, they do a nice job, although it could stand to be heated up a little more.

Byrne’s is a nice neighborhood place—there were families in there as well as tables of adults. I would definitely eat there more if it were in my neighborhood.

Byrne’s Grilled Pizza
5615 N. Illinois Street
Indy 46208

Monday, December 5, 2016


I had never been to Piada—not sure why, maybe because it’s a chain, but when a friend suggested it for lunch, I agreed. It’s one of those places where you can kind of walk down the line and build your own pasta bowl or sandwich. I went with one of their combinations (I find I really don’t want to build my own anything, I really prefer an expert do that work. I mean, I can do that at home). So I chose the farm club tasca ($7.99), which is sort of like a thinner tortilla stuffed with boneless fried chicken breast, fresh avocado, spicy balsamic aioli, tomatoes, arugula, lemon basil dressing and pancetta. It is also supposed to come with bread and butter pickles, but as much as I love pickles, this just didn’t sound good with everything else to me so I had them leave them off.

I also got a cheesy breadstick just because they looked good when I walked in. My friend had a build your own pasta bowl. The tasca was actually quite tasty—I have to say my expectations were somewhat low, but I was surprised. The chicken had nice flavor and was very tender—and put avocado on anything and I am happy. It’s a little tough to eat the way it’s wrapped—even though in the picture it looks like two pieces, it’s actually wrapped up and is one big sandwich. I also really like the aioli and the dressing on there as well to brighten it up—and that is what makes a sandwich good to me. The other ingredients were nice and fresh—the arugula and the avocado.

I was not a fan of the breadstick though—it had a little bit of a funky taste. Maybe the cheese taste burnt or something? Not sure. Also, my friend had the build your own pasta, which I wasn’t a huge fan of either or it may have just been the choice of things on it. A little too much for me—a very heavy Alfredo type sauce.

All in all, it wasn’t as terrible as I sort of had in my head it might be. It was kind of like Panera with an Italian bent. Ingredients were fresh and the food tasted pretty good. It wasn’t mind blowing, but better than a lot of fast casual chains and certainly with fresher, more interesting ingredients.

8601 River Crossing Blvd (but multiple locations)
Indy 46240