Monday, April 24, 2017

Joe's Butcher Shop (Joe's Next Door)

I was getting my hair cut in Carmel the other day on Main Street, and was starving by the time I finished. My hairdresser is well-versed about all the options around, and seems to have a healthy interest in food (you can’t trust just anyone) so when she recommended Joe’s Butcher Shop and its deli (actually called Joe’s Next Door), I gave it a try (it is right across the street as well). They don’t have anywhere to sit in there though (unless it’s warm outside, they have a couple of tables), so I grabbed it to go.

Based on her recommendation, and my mood, I went with the House BLT ($8.99). This was a very good sandwich. She was telling me they use different kinds of bread for each sandwich and that the bread alone is really good and she was right. This was on toasted sourdough, but it was a really large loaf and was toasted just perfectly crunchy. And I should mention, this thing is huge. It is smeared with garlic aioli, and is topped with avocado, slices of heirloom tomatoes (no idea where they are getting these right now but I am not arguing), butter lettuce and lots and lots of their house cured bacon. The bacon is really interesting. It has a distinctive sweet taste to it-like it is almost caramelized in maple syrup or brown sugar. It is so crisp some bites are almost brittle. I really enjoyed the texture. When I first bit into the sandwich, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about the sweetness, but it was really addictive after a few bites (sorry about the pics, I was eating in my car on the way home—I told you, I was hungry). It was a perfect combination of my kinds of flavors. I like avocado on anything and the tomato was sweet but acidic. That and the aioli were a nice balance to the bacon.
I could only eat half, but hubby was happy to take care of the rest. I would totally try more of their options when I am over there again.  I also got some of their house made gravlax to take home, which was quite tasty, and I tried their egg salad while I was waiting. It was really good too. Lots of dill. Have you been? And what have you had?

Joes’s Butcher Shop (Joe’s Next Door)
111 West Main Street, Suite 110
Carmel, IN 46032

Monday, April 17, 2017

MacNivens - Revisit

My son is late to Pokémon Go because he only just got a phone for Christmas, so the other day he asked to go downtown to collect some poke-stuff. We decided on Mass Ave but were sort of unsure about where. He sort of wanted fried chicken, so we debated The Eagle, but with it’s hour wait, we passed on that. We walked across the street and ate at MacNivens instead. I wasn’t sure that they served kids, but one side is family friendly.

Of course, you absolutely cannot go to MacNivens and not get the Scotch eggs ($7.50), and so we did. And they are delicious, as they always are. Scotch eggs, if you don’t know, are boiled eggs that are wrapped in sausage, lightly breaded and deep-fried. At MacNivens, they serve them with red pepper aioli. My son had never had them and he loved them as well. Also a good item to get at the end of the evening if you’ve been out hitting the bars.

My son ordered their burger. We warned him it was a bit different than what he was used to, but he wanted to try it anyway. He didn’t really like it, but hubby did (we’ve had it before). If you aren’t familiar, they make this huge ultra thin patty that you basically fold into quarters to fit on the bun. It is also marinated in Worchestershire sauce, which gives it a unique flavor and makes the meat quite tender even though obviously it is cooked through. My son had asked for an extra slice of cheese, which hubby thought was a nice addition when you folded it all up.

It worked out well though because hubby got the fish and chips ($12.50) and my son preferred them, so they just switched (hubby preferred the burger too). We thought the fish was a little disappointing though, the beer batter just didn’t get crunchy enough, it stayed kind of soft. Like I said, my son was fine with them though. The chips were very classic British chips, which I am not a huge fan of (the large flat steak fries type).

I had the Ahi tuna salad ($13.25). Many of you had recommended it to me in the past, and I finally got around to ordering it. So the tuna is pretty tasty. Much better quality than what you would think you would get in a Scottish pub right? The greens underneath were dressed with balsamic, which I found just a weird combo with the tuna. The tuna comes with fried wontons, avocado and a Szechuan sauce on the side. So it seems like they are trying to go with an Asian flavor profile but mixing in balsamic. I don’t know, it just was weird to me. I think maybe a ginger dressing would be better or something. But I happily ate the tuna, wontons and avocado kind of on its own and then a few bites of the salad as well.

I really like the atmosphere of MacNivens. It’s a busy place, but we didn’t have to wait an hour to get a table (we didn’t have to wait at all). The servers are very friendly and the speed of service is just right. Not rushing you out, but not too slow either. So it turned out to be a good last minute choice. And I will never not get the Scotch eggs, although I still want to try the potato skins.

339 Massachusetts Ave
Indy 46204

Monday, April 10, 2017

Road Trip: Pearl Street Pub: Oldenburg, IN

On our endless quest to find all the restaurants in the Oldenburg area, we finally hit the Pearl Street Pub. We’ve had drinks there before, and even tried to eat there once, but it was taco night, and we didn’t want tacos. This time we went on a Wednesday and found the place completely packed. It’s a pub, but the bar area is small, and most of the restaurant was full of families (we found out later the church across the street has some event every Wednesday and that is why it was so crowded). We literally got the last table by the door. Because it was so busy, our service was a bit lacking. She was nice, but extremely harried, and there were long delays in between ordering drinks and food. 

Anyway, once we settled in on our order, we were happy to catch up with our friends from Cincinnati (this is why we go to Oldenburg, to meet them halfway). We ordered fried pickles to start as well as the pretzels and cheese dip. The fried pickles were strange. They were cut like French fries—long ways. Someone stuck a pickle in a French fry cutter. They tasted pretty good, although hubby and I argued whether they are actually making them there or getting them from food supply because I have never seen fried pickles done like this anywhere else.  The pretzels were fine. I am guessing these are definitely food supply though. Taste like one you’d get at the ballpark. Not bad mind you, but not homemade.
The burgers sounded like the way to go because the menu specifically mentioned that the meat is local and “hand pattied” every day. So hubby ordered the Pearl Burger and I got a buffalo chicken sandwich and we were going to share. Well, let’s just say my instinct was correct. The burger was spot on—tender and topped with cheese, bacon, lettuce and tarter sauce. My buffalo chicken sandwich was not good. It was served on a hoagie roll and I am pretty sure they just took foodservice chicken tenders and cut them up into hunks and then drowned them in buffalo sauce. There was so much sauce, it was insane (and really spicy) and the chicken ended up kind of hard and dry. Pass on this one. Stick with the burgers here.  Hubby was very happy (he ate most of the burger before I could get my fair share) and said he would happily come back. He had onion rings, and they were those breaded kind. Probably also come in frozen in a bag. It wasn’t the best experience for me, but if I go back, I will certainly get my own burger (or a patty melt). 

I didn’t track the prices very well but splitting the two apps with our friends, a burger, my chicken sandwich and two drinks each—Me and hubby’s bill was right above $40. 

So next visit, we’re thinking about visiting the re-opened Sherman House. Anyone been there since the remodeling?

Pearl Street Pub
3034 Pearl Street
Oldenburg, IN 47036

Monday, April 3, 2017


One of the new hip places to eat in town, brought to you by the people who brought you Tinker Street, is Festiva. It’s just down the street from Tinker, and has a distinctive hipster tacqueria vibe. No kids allowed as the bar is the center of the place, much like at Tinker. Half of the restaurant is in a plastic-covered patio, so I would dress in layers. The first time we were sat there and it was pretty darn cold (they do give you blankets to keep warm with though). The second time we were seated inside and it was very toasty. Layers people, I recommend layers.

They do a very good job with margaritas. I have tried several of them over the two visits. Probably my favorite was the top shelf option, the Margarita Mejor ($12). It is a nice classic margarita flavor, not too sweet, not too sour. I have also had the Margarita Estacional ($10), which is a blood orange version (if there’s blood orange anything, I am usually going to order it) with habanero and hibiscus. It may have been a touch sweet
for me, one goes a long way, but still tasty.

I like the little spicy crunchy puffs they give you that are mixed with crunch fried chickpeas. I could live without the drizzle of sauce they put on top, which makes them soggy after a couple of minutes. Anyhow, this is the freebie they give you and I like them. Friends on one visit thought they were too tangy, but you know me, I like that. 

first time
second time
On both visits we had the sopes with squash, kale and almond mole ($8). The first time we really enjoyed them—they were super fresh and the toppings had a great fresh flavor and lots of the mole. On the second visit, they were not good. They tasted like they had sat for a bit and you can look at them side by side in the pic and just see—there is not the same amount of the mole sauce. We didn’t even eat all three of them between four of us. The first time we gobbled them up. 

Both times we had the poblano fundido ($8) with chorizo and this was a winner both times. It’s an interesting take on a cheesy starter, with a stuffed poblano and a big slab of broiled cheese across the top. I was glad to have some chips to eat with it though, which I did not the first time. You kind of want/need something to scoop it up with I think. The second time we ordered the guacamole with chips (hence the chips)($9). I enjoyed this. The guac was super fresh and nice and chunky, how I like it. It had a kick to it from some serranos and I liked the textural and flavor addition of the pepitas and pomegranate seeds. The pomegranate also gave a nice little kick of acid. It’s not a huge portion of guac for the price, but tasty. And the chips were nice and thin like I like.

Over the course of the two visits, I have tried all the tacos. That’s right, all of them. The first time we were a large group and got them all. I was surprised to find that my two favorites were the fish ($25) and the goat. Well, I should say both times I really liked the fish. They are my favorite for sure. The first time the goat was really good too—super tender. The second time it was a bit dryer and seemed less flavorful than I remembered. So the thing about the tacos is they are all build your own style (as you can see from the pics). You get the protein, the tortillas, some salsas to choose from and then some onions, cilantro and limes. I liked the fish the best because just by itself it had the most flavor—that salsa across the top is nice and tangy and oniony (made with lots of scallions). It made the dish. I guess I liked that you can just eat that on its own without having to doctor it up to enjoy it. The other meats weren’t as exciting to me and you had to use all the stuff to give them the moisture and flavor you wanted to make them get to the exceptional level. All good, but not blowing your mind on their own. And I was surprised to find my least favorite was actually the pork—it was quite dry on its own.  The fish is the one I will definitely order again. And I felt that way about the goat the first time, but after ordering again was less sure. Prepare yourself with the fish though if you order it—it’s a whole fish with a head and all, but it is so good.

The second time we also had the carne asada ($24), which was tasty nicely cooked beef. Again, it’s the theme of a giant pile of meat with various accompaniments with which to build yourself a taco of sorts. This one has housemade chorizo and a super spicy chipotle type sauce with it (be careful with that stuff, it will surprise you). The meat was tasty for sure.

The thing about this place is it’s definitely not going for a refined type of food, which I am totally down with. However, I sometimes just like getting a taco that’s put together by the kitchen with all the stuff they think it needs to make it really yummy. Maybe I am lazy, but that’s my preference. I never feel like I get it just the way it was intended on my own. I have friends who absolutely love this place, and I enjoy it for sure, but I think I prefer to get a plate of composed food when I go out to dinner. Just a personal preference. 

We had a couple of the desserts over the two visits. They pretty much all revolve around fruit, and were fine, but not anything that made me extremely excited. I would love to see just one have a spicy Mexican chocolate component, but maybe that’s too old fashioned.

It’s a fun place, the service is very good and very knowledgeable and I really enjoy the drinks. The food is hearty and like I said, very hands on. Not a bad place to go with a larger group to try more than a couple of things. It has a kind of party atmosphere and is a fun place. For me, the food doesn’t blow me away, but I have always enjoyed things there, and clearly they are not hurting for business. I know a bunch of you have probably been there and I would love to hear your thoughts.

1217 East 16th Street
Indy  46202