Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Road Trip: Bread Basket Cafe and Bakery--Danville, IN

My sister and her husband recently moved from Avon to Danville just to be a little further away from me (just kidding)…but for real they did move to Danville. And she has been after me for like a year to try the Bread Basket. We kept trying to do a weekend family thing but it never seemed to work out. So recently she and I just met up on a random weekday when we were both off.

So yeah, it’s about an hour from me, but I can see why she really likes it. It’s super cute first of all, located in an old house. You enter through the back door, and literally walk through the kitchen to the dining room. Talk about homey. You walk through a gauntlet of homemade breads and pastries and the smell in there is like my house on baking day at the holidays. So good.

It’s pretty much a breakfast/lunch place, with some additional options on the weekends for brunch. It was a weekday, and still during breakfast hours, so that’s what we were choosing from. Apparently on the weekends, you can choose from either side of the menu at any time (they’re open til 3:00 pm Tuesday through Saturday). I ordered a half order of the biscuits and gravy with two fried eggs ($4.99 + $2.99). They are homemade biscuits and were flaky—from what I could tell under all that gravy. Let’s face it, they are really just a vehicle for the sausage gravy, which was well seasoned and a good consistency—not too runny or too floury as it can be sometimes. I like a little egg with mine and ate them together. They eggs were cooked well.

My sister had the breakfast sandwich ($7.49) and it was delicious. The star was the homemade honey oat bread, it was soft, yet had nice texture throughout. And it had just the right amount of egg to cheese to bacon ratio (you can get sausage or ham if you want). She loves the roasted potatoes that she got as a side ($2.79), and they were nice roasted potatoes, but weren’t getting me super excited. 

She had mentioned how many of our family members loved the cinnamon rolls and cinnamon roll French toast ($11.49), so I decided I needed to get one to go for later (just the roll, not the French toast). I also got a piece of outrageous chocolate cake for my kids. I can’t really do sweets like that in the morning, but it made for a nice decadent dessert after sushi that night. Seriously, that was one of the best cinnamon rolls ever. Tons of cream cheese icing. It was truly addictive. It’s really a good thing they are not closer to me, or I might develop a problem for those rolls.

It’s a great family run place and I can see how it could become a regular place if it was close by. I would like to try their lunch sandwiches sometime—I bet they’re really good on those breads they make.

Bread Basket Cafe and Bakery
46 S. Tennessee Street
Danville, IN  46122

Thursday, May 25, 2017

U.S. Adventures: Miami Beach, FL

A few months ago some friends from Texas convinced hubby and I to meet them in Miami for a long weekend (ok, it was February, it wasn’t hard). Here’s a little run down of where we ate.

Watr at the 1 Rooftop (it’s at the top of the 1 Hotel on South Beach). We had all just gotten in and didn’t have specific lunch plans, so we took our concierge’s advice and hit up one of the few rooftop/beachside restaurants on South Beach, and we could walk from our hotel. It was beautiful and the weather was superb. The menu is kind of eclectic, with a lot of small plates, but I really enjoyed everything. Here’s a sample of what we had: assorted dim sum ($16). Only four dumplings, and they were all different, but delicious. I could happily eat this on my own. Sweet and sour wings with tamarind glaze ($19). Meaty and I loved the tanginess of the tamarind. They had a bit of heat. Kimchi tuna ($19). I loved this dish and wished I had it all to myself. Lots of chunks of tuna in a creamy sauce, with kimchi and garlic chips, set on top of quinoa. I want to eat this now. We had a couple of sushi rolls as well, the salmon roll ($16), with asparagus, salmon, avocado and black sesame, and the shrimp tempura roll ($16) with shrimp, avocado, cucumber and spicy mayo. Both just perfect. Finally the beef bulgogi lettuce wraps, with pickled cucumber and cashews ($19). Very good. Things were pricy, and a bit on the small side, but delicious. Very nice cocktails as well. And a great view of the beach as well as the Miami skyline.

Next we headed to dinner at Yardbird, based on a friend’s recommendation. We all loved this choice, even though one of my friends mocked me for choosing a fried chicken place. We started with the deviled eggs ($11 I think), which I really enjoyed because they had lots of dill and chives and tasted sort of pickly to me…my friends didn’t like them as much though for the same reason. We also had the little fried green tomato BLT appetizer ($14). This was the biggest letdown of the night. It sounded good—a fried green tomato with pimento cheese and bacon, but the tomato was way too thick and everything just slid off. It just came across and really dry and hard to eat. Skip this one. The fried chicken ($26), which they are known for, was very good. And man, the mac and cheese ($10)? Yes. Five kinds of cheese and herby topping. We also had some biscuit sliders and the shrimp and grits that were both pretty tasty, but overall the chicken is the star. Oh, and those little beignet type doughnuts. Delicious.

Randomly, the next morning, an old high school friend had replied to one of my facebook posts that he was also in Miami, and was eating pretzels at the Hofbrau Haus. Once I knew that existed, we had to go have a beer and pretzels as an appetizer before our next lunch. The pretzels weren’t as good as the ones in Munich, but it was fun anyway. And giant steins of beer always provide good photo ops. After that, we kind of wandered down the street until we just decided to grab a slightly healthier second course at Sushisamba. We had lots of little things. The tuna tataki ($15) was my favorite with the asparagus, hearts of palm and avocado and a fresh citrus soy. They had their own version of basically a bang bang shrimp, which was tempura rock shrimp ($17) with a spicy mayo and some black truffle vinaigrette. Strangely addictive. The samba dromo roll ($19) (lobster, mango, tomato, chive, crispy rice and peanut curry) was a miss. But it was a nice light lunch to follow our giant pretzels with cheese.

So our next night, my friend absolutely insisted on going to Joe’s Stone Crab. He absolutely loves this place. They don’t take reservations, and I will spare you the amount of complaints I have about this fact, but we waited over 2 hours for our reservation and I got progressively crankier. Luckily we found a table outside and had drinks and ordered some appetizers—they have a special bar menu you can only get out there. The popcorn lobster bites ($16.95) were quite delicious actually. Strangely there were actual pieces of popcorn mixed in, but regardless, the lobster was yummy and I liked the mustard sauce. We also got a jumbo crab cake with green tomato remoulade ($14). This was a miss. A giant fried ball of something that supposedly contained crab. Into the second hour, we added the crab and onion dip ($12.95) and this stuff was fabulous. It was cold, which sort of deterred me at first, but man, it was good. They served it with homemade potato chips, which were also delicious.

When we were finally seated at like 10:00 or something, I was barely in the mood to eat, but we had to get the signature items. I will have to say, as grumpy as I was, this was good food. The stone crab bisque ($9.95) was really tasty—really rich and decadent. I was glad I split a bowl with hubby though because it was soooo rich, I couldn’t have eaten it all. Then the stone crab claws. They were certainly the best I have ever had—I have never honestly had any that I thought were worth the price. These were (and they are expensive for sure, market pricing depending on size) and I enjoyed them with the creamy mustard sauce.  The key lime pie ($8.95) was also delicious, even though I think I was about to fall asleep on my plate by this time. The place was still heaving with people though.

Our last meal was at Larios on the beach, which is an upscale Cuban place owned by the Estafan family. I don’t even want to go on about this place. Nothing we had was good. It just was very bland and forgettable. And quite possibly the worst desserts I have ever tried. That’s all I am going to say about that (I did add the pics though). I just don’t have the energy. I think this place has seem better days for sure.

So that’s Miami in a nutshell. It was fast and we had some tasty things. Some day I would like to go back to Joe’s with a better attitude. Maybe on a Tuesday at 4:30 or something.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Gallery Pastry Shop

I met my friend Suzanne the other day at Gallery Pastry Shop for lunch. I have been hearing (and seeing) lots of good stuff on social media about them and was excited to try it—and crepes! Plus I had been gifted with a gift certificate from a friend for Christmas and I needed to use it.

Well, we went during the week for lunch, so….no crepes. Apparently they are only offered for weekend brunch. The menu during the week is pretty limited as far as savory items, but we found a couple to order, as well as a few sweet treats. I ordered the croissant sandwich. You pick your meat and cheese from their offerings (they do charcuterie and cheese platters as well) and then you can add a sunny egg if you want (no brainer) ($15). Their meats are from Smoking Goose. I went with City ham and Tulip Tree beer cheese. And the egg. The croissants are quite good. Really good in fact—super light and flaky, with just the right amount of crunch. And the sandwich was extremely tasty. The ingredients are superb and I thoroughly enjoyed it. They serve it with a light salad with peppers and tomatoes. A nice touch, if maybe slightly underdressed.

Suzanne got the quiche ($12). This version had various veggies as well as sausage and cheese. They serve a little individual quiche rather than a slice, which is very cute. The crust on this thing—again, flaky and buttery and just the right amount of crunch—is the best part of it. The filling was tasty, maybe a little dense. Same greens on the side. 

We also bought them out of macarons, which I have to say, were incredible (I only had the chocolate caramel version, but they were wonderful).  They’re $2.50 each, so not cheap, but a nice splurge (and they have a weekly special where they sell them for $1 on certain days I think). They didn’t have many available for purchase though, and several people after us didn’t get any because we had gotten them all.

Actually, one of my biggest complaints about the place was the service. I was on a limited time frame (had just over an hour) and it was a struggle getting in and out of there in that time, even though there were only three tables seated in the place while we were there. Considering the quiche is already made, it made me wonder what was going on. Although it wasn’t just waiting for the food, getting the bill wasn’t much faster. I would love to try it for weekend brunch, but I have heard it gets quite crowded—it makes me wonder how long it takes to eat then. But the food is good. Very high quality ingredients and many, many delicious looking pastry items to try for sure. And at some point I want to try one of those crepes. I am still looking for my dream crepe in Indy.

Who else has been? What are your favorite sweet treats?

Gallery Pastry Shop
1101 East 54th Street
Indy  46220

Monday, May 15, 2017

La Margarita

Hubby and I took our son to La Margarita the other night. I haven’t been there since they have been in Fountain Square (that’s a really long time) and we were looking for something casual and where my son could catch some Pokémon.

We had to wait a bit for a table but not too long. There were a lot of families there, which is a nice thing to see. Before we were seated, hubby and I ordered a margarita while we waited. Oh boy. That was not a good margarita. I mean, there’s hardly a margarita that is terrible, but this one was pretty close. It was so sour it was hard to drink. After being seated, we switched quickly to something else.

We ordered the chile con queso ($6) to start. My son loves queso dip and loves to compare them. This one is actually made with real cheese giving it a gooey, stringy experience. It was really good. There was red salsa mixed into it (but a very liquid type of sauce, not chunky at all) and it gave it really nice flavor. This was probably our favorite item of the night. We ate every bit of it. They also give you a nice portion of chips with three different kinds of salsa—loved that one of them had chunks of avocado in it—you can always win me over with avocado. All the salsas were pretty good. The chips were kind of disappointing. They’re kind of generic. Honestly, the Kroger brand tortilla chips are better (seriously, they are pretty darn good, have you tried them?)

I was excited to try the chilaquiles ($12) because they are typically one of my favorite Mexican food items. They are chips mixed with cheese, chicken, salsa and you can add an egg for $1 (duh). I chose the red salsa (you can do red or green). I was kind of disappointed in this—it didn’t have the casserole kind of feel that my favorite versions do. This tasted almost more like nachos. The chips were still fully intact and just topped with the cheese and salsa and the egg was plopped on top. It didn’t taste terrible, but didn’t wow me.
Hubby felt similarly about his chile relleno ($11). It was one poblano pepper stuffed with cheese and chorizo and topped with a chili sauce and sour cream. He thought it was good, but nothing about it that made it really stand out. My son was happy with his chicken and cheese quesadilla, but loved the cheese dip the best.

Overall, it’s not my favorite Mexican that’s for sure. It’s fine, and it’s a nice family friendly place in Fountain Square that’s pretty approachable to all tastes. A nice outside area in warm weather. Bummer about the margaritas though.

La Margarita
1043 Virginia Ave, Suite 1
Indy  46203

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Turf Catering & Kitchen - Revisit

I have been back to Turf a couple of times since my last post and I really like this place still. The first time back I got the turkey club ($10) and wasn’t really expecting it to blow me away or anything, because hey, it’s a turkey club right? To date, this is my favorite sandwich at Turf. It’s got turkey obviously, but this turkey is heavily smoked and has a really unique and delicious flavor. It’s also topped with bacon, Swiss, lettuce, tomato, onion and black pepper mayo. It’s just right and that mayo gives nice flavor and moisture and the right amount of gooey-ness that I like in a sandwich.  I got the onion rings as my side this time and they weren’t my favorite side—they’re really big and a little too soft and doughy for me. That sandwich though…

On that visit, my lunch companion had the short rib grilled cheese with red onion jam and butterkase cheese ($12) which I talked about in a previous post. This is always a favorite as long as you don’t mind a touch of sweetness in your sandwich from the jam. A side of au gratin potatoes were tasty.

On another visit I had the special, which was a chicken melt with roasted chicken, diced tomatoes, cheddar cheese, bacon, chopped red onion and honey mustard ($10). I loved the chopped red onion so you got a little of it in every bite and not just one big mouthful.  I also liked the way they chopped the chicken up too so it wasn’t a giant brick of chicken breast the way most chicken sandwiches are. The honey mustard was a nice flavor, but I was craving a bit more gooey and asked for a side of the aforementioned black pepper mayo to add. Then it was perfect. Okay, still not quite as good as the turkey club, but darn close. I just went with the pimento cheese as my side this time, because let’s face it, it’s my favorite. I still like spreading on their homemade chips.

My friend tried the “Pete’s Pride” ($13), which has five different kinds of pork on it, celery slaw, mayo/mustard mix, and pickles. It had a somewhat similar flavor to a Cuban sandwich, but the celery slaw had a very distinct celery flavor. If you like celery, and a lot of meat, you will probably like this one. It was a little on the heavy side for me, but that’s why I didn’t order it.
I really like this place and I haven’t taken anyone there yet who has not agreed. It’s a big lunch (or a nice lunch and dinner later with your leftovers) and it may seem a little on the pricey side, but for what you get, it’s worth it. And one of the few gems in Castleton.

Turf Catering & Kitchen
8155 Castleway Court, Suite C
Indy  46250

Monday, May 8, 2017

Pho Tasty-- Revisit

Pho Tasty has become a go-to place for lunch for me. I often go with my BFF, and I have more recently introduced hubby to it as well and he is now converted. The rare beef pho (#32)($9) is what I almost always get, but this time we were splurging and decided to try my other typical favorite Vietnamese food item, the Vietnamese pancake (#6)($9.95).  I had never had it here so it seemed like a good time to try it.

First of all, I love their pho. I can’t say what it is that makes me like it more than some others, but I am assuming it is the broth since most of the components are pretty similar in beef pho. It’s a beef broth with rice noodles, some sliced onion and some very thinly sliced rare beef put in just before serving, I also have them add some tofu to mine just to make it a little heartier. It’s a good addition. So once you get the bowl of soup, you top it yourself with some herbs (basil and/or cilantro), bean sprouts, jalapeno slices and lime juice. I also add a bit of chili sauce and soy…ok and sometimes some fish sauce. I have learned that the key to really good pho is figuring out your personal seasoning and getting it just right. I have it down. I like putting the jalapenos in—I don’t eat them, but their flavor spreads into the broth a bit giving it some heat. It’s also a fairly healthy dish to eat, so I don’t have to feel guilty about eating it.

I was a bit disappointed in the pancake however, it just wasn’t as good as many others (and my all time fave is still at Long Thanh). There wasn’t as much stuff inside it and what was there wasn’t really sautéed very much. Usually there is bean sprouts and pork and shrimp all cooked together. This one had a little bit of the meat and a lot of totally cold raw bean sprouts. I also like eating mine wrapped in lettuce leaves, which they don’t give you here. The pancake itself had more of a granular texture to it as well. I would check this one off the list here, but the pho is still super good. I will stick with it from here on out…or maybe try some other appetizer. They also do banh mi here but I have yet to try one. Anyone tried one yet?

And I am super happy to have a place like this in Castleton—and their business seems good, which is good to see as well.

Pho Tasty
6044 East 82nd Street
Indianapolis 46250

Monday, May 1, 2017

Blaze Pizza - Revisit

My daughter and I were down at IUPUI for the regional National History Day competition (she’s a state finalist!) and had a break between her presentation and the awards ceremony, so we hit Blaze for lunch, as it is right near campus.

We both pretty much made our own, although mine was a variation of one of their combos, the “Veg Out” (they are all around $7-8). It was topped with mushrooms, red onion, spinach, Gorgonzola and mozzarella cheese and had dollops of red sauce on it. Ok, I know this is a chain, but I think their pizza is pretty darn tasty. The crust is really thin, and with the blue cheese, it had a nice distinctive flavor to it. It’s not too much, but just enough that you get that hint of flavor in each bite. They are personal size pizzas and I can almost eat a whole on by myself. I like this particular pizza because the sauce is not spread all over the pizza—sometimes I think too much sauce detracts too much. They quick fire them in an oven while you stand there and they are nice and crisp.

My daughter built her own with mozzarella and feta, kalamata olives, chicken, and oregano. She really liked it (and I agreed after my couple of bite of hers). She made a nice Greek combo and with the addition of the feta and olives, it had a nice salty kick to it. I still preferred mine, but hers was very good. 

It’s supposed to sort of be fresh fast food, but the one complaint I had was that it was so not fast at all. Luckily we had enough time, but it took a solid 30 minutes to get through the line. I am not sure why the delay, but man, it was slow.

They have some fun drinks too—my daughter had prickly pear aqua fresca and they had a blood orange lemonade. It’s a good place for a pizza fix for lunch near campus, but just be prepared that it may not be as fast as you think it is. And hey, I am spending a lot more time on IUPUI's campus now that I am back in school. What are your favorite places to eat around there?

Blaze Pizza
913 Indiana Avenue
Indy  46204