Monday, September 25, 2017

Fat Dan's- Revisit

It has been awhile since we have been to Fat Dan’s. Hubby and I were both craving hamburgers, so we decided it was time to go back. We also met a couple of friends there who had never been, so that’s always fun.

It was a Friday evening and pretty crowded but we got the last available table. I hadn’t been in since they expanded; I would say it’s a much better use of space than the yogurt store that used to sit empty most of the time next door. Our server came around and took drink orders and then strongly recommended we get the dirty tots ($8.50). He was extremely strong in his recommendation, and told us they were life changing. I mean at that point, we could hardly say no (even though usually we get the fries/tots combo, and I was somewhat resistant to give it up).

Anyhow, the dirty tots consist of tater tots topped with hot sauce, pulled pork, and beer cheese sauce.  So my first couple of bites, I was unsure whether I had made the right choice, but I have to say, these things really grow on you. I liked the cheesy sauce and the hot sauce together that gave it a little heat. And the tots stayed nice and crisp under all that stuff. I sort of wished for something to cut through the heaviness a little—a little dollop of sour cream perhaps? But I am always thinking of how to make everything better. And these things were pretty darn good on their own. By the end, it was hard to not just keep going back for more.

 I went with my classic—the Fat burger ($10). I had it with all the toppings—lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and cheese. It comes with chips as you see, but I also ordered a side of fries to share, just because I couldn’t totally give up on the fries. The burger is excellent—juicy and topped with all the right things. I also really like their pickles. The only thing that surprised me was the server didn’t ask how I wanted it cooked, and I kind of didn’t think about it and it came out pretty well done. The mix of meat they use is so good though, that it still tasted good, but next time, I would make sure to ask for it medium. This place definitely satisfies the craving for a good burger.
The fries ($3.50 for a small) here are also very tasty—they are hand cut and varying in sizes. I really like them.

Hubby ended up getting the brisket sandwich ($11), which he seemed to enjoy, but honestly, I think he was jealous of my burger. He often tries different things here, and I often don’t, but he usually wishes he had gotten the burger too. They’re just that tasty.

Want a really good burger and fries/tots? This is your spot. And who knows, the server might have convinced me to order the dirty tots again next time too.

Fat Dan’s Chicago Style Deli
815 Broad Ripple Avenue
Indy  46220

Monday, September 18, 2017

Sunrise Café - Revisit

I have written about this place a few times before, but I feel like I need to keep giving gentle reminders about places I like so they stay in business, especially these days. So what is the go to for hubby and I for a greasy spoon type of breakfast? Sunrise. There are too many breakfast places that are trying to be too much, and not pulling it off. This place is a divey diner (seriously, the furniture is very well worn) and the food is consistently good. Want bacon and eggs and crispy hash browns? Sunrise is your place. That is our regular order, but on this particular visit, hubby revisited one of his old standbys, the eggs benedict. I like that you can order them by one ($7.95) or two ($9.25). Hubby had two. They use an English muffin, shaved ham, a poached egg and their homemade hollandaise sauce. Hubby really enjoyed the change of pace, and this dish is a regular choice for my parents, who were also dining with us. It’s not a super fancy version or anything, but it tastes good. I had my usual, two eggs over easy, bacon, hash browns and white toast ($8.95). They do everything just the way it should be, and both the bacon and hash browns are crispy like I like them.

My son is a fan of their fried egg sandwich ($7.95); again you can pick one or two eggs. It comes with cheese and bacon. He likes his eggs fried hard (crazy I know). And it comes with hash browns as well. My daughter usually orders sweets for her breakfast, and this was no exception. She had one chocolate chip pancake ($2.95). They do their pancakes really thin, which I think is kind of interesting. Almost like a crepe. In fact, you can get them rolled up around sausage if you want.
Anyway, at the location on Shadeland, where we go (there are a couple others in Carmel, Fishers, and downtown), there is never a wait, which is a nice thing to know on a weekend morning when you want a solid, fast breakfast. Everyone in my family likes it, and it’s a standard for us. 

Sunrise Café
7387 North Shadeland Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46150

Thursday, September 14, 2017

U.S. Adventures: Washington D.C.

Recently, we had a whirlwind trip to D.C., where my daughter was participating in National History Day. She had summer school as well, so she could only miss one day of class, and was presenting on a Monday, so we took the opportunity to fly out early Saturday morning and do some sightseeing and eating. The boys flew in on Sunday, because of baseball conflicts.

The first meal was just me and my daughter, and we headed to the Eastern Market, which is sort of like our City Market, but with more meat and seafood counters, and fewer prepared food places. The one main restaurant type place had a line out the door, and I had read favorable places about it, and since she is more patient than son and hubby, we queued up and waited the hour or so it took to get through the line. It was totally worth it. Even though they were technically serving a brunch menu, I asked if they would make me soft shell crab from the weekday lunch menu and the owner/cashier was more than happy to. In fact, he insisted I get the sandwich, because he thinks it’s one of the best things on the menu. He was right.  This was the best soft shell I have had in ages. Lightly fried, and the crab was super meaty and tender, with just the right amount of crunch from the soft shell. There was slaw on it, and I added a little hot sauce, and it was perfection. My daughter ordered their crab cake benedict and it was very good as well. The crab cake had a lot of flavor and wasn’t overly bready. Perfectly poached egg and all was well. The owner was quite upset when she ordered the fried potatoes instead of grits and insisted we try the grits as well, and sent us a side of their spicy version on the house. They were very tasty, with green chilies, and more spice than heat. He also said it was required that we order one of their buckwheat blueberry pancakes, because they are known for them (and pretty much everyone there had at least one on the side). I am not a big sweets as my meal person, but this one was very good—it wasn’t overly sweet and had nice blueberry flavor. Yes, it was way too much food, and yes we didn’t finish everything (that soft shell crab was totally gone though), but it was fun to try everything. And I’d go back in a heartbeat. On Saturdays they have a big farmer’s market outside as well as artists selling their art, and even a few booths of a flea market. It was a fun place to spend a few hours (and delicious).

For dinner that night the daughter and I hit Momofuku ccdc. She has developed a taste for ramen, and I thought it would be fun. We started with the biscuit bites ($6) because my daughter is a bread fiend, and the soft shell crab buns ($19), because, well, as you know, I am a soft shell crab fiend. They were in season and we were on the east coast and I was going to order them everywhere I saw them. The biscuit bites were actually pretty large oblong biscuits that had chives cooked into them—they were pretty standard biscuits—good but not amazing—but we really enjoyed the Szechwan honey butter. One is certainly enough for each person, even for my daughter. The soft shell crab buns were so good. We each had one, and both thought they were great. They were steamed buns, ½ a lightly fried crab, Old Bay seasoning, remoulade sauce and shaved lettuce.

We both got a bowl of ramen for dinner. I went with the classic pork ramen with pork belly, pork shoulder and a poached egg ($17) and she went with the vegetarian hozon ramen with scallions, kale and fried chickpeas ($16) and added a poached egg ($2). My pork version was very classic, and very tasty. The broth was nice and rich, and there were nice greens, scallions and bean sprouts in there as well. My daughter’s was also very good—and a bit more unique, but also lighter. I loved the addition of the crunchy fried chickpeas for texture and also for a bit of protein. The broth had an herby aromatic flavor and was a nice change of pace. We shared a couple of milkbar desserts, but I have to say, they were the most disappointing parts of the meal—the cookie we had was extremely dry and the cake pops so dense, they weren’t that appealing.

Once hubby and my son got there, we met up with them for more sightseeing. We had an opportunity to go to the National Museum of African American History and Culture as well as the Holocaust museum. Both were great experiences. We grabbed a quick lunch at Old Ebbit’s Grill, just because we hadn’t made plans for lunch and the concierge could get us in. It was so hot the weekend we were there, the air conditioning was a welcome respite. The food here is fine, not amazing, but it’s an old historical restaurant, so it’s kind of a cool place to take the kids.  Hubby and I split a fried oysters dinner and we all shared some crab and artichoke dip ($11.59), which was quite tasty. The kids had trout parmesan ($18.99) and a burger. Both were fine. We all shared a piece of key lime pie, which was not good. It had no tartness. 

For dinner that night, after the welcoming ceremony for my daughter’s event, we went to Zaytinya, which is a hip Mediterranean tapas place. We all love small plates because we can get a million things, and we all get to choose a few. And we were excited for the cuisine after our trip to Greece last summer. I can’t even begin to tell you everything we had because there was a lot, but some of the highlights were the hommus ($7), the pita (free), the bronzino ($12), the lamb kleftico ($14), and the crispy eggplant dish ($8.50). The pita was like a balloon-filled up with air and super light. It was extremely addicting and so good with the hommus. My daughter, who often ignores hommus, gobbled this one up. The bronzino had a nice acidic kick and interesting flavors from fennel and raki (an anise-flavored alcohol). The lamb kleftico was really interesting—patties made with lamb and phyllo and sitting on top of feta, dill and oil. It was crunchy and rich and the cheese added just the right freshness. The hunks of super crispy eggplant were one of my favorites, although the rest of the family doesn’t like eggplant as much as I do. It was served with a roasted garlic yogurt sauce. Perfect combo of crispy veg and acidic sauce. There were many other courses, but these were the standouts. The olives were a nice thing to eat with everything as well. The soft shell crab was my least favorite of the trip because it was kind of over fried. Several other dishes were just ok. It was a very enjoyable meal, with several really good things, but we all agreed it wasn’t a place we would rush back to. The service was a little weird as well. The waiter sort of ignored my son, and ended up not bringing him one of the dishes he ordered. So my son’s advice was to only bring one kid here at a time. 

The last day, after my daughter did her presentation, we had just barely enough time to get lunch somewhere before heading back to the airport. A couple of different people I know and trust for food had recommended Rasika, so we got a quick reservation and headed there. It’s an upscale Indian restaurant with a couple of locations. We talked to our waiter about recommendations and were told we absolutely should order the palak chaat ($12). Boy was he right. This is one of the best dishes I’ve had in recent memory. My family and I have already started searching the Internet for copycat recipes. So it is spinach, but it’s fried so each leaf is nice and crispy. The whole thing is then topped with this yogurt sauce with tamarind and dates. Then there were diced tomatoes and cilantro on top. Oh my, this was so good. Next time, there will likely be multiple orders. I know, it doesn’t sound that interesting, but it was. As another appetizer, we also shared the tuna chutneywala ($14). This was a very interesting and tasty dish as well (and also recommended) and was seared tuna stacked with a coconut cilantro flavored sauce. It was light, and the coconut added an interesting flavor dimension. Between us we also tried the chicken tikka masala ($19), the tandoori chicken ($18), the dal dhungaree ($7 for half) and the salmon tandoori ($22). All of these were good, but none were as interesting as the appetizers. I’d be tempted to just go with a bunch of apps next time. The dal dhungaree was interesting though—smoked lentils with garlic, tomatoes and fenugreek. All in all, this was a fun place and like nothing we have in Indy, so it was a good place to try. And I’d go back just for the spinach.

All in all, a very satisfying, but quick trip to D.C. We got to try a lot of variation in food, and all of it was good.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Louie's Wine Dive- brunch

Recently I needed to plan a meeting with some other women and my daughter for brunch. On a Saturday. I needed a place that would take a reservation because we were on a limited time frame. So we ended up at Louie’s Wine Dive in Broad Ripple—which I hadn’t even known served brunch until I was researching.

Apparently not a lot of other people know about it either, because it was not very busy at all. The menu is quite appealing and has a good variety of things on it. We started with an order of the beignets ($5) because my daughter was with me, and she can never not order beignets if they are on the menu. These were good—sort of like doughnut holes with butterscotch dipping sauce and lots of powdered sugar. Tasty little things.

I really wanted to order the honey butter fried chicken sandwich, but I was trying to be healthy, so I went with the avocado omelette ($11). It is supposed to be made with egg whites, avocado, heirloom tomato salsa and arugula, but I asked them just to make it with the whole egg, because I was trying to be healthy, but let’s not get ridiculous. I thought it was very tasty. I am not usually an omelette person, but this really hit the spot, and the ingredients inside were exactly what I was wanting. Some nice acid from the seasoned tomatoes, and the avocado was nice and ripe. I really enjoyed the greens on the side too. The crumbled goat cheese was a nice touch and it was dressed appropriately.
My daughter ordered the fried egg sandwich ($9), and thought it was good, but she didn’t really care for the sweetness of the bacon jam that was on there (nor did I). It also had fried eggs, white cheddar and mayo and was on brioche bread. If you like a touch of sweetness, you would probably enjoy this one.  She had fries as her side, and they are nice and crisp. I would have asked for something besides ketchup to dip them in, but she didn’t care. I also would have preferred my egg a little runnier, but I guess that makes for a messier sandwich. 

One friend ordered Emily’s apple harvest salad ($11). It looked like another good healthy option—it was a big salad with chicken, field greens, apples, cranberries, bacon, goat cheese and candied pecans. It had a balsamic vinaigrette. I didn’t try it, but she seemed to like it.

We also had a couple of mimosas ($7), which are really big for sure. They are generous pours into regular wine glasses. They also have some sort of “almost never ending carafes” of mimosa deals, which sounds intriguing. But they do have a full bar, so you can get whatever type of breakfast cocktail you like. All in all, it was a good choice to meet a wide variety of tastes as well as being able to have a reservation (not that you probably need one here as I mentioned, although maybe it gets busier later). The food was solid and the service good.

Louie’s Wine Dive
701 Broad Ripple Ave
Indy  46220

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Canal Bistro - Revisit

The weather is warm again so it is time for Canal Bistro. But in breaking news, it looks like we will be able to go in the winter now as well, because we spied new dining room chairs inside. Hubby hated their old chairs, and thus, we only went during the warm months when we could sit outside. But now, it looks like we can just go whenever we want. I have written about this place before, and much of the things we order are the same, but I want to keep reminding you all about all the great independent restaurant options we have in Indy.

We did sit outside because it was a nice day. It looks like they have changed up the menu just a bit, although all the old favorites seem to still be there. We did notice what seemed like it might be a new appetizer, although I might just have missed it before--the fried Lebanese pickles ($7). They fry up their very pickled pickles that they often serve as a garnish and then serve them with a tahini sauce. I will say, this was our first time with these and it will certainly not be the last. They are delicious and so is the sauce. The batter is nice and crisp and those pickles have a ton of flavor. I highly recommend if you like fried pickles. But, the main reason we went is for spanakopita, which we owed my son (long story), and we had promised to make up to him. They have my favorite spanakopita because it is so, so crispy. The crunch is my favorite part. I decided to go with the mazza plate ($14), in which you get to choose four items from a list of various appetizers. I chose spanakopita (you get two), hummus, olives and feta. I think they also have very good hummus, and they give you nicely grilled pita bread. And I like to eat olives with every bite. I would probably skip the feta next time—it was fine, but just big hunks of somewhat dry cheese. There are several other choices—I might go with baba ganoush or falafel.

I have converted hubby to the spanakopita as well, so he and my son split an order ($8) and a gyro wrap ($9). My son got everything on the side except the meat (kids) so you sort of had to doctor it up to make sure it had all the right flavors and moisture, but the meat itself is pretty good here. They have tasty fries as well that we had topped with garlic and feta. And my son is now obsessed with the spanakopita as well—so I wouldn’t be surprised if you see us there at some point with just a table covered in orders of spanakopita.

If you have a favorite item though that you think we should try, let me know.

Canal Bistro
6349 Guilford Ave
Indy 46220