Tuesday, December 26, 2017

45 Degrees

Sushi quest. Day 342. Hubby and I had an event downtown and decided to try 45 Degrees beforehand to continue our ongoing search for our new favorite sushi. This place has been around forever and it was about time. 

The first thing about it is the interior—I really like the funky, modern feel of it. It has a nice atmosphere for sure. Our server was also very friendly and quick. We had drinks quickly to enjoy while we looked over the menu. We started with an order of the tuna nachos ($14). These were an interesting concept and were quite tasty. Possibly my favorite item of the evening. So there’s a layer of wonton chips and they are topped with chopped seared tuna, pico di gallo, Mexican cheese, wasabi mayo, and a mango habanero glaze. There was a lot of tuna on there, and I enjoyed the various flavors that were mixed in, especially the acidity from the pico. I was worried the cheese would be weird with the tuna, but it worked. Even though it was pretty big, we managed to eat the whole thing.

For sushi, we ordered just two rolls since we had the nachos. We had the spider roll ($15) and the piranha roll ($15). The spider roll was fried soft shell crab inside along with some fresh crab and avocado (we had them hold the cucumber). It’s wrapped in soy paper and then the whole thing is drizzled with spicy mayo and ell sauce. This was a tasty roll for sure, and I really appreciated the addition of actual crab. It was nice to even see real crab as an option. Not many sushi places do this. The rolls were also not so ridiculously big, which if you’re a regular reader; you know is a pet peeve for me. I don’t want to have to cut a piece of maki in half in order to be able to eat it.

The other roll was interesting. Inside it had shrimp tempura, avocado, and cilantro (again, cucumber held) and it was topped with yellowtail, Sriracha and serrano pepper. It was served with a side of ponzu sauce.  It was an interesting combo and I liked the touch of heat and the sweet and slightly acidic ponzu. Both rolls had the combo of crunchiness I like from the fried seafood inside as well as the fresh fish richness. And avocado. Whenever there’s avocado, I’m just a little happier. I like that they have a lot of variations on rolls and that they all don’t have the stuff that I don’t like. I feel like some places we go stick cream cheese in every roll, and I just don’t believe cream cheese belongs in sushi.

Overall, I think this place meets my need for good sushi rolls. And we really enjoyed the tuna nachos. I would like to try some of their other non-sushi items as well. If it wasn’t so far, it might qualify for a regular place. Again, I also like the modern feel of the place. What do you guys think? Have you been there?

45 Degrees
765 Massachusetts Ave
Indy 46204

Monday, December 18, 2017


A lot of people have been asking me about Provision so here it is!  Let me start off by saying we had dinner here the first time within like a week of it opening, which isn’t something I normally do, but friends asked us to go and I will rarely turn down such an invitation. That first visit we tried a lot of the appetizers and there were some that really shone and some that were kind of stinkers (the beef tartare for example was very bland). I am not going to write a full review of that visit, because it goes against my regular rules, but I wanted to let you know that the second meal was influenced by it because we ordered things based on that first visit that we knew were better than others. Thus, we crafted a very good dinner, but based on the first visit, there are still some food kinks to be worked out. And service. Woo. That first visit we had pretty bad service, but like I said, it was new and the place was packed.

So on the second visit, we took the kids and sat outside on one of those glorious fall evenings we had awhile back. I like the outside because it isn’t so crazy loud like the inside can be. To start, they brought us a nice amuse of salmon on top of a multi grain type of crouton and a creamy sauce. It was an extremely tasty bite. We then ordered the tuna appetizer ($22) and the seafood cocktail ($20). Again, both choices made based on our first meal. It’s funny, because the seafood cocktail isn’t something I would typically order because while I like shrimp cocktail, how boring can you get right? But this one is unique because the shrimp is dry rubbed with seasonings and then lightly charred. The shrimp are large, but nice and tender and have a wonderful smoky flavor. They also serve it with some hunks of king crab and avocado and a curry red sauce underneath. A nice combo of flavors and we enjoyed it both times. The tuna is also quite tasty. They give you several pieces of seared tuna drizzled with spicy mayo and a crunchy rice cake alongside. I really enjoy the variation of textures in the dish and the flavor from the mayo. You know I love seared tuna and this is a tasty one. We also got the bread plate ($5), because if there is one, and my kids are with me, this will be required. They do a nice job giving you Blue Dog bakery baguette, which is the best local-ish (from Louisville) baguette you can buy, a homemade soft pretzel and some house made pita. They give you butter and a yummy flavored dipping oil. The oil is particularly good with the pita.

I knew I would get to eat some of everyone else’s food, and I was intrigued by the crab toast appetizer ($36), so I got that as my main dish. So wow, this dish had so many different things going on. First of all the bread was so flakey and buttery—almost like it was a croissant underneath. It was topped with big hunks of the crab, jalapeno, Thai basil and a slightly spicy beurre blanc (butter sauce). I liked the combo of the rich, but light and flaky bread and the rich crab with the slight spiciness and acidity of the sauce. A tasty dish for sure. Probably better as a starter to share with someone else though.

Hubby had the special of the evening, which was snapper on top of risotto. It was very well prepared and he really enjoyed it. My daughter ordered scallops ($35) with cilantro gnocchi, spinach and basil-chile beurre blanc. The scallops had the perfect seared edge and were cooked very nicely. She seemed to enjoy them, although couldn’t finish it. My son’s Angus filet ($38) with Robuchon potatoes though was outstanding. And my daughter kept trying to steal bites of those buttery potatoes. All of our dishes were very good. If I had lucked into this as my first meal, I would have been so excited about this new place. As it is, I am still excited; I just know that there are also several items on the menu that aren’t quite as good. I am also looking forward to seeing how they mix up the flavors as the seasons change. I typically really enjoy the new restaurants that Cunningham opens with Layton Roberts in the kitchen. So far Provision is solid, although not as impressive as Vida was when it first opened. It just doesn’t yet seem to have the finesse that Vida had. Maybe that’s not what they’re going for though, who knows.

I have heard many mixed things about this place, so I would love to hear your thoughts.

2721 East 86th Street
Indy  46240

photos from that first dinner

Monday, December 11, 2017

Pioneer - Revisit

My family has really enjoyed Pioneer in the past—and when given the option, the kids chose to go back. They have changed up the menu bit and our last visit was probably the best one yet. I also recently had the pleasure of a private wine dinner there and had a really good meal as well. It’s a place you should definitely check out if you have not already.

We started out with the everything pretzels ($8) with dill cream cheese and tomato olive schmear. I liked the play on an everything bagel, with the seasonings on the pretzels and the cream cheese. They are soft pretzels, but have a nice crusty crunch to them with the spices on top. As long as they’re on the menu and I am with my kids, I am pretty sure they will be ordered.

My daughter is also obsessed with arancini, and we had an order of these ($9). They have had a version of them in the past, but I think I preferred the lightness of these the most. They are rice balls that are seasoned with saffron, lightly fried and served with parsley aioli. Hubby wanted the meatballs ($12), and no one objected so we had those too. These were very tasty, even for meatballs. They were served with a rich red sauce and crostini. If you’re a meatball person, you should get them.

Hubby and I also ordered the frisee salad with a “fried” egg, guanciale, and fingerling potatoes. The only bad part of the meal was that they forgot to bring this until after we had already gotten our entrées, but we decided to eat it anyway, and I was so glad, because this is so good. I will certainly order this each and every time if it’s offered. The frisee is nicely dressed and acidic to balance the richness of the egg, which is barely poached and then breaded and deep-fried. It remains yolky and delicious. This is the perfect thing for me and I would happily eat this as my main dish—as it was I basically ate it as a dessert, which was fine by me.

Pictures from the wine dinner
Oh man, though, the star of the meal was the beer brined half chicken ($21). My son and I split it. Normally I don’t order chicken out, but this may change this practice. If you have ever been to San Francisco and ate the “chicken for two” at Zuni Café, this is very reminiscent of it. Pioneer does a bread salad underneath with greens—there’s a good amount of acid in the salad and it is so good with the extremely tender chicken. The chicken was just so good—it sort of fell off the bone and even the breast meat was tender and delicious. I highly recommend this dish.

Hubby and my daughter both had linguine and clams ($21). They both enjoyed them but agreed that other things were the stars of the night (hubby thought the salad and chicken were his favorite things and my daughter would say the pretzels). They use nice smallish clams and give you a decent amount of them. The sauce is flavorful, but could use maybe a little bigger punch of red pepper. 

Overall, this was a great meal and it’s a great place to remember when you want a nice local meal in Fountain Square.

1110 Shelby Street
Indy 46203

Monday, December 4, 2017


There’s a new place in the new hotel in Ironworks that’s serves breakfast/lunch called Rize. It’s also run by the Cunningham Group like Provision upstairs. I like the looks of the menu because it’s a little more interesting take on breakfast. I met a friend for a late breakfast the other day to check it out.

I was torn between a couple of things, but luckily the friend I was with was willing to give me a couple of bites of hers as well, and she got one of the things I was debating. I ordered the egg tart ($11), which is sort of like a really light egg custard in a crust—like a lighter version of a quiche. But instead of having the veggies mixed in, they sauté them and put them on top. I can see how this makes good sense as far as easily changing up the seasonality of the veggies and keeping he base tart the same. There is Gruyere cheese in the tart and it is very light and fluffy—and the crust was nice and flaky. I really enjoyed it.  I especially like the swath of hibiscus mustard and the pickled onions—they really made the dish. A bite with all of the parts of it was really, really good. The veggies on top were fallish—there were mushrooms and sweet potatoes and broccolini. I would get it again. I bet in the spring and summer it would be amazing since I prefer those veggies in general.

My friend had their version of a frittata ($12). They do a similar thing—they put the veggies on top rather than inside the eggs. It actually comes across more of a very loose omelet with lots of veggies on top. There are really nice caramelized onions and a harissa and crème fraiche type sauce as well. They also serve a little salad along with it, which is a nice touch of acid. I would happily order this one as well.

Overall, I really enjoyed both items and would love to try more of the menu. It feels like a healthier breakfast place because there’s so much emphasis on veggies, which is nice. There are a lot of nice chef touches on the dishes as well, making it stand out over a lot of the more basic breakfast places. Who has tried something else really good here?

2721 East 86th Street
Indy 46240