Monday, August 27, 2018

LIvery- Revisit

We met up with some friends for dinner at Livery the other night. I was happy to see that there wasn’t a really long wait to get a table, as there was the last few times I went, but then again that was a long time ago. I still wish they took reservations though. I feel like once these kinds of places get past the initial excitement upon opening, they would only do themselves a favor by taking them, rather than making people worry they won’t get it, and just not go at all. Just my thoughts.

Anyway, I love those little spicy wagon wheel dealies you get for free when you sit down—I just wish they gave you a few more. There were six of us and we had to ask for more than one little cup of them. They’re made of puffed wheat that is fried, and then seasoned with a Latin seasoning salt. We then ordered a bunch of starters—the sweet corn ($5 or $6 off the cob); the ceviche ($11), the Brussels sprouts ($7) and corn and chorizo empanadas ($9 for three empanadas). That corn was amazing. So much so that we ended up getting three plates of it. And while I am sure it is delicious on the cob, it was a nice way to share with a group when you could just scoop some off. Love the hunk of jalapeno butter and chipotle mayo on there. This corn was rich and decadent and had so much flavor. I would surely get this dish each and every time if it is on the menu. The Brussels sprouts were also quite tasty—roasted and topped with some cheese and served alongside a green salsa. I have had several of the various empanada choices, and these were good. I preferred the corn version to the chorizo ones. The chorizo empanadas came with a peach salsa, which wasn’t my favorite. The corn empanadas came with a cilantro crema and had cheddar cheese inside as well. They just had more flavor and even with the sweetness of the corn, came across as more savory. In the past, I have enjoyed the chicken version as well.

I really enjoyed the variation of the acidity of the ceviche. It was a nice contrast to everything else. It seemed like it was mainly made with shrimp and scallops. It was flavored with jalapeno, cilantro, tomatillo and lime. They serve it with super thin plantain chips, which were nice to eat with some of the seafood on it. There’s also some seasoned popcorn on top. I could take or leave the popcorn, just because when it gets a little wet, I find popcorn to get too seedy.

I was quite happy with all of the appetizers and could happily just make a meal out of them in the future, but we also ordered mains. I ordered the pork belly tacos, because I was having a hard time making up my mind. They fry up some flour shells and put a big slice of pork belly, along with black bean puree, chipotle BBQ sauce, lettuce, poblano crema, and pickled carrot. They were served with a lime wedge each. These were tasty, even though one of them had a fair amount of fat in the pork belly that made it a little chewy, therefore making it a little tough to eat. The other taco (which was of course the one I shared) was much better. The squeeze of lime was key.

Hubby had the skirt steak ($18) with chimichurri refried beans, broccolini, and jalapeno butter. He really enjoyed it—the steak was cooked just right, nicely medium rare and tender. I just got a couple of bites but liked the ones I had. The only other dinner that I tried was one friend who had an appetizer for her dinner—the sweet plantains ($8) with black bean puree, poblano crema, habanero guajillo sauce, pineapple salsa and cotija cheese. I wouldn’t have probably ordered this, thinking it would be too sweet, but it was super tasty. The plantains with the heat and acid from the pineapple and habanero sauce, as well as the richness of the beans, cream, and cheese. It was really good. I would definitely be tempted to order this one again.

I think this is the best meal I have had at Livery. I feel like they definitely have their groove going now and have adjusted menu items to keep making them better. I still haven’t been brave enough to try a salad here again, based on past experiences, but maybe one of these days. Anyone had a salad here that they really like? Or what have your overall experiences been? Feel free to update me!

720 N. College
Indy 46202

Monday, August 20, 2018

Open Society -- Revist

I met some friends at Open Society for lunch the other day. I heard they have a new chef and I looked at the menu online and was intrigued. It has been changed a bit since the last time I was there, which was quite a while ago.

smash burger?
So I was torn between breakfast type items and lunch, but when I saw they had something called the society burger, which is further described as a “smash burger,” I got even more interested. Could it be a nice thin burger? I mean what else could “smash burger” mean right? Well, I don’t know why they use that term, because this was actually more like a meatball than any type of patty. I was kind of sad about this. Also, it was a very well-done meatball, which was also a bummer (they didn’t ask how I wanted it). It came topped with cheese, arugula, pickles and a special sauce. I enjoyed the flavors of the toppings, but sadly, the meat was disappointing. And the bun was also quite round in shape. The whole thing ended up being like the opposite of a thin burger. The fries here are quite delicious though. I particularly like the crunchy end bits. I like a nice crunchy fry, and these hit the spot. They serve them with ketchup though, which is kind of boring.

I also had a couple of bites of my friend’s avocado toast ($12), which visually looked amazing. How can you go wrong with avocado, egg, and cheese right? Well, the whole plate, salad and asparagus included, was strangely under seasoned. I guess because avocado and eggs both cry out for salt, but we kept salting it (which we had to ask for) and still were not getting it right. Same thing with the dressing on the greens. It was kind of sad for something so beautiful to be lacking such depth. Especially since the description described Aleppo oil (Aleppo is a type of pepper) as an ingredient, which we thought would liven it up, but we struggled to find the flavor of it. 

The final thing I had just a bite of was ‘nduja sandwich ($15). It came topped with local ‘nduja, avocado, roasted red pepper and Havarti on Amelia’s bread. It also had chips on the side. This sandwich had a distinct spicy flavor to it, unlike the others. It must have been the ‘nduja, but it had a kick to it for sure. It was not like ‘nduja I had had before—not as soft and spreadable, but still the sandwich was pretty good. I liked the thin cut bread. This is the type of bread I really enjoy on a sandwich. I can’t say it’s a sandwich I would repeatedly order, but I enjoyed the bites I had.

Overall, I was a little disappointed with the food I had, particularly my “smash” burger. Hopefully one day I will find out what it has this name.

Open Society
4850 North College Ave
Indy 46205

Noise rating (at lunch): 1 bell out of 5.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Ali'i Poke

I really enjoy poke (it’s pronounced “poh-kay”) and am excited to see new options springing up around Indy. So poke is sort of like a deconstructed sushi roll in many ways—the star of the dish is meant to be the fish, and it is usually served raw and marinated. You choose your base (rice, greens or nacho chips) and then you choose your proteins, your toppings, and your sauces. Or at Ali’I poke, you can go with one of their signature bowls, in which they have created a bowl of ingredients that they think go well together. We built our own.

At Ali’I, you get a small or large bowl ($9.50 or $12.50). In a small bowl, you get two scoops of protein and in a large, you get four. I was really torn because I like to get a scoop of tofu in my bowl, but only one scoop of fish seemed inadequate. And in the interest of blogging, I also wanted to try the salmon. So, in order to write the most thorough post possible (it’s your fault I got such a huge portion), I got the large. However, for future reference, you really don’t need the large unless you’re really hungry—the portion they give is quite generous. I had two scoops of the marinated tuna, one of the marinated salmon, and one tofu. The kids both got the small and both got all tuna. First of all, I think the fish quality is slightly better than the other poke place I have tried in town. The pieces are cut a bit bigger, and they give you more in a scoop. I think the bigger pieces make it harder to hide fatty bits. Both the tuna and the salmon were very good, and I only came across one piece that was a touch fatty. The tofu was nice big chunks too, and because they don’t mix the proteins up in the sauce (which has its good and bad points), it stays that way. As for the base of my bowl, I got half sushi rice and half greens, and I think at this place, I would just stick with the rice in the future. I really like greens in poke, but these were bigger, harder pieces of lettuce (mainly romaine), and weren’t as good as softer mixed baby greens. Just harder to eat I guess.

As far as toppings, I went with edamame, sesame seeds, crispy onions, avocado, and scallions. I also like that they don’t charge you extra for anything (even the avocado), so you know just what you are paying from the start. There are a ton of sauces and I had a hard time choosing. I ended up getting some of the creamy miso and some of the spicy mayo, and both were good (they will let you taste any that you want as well). My daughter did the creamy miso and the sesame shoyu and I think it might have been a little better. I would also like to try the sesame vinaigrette. There is also classic unagi sauce and honey wasabi. (I told you there are a lot of choices!).

All in all, we quite liked this place, and to be honest, it is not much further than driving to Carmel, which is our other regular poke haunt. We were torn amongst the group as to which we liked more, but I think because the fish and the portions were a bit better here, I would choose this one, although I will still frequent both. This place was doing a bustling business on a week day, and I think may be a favorite of the staff at the IUPUI campus.

I know there are some other places offering poke bowls as well—have you had any of them, and what did you think?

Ali’I Poke
910 West 10th Street
Indy 46202

Monday, August 6, 2018

Taste of Havana- Revisit

It has been a minute since hubby and I have been back to Taste of Havana for lunch. We both really enjoyed it when we went, so the other day, we took advantage of a free lunch time together and headed to Broad Ripple. They have expanded since the last time we were there (I told you, it has been awhile), and it’s nice to have more seating. It’s casual seating and there’s a fair amount of it. The only downside is it was freezing in there, which made us eat very quickly and get out. Who knows, maybe that’s what they want.

Anyhow, we went with the traditional Cuban sandwich (I got the mini version for $7.50, and it is really not that small). It is your traditional pressed Cuban sandwich with roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles. It hits the Cuban sandwich spot for sure and I like that it is pressed and not so fat it’s hard to eat. When I was waiting for mine, I heard someone else ask for extra pickles and I think that is definitely the way to go. There were only a few pickles on there, and they are some of my favorite parts. I just went and asked for some on the side and doctored it up myself. The pickles and the mustard are where its at for sure. It’s a solid, traditional sandwich. If you want something on the side, you have to get it separately. I just went with a bag of chips.

The sandwich that hubby ordered, that we have had before, that is probably the star though, is the pan con lechon ($10.49). This one is served on the same type of bread as the Cuban, but is topped with pulled, marinated, roasted pork, caramelized onions, and mayo. They also give you a little container (you’ll want two) of au jus to dip in and it is fabulous. I like the way it makes the sandwich nice and moist as well as adding some saltiness. I love the pickle and bite of the mustard on the Cuban, but this is probably even better.
All in all, it’s a cute place and the owner is exceptionally friendly. I am glad to see they are doing well and have expanded. And it’s a place I need to think of more often.

Taste of Havana
815 Broad Ripple Avenue
Indy 46220

Noise rating: 0 bells (out of five)