Monday, September 24, 2018

Rize -- Revisit

I have been to Rize a couple of times, but I always seem to forget about it---and hubby had not yet been, so one day when we had some time for lunch together, I actually remembered it and off we went. It was a really nice day (and yet, it was freezing in the restaurant), so we chose to eat outside. They have a nice little patio that’s not on such a busy road (it faces the parking lot).

Anyway, I find this menu very appealing, and so did hubby. It was closer to lunch time than breakfast, but we decided to get a little of both types of dishes and share. We ordered the egg tart ($11), the ham sandwich ($13), and the crispy potatoes ($5). I have had the tart before and it is pretty tasty. The custard comes in a tart shell, and then is topped with all kinds of veggies—there’s broccoli rabe, mushrooms, squash and spinach I believe. And pickled onions on top as well as some micro greens. There’s this hibiscus mustard on the plate that makes the dish. With all those veggies, I would have loved a little more. To be honest, the egg part actually kind of gets lost in all those veggies. I think if I ordered it again and it came so veggie heavy, I might just remove half of them right away to make the proportions a little more balanced. I feel like there were more of them than the first time I went. 

The ham sandwich sounds simple., but they use a croissant, scrambled eggs, prosciutto, high quality cheddar and then hollandaise. We asked for the hollandaise sauce on the side (on the recommendation of our server), which I think was a good plan. This sandwich was so good—and so was the hollandaise. But it was nice to use as much as you want and not have your croissant go all soft and gooey. They do the eggs really well, they are light and fluffy. The ham was very tasty and in just the right amount. There was also a nice little side salad that was maybe slightly underdressed, but still good. 

Finally we had the crispy potato side dish. Hubby was in love with this dish, and they were very good. Imagine like a giant tater tot—it was round and made of shredded potatoes and was very nice and crispy. It sat on top of a creamy mornay sauce (cheesy cream sauce), but I will say, I had a few yummy bites dipped in the hollandaise. These are completely worth ordering and I know they will always be ordered when I am with hubby.

After trying this sandwich, it makes me want to try the other sandwiches as well. They have some nice combinations and it seems they try hard to come up with something more interesting than the standards. Even the grilled cheese seems interesting. I hope this place stays around, as I find it so much more interesting than the other breakfast place at Ironworks. Now, if we can just fill the B Spot space with something good, we’ll be all set. What do you guys think should go in there?

2721 East 86th Street
Indy 46240

Monday, September 17, 2018

Public Greens - Fashion Mall

The other day my daughter and I decided we needed to do a little shopping and ended up in the Fashion Mall food court at around 11:30. Since we were there, we decided to grab a bite to eat and headed into Public Greens. Although I’ve been to the one in Broad Ripple before I decided trying a new location could offer a different experience.

After looking at the menu for a bit… and learning that they had just gotten local, amazing, strawberries in from a friendly waitress we went up to order. I ordered the Fried Chicken, Basil Pesto Fritters, and Strawberry Shortcake ($16). The way pricing works there is you either pick one ($6), two ($10), or three ($14) items from the salads, snacks, or proteins sections and add an extra $2 for each protein. My daughter decided to go with the Santa Fe Pork Bowl ($16), which is another option if you want more of a put together meal. She also grabbed one of their specialty juices, with a combination of grapefruit, apple, and lemon juice.

We sat down at a table and only had to wait maybe 10 minutes before our food came out. First, we tasted the basil pesto fritters, which from what I understand have pesto blended into the dough and are topped with a balsamic glaze. The idea was intriguing as they were presented almost as if they were a dessert but were clearly savory. The glaze had a nice flavor as did the fritters, although the texture of the fritters was interestingly denser than you might think, with and the flavors hinted at maybe a partially chickpea-based flour? They were decent but needed some extra oomph. A little more texture would have been nice.

I have had the fried chicken at the other Public Greens and thought it was good. This similar version was good as well, but not as good as in the past. They weren’t that hot and a little dry. Almost like they are reheating them. They were still fairly crisp, but I did feel like they could have used a sauce, maybe something spicy or fresh. My daughter enjoyed sneaking bites of my chicken which is rare for her, not being so much of a fried chicken addict herself. Her pork dish was decent if a little bland. It consisted of a quinoa, pinto beans, and Santa Fe style pork base, and supposedly was topped with cilantro, scallions, feta, and ranch. The only true topping I noticed in any quantity was the ranch sauce on top, which did help to moisten the quinoa (which unfortunately, like most quinoa, was rather dry) but didn’t add a ton of flavor. The pork and beans were well cooked, although the pork could have used a little more spice. Overall, the dish was ok and she seemed satisfied although I felt it could have used more of a flavorful topping. 

To conclude our meal we tried the Strawberry Shortcake, treating it as our dessert, even though it's listed as a snack, based on the server’s recommendation. This was honestly the biggest disappointment of the meal after all the hype we had heard about the strawberries. It’s not that the strawberries tasted bad (they were quite sweet and delicious), it was that we were only given 2.5 strawberries for an entire slab of pound cake. We only ended up eating about a quarter of the cake simply because we ran out of strawberries to eat it with. Despite this, the bites we did have were excellent and the cake itself was lovely and moist. 

Ultimately, I feel Public Greens is a wonderful idea (with all their proceeds going to charity) with a somewhat iffy execution. Their food needs more flavor and really needs a bit more of an interesting spin to really impress me. You feel like you are eating a healthier option, but not necessarily a particularly flavorful one.  Does anyone have any recommendations as to what to order there that has a bit more flavor?

Public Greens
8702 Keystone Crossing
Indianapolis, IN 46240

Noise Rating: 2 bells (out of five)

Monday, September 10, 2018

Festiva -- New Ownership

In case you haven’t heard, there are new owners at Festiva—it is the previous owner of La Chinita Poblano in Broad Ripple. We were excited to give the new place a try and see how and what had been changed. The first thing I appreciated is that you can now eat there even if you are under 21, so on one of the visits discussed here, we took the kids. The other visit was with friends.

There are certainly some highs and lows at Festiva food-wise. On one visit we had the guacamole ($9) and on one visit the queso ($7). The guacamole is described as the best in town, and it is definitely up there. Seasoned well—lots of salt and lots of acid. Extremely good. The queso on the other hand, which is described on the menu as tres chiles queso is not very good. Not a lot of flavor and very thin in consistency. I feel like queso is something that shouldn’t be too hard to get it tasty and I think this recipe needs to be shaken up. The chips are solid. Other really good things—the margaritas. Both times we had a pitcher of the house margaritas ($30 for 4-5 margaritas). I like that you don’t have to go fancy here to get a quality margarita. Also, I like the little crunchy spicy bits you get when you sit down as well. I don’t love the hot sauce drizzled on them, as it quickly makes them go soggy, but the ones without or the ones eaten quickly are very tasty.

So one of the visits they had a special that was SOFT SHELL CRAB tostadas. Well you know I was ordering these (it was the masa antojito of the day). These were outstanding. Half a crab on each (would have preferred a whole, but you know), a spicy crema type sauce underneath and lots of delicious pickled veggies on top. This dish was a star and I almost ordered a second round and I wished I had instead of what I did order. It was a special, but if they ever have them when you are there, get them. The other thing that I ordered the same visit as a main dish, even though it’s actually listed as an appetizer is the shrimp cocktail ($11). Now I have had Mexican shrimp cocktails in California before and they were amazing—they are almost more like a cross between a ceviche and a bloody Mary. Sadly, this one didn’t have much flavor to it and was lacking the avocado that was described on the menu, which made me sad. There was none. There was a lot of cucumber, which is not my favorite. This was a pass.

A big winner on both visits was the carne asada ($20). This is a good size piece of marinated skirt steak—it’s marinated in a cilantro-based sauce. It comes with sautéed onions and peppers and choice of sides. We’ve tried several, but the most commonly ordered seem to be the potatoes (rajas con papas) and the beans (frijoles charres). This steak has so much flavor from the marinade as well as the salsa-type sauce that comes with it. This was a table favorite on both visits with both groups. On one visit we also had the costillas ($18 for half rack), which are honey/guajilli braised pork ribs. The menu says it comes with a crema, but I didn’t see any. The ribs were quite good though—extremely tender and with a nice smoky flavor.

On one visit we ordered the pollo in achiote ($16) as well. This is a half-roasted chicken in an achiote rub (it has a red color and an earthy flavor). You know, I think our chicken was a bit burnt, although it had a decent flavor. Part of the color is certainly from the spice rub, but we saw several others come out that were not so dark. The chicken was a bit dry once you got into the white meat as well. I think if this was executed just right, it would be very tasty. The least successful dish for me on one of the visits was the shrimp tacos ($16). They are described as salt and pepper crispy shrimp (I love a good salt and pepper preparation), with caramelized onion, chipotle salsa, cilantro and onion. For whatever reason, these came across as really flat to me. The shrimp were good quality, but the flavors just didn’t have the acidic balance I crave with this kind of food. 

On both occasions we had the churros ($5) and on one visit the dark chocolate flan ($7). The churros are good---one the second trip, I think they were cooked just a little beyond ideal, but in general you can’t go wrong with stick-shaped doughnuts covered in sugar, drizzled with caramel, and served with dark chocolate dipping sauce. The dark chocolate flan was interesting. I am not usually a fan of flan because it is often kind of boring and one dimensional, but the slight bitterness of the dark chocolate took it to a more interesting place.

Overall, I think Festiva is a fun place to go, and I like the setting, the service, and the drinks for sure. I have found several really good food items as well, even if I hope they keep tweaking some of the menu items as they grow. It’s certainly a place we will return (my kids are already asking), and since we can bring them now, this makes it more of a doable option. Those of you who have been since the ownership change, what do you think?

1217 East 16th Street
Indy  46202

Noise Rating: 3 bells (out of five)

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Workingman's Friend -- Revisit

Hubby and I have been lamenting about the lack of quality thin burgers in town since the Barking Dog closed, and decided it was time to go back to Workingman’s Friend and check their version out again.This was especially true after the "smash burger" incident at Open Society. It’s a bit of a hike for us, but we were starting to get desperate. Last time I had been, I was a little disappointed, but these thoughts have been replaced with happiness after this visit—maybe last time was just an off day.

This place has the charming atmosphere of a very old, slightly divey bar in an older Indy neighborhood—the near west side. I do wonder when this part of town will be targeted for redevelopment like the near east side has been. Anyhow, there were people there, but it wasn’t super busy. We quickly ordered our cheeseburgers (me a single ($5), hubby a double ($6.50)) and our onion rings ($3.50). I foolishly noticed fried zucchini ($4.50) advertised on a sign and ordered it as well. That was my only mistake. These are clearly coming out of a foodservice bag and are not tasty—they are breaded and then fried. We each tried one and that was it.

Our burgers on the other hand, they were delicious. I got the perfect accompaniments on mine—cheese, lettuce, mayo, onions and pickles (they put the pickles on the side). Then I added some ketchup and mustard. So the burgers here are super thin. They have lacy edges but are still somewhat tender in the middle. They shred their lettuce (the only way it should be on a burger) and they put it on the bottom bun with the mayo. Exactly where it should be. Hubby enjoyed his double as well—he liked that there is a thin piece of bread in between the patties because it keeps the sandwich together, so it doesn’t just fall apart. These burgers really fill a void in Indy. (Please tell me where else to get good thin burgers in town if you know of any).

The onion rings are also solid. They are battered and are so much better than the zucchini. A burger and onion rings are the perfect combo. Oh and an ice-cold schooner of beer (literally, their glasses are coated in ice). It may become more frequent in our rotation. And we saw one of our U.S. Senators there, Joe Donnelly, which was pretty cool. He came and said hello and took a picture with hubby. (He had a single if you’re curious).

Sadly, we can’t take the kids because it is 21 and over only, and remember, they only take cash.

Workingman’s Friend
234 N. Belmont Ave.
Indy 46222