Monday, August 19, 2019


I am trying to get out and try some new places and Maialina kept popping up in my social media. It’s a new place that is in the historic Fountain Square building and it’s Italian. I keep hoping for a great Italian place, so I was excited to try it. I didn’t realize till we were there that it was owned by the same family that owns Ambrosia, which lessened my excitement a bit (just never had an amazing meal there), but I wanted to keep an open mind.

We started with the tomato and basil bruschetta ($10), the parmesan garlic toast ($4) and the small Italian chop salad ($7). Ok, I have to say this course was pretty underwhelming. The best thing was the garlic toast and it was very good. Bread was crunchy and it had a nice amount of cheese on top that didn’t make it gooey, but just added to the flavor. The bruschetta had a lot of problems. The biggest one was lack of taste. I liked the small dices of tomato, but it needed acid so much. According to our waiter, I think it was meant to have some balsamic on it, but I tasted nothing. And for me a good piece of bruschetta is toasted crunchy so that it doesn’t get soggy under the toppings. This was very lightly toasted if it was even toasted at all. I ended up using some of the dressing from the salad and putting the tomatoes on the parmesan toast. Then I got a decent flavor bite. But the most important change I would recommend is adding acid to those tomatoes. Please. 

I was a bit puzzled by the chopped salad. When I read chop, I think little chopped up pieces that are all approximately the same size. The menu listed romaine, pepperoncini, salame, provolone, mushrooms, green olives, red onions and croutons. This was certainly not chopped very much. There was a lot of lettuce and large slices of red onion and some olives, maybe 2-3 tiny pieces each of cheese and salame, a lot of croutons, and one large pepperoncini on top. Oh, and no dressing. At all. It was supposed to have red wine vinaigrette, which I eventually asked for and got. And I was surprised at how lacking in flavor it was as well. It was not emulsified at all and the main taste was of oil. So in my mind this salad was a no-go. A chop salad should be chopped and tossed with the dressing. End of story.

Moving on to the main courses, we quickly learned none of the pastas are made in house, which was disappointing. Hubby ordered the cacio e pepe pasta ($12), my son the gnocchi Bolognese ($18), and I got the truffle mushroom flatbread ($10).  Luckily things improved on his course. The best course was the simplicity of the cacio e pepe, which was spaghetti with cheese and pepper. This is a simple dish when done well is really tasty. This was good—the cheese in the right amount both parmesan and percorino. The pepper was strange though—it was just some ground pepper on top (like the kind that comes from a pepper shaker—really fine). A little bit of fresh cracked pepper would have really added to the flavor (and was what was listed on the menu). The Bolognese was decent as well, but a weird choice to put on gnocchi because little pillow shapes of gnocchi don’t really hold on to the sauce that was made with ground meats. The flavor was good but you kind of had to eat them separately—the gnocchi and then a spoonful of the meat sauce. I would recommend a different shape of pasta for this dish. The flatbread was decent as well—I didn’t get a lot of truffle flavor, but I liked the little bit of rosemary. It was maybe a little boring, but nothing wrong with it. I definitely preferred the cacio and pepe. That’s what I would get on a return visit. Which is probably somewhat unlikely.

I will say, this is a pretty new place, so they are probably still finding their groove, but nothing really jumped out to me and the first half of the meal was pretty disappointing. They do have a nice Italian wine selection though. And our waiter was very nice and service was pretty good overall, even though they were very busy (people in Indy do love a new place). If you have been, please give me your thoughts. 

1103 Prospect Street
Indy  46203

Monday, August 12, 2019

International Adventures--Paris

Over the summer, my family and I went on a trip to explore parts of Europe—Paris, London, Windsor and Edinburgh. I have probably mentioned we used to live just outside of Windsor and my daughter did as well but didn’t remember it because she was so young. So we took the family to all the old haunts and to some other great cities.

We started in Paris (how could you not with that great direct flight from Indy to Paris?) We arrived just in time for a crazy heat wave. Anyhow, here I am just going to write about our food experiences, but we had a great time. 

To start with, we stayed at the Hotel Fauchon, which was a beautiful hotel, but is known for their bakery and fancy baked goods and sweets. Needless to say, the complimentary breakfast that came with our room was one of the highlights. The croissants alone were amazing. But I also loved the scrambled eggs that were so lightly cooked and not all dried out like they usually are in the states. They even asked how many minutes you wanted them cooked. After I got them, my whole family started getting them just about every day. Then there was the fancy chocolate cake and their French toast—which was light and custardy. We also had a dinner one night at the  hotel restaurant (The Grand Café Fauchon) which was also very good. There were crudos, risotto with tiny thin rounds of octopus, asparagus with soft boiled eggs. An extreme high end French meal—it was fun. And of course ended with fancy Fauchon desserts—the lips were filled with berries and there was a chocolate/caramel éclair. 
Fauchon dinner

The first night we arrived though, we ate at Breizh Café, which is known for crepes (it is a small Paris chain). I told you last week how much I love buckwheat crepes, and I sought this place out. This one is called the Mushroom complete (12.50). It had very thin ham, Comte cheese, mushrooms and a sunny side egg. It was perfect. The egg was runny, the ham was tasty, but in just the right amount to not overwhelm the flavors and the mushrooms just added a little extra earthiness. I also got a little side salad which was perfectly dressed with a tangy cider vinaigrette (3.80). One of my favorite meals in the world when done correctly. We all got some version of the complete—my son without the mushrooms and my daughter got one with caramelized onions instead of mushrooms. As you know I recently had a similar one at Buondi Caffe that was good as well, and that is the only place I know in Indy that does a buckwheat crepe. The kids also had a chocolate crepe for dessert and it was very tasty too. 

One morning we went on a walking tour and our guide recommended Le Relais de l’Entrecote. This is a restaurant that specializes in steak frites. And when I say specialize, I mean it is the only thing they serve.  The set menu is about €30. You sit down, order some drinks and have a plate of their house salad with walnuts and a tangy vinaigrette in front of you within minutes. You tell them how you want your steak cooked in their 3 offered choices-rare, medium, or well and that’s it. They bring your steak, slice pieces of it and cover it in their special sauce—hard to say what was in it, but it was delicious. Definitely a hint of anchovy in there as well as some nut I am guessing since they wouldn’t let my allergic son eat any of it. They give you a generous portion of fries alongside and then after you eat your steak, they come around and give you a second portion of the meat. And the frites look simple, but they were really salty and tasty. I don’t know how they made them taste so good.  It’s crazy. But really fun and delicious. One of my kids’ favorite meals of the trip. They have a couple of choices for dessert as well and we shared some profiteroles. Also so good—I love the dark chocolate they used everywhere. Just a note, there is usually a line when they open for lunch, so best bet is to get there right when they open or prepare for a wait. It’s a fast meal though, so I am guessing they turn over tables pretty quick. 

The last meal I will write about was at 58 Eiffel, which is in the Eiffel Tower. In the past, hubby and I ate at Jules Verne, which is a restaurant a bit higher up on the tower and was very fine dining. It was very decadent, but very good. However, it is currently closed for renovation, so we went with the other option. This feels less fancy and decadent, but I actually thought the food was decent. You pay a set price for the dinner (€125 for upgraded view; €95 without) and you get 3 courses plus two glasses of wine.  You can choose from a couple different options and like I said, it was pretty good-elevated (pun intended) wedding food. But in Paris. And with more interesting dishes. Lots of asparagus, some foie gras and several fish dishes. The star here is definitely the view. You can pay a little extra to be on the window, and I don’t know why you would go if you don’t have a view. Someday I would like to try the fancy place again when it re-opens.

Anyhow, this is a quick review of where we ate—of course there were lots of little pastries and chocolates along the way, but these were the memorable meals. In a couple weeks I will tell you about London—we ate very well there.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Caffe Buondi

Trying to get back into the swing of things and try some of these new places that are popping up, I met my friend Suzanne at Caffe Buondi the other day for lunch to catch up with her as well as try something new. Caffe Buondi is owned by the same folks that brought you Convivio next door. 

The menu here is quite large—maybe a bit too large it you ask me—a little overwhelming. But as soon as I saw it, I knew I was ordering the “Ickx” ($11.95). Apparently, this section of the menu is named after Italian race car drivers. There’s another section named after actresses and another named for soccer players. You can order breakfast all day or lunch—they have several sandwiches and salads as well. 

So the Ickx is a buckwheat crepe filled with ham, swiss and a sunny side up egg. This is one of my favorite dishes of all time and pretty much anywhere I see it on a menu, I will be ordering it. In fact, I searched out a crepe restaurant that specialized in buckwheat crepes in Paris because I love them so much (more on that in a future post). This was a very solid version. The crepe was thin and somewhat crisp, and the egg was exactly perfect—firm white, totally runny yolk. The cheese had a since salty distinct flavor and the ham was good quality. If I had any complaints about the crepe, it would be that maybe there was just a little too much ham and it overpowered some of the bites because you couldn’t get a little bit of everything in every bite. However, that being said, I will likely order it again if I return. I chose the little arugula and almond side salad for my side (there are a couple of options). It was disappointing because there seemed to be no dressing on it at all. I am not sure if this is purposeful or not, but a little acidic vinaigrette would be a perfect accompaniment to the salad and the crepe. Next time, I would ask if it comes dressed and ask for some extra on the side. Or get something different.

Suzanne had the Crespelle ($13.95), which is on the lunch section of the menu. It is two savory crepes (but not buckwheat) that are stuffed with chicken, spinach and ricotta and topped with parmesan cream sauce. These are almost like enchiladas or burritos Italian style. I liked the flavor of the spinach in there, but they were maybe a little too rich for me.

Overall, I liked this place—ok, mainly because I LOVE a buckwheat crepe cooked thin and with an egg in it, but I thought the quality was good and the menu is interesting. Even if it didn’t blow my mind or anything.

If you have been here and really loved something, let me know. Maybe I will get hubby or the kids to order it. Since I’ll be getting my crepe.  Oh, and let me know what sides are good. 

Caffe Buondi
11529 Spring Mill Road
Carmel, IN 46032