Monday, September 30, 2019

Common House Supper Club

If you haven’t heard about Common House, it’s a pop-up supper club run by Alan and Audra Sternberg (he was formerly the chef at Cerulean and the founding chef at Field Brewing). Recently they started doing these pop ups (usually at Ukiyo as far as I can tell) and some friends asked us to go. The menu looked good and we bought tickets. If you call it “Simply Summer,” I will have a hard time passing that by. The entire dinner cost about $90 per person (drinks additional).

The first three courses were amazing. Truly. First was a scallop “tamale,” This was so tasty, it was basically a scallop mixture with whole chunks of scallop that was cooked like a tamale (steamed in a corn husk). Loved the texture of this and the delicate flavor, but also the broth underneath with leeks, scallions and corn dashi. This was unique and it was really good. 

Next came grilled squash salad, which if I am honest, was the one I was least excited about, but which turned out to be one of my favorites for sure. There were various types of squash that was lightly cooked with sweet onions and then tossed in a slightly acidic fish sauce-based sauce—at least that’s how I remember it. It was so good—just the right amount of umami. I loved this one.

The third course was tempura skate wing sitting in a tomato butter with powdered ramp powder. I love skate—truly love it. Skate is the wing of a type of ray in case you haven’t had it before. This was the first time I have had it tempura battered and it was fantastic. Super light and crispy. Clearly a great way to do skate. 

The next course was poached chicken with a strawberry miso side, with chicken fat and pine. This one was good but didn’t stand out the way the first courses had. I liked the crispy edge to the chicken though. I also liked the corn stuffed pasta for the next course with octopus slices and tomato, even though by this point, I was getting full and pasta was a tough one!

The next one lost me. I love tuna, but this “ember roasted” albacore with squid ink bbq, carrot and Thai basil wasn’t doing it for me. The preparation of the fish was such that it had a sort of caramelized crust on top, but the fish got so tough that you could really barely cut it. The last savory course was brisket with egg yolk steak sauce and bok choy. Honestly, but this time I was just purely stuffed. I had a bite or two but had to throw in the towel. I did like that sauce though.
The dessert was interesting, but again, I just tasted it because I was so full at this point. It was rice pudding with honeycomb candy, fermented pine honey, and blueberry sherbet. Interesting flavors and I really liked the texture variation from the light, but crunchy honeycomb in the creamy rest of the dessert. 

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this meal. Would I prefer maybe a 4-5 course meal next time? Yes.  I was losing steam toward the end. But I would definitely do a next time. I hope to see a restaurant in this couple’s future. 

Common House
twitter and Instagram: @commonhouseindy

Monday, September 16, 2019

Revisit: Road Trip: Fireside Inn - Enochsburg, IN

A couple weeks ago we met our Cincinnati friends back at Fireside Inn. I know I have written about this place before, but my love of fried chicken makes me need to remind you about it. Plus it was interesting to learn that there is a fried chicken trail in southern Indiana. Who knew? But Fireside Inn is one of our favorites in the area, and we’ve tried quite a few. 

We started with some fried pickles ($5.95) because these are some of the best I have ever had. They are thin and really vinegary pickles, just like you might get on your burger at an old-school burger place, with a really crunchy batter on the outside. They are clearly housemade—nothing overly uniform about these. They gave us some ranch dressing and we were good to go. These are the best crunchy fried items (besides the chicken of course) they have that I have tried. And I’ve had the gizzards, livers, onion rings and fries. The standard sides don’t seem to be made in house and the gizzards and livers just get a little dry. I will never go to Fireside Inn and not get the pickles.

The fried chicken is why you come though, and theirs is very good. We kept trying the other local places between Indy and Cincy, and we have all agreed this is our favorite. The chicken pieces are small, but generally I think smaller pieces stay juicier. A whole chicken here is $14.50 (hubby and I shared one and brought a couple pieces home). A half is $7.50. This chicken just ticks all the boxes. It’s juicy and tender and has a nice crispy and lightly seasoned crust. And they cook it to order so it is hot, hot, hot. I like mashed potatoes with my fried chicken the best, but they only offer them on certain days and it wasn’t the day we were there, so I just went with a baked potato ($2.45). Like I said the rest of the sides seem pretty food service, so I was happy with my choice. 

The atmosphere of this place is well, pretty bare and unchanged since maybe the late 60s. The bar has a better vibe, but only 4-5 tables, but it is where we always sit. The rest is a lot of fluorescent lighting and worn out fabrics. Our server was awesome though. She was hilarious and extremely efficient. She had the kind of personality that alone would make you come back. 

If you want a dive between here and Cincy with great fried chicken and pickles, this is your place. Preferably without the kids so you can sit in the bar. 

Fireside Inn
2174 County Line Road
Greensburg, IN 47240

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Four Day Ray Brewing

Recently we went to a concert a Ruoff/Klipsch/Deer Creek and I wanted to try something different. And hubby was traying to maximize the side of the park we came into for parking. I asked around on twitter and we settled on Four Day Ray in Fishers. It’s a brewery and restaurant—the menu looks like an elevated pub menu, and that was intriguing to me.

We met some friends there and started with the loaded fries—they were a big pile of fries with cheese sauce and chopped up bacon and chives. These were a tasty snack, especially right when they came out and were really hot (and they came out fast!). The fries were crisp but quickly became a little soft after sitting under the cheese sauce for a bit. Still tasted good, just needed to be eaten with a fork. Intrigued by the loaded tots though.

We all got some different things for mains and shared bites with everyone. We had some tacos, and a couple of sandwiches. The top picks were probably the burger ($11) and the Nashville Hot Chicken sandwich ($12). The burger is 2 beef patties with two slices of cheese (as it should be), Bomba sauce (which I am thinking was just like a classic burger sauce with some combo of ketchup and mayo as well as some other seasoning) on a brioche bun. This was a tasty burger—not exactly smash burger type patties, but thin-ish and very juicy. It was really good. Hubby chose chips with the burger and they were good too although I am usually a fry person.

The Nashville chicken sandwich was also really good. The chicken breast is brined with cayenne and pepper and then it is fried and topped with spicy hot sauce, shredded romaine lettuce and buttermilk chive dressing. The chicken was very tender and the coating on the chicken, even with the sauce,  stayed crisp. I liked the cool lettuce and dressing to balance out the spicy chicken. Also a really good sandwich. The onion rings were decent too. Battered and maybe a little overdone, but a good flavor. 

The tacos were a bit more mixed for me. I like the random flavor varieties they have, and they were very interesting and unexpected. I liked the poke taco ($5), which had a hard shell filled with marinated tuna, Asian snap slaw, and pickled ginger aioli. The taco had a distinctive flavor that maybe included sesame oil and the ginger aioli on top was really nice with it. This one was my favorite. Next of the ones we tried, I liked the Cubano ($4), which was a vegetarian option that includes fried plantain, black beans, mango salsa and guacamole. It had a slightly sweet taste from the plantain, but still a good savory mix as well. An interesting flavor profile. Not totally sure I would order it again, but it was interesting. The one I was kind of mixed on was the special taco ($5), which was stuffed with smoked chicken thigh, a chipotle sauce (I think) and fried onion straws. It was like BBQ in a tortilla which threw me off a bit. Nothing wrong with any component, bit not my favorite.

Overall though, the sandwiches were the stars. And I bet their tenderloin is good too based on the fried chicken. Oh! And what a cool beer selection. I am not typically a beer drinker, but I really like the refreshing taste of the blood orange blonde. Like beer, but with a little tart kick. It was great on the hot day with the food that had all kinds of different flavors. I also really enjoyed the “Hot Pink” which is a strawberry rhubarb jalapeno blonde. It had a distinct taste of the strawberry rhubarb (which I love) and then just a tiny heat in the back of your throat after you had a sip. Our waiter described it to us perfectly and I would be hard pressed to say which I liked better. Hubby also liked the La Playa Mexican lager—his favorites are almost always the Mexican style lagers wherever he goes. 

Anyhow, I thought this was a really good pub type experience. It’s new though,  therefore packed, so be prepared to wait (although they told us much longer than our wait ended up being). The food is tasty and our service was on point. Let me know what else you have had and enjoyed. 

Four Day Ray Brewing
11671 Lantern Road
Fishers, IN 46038