Monday, October 28, 2019

Hoagies and Hops

Recently a friend suggested Hoagies and Hops for a quick lunch—it was crazy because it is just a few blocks from my work, but I had never even heard of it. It’s a cute little place that serves local beers as well as Philly-style hoagies, cheesesteaks and hot dogs. The owner (I believe) mentioned to us that it was the Hog Island sandwich that inspired her to open the shop after living in Pennsylvania. They are importing the bread from South Jersey and chips and pickles from Philly.

We shared a pretzel and beer cheese ($2.79) to start. I liked the beer cheese pretty well. The pretzel was good too, but I wish it had been heated up.  I ordered the 7” chicken cheesesteak with fried onions and sharp provolone. They cook it up fresh and bring it to the table. The ingredients were good, but I sort of wish I had gotten the “Philly Special” that comes with banana peppers, tomatoes, parmesan and spicy sauce just to add a little more flavor to it—I was itching for some acidity or something more. I think the tomatoes, onions and peppers would have done it. But I can’t say I am any kind of cheesesteak expert so I would love to hear what others think—I bet for people who grew up eating these types of sandwiches, this would be a welcome sight—it feels authentic, even though I am not really sure due to lack of experience. 

The cold hoagies seemed popular and that is what my friend had. It was the Hog Island that I mentioned earlier. This includes salami, black forest ham, prosciutto, capicola, provolone, lettuce, tomato, onions and oil. I liked the lettuce and dressing to add some of that flavor I was looking for, although I would put a little vinegar or something in there too. Or maybe some of the whole grain mustard they mentioned in the menu. Loved all the fresh onions though. 

Overall though, like I said, the shop seems to be a labor of love to the owner (I think) who it sounds like ate these types of sandwiches in Philly and was inspired to open a sandwich shop. The people were really friendly and the service was fast. There were lots of working people grabbing a sandwich here and I love how close it is to my work. I am sure I will give it another try to see if I can create my perfect sandwich. 

Please share what you think if you have been here.

Hoagies and Hops
4155 Boulevard Place
Indianapolis, IN 46208

Monday, October 14, 2019

Cake Bake Shop Carmel

Cake Bake has clearly been a darling of Broad Ripple since it opened, and it truly is adorable inside. It is one of my now-teenage daughter’s favorite places. I was excited to hear about the expanded menu at the new Carmel location and checked it out the other day with a group of girlfriends. If I am completely honest, I have never thought their cakes were all that, particularly at the price…but I do love a French bistro-style savory menu, and that’s what they have in Carmel (Broad Ripple too but I don’t think it has as much variety last time I checked).

Since there was a bunch of us, we shared a couple of starters—we had crab cakes (it was actually the crab cake dinner that comes with 2 cakes for $32) and the burrata salad ($18). Both were actually very nice. The crab cakes had a lot of crab in them (you’d hope so at that price) and their remoulade sauce had a nice kick of mustard to it that amped up the flavor. I liked the very crispy panko-breaded edges. And I have to say, I am kind of particular when it comes to crab cakes. I would eat these again. 

I also enjoyed the freshness of the burrata salad ($18) which was a nice amount of burrata with fresh tomatoes, basil and extra virgin olive oil. The tomatoes were wonderful end of summer tomatoes and I appreciate this considering the travesty that a lot of places serve for tomatoes in Indiana. This should never happen in Indiana in the summer. They also brought some nice warm French bread with it, which I could have eaten all of, but restrained myself. It was good. 

I ordered the croque Madame for my dinner ($21). If you are unfamiliar, this is a decadent French ham and cheese sandwich covered in béchamel and topped with a runny egg. So they use a nice country bread, stuff it with gruyere cheese, ham, and mustard, add the béchamel sauce on top and broil it I am guessing. If you stop there, you have a croque monsieur. But if you want the proper sandwich, you always add the egg.  Why you would ever not get the egg, I will never know. It is a rich sandwich though—I only ate about half. Ok, I ate all the egg, but about half the sandwich. I switched out my salad side for frites based on the recommendation of a friend who had been there (although next time I would just get both because I was sad not to get to try the salad with the lemon vinaigrette as described. I think it would be a nice addition). The fries are very tasty and you have to love a nice black pepper aioli alongside to dip them in. They were good, but not super hot. My friend who recommended them was a bit sad about this. All in all though, I enjoyed my dinner. 

The same friend who recommended the fries got the chicken and andouille sausage gumbo (a nice little selection of New Orleans-style food as well) ($22 + $8 if you want to add shrimp, which she did). She had raved about it to me the first time she had it and also thought it was also a little disappointing this time—she felt it didn’t have as much flavor as the first time. I tried a bite—I had nothing to compare it to, but agreed, it seemed a little bland. It is homemade though, so maybe it just varies with who is cooking that day? Not sure. I would like to try the shrimp po boy though—they are flying in bread from Nola and I have not found a good one since B’s closed. 

Another friend had the burger ($20), which looked pretty tasty, but I didn’t try it. A little thicker burger version, but with quality toppings. I would like to try it at some point. Another friend had the French onion soup and watermelon, arugula and feta salad for her main. She thought the salad was tasty, but very small. The soup was just average in her opinion.

Of course we had some cake (ok, I didn’t take pictures, but it might be the most photographed dessert in Indy, so easy enough to see if you want to). I really liked the Millionaire cake the best (slice is $13). Dark chocolate cake, caramel and vanilla frosting in the middle of the layers and well as shortbread. I loved the crunch of the shortbread and the cake itself seemed moister and fresher than what I have had here in the past. The raspberry Champagne cake ($13) was also a table favorite. 

Décor-wise, the Carmel location is very nice and much larger than Broad Ripple, but it’s a new building and in my mind, it’s impossible to recreate the charm of the Broad Ripple location. But I do like the menu and the food overall was good. I will take the kids one of these days—it is their kind of menu for sure. And like I said, I want to try that po boy (anyone had it? Let me know).

Cake Bake Shop
800 S. Rangeline Road
Carmel, IN 46032