Monday, August 31, 2020

Convivio - Revisit

As you know, we are only eating in restaurants with outdoor seating right now. It’s the compromise we have made so that we can still go out to eat and feel a little bit safer with all of hubby’s health conditions. Anyhow, I was talking to a friend about being in desperate need for a date night (we suddenly realized we hadn’t been out by ourselves since this whole pandemic started—it seemed rude to leave the kids at home I guess since we were all a bit deprived for outside interactions). Anyway, this friend recommended Convivio because they have nice outdoor seating and a nice atmosphere in general. We had been before but not for several years.

She was right and we got a lovely table on the patio that had the screened in part (there are several nice tables along the bocce court too but harder to get full shade). They use a scanned menu, which I like for less spreading of germs. They have a nice wine list as well. We decided to split a couple of appetizers and share one pasta dish, which was a good choice as the pasta portions are large. They start out by bringing you focaccia and a tomato oil which was very good. They know how to do focaccia. 

I have this thing in the summer where I want good marinated tomatoes all the time—since they had a tomato bruschetta ($9.95) on the menu, we ordered that as well as the frito misto ($13). The tomatoes weren’t bad in themselves, but I want some vinegar in mine. I have a need for lots of acid with my tomatoes. They didn’t seem to have any on their tomatoes and when I asked for some balsamic they brought it eventually but said it took a while to find in the kitchen which I thought was weird for an Italian place, but whatever. Once I added the vinegar, I liked it much better. The bread was toasted perfectly. I liked the little hunks of cheese mixed in as well giving a nice texture change. 

Their fritto misto is very good and they do a great job with the light texture of the breading but also keeping the seafood (shrimp, octopus and calamari as well as some zucchini) tender and the breading light. We both enjoyed it a lot. I think we ate every single piece. Sticking with the summer theme, we went with the Caserecce all Genovese ($22.95). It was the Caserecce noodles with pesto, sundried tomatoes and shrimp. The noodle is a short noodle that sort of looks folded in on itself. The pesto tasted like summer and the shrimp were cooked just right. One portion was more than enough for 2 people.

We were totally not going to have dessert but then we did. And I do not regret it. It was a crepe filled with vanilla gelato and topped with chocolate sauce and strawberries. You could tell the crepe/gelato part was frozen in advance but it tasted so good on the hot night we were there. And because it was frozen, it held together really well and was super easy to eat. I would easily order this again. Just seeing the picture here again makes me want to eat it again.

All in all we had a lovely dinner. I feel like seasoning on some things could be amped up a little (the bruschetta and maybe a little salt and more lemon on the fritto misto) but we got what we needed and made them work and taste really well. Our server was very nice and helpful and although beastly hot out, we felt pleasant the whole time we were there. 

A good place to keep in mind in Carmel with some solid outdoor seating options.


11529 Spring Mill Road

Carmel, IN 46032


Monday, August 3, 2020

Big Lug -- Revisit

As you know if you’ve been reading my blog lately, I have been kind of picky about where I will eat right now due to concerns about safety. We are only eating outside and I am looking for places with nice space, employees who are following the rules and you can see they are taking precautions. One of the first places we went—and one of the places we go the most right now is Big Lug. I love their patio right on the Monon and we all agree that we really enjoy their food. So I am just going to highlight a few of our favorite things we’ve had over the last few visits. We have our regular favorites and have tried several specials recently.

To start with, I love the slushy alcohol drinks they are offering this summer-there’s a frozen margarita and a rhubarb version as well—they are even better swirled together (between $9-11). My family also usually orders the fried cheese curds ($8) to start as well—my kids describe them as fancy cheese stick nuggets. I like that they give you a couple of dipping sauces as well—green goddess and chipotle sauce. Both are good. They know how to fry things well at Big Lug and you will see that theme continue on several other things we typically order.

Like the “People’s Champ” ($7 small/$11 large)  (large pictured) for instance, which is sort of like their version of a popular fast food chicken sandwich—they brine the chicken in pickle juice and then fry it in their light batter. Its served on a small or large knot bun with more pickles. This is a very good sandwich and is typically ordered by someone at our table in either the small or large size.

Oh—and for the last month or so they’ve also started doing breakfast bagel sandwiches on Saturday and Sunday mornings and these are tasty as well—pictured is the bacon, egg and cheese bagel ($5) but they have a bunch of other flavors too—a good option if you’re out on the Monon in the morning. 

Burgers here are also a good option and I have had the Phrisco Melt on numerous occasions. The fam also often goes for the straight poutine, particularly when the weather is colder. But what has been one of the most popular sandwiches with the male half of my family recently is the Cuban ($8 half/ $12 full). It has braised pork belly, ham, Dijon, Swiss cheese, dill pickles and all on a smashed grilled Hoagie bun. It’s very well done for sure.

Recently we have had a couple of specials as well—most recently I had the Heirloom BLT special ($14). These were beautiful sliced heirloom tomatoes, lots of bacon, Bibb lettuce, and everything spiced mayo. I liked that they season the tomatoes and that they cut the bacon into smallish pieces, making it easy to eat (although making me sad when a couple pieces fell on the ground). I had the onion rings for my side (I appreciate the flexibility that they give you to switch out any sides you want—even though I am sad to see the tater tots are off the menu. I have a weakness). This sandwich was great and was exactly what I wanted for a summer lunch. And these are exactly the kind of tomatoes you want on a BLT—I like that they wait til they have good ones in season to offer this sandwich. One of the last times we went we also tried their specialty taco pizza ($12) which was very interesting with a tortilla layer on top of the crust and then, ground beef, refried beans, pico de gallo, cheese, black olives, green onions and some drizzled sour cream.

All in all, this is one of our regulars that everyone can agree to. I like that that they have a weekly specials menu to give some changing options, that they change the regular menu every once in a while, and that there are many things on the regular menu that are super tasty. I also appreciate everything the owners have done to support the local community during this pandemic from offering groceries from their restaurants to opening one of their restaurants to Second Helpings. This is a place that is worth supporting for that alone, but the food is damn good too. 

Big Lug Canteen
1435 East 86th Street
Indy  46240