eating indie in indy

  • Black Diamond 016
  • cropichon and bidibule 012
  • Black Diamond 013
  • mann's grill 038
  • working man's friend 031
  • courses 140
  • mass ave wine shop 222
  • penn and palette 012
  • city market 015

Latest

Blind Owl Brewery 5014 E. 62 nd Street

Well we have a new brewery in town. I think that brings the number to an even 2 dozen. Some say this influx will glut the market; I say; is it possible to have too much beer?.

Last week after lunch at Black Diamond we stopped there for beer.

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The place is a looker. Expansive with high ceilings,exposed brick and interior garage type doors to separate the different dining spaces. They also have a beautiful outdoor seating area,complete with bocce ball court, herb gardens and even bee hives for their brewery.

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The menu they are currently using is a pared down version of their opening menu. As I was told the kitchen had trouble keeping up with the huge rush of the hungry and thirsty. So they trimmed the menu down with plans on adding more options as the crew became more proficient.

Their house soup is Tomato soup with bacon and Creme Fraiche. A cup is $3.99 That is how I decided on starting my lunch.

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The soup was really good. A nice bright tomato presence with a hint of herbs and slight creaminess. The addition of bacon is always good and the slightly tart creme balanced it out nicely.

As for the entre the only thing I was sure of ,was that I wanted to try their onion rings. For that reason I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich. Normally I don’t order chicken breast out. The boneless,skinless breast can be a pretty boring piece of meat. What sold me on the Coop sandwich was that they added Gouda cheese and apple slices to the chicken and served it on a Brioche bun.The resultant sandwich was really good. The basic sandwich was $10.99 and for onion rings you pay an extra dollar. The rings were excellent. The batter they make is great and the result is crisp and tasty.

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Pat’s pizza was about $12, and you might notice that they use a cheese blend for the pies. Personally not a big fan of cheddar on pizza. I do agree with is assessment of Lisa. She was a perky delight.

The whole joint is just what you expect from a Lux restaurant. A well-trained staff and nicely crafted food. Oh and the beer is pretty great too.

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Cropichon et Bidibule 735 Mass. Ave.

Now isn’t that one hell of a name. From what I understand it is a meaningless set of words. The owners are from France and they use this as a term of endearment for their children. I think that’s sweet. Like an American calling a loved one snookums or pookie. As you can imagine it offers French food. It has been open for a few months, but I never could get Pat to go with me. As he said: “I do not want to eat at a place where I can’t pronounce the name.” So here I am, all by myself.

I am not overly familiar with French cooking. My experience consists of being taught French techniques and sauces in Culinary school and a few minor adventures in Quebec. I enjoy their love for food, and their influence has been felt throughout a great portion of the world. It just is not my first love.

I have heard a bit about the food here and it has generally been greeted with acclaim. The not too nice remarks have been directed at the interior design. I guess folks thought it should be like a quaint little bistro with small tables and an out-door seating area where you could lounge drinking wine and eating bread and butter. What they have is a small place with limited seating. When you walk in you see a hostess area directly in front of you.

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On your right as you enter  is a baby Grand piano with a bedazzled model of the Eiffel Tower, bedecked with silk roses serving as the candelabra.

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They have a nice menu, featuring crepes, charcuterie and galletes as well as sandwich type dishes. The galette that they offer is a Breton Gallete. A thin square buckwheat pancake filled with different savory components. The basic default dish is a Galette Complete. The pancake with cured ham and cheese and an egg. Their version features Gruyère cheese. Normally I would go there but they also have a Gallete Saucisse. Galette with sausage. Their version featured mirepoix with potatoes and a spicy mustard sauce.

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The sausage was cut into discs and placed off to the side with a mixed green salad on the opposite corner. The dish was an excellent composition. The crisp pancake filled with a wonderful array of carrot, onion, celery and potato excellently prepared. The veggies had just the right amount of tooth. And when you wanted to alter the taste grab a piece of sausage or a fork full of the salad. The salad was your typical field greens with a small addition of radicchio, to add attitude. The whole salad was dressed in a slight oil and vinegar dressing. It was transparent enough to let the greens shine and the vinegar had enough sweetness to play off the excellent horseradish and mustard sauce.

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I must say that this was an excellent dish. It was a classic and was done classically well. Also it was only $11. Now that is a bargain. Of course as I ate I became more desirous of some wine to help accentuate my lunch and decided that I needed a glass of Muscadet, for $12. But it was a great choice to go with the gallette. I think the reason I found it to be so darn good is normally I pay 12 bucks for 2 bottles of wine. I may have to review that. Oh one thing they may want to consider is the salting of the dish. I more I ate the more salt I tasted. It was as if they salted in layers and it all kind of fell to the middle. Also I must apologize for my pictures. Sometimes they look pretty good;other times, like now, no.

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Black Diamond BBQ 6404 Rucker Road

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Black Diamond is a small place with big BBQ. It doesn’t seat many people inside but it has a beautiful out-door area. We opted to stay inside to avoid the sun. They offer $6.99 lunch specials,which consist of a sandwich, side and drink. We opted for something more substantial with meat on a bun dinners. Pat got his usual pulled pork sandwich with sauce on the side.

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Normally I get a taste of whatever Pat is having,but this time I had enough on my plate just to finish. The portions we received were huge. I would guess 8 ounces each. I got the beef on a bun with beans and home made coleslaw. As I said the portion was huge, and since I opted for sweet sauce directly on the sandwich I had to use a fork to eat it.

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The size of the sides were more than adequate to complement the meat. Oh the meat. It was moist and tender and it melted in your mouth. Next time I will opt for SOS

. The beans were so so but the slaw was a nice tart and creamy counterpoint to the sweet sauce.

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So all in all I can’t think of any reason not to like this joint’s food. They also have pie and cobbler on weekends. They are in a great location too. Right off Binford Blvd. Easy access. And the prices are more than reasonable. We ordered 2 dinners and they were about $ 11 each. Like I said a good place to visit.

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Mann’s Grill 1214 S. Tibbs Ave.

After our trip to Working Man’s I was inclined to hit a BBQ place or a newly opened brewery. Pat was leaning more towards a meat and pick two kind of place. Since he was just back from Chicago, where he and his wife had biked 200 miles in two days,for charity,I thought it best to forgo debate and head to Mann’s Grill.

What can I say about Mann’s Grill? It is an older place located in an industrial area on the west side and is notorious for its low prices and big portions. It also serves breakfast all day. They have done some remodeling since the last time we were here. Turning a counter that separates the kitchen from the dining area into a wall with a pass through and adding faux brick to the dining room walls.

As far as food goes it is your usual diner fare. All of their dinners are $7.50 and the sandwiches are in the $4 to $5 range. You can also get a breakfast of 2 eggs, meat and potato choice and your choice of pancakes,french toast or biscuits and gravy for about 6 bucks. That is the kind of joint it is.

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I decided on beef tips and gravy. For my sides I opted for corn and mashed potatoes.

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I had to take 3 different shots to capture all the food. The beef was done well. Falling apart tender and smothered with mushrooms and gravy. The beef was tasty, the mushrooms were canned and the gravy was from a mix; never the less it was pretty good. The potatoes were nicely seasoned and tasted like real spuds. The corn was also canned but they did season it well. So you know what to expect here. Nothing exotic or fancy. Just a nice meal at a good price. Our lunch tab was $15. Remember ambiance costs.

 

 

 

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The Working Man’s Friend Tavern 234 N. Belmont

After going to more contemporary joints the last couple of weeks I thought we needed a change. We needed to go back to our roots. So we decided to visit a local legend. The Working Man’s Friend. Pat and I have both been here several times but this is the first time we visited together. Sometimes we forget that the older joints have as much to offer a community as the newer more trendy spots. This place opened in 1918 as a lunch counter built by an immigrant from Macedonia named Louie Stamatkin. We met the third generation owner; Becky, and she has as clear a business perspective as her ancestor. She showed us a copy of the history of the joint, the short version;but I didn’t bring my scanner so I had to rely on the phone camera.

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I apologize for the poor copy. I was unable to find an alternate source so this is all I am able to give.

The place offers several tables and a 60 foot long bar. A bar that was the longest in Indianapolis when it was built in 1952. Since their menu is limited they rely on 2 signs to tell the clientele. A small one on a side wall.

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And a more extensive sigh behind the bar.

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As a bar they do offer the basic liquors and bottled beer. As for their drafts they only offer Bud and Bud Light. Of course they do sell a 32 ounce frosted goblet for about 5 bucks.

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As for the “ambiance” it was as old-time as you would expect. No exposed ducts or art work. Just the usual beer distributor give a ways behind the bar.

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Pat and I both opted for burgers. They do have a fish sandwich,but Pat forgot that,or didn’t notice so he ordered a double with fries.

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About their burgers. They are simply ground beef, nothing proprietary,just plain cow. They seem to be put up in 4 ounce patties and then smashed on a hot griddle. The seasoning is minimal;if at all. The appeal is the beefy crispness of the burger. The bun is a generic store bun but the overall flavor makes this an exceptional bite. They use shredded lettuce;which I do like, even though I opted for just onion and pickle. For the double they give a middle bun;like a Big Mac. But you can get it without.

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My single was crispy and tasty. There is always a danger that a smashed burger can be dry. But if they are done with the proper amount of attention and brought out in time that is not an issue. Pat opted for fries but I decided on onion rings. These are beer battered and fried and are delicious.

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I was very impressed with the rings. I know they are the bane of Pat’s existence but if you aren’t allergic a good battered onion ring is a wonder. So if you want to wander into an Old School lunch room then by all means try this one. They are open from 11 to 5 and only take cash.

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Peak Perspective

This is one of the blogs I follow. A few weeks back Shelley, the CEO announced that she had a book coming out called OPL. I will let you all read about it in her own words. This particular topic is very close to me. I was unable to re-blog;as I am accustomed to so all I can do is include the link. I hope you all enjoy.

http://peakperspective.com/

Courses Restaurant 2820 N. Meridian St.

The summer session for the culinary School at Ivy Tech started a few weeks back. Their first offering was a Spanish tapas buffet. I had plans on going but I was unable at the last-minute. So when I saw their Southeast menu online I knew Pat and I had to go.

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One of the reasons this place is so unique is that you can get a 3 course meal for $12. That is what you would pay for a burger and fries at a lot of restaurants. Pat opted for the spring roll appetizer and the stir-fry entrée, and a cup of Cherry tea; in his own little teapot.

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For the sake of presentation they abbreviated the dipping sauce by making it a concentrated squiggle. Pat even got a choice of shrimp or pork in his roll.courses 128

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I decided on the Pho appetizer and the Pad Thai as my main course.

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This was a nice bowl of beefy broth filled with meat and noodles. The aroma was a good indicator of the taste to come, even though the presentation made the eating of it a bit problematic.

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Notice the 2 spoons. One was filled with Hoisin sauce,the other with Sriracha. You can see the predicament. They decided to condense the presentation by replacing the traditional “toppings” with the 2 sauces. A bit awkward at first but everything worked out.

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This was such a fun dish.Loaded with vegetables and noodles each bite was a tasty surprise.

At the end of lunch they gave us a choice of deserts. A dish of fresh mango with whipped cream or sweetened black rice with coconut cream. We got one of each.

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Notice the eatable flower. Now many joints do you go to that use eatable flowers for garnish?

This was nice and light,and I am sure it is healthy as well.

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The rice dish was really good. It had a slight tooth and very reminiscent of rice pudding, a dish I really enjoy. I think that was my favorite of the two,and the grilled pineapple slice was a nice touch as well.

I am not sure how long the summer session runs but they serve lunch Wednesday and Thursday from 11 to 12:15. They also have a dinner service on Thursday nights. Something I have not been able to get to yet. After their Southeast Asian tour they go back to Classical French. And as always any tips go to a general scholarship fund.

One more thing that is special about this place is the view of Indianapolis.

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Mass Ave Wine 878 Mass. Ave.

This going to be different from our other posts. Usually this blog considers the food first. The places we review lead with their food. All bars or taverns have alcohol, so they need something to set them apart from the rest. The staff and the atmosphere can do it, but staff leaves and ambiance is ever-changing, so a solid hook with the menu is sure to help. Now this is why this post is unique for us. It is all about the joint.

I have been here before to have a glass or buy a bottle. They have a whole wall of wine with every bottle selling for $15 or less. Their glasses go for $6 and flights of wine and port sell for $7. They even offer cocktails. And to set them apart from others they have a menu of sandwiches, salads and meat and cheese platters. What I find compelling about this place is the location. It is right in the middle of Mimi Meatballs ( a joint already reviewed) and Best Chocolates in Town. an artisan candy shop. Now what more could you possibly want?

I am not saying that their food is amazing. I am saying that it is a comfortable place to sip wine and just relax. I ate there today for the first time. Their meat and cheese are not locally sourced but they are more than just good. I ordered a St Andres Triple Cream Brie and some Genoa Salami.

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I really enjoy Brie. This triple was really pretty good. I would have preferred it riper and more runny but, still a nice nosh. The Salami was decent. It gave a pretty good bite to balance the creamy cheese. surprisingly the crackers were pretty good as well. A nice crack and they held up to the cheese. They were Nabisco. What can I say. When I ordered my food I told the kid ( sorry, no disrespect but he was 21;and a half) to pick the wine. Be it red or be it white would be fine with me. Then I went next door to get some chocolate.

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I know the picture is not too good. I am still trying to learn about this camera.

My server, who has a slight inclination towards red thought I needed a Spanish red. Well I think it worked out pretty well.

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Since I have an affinity for bubbles I had to have a couple of glasses of Proseco as desert with the chocolate, after all it was raining. And I had to wait it out since,as per usual I took a bus. I always do when I go downtown; and especially when I plan on having a few glasses of wine.

So I enjoy this little place on Mass Ave. I think you will too.

 

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Penn & Palate 28 East 16th Street

I believe this place opened just a few weeks ago. It is owned by the same folks that have Legends in Irvington, so I was confident that it would be pretty good. Since Pat is out in Cali for the next two weeks I was all by myself. I had planned on visiting this place at a later date and was actually on my way to a different joint when I decided to stop at the last-minute.

The place is nicely appointed with dark woods, leather seats and cozy booths. The large windows make for a very bright setting as well.penn and palette 012

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I was also quite impressed with the level of service. My server Katie was spot on. She was very knowledgable of the menu and not shy of venturing an opinion when asked. As a matter of fact it was her description of their special appetizer of the day that convinced me that I needed it. Normally I don’t get an app for lunch when I am solo. In this case the app was an arancia, a deep-fried polenta (oops, that should be risotto) ball, for $8.

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I thought they were nicely done and with the creamy cheese sauce proved a tasty combo of flavors and textures.

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For my main dish I opted for a shaved ham and Swiss sandwich. I know that sounds pretty mundane but it was hardly your standard diner fare. It featured Smoking Goose City Ham, a dry cured ham and orange marmalade with a fennel and apple slaw. They offer a choice of bread from Amelia so with Katie’s recommendation I went with semolina.

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The bread was a good choice. Dense and herbaceous enough to balance the other strong tastes. The structure of the sandwich was really very delicate and nicely balanced. A hint of orange and apple, a passing note of mustard and the strong presence of ham. And of course the cheese just sort of hanging out to keep the ham company. A really good sandwich for $10. I may have wanted a more prominent presence of fennel but this was probably for the best. You know that meme about moderation.

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I noticed on their beer tap they offer a brew called Diesel Oil. It is a Stout from Columbus Indiana and Powerhouse Brewing Company. Well I thought a good Stout would make for a nice desert. Well it does, especially when paired with a Chewy Fruitmeal Cookie.

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They make about a half-dozen cookies and their Fruitmeal is an Oatmeal cookie loaded with dried fruit. It was an excellent bite for a buck. Now marry that with a Milk Stout and its touch of chocolate and coffee and you are on to something really nice.

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So this is Penn and Palate. So lets recap. Conveniently located in a newly gentrified locale on the near North Side. A swank and charming interior. Well trained staff. And finally an excellent menu that is well prepared and delicious. I think that this is the start of a beautiful friendship with this joint and this City.

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Farmers Market Cafe. 650 W. Washington Street

This is both a cafe ,in that you are served your food and a cafeteria ,in that you order your food at a cashier and then take your seat. Are you with me? It is located in the Indiana State Museum which is right on the canal so you can’t get much better scenery in the summer.

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This picture was taken at the bottom of the street ramp leading to the Museum.

When you enter you find the cashier stand with menus posted. This is where you order,pay and receive a numbered plastic placard, like an old-time Sizzlers.

You walk through the cooking area to get your drinks,or frozen yogurt from their soft serve machine. Or for some impulse buy.

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Once you pay and get your beverage you can sit inside or out on a wide veranda overlooking the canal.

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In the bottom picture you can see the skyline of the IUPUI campus in the background. Now really isn’t this a great place to eat?

Now for the food. They had a pepperoni flat bread special for $7.99. Evidently it fulfilled Pats dream.

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Pat suggested this place because his wife; Fran, who works at the university went there and recommended it. She also mentioned that she had a fried green tomato BLT. Well I did not see that when I checked out the menu on their website this morning but I sure saw it on the menu board. I really like fried green tomatoes, and I really,really like BLT sandwiches. So the combo of the two was a no-brainer. They use Smoking Goose bacon so it was mandatory for me for lunch. They put theirs on a whole grain toast with both green leaf and iceberg lettuce and a nice slathering of mayo. Normally I can take or leave mayo,but with both fried green tomato or BLT sammiches you need the mayo. Of course as a kid we used Miracle Whip( salad dressing). It was cheaper. But as I entered my teens I acquired a taste for mayo.

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Now this was a great sandwich. Crunch from the bacon and the lettuce. Tart and tangy tomatoes with a nice creaminess from a healthy dose of mayo. $9.99 with sweet potato chips.

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So. Yes I liked this sandwich. Was it unique and original. No,but how many sandwiches are? I think this is a great place to catch lunch, and check out the State Museum. Plus you get to look over the canal. Now that is a bonus,if for no other reason than the chance for people watching.

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