eating indy

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  • Some sort of objet d' art in the main dining room
  • taste of havana 005
  • flatwater 004
  • labor district cafe 009
  • bourbon street 004
  • hospital & sam's gyro 016
  • hospital & sam's gyro 009
  • sawmill saloon 012edited
  • fresh catch 002

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Jiallo’s African-Caribbean Cuisine 4202 W. 56th Street

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This place is in a strip mall next to 3 in 1 Restaurant we reviewed some weeks back. At that time we put it on our list. I did my due diligence in research, considering Pat’s issues with onion. I told him it was doable. Fortunately he agreed. Let’s have a round of applause for the self-proclaimed “…plain kinda’ guy.” stepping out of his comfort zone and trying something different.

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The space is a good size, clean and well-appointed with comfortable and attractive furnishings. If you came to be entertained by the decor or “ambience” then you came to the wrong joint.

Jiallo’s is about food, in an attractive setting, serviced in a gracious manner. Our server was just that; gracious. I neglected to ask her name but when Pat told her about his onion issue she made repeated trips to the kitchen to get all the details. She was very knowledgeable about the menu and more than happy to answer our questions.

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They offer 2 different types of rice with their lunch specials. White rice or red beans and rice. The white rice is a small-grained African rice cooked down. Nothing fancy just a nice rice bed. The red beans and rice is a Jasmine rice cooked in red beans liquor with thyme, rosemary, red beans and onion added. So Pat opted for the Jerk Chicken with white rice and plaintains for $8.95.jiallo 004

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I wanted to keep it simple so I ordered the Curry Chicken with red bean rice and plantains for $8.95.

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Now this dish was crazy. If you see a little “ghost” in the pic that is the steam coming off the dish. I could see it in the view finder. In my dish they used legs. They “Frenched” the bones of the drumsticks. That means they cut away anything on the leg, below the knob of meat. Then they chopped off the bulbous end of the drum sick; in order to expose any marrow to the cooking liquid. In this case a curry sauce. The sauce was not a spectacular curry sauce it was a good curry sauce. Both sweet and slightly spicy with a wondrous aroma. The chicken appeared to have been braised in the sauce,and they were perfectly cooked. Fall off the bone tender with a great flavor. Marry that with the red rice and beans and the sweet plantains and you have a winner. Every time.

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On Urban spoon this particular joint has over 200 check ins with a 90% like. The only bad comments has been about the “slowness”. I noticed that on the reviews and our Super Server said the same thing. She is the only server that works there. Lunch and dinner. So…for what it is worth. Folks take a look around any joint you enter. If it is busy and the wait staff seems light. Reevaluate.

Well all I can add is this joint has some good food. I have to go back. They have some stuff I haven’t eaten yet.

Jiallo's African-Caribbean Cuisine on Urbanspoon

The North End Barbeque and Moonshine

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This is without a doubt the fanciest BBQ joint I have ever been to. Everything was new and bright and quite attractive. For a moment I thought we might have stumbled into the wrong place.

Some sort of objet d' art in the main dining room

Some sort of objet d’ art in the main dining room

The light fixtures were really cool. You can see one in the above picture. You can tell that pros set this joint up. From the table placement to the bar every thing was on point. After we were seated the Hostess let me check out the smokers in the kitchen.

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The exhaust fans are located right behind the outside wall. Also it appears as though it has a digital temp readout. Really nice units. Back in the day I thought an Alto Shaam was high tech. Well enough of the HGTV. Our server was Laura. Delightful and very knowledgeable. I ordered a cup of chili; a cup of red to start.

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I thought it was very good. A little spicy, no beans and no pasta; which is unusual in the Midwest. They used cubes of smoked brisket and a touch of house bacon. It had the consistency of Texas red; as I remember it. They also threw in a few cubes of fat. I like to think it was done intentionally not accidentally. Fat adds flavor. Of course my Cardiologist might disagree; but I don’t take him to lunch.

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As you can see from the menu the food choices are very solid and the prices are quite reasonable.

Pat decided on a brisket entree with a choice of two sides for $12. When he discovered that the slaw had no onion he picked that with cornbread. After we ordered Laura brought out the Sauce caddy, all made in house.

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The sauce options are pretty basic. A Kansas City molasses sweet, a Carolina mustard vinegar, a “Standard”, a little sweet and savory and a Texas spicy. Laura suggested a mix of KC and Carolina. Which worked like a charm for me. The other two were a little non descript. I really like a Carolina sauce sometimes and I definitely have a thing for molasses. Well back to Pat.north end 008

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As you can see Pat’s coleslaw was a side with some assembly required. I guess he didn’t want to assemble. Since he ordered the brisket I ordered the pulled pork with Collards and Mac& cheese for $10.

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The pork was straight up good. Nice flavor and good smoke. My first thought was the dry rub wasn’t as assertive as I would like,but upon a bit of reflection I thought with the 4 sauces maybe an assertive rub might not be the best. I am still pondering. One thing for sure Laura hit the pig on the head with her sauce mix suggestion. The KC and the Carolina together was a great taste. As for the sides I had mixed feelings. The greens were quite good not as much pot liquor as I would like but good none the less. Now for the mac & cheese. I believe they used a Cellentani, a spiral pasta that holds sauce well. As for the sauce it was pretty good it just isn’t what I had anticipated.They added a “jam” which I believe is a mix of KC sauce and spices which did add another layer of flavor but I prefer my mac a bit thicker with a cheesy roux and a buttery brown top. No harm no foul I’ll just keep that in mind next time.

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Even though I had to get a go box for some of my pig I thought we should share a slice of Sugar Cream pie. It was unlike any other Sugar Cream pies I’ve had. It appeared that the crust was a crumb crust, not a pastry. Also the filling had almost a carmelized top to it. The pie was rather hard to cut; me thinks it was over cooked. No matter, the filling was delicious. I forgot to take a shot until it was almost done. Here is the ravaged result.north end 015

So don’t think that this place is too cool for Que. It isn’t. I read one reviewer who thought they took BBQ too seriously. Well it is BBQ. I really don’t know how anyone can be too serious about BBQ. After all it is All American. Seriously if you want some good Q you should give this joint a try. I’m not saying this is the best Q in the city. I am saying it is really good and it is run by pros. Also everyone that works here is really nice and it is a really pretty place.

 

 

The North End Barbecue and Moonshine on Urbanspoon

Taste of Havana 810 Broad Ripple Ave.

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Most joints have a Cuban sandwich. In one version or another.What you need first is a long roll. Call it a hoagie, baguette, or a pistolette and you are good to go. Now stuff it with a cooked pork, ham, Swiss cheese and pickles; slather on yellow mustard and. Voila; an El Cubano. I have had several in many different places and at many different times. While they have all been good sandwiches I never considered them legit. Because none had real Cuban bread. Well guess what? Taste of Havana has the real deal. The bread has a flat almost lacquered finish on the outside. When you bite into it the bread offers a little resistance and then you break into a flaky interior. It reminds me of a thick bottom pie crust. A delicious way to enclose a sandwich.

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After the original encounter with the bread pastry you come to the stuff inside. They roast the pork in-house. They prepare and cook the ham on premise as well. So you won’t encounter the injected deli style “lunch meat” used by some joints. In addition to my sandwich I ordered a bowl of black bean soup for $4.25. They offer their sandwiches in 3 sizes. I believe it is small, medium and large. The size difference is all about the weight of the meat. The amount of bread stays the same. I got the mini for $6.50.

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The soup was as straight forward and tasty as the sandwich. I also like the fact that they didn’t “dress” the soup with sherry, onions or sour cream like some joints do. I talked with the owner for quite a while. He gave me a taste of his yellow seasoned rice. He even gave me a pack of Sazon. the seasoning he uses. He used to use Bijol, also called the poor man’s saffron. He changed to the Sazon because in addition unlike the Bijol it had a tiny touch of saffron. But the greatest score was his Picadillo. That was one of the specials today. He gave me a taste. This was straight up delicious. The aroma was rich and deep. A complex flavor of wine, tomato and olives. Just to start. This is something he has on the board weekly. So I will be back.

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I had a super good lunch and a wonderful time. This Father and Daughter team do a wonderful job, and are the most gracious pair I believe I have ever encountered. They are a great addition to Broad Ripple and I wish them all the best.

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Taste of Havana Cuban Sandwiches on Urbanspoon

http://www.tasteofhavanaindy.com/

Flat Water Restaurant 832 E. Westfield Blvd.

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I thought I’d open with a shot of Canada Geese, to set the mood. As you can tell we went to eat in Broad Ripple,right on the canal. This property is a prime location and one of the nicest joints to sit outside. After the pizza joint,Bazbeaux, moved to a bigger location a new restaurant took over. I am pretty sure it wasn’t called Flat Water. I can’t remember the name,but they only had a beer and wine license and they had some pretty good food. This incarnation has a full license and is carrying on the practice of selling some good food.

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I mean how could you not enjoy sitting on a deck and watching ducks and geese “frolicking” in the water? Throw in some good eats and a couple of Margaritas for dessert and you have great lunch time.

I didn’t scan the menu,as they have a website. However the menu on the site is not current, Sorry about that.

Their lunch special was a buffalo tenderloin. A breaded tenderloin smothered with hot sauce and topped with blue cheese crumbles. That was $9. Pat decided on the menu tender for the same price. For a $1.50 up charge he got a side of grilled asparagus. Before Pat gives his take on his sandwich I want to add my 2 cents. That breaded tenderloin was the prettiest piece of breaded pork I think I have seen. Also I tried a piece of asparagus and it was great. Tender crisp with a nice light char. Good job.

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In sympathy with our dining companions out in the canal I tried the house smoked salmon sandwich. It was lightly hot smoked. That is to say it was cooked on a grill with wood chips added so the fire cooked it and the light smoke was a tasty hitch hiker. I would have liked it a little less cooked but that wasn’t enough to rate anything less than very good and well made.

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Since it was well crafted I shall engage in a little “nit-picking”. The bread, while good was too much club for the salmon. The spinach and other mixed greens was a nice touch just maybe too abundant. The bacon was a nice addition. Adding both texture and a different level of smokiness. The avocado really got lost. Salmon is pretty assertive and the poor thing got overwhelmed. It did impart a bit of creaminess but maybe something with more cojones might accomplish the job better. But that is just one guy’s opinion. In either event it was an excellent bite and value at $11.

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For the adult beverage part of the review they have a nice selection of draft beers and they feature PBR and Miller High Life cans for $2.50. They also offer Margarita specials on Thursday. Their house version for $ 5 and one featuring El Jimador and Cointreau for 6 bucks. Well I opted for the top shelf. It was as good as it sounds.

So in summation I really don’t think you can go wrong with Flat Water. Good eats, good drinks and a wonderful deck overlooking the canal. Also the service is good as well Thanks Gary we appreciate the job you did.flatwater 012

Flatwater Restaurant on Urbanspoon

http://flatwaterbroadripple.com/

Labor District Cafe 135 N. Penn.

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I have known about this place for quite some time, but have been conflicted about eating here. The website was unclear about the  source of their roast beef, ham or turkey. Was it purchased already cooked from a vendor or did they buy the meat and cook it off themselves. One blog I read really didn’t clarify the issue for me. So I believed that the only think they cooked themselves was the soups and the meatloaf. Granted, at one time I thought it a good idea to eat a joint’s meatloaf whenever possible. To judge their skill. I quit that after running into too many GFS and Sysco thaw and warm products being used. So I figured it would be meatloaf once again.

The place is attractive and bright. I don’t think I saw a single deuce in the dining room. It seemed it was for the most part 4 top tables.

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All the tables are set with cloth napkins and a bottle of water. I have noticed a couple of places doing that. That must be the new “thing” around town. As soon as you sit down your server brings you a bowl of pop corn, giving you instant garnish for your soup.

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This is outside the main entry so it gave me an idea how I would start my lunch. Some beer cheese soup. It had been a long while since I had any. Even though it was August it sounded tasty. Beer and cheese.

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This was a cup. I thought it would pass for a bowl in a lot of joints. I thought it was pretty good. A light cheese presence with a touch of beer. I added some of the popcorn to it. That is why the spoon is in the bowl.

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The meatloaf sandwich is served on sourdough bread. It is topped with provolone cheese, crisp onion and special sauce. I added some bacon to mine. I was quite pleased with their version of an American Classic. The meatloaf had a good amount of thyme added to it as well as grated parmesan. The special sauce is a nice home-made ketchup. My poor bacon got lost in the shuffle. The onions weren’t as crunchy as I hoped. I think me putting some of the kettle chips on it would have given more texture. They aren’t shy about the amount of tater chips they give you.

Meatloaf San. Under the cover

Meatloaf San. Under the cover

Today was the first day of a new menu. After lunch I talked with Patrick, the manager. He told me that in addition to getting all of their product from Hoosier sources they cook off all of their beef, ham and turkey. So I think you should expect some superior club and other “deli” sandwiches. As for me when I return I think it will be a Chef salad. Or maybe a Cuban. Or a Club. Or a Roast Beef or…. I don’t know.

I am including a link to their website as well as scans of the new menu. I hope that helps.

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Labor District Cafe on Urbanspoon

http://labordistrict.com/

Bourbon Street Distillery 361 Indiana Avenue.

I wanted to come here so I could sit out side. Today was a pleasant and bright day, without the oppressive humidity ,usually associated with a Hoosier July. Pat said we already ate here, pre blog days. I don’t think so.

Even though they have Distillery in their name they don’t distill any alcohol. They do have a decent cold beer selection and some good food. They aren’t heavy with Cajun fare, as the name would imply. They do offer a nice selection of smoked meats, crawfish etouffee,oysters,catfish and a sprinkling of blackened dishes. Pat has been her more than a few times, so he knew the menu pretty well. They did have 2 new offerings. A French Dip and a house smoked brisket sandwich. Their sandwiches come with a small side of slaw and fries or home-made chips. He opted for the Dip, with chips for $8.50. He also tried a cup of Lobster Bisque for $4,25.

Lobster Bisque

Lobster Bisque

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I don’t think the angle of Pat’s picture did the presentation of his French Dip justice. The amount was huge. And they were very well made. They buy them already cut and fry and season them in-house. Good seasoning and great execution.

Blackened Trout with Etouffee and hush puppies

Blackened Trout with Etouffee and hush puppies

The Blackened Trout was a lunch special. It came with etouffee, slaw and garlic toast for $8.50. The puppies were an add on for $1.25. The fish was very good. I found their blackening interesting. Different to what I am used to. But in fairness most of my blackened meals have been made with my own spice blend. Not better or worse, just different. This spice mix was light on the front end and little stronger in the middle and with a nice finish. Not at all excessively hot. It fit well with the fish. The etouffee was good as well. Abundant, which is good because a measly cup of etouffee is just a taste. The slaw was so so, but it did bring a nice texture to the party. One thing I am not happy with is my picture. I should have had the idea of rotating my plate so as to good a good shot of the fish. A blackened piece of fish is beautiful. Dark and glistening with a slight sheen from the oil or butter.

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They also have a list of Po’ Boys. Now that is next on my list a Blackened Catfish Po’ boy. Seriously I can’t think of any reason not to go there. Good food, good pricing and good service and a nice out-door seating area and an upstairs balcony. What more can you ask for.

Bourbon Street Restaurant & Distillery on Urbanspoon

http://bourbonstreetdistillery.com/

Sam’s Gyros

I was on the north side with my son Adam on the way pick up his eldest daughter; my first born Grand child in Noblesville. After we picked up Emily I thought it would be a good idea to get some carry out. Adam suggested Sam’s Gyros at 8922 East 96th Street. He has been there several times and liked the food. He ordered a Chicken Shawarma platter with salad and rice for $13.95. Emily got a half Beef Shawarma in pita for $5.95. I got a Beef dolmades platter with salad, no rice for $13.95. Both platters came with 2 warm pita as well.

After I unpacked the lunch Em attacked her pita bread sandwich with great enthusiasm. She had never had beef shawarma before and obviously really liked it. Poor thing is trying to gain some weight. She starts Ball State this fall. As a matter of fact she leaves in a couple of weeks. In either event I didn’t have the opportunity to take a shot of her sandwich.

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Adam’s chicken dish was plentiful and he really liked it. I had a taste and I wasn’t overly impressed. The inclusion of 2 pita breads was good on his dish. I mean you could stuff the bread with chicken and rice.

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As I said before both platters came with salads. This is the aforementioned salad. While large not real impressive. Standard torn lettuce minimal cucumber and tomato, a few olives and a sprinkling of feta cheese. Ho-Hum. The dressing was nice and it worked well as a dipping sauce for the good pita that came with my dolma.

As for my dolma they were very good. For some reason grape leaves with beef are difficult to find. That was why I was excited to see them on the menu. Their version  was long and slender with a great taste and nice texture. Their tatziki sauce was pretty good as well. Again it was a great sauce for pita dunking.

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The amount of dolma was nice. It was a very tasty and filling plate. I just don’t know if it or the shawarma  were worth the $14 price tag. Maybe if I saw it on a plate at a table I might think otherwise. Elements of the lunch were very good. But as always it is up to the individual consumer to decide the value.

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Sam's Gyros on Urbanspoon

Reservation Required

I admit that this post will be unique. Strange and curious even. I hesitated doing it but I thought they serve food, a lot of food to a whole bunch of people. And; their food is complained about more than any joint I can think of.

I’m talking about hospital food. I was scheduled for a minor surgical procedure at Community North Cardiac and Vascular Hospital at 8075 North Shadeland Avenue. I figured that since I would be staying at least overnight and likely eating breakfast,lunch and dinner there I figured I might as well write about it.

My surgery was finished about 10:30 AM. So I was ready for lunch by 11:00.

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The chicken noodle soup was okay. It had a whole bunch of noodles, copious chunks of chicken and the obligatory waffle cut carrots. It even had a few peas tossed in for good measure. The broth was rather weak and it had virtually no seasoning. That is the problem with cardiac hospital food. Salt is not an option. In addition they hold the line on carbohydrate consumption.

For my entre I decided to double down on the fowl by ordering chicken salad sandwich on whole wheat.

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chicken salad sandwich

chicken salad sandwich

Actually the chicken salad was pretty tasty. Your standard mayo variety but pretty tasty. The lettuce and tomato were fresh which is always a bonus. After lunch I was moved from a day bed to an actual room in the cardiac ward. It had a window. That way I could see the beautiful day I was missing.

This particular hospital offers daily specials for lunch and dinner. The special is what I had for dinner. Crunchy baked fish with corn. I added a side of mashed potatoes and a roll to balance out the plate.

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Again the fish was pretty good. It had a nice and crunchy panko breading with a pretty good fake butter flavor. The corn was your typical canned product. The potatoes were decent as well. I don’t think they were of the flaked instant variety, but I could be mistaken.

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Breakfast. They say it is the most important meal of the day. I don’t know about that but I do know that when you are stuck in a hospital breakfast is the marker that reaffirms the start of another day. When the new day is your last day than breakfast takes on a whole different light. As you can see from the picture my breakfast was an omelet with an English muffin. I added diced peppers and cheese. Actually the omelet was nicely done. The peppers were fine diced and probably came from a bag frozen so they didn’t bring much flavor. The cheese was processed so it melted well and gave it more expansion than a natural cheese would. Again it was pretty good.

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No breakfast would be complete without fruit. In this case a fruit cup. The melon and strawberries were ripe and naturally sweet. The pineapple was a little bit pithy but all in all it was passable.

I realize nobody is going to go out of their way to get into a hospital just to eat. But since I was there and I had to eat I thought I might as well write about. That’s what I do. But should you have to go to Community North you won’t starve. But rest assured that were I staying more than one night I sure would be expecting my visitors to smuggle in some vittles.

Sawmill Saloon 1313 N. Sherman Drive

Okay. Normally our lunch day is Thursday. Pat decided that we would go “rogue” today and hit some joint that we would never normally consider. I decided to hit a joint I have noticed on the “net” that is located in Brightwood. This is a working class neighborhood that some folks call the hood. I grew up in that neighborhood. So actually I was rather excited to check out the new Brightwood.

The building has been around for a long time. For years it was called the Bungalow. A joint noted for its catfish dinners and bar service. I had been there a few times 35 years ago. My dad went there on a few occasions. Actually I forgot about it until I saw an entry on Urbanspoon. From what I recently discovered the Sawmill has been opened for quite a while. It was named after the veneer factory across the street. That particular factory has been around since I was a kid.

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The joint has not changed much in the last few years. A long bar, several tables and a rather cool back bar.

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Their menu is unpretentious and very Hoosier. I didn’t bring my scanner so I was not able to present the menu. Now that is a bummer. I always pride myself on the fact that I can usually present a joint’s menu for everyone to see. This time my camera was not up to the task.

They make their own fries, and onion rings. They also hand cut and pound out the pork loins for breading. Normally I try to avoid breaded and fried food. I am supposed to eat a Heart Healthy diet. However, sometimes a man needs some fried meat.

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Their version of the Hoosier staple was a great example of a simply good sandwich. It was not as intricate as some places. It was simply a nice hunk of pork that was hand pounded and breaded and fried. It wasn’t a great BT by any standard. It was a good one. It was tender. The breading was a little light.

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The fries were nice. They cut them in-house. I don’t think they double fry them. Which I think is how it should be. In either event they really should season the bad boys. Their fries are pretty good. They just need some cojones. One thing I enjoyed was that they put the tenderloin on toast. Not the obligatory Texas toast, on a flat top,but white bread toast from a toaster, I liked the crunch.

The previous day the Sawmill had a hog roast. So they ran their pulled pork sandwich as a lunch special.

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I think I agree with Pat’s assessment. If I found myself in the neighborhood I would go again. However Brightwood is hardly a destination;anymore. The food is tasty,the beer is cold and the new owner; Rhonda is a delight. So should you find yourself on Sherman Drive by all means pop in. For two sandwiches and fries the tab came to under 14 bucks. And a domestic bottle will cost you $2.75. So I think it was a good afternoon in the neighborhood.
Sawmill Saloon on Urbanspoon

Caplinger’s Fresh Catch Seafood Market 7460 North Shadeland Ave.

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This joint is the real deal. Not only is it a premier facility for fish mongering it is also a pretty nice little place to get a fresh fish feast. In addition to a set menu of favorites they also offer the guests the option of picking from their large selection of fresh product and having it prepared for a flat $2.50 fee.

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Just about any fish product you might desire I think you can find here. From whole Grouper to U 10 scallops to 4 count shrimp. Trust me that in itself is rare in Indy.

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I am a very simple fellow. Show me a fish market or a sausage shop and I am a happy man. Give me the opportunity to eat some of my favorite foods at said location and my eyes become as big as a full moon. In other words I invariably over order, and subsequently over eat.

As soon as I walked in I saw a sign on the first cooler cabinet advertising Blue Point Oysters for $1.59 each. That was my mandatory “first course”- 6 fresh Blue Points; shucked for free.

A delightful combination of sweet and briney. A great start to any meal.

A delightful combination of sweet and briney. A great start to any meal.

After that was ordered I inquired about the sandwiches. They offer a Caplinger’s Special for $ 4.99. I thought it might be an ever-changing special but I think it is a constant Basa sandwich. For the sake of brevity when you think of Basa think bottom feeder. Think catfish. It is a sweet, and firm white fish. In addition to the sandwiches they also offer the same fish choices in a dinner. Now that comes with a bigger portion and 2 hush puppies and choice of 2 sides. I am ashamed to admit that I forgot that they offer hush puppies as a side. I wanted to try the Special sandwich.

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I try not to engage in superlatives. However I do admit that when I bite into something I really enjoy I act like a 13-year-old boy who kissed his first love. That being said. My first bite into my Basa sandwich was damn near perfection. Soft, sweet and tender,with a slight hint of heat and a crisp,salty breading. Oh- the bread. To me it was an excellent accompaniment to the fish. Again the bread is from Roll With it Bakery in Irvington.

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You would think that all of that food would satisfy me. But oh no. You see when I review a joint I feel compelled to try as many food items as possible. Hey. You must suffer for your craft. So I had to try the Chowder. Clams, potato and cream.

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This was a delicious display of simplicity. True to their description. Great hunks of clam. Tender pieces of ‘tater and…of course cream. This is a great example of chowder. Thick, and wonderful.

By now you would think that I have consumed enough. Oh no. I had to try their “New Recipe” crab cake. A 4 oz. cake made exclusively of  lump meat. That is all I can say about that. They produce a thick cake full of lump meat that is really a good buy at $6.99 for an add on.

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Pat naturally opted for the cod sandwich. He couldn’t try any of the chowder; because of onion.

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Well boys and girls if you like fish. If you think  you like fish this is the joint you must go to. Fresh oysters, yellow fin tuna. Hell the list goes on. Even Pat; the most critical fish fiend in the city liked the cod sandwich.

 

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Caplinger's Fresh Catch on Urbanspoon

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