eating indy

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  • fresh catch 002
  • pogues grocery
  • Chilly Water 011
  • rook 008
  • market square ( tamales) 007
  • rock cola 015
  • Julia's 001
  • plow and anchor 010

Latest

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.

 

 

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 local from 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

Pogue’s Run Grocer 2801 East 10th Street

Well today was the first day of Pat’s return from his sojourn to California. Since he was recovering from a red-eye flight, that didn’t land until 5:00 AM I thought we should keep it simple.

Pogue’s Run is a joint that is a combination market, health food store and deli. The Good Earth is the only place, in my experience that is similar. But Good Earth doesn’t sell sammiches.

pogues grocery 4Normally when we go to review a place I bring a scanner for the menu and my little orphan Nikon for pictures of the joint and the food. Today I tried to “rough” it with my phone only. So the pics are at best so-so.

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As you can see from the menu their collection of sandwiches are eclectic and creative. They use good quality ingredients and I think their prices are pretty reasonable. I am sure this is probably not too easy to read, so I am including a link to their website that lists the menu.

http://poguesrungrocer.org/

Pat decided on a Reuben sandwich 86 the dressing.

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Pogue’s has a standing lunch special of a sandwich, chips or cup of soup and a 22 oz. fountain drink for $7.99. They do offer a craft made soft drink, but neither one of us wanted 22 ounces of soda pop. If I drink 22 oz. of carbonation it is going to have malt and hops in it. To the right of the order window they have a table with 3 soup kettles set up,so you can serve your self.

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Pat noticed their baked potato soup and decided on a cup for $1.79.

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pogues grocery 8pogues review 001As you can see Pat was miffed by the onion in his soup. Pat’s aversion to onion isn’t just a foible or a matter of taste. With him the consumption of onion; raw or cooked causes him severe gastric distress. So. Kitchen guys. Know your product. Know your recipes. For what it is worth I tried his soup. It was pretty average. Bland and “mushy”.

As far as I know I have no issues on food stuffs. I ordered a Rhonda. That is like a Reuben with turkey subbing for corned beef. I thought it was quite nice. I am very familiar with Smoking Goose meats, I just haven’t tried their turkey before. To me turkey in a deli or a store; or for that matter in a restaurant is a ubiquitous form of protein. I never really expect “killer” meat. This sandwich was tasty,and I would get it again.

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I can’t say the same for the 5 bean chili I ordered to go with my sandwich. I liked the oyster crackers they served, that is about it. The soup was pretty pedestrian.

Pogue’s Run is a versatile joint that serves a void in the city and this area. I have and will go there for their broad selection of bulk grains, herbs and spices. They seem to have a bigger selection than Good Earth, and they are self-serve. Some of their prices are higher but it is usually a trade-off. Broad Ripple or Woodruff Place. I enjoy this little joint. So if you are in the market for their particular product niche then this is a good a place to go. And you can get a sandwich. Or a salad bar. I forgot the salad bar. I sure didn’t get any pictures. But the array is really nice,with all the usual suspects for grazing. And it is $7.99 per pound. Just remember to pay before eating.

Pogue's Run Grocer on Urbanspoon

Chilly Water Brewing

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Well I made it back. This is the place I attempted to try Monday; but it wasn’t open. It certainly was worth a second attempt. Skip,the owner, was the Brew Master at Fountain Square Brewery. His Brew Master is his right hand man from Fountain Square. So,needless to say your beer is in good hands with these guys.

Instead of ordering a flight of 4, I decided on a pint of Hefeweizen. Wheat beer seems to be a rarity among local breweries. It is also my current favorite. Their Harmonika is a first class example. If you like wheats I think you will love this.

Afterwards I got a flight. Not your typical order I know; and I think it was detrimental to the proper tasting. The flight is served in ascending order of hops; with the Pilsner first. A craft Pilsner is a delightful brew and yet I found this one to be a bit lacking. I think it was actually the result of having the Harmonika first. That just means I have to go back and have a couple more to make sure. The ales were all well crafted and very drinkable beers.

Now to the food. As you can see they offer a small menu with Panini sandwiches and humus dips and pita.

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I always like to try as many different tastes that I can. Which can be hard when you are dining solo. But I persevere. I got an order of Here Comes the Sun humus. Roasted red pepper  with added sun-dried tomatoes. It too was as well made as the beer. Sweet red pepper and chickpeas bolstered with the soft chew of dried tomato strips. Paired nicely with the wheat beer.

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At the risk of over doing the sun-dried tomato bit I got the chicken sandwich. I am a sucker for roasted chicken. Especially when you add cheese. The sandwich was really good. Chicken was incredibly tender and the mozzarella cheese was a nice sweet agreement with tomato. Also I think the addition of the feta cheese was good to bring a bite to the party.

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So… Needless to say this is a fine addition to the city in general and Fountain Square in particular. Well made beer and well made sandwiches. Also the joint is planning on bringing in live local music. So the summer appears to be shaping up to even more fun.

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Chilly Water Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

Rook 719 Virginia Avenue

Today was a day of serendipity. I went to the Fountain Square area to visit a new brewery that had just opened a few days ago. However I failed in my due diligence and neglected to notice their hours. They are closed on Mondays. Fortunately they are right next door to Rook. That is a joint that I have been quite ambivalent to visit. It has been listed as a Urbanspoon hot spot for quite a while. Hot as in the top 10 of joints people talk about. However the public hasn’t shown much love in their reviews. But in fairness it seems as if the majority of the bad reviews came in their first days and the more positive ones are slower to develop.

The Rook is basically a sandwich shop. The hook; if you will is Bahn Mi style sandwiches. Vietnamese type fillings in a French Indo Chinese bread. Since their opening they have added dumplings and steamed buns on the dinner service; but their main bag is sandwiches.

Their come hither tease sign by the front door.

Their come hither tease sign by the front door.

The Menu board by the order counter.

The Menu board by the order counter.

The place is long and narrow,like a hall way. As far as decor goes it is  austere industrial chic. A look that it seems every one is striving for.

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That’s right the last picture is a replica of a telephone pole that appears to have fallen through the roof. Get it? Rook. Telephone pole. Bird’s nests. Raven etc. It may sound corny but the real visual is rather cool.

You order at a counter and the young lady brings your food when ready. Before I go any farther I wish to compliment the order taker/ server. She was extremely knowledgeable of the product and was not timid to offer which was her favorite dumpling when I asked her. So on her referral I ordered Mushroom dumplings.

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They were very tasty. A nice blend of earthy mushrooms and sweet soy with the slightly chewy dough. I would like another order with some crunchy cracklings on the side and a shot of the ever available Sirachi hot sauce.

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For my sandwich I knew before I walked in what I was going to get. The one with the chicken liver terrine. The Rook.

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This is a large 9 inch sandwich with a very soft and well made bread. I neglected to ask the source of the bread but in all likely hood it’s Amelia’s; since they are right down the street. The Rook is a combination of their house made terrine and a pork roll of their design and Smoking Goose manufacture. Of course with some wonderful pickled veggies.

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The terrine is a blend of pork shoulder and chicken liver cooked and then pressed with enough natural gelatin and fat to hold it together. Think of it as a coarse liverwurst. This is layered with their version of Vietnamese sausage or pork roll and pickled radish, carrot and jalapeno and of course fresh cilantro and mayo.

I really enjoyed this sandwich. The pate was tasty with that earthy quality that only liver can give. It could have easily over powered the meal but it didn’t. It was almost a tease. On the tip of your tongue you tasted the possibilities. Then it proceeded to the middle and you saw more possibilities and before it hit the end the veggies and the pork roll took over. To me the pork roll was the weak link. I tried a taste, by itself and it was adequate. A space filler. A spear carrier for the opera. But in all fairness I should try some all by itself. After all the folks that put together the terrine recipe also created the pork roll.

So if you want a lunch that is out of the ordinary then I suggest The Rook. It is a cozy place with uncommon sandwiches and nice people.

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Rook on Urbanspoon

The Tamale Place @ The City Market

The City Market is a piece of Indianapolis history. Originally it was an open area that had stalls for merchants to sell meat, fish and produce. In 1886 a large brick building was erected to make it a one stop shopping place. Similar to a modern grocery store.

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The Market is now a large two-story building that houses several vendors that sell ready to eat food, fruits and veggies and specialty snacks. The Tamale Place has its first facility out west. A place that I never have had an opportunity to go to. So when they opened the outlet at the City Market I was more than glad to check it out.market square ( tamales) 012

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They offer more than tamales, but to me tamales are the Greatest food ever from south of the border. Well, with a taco a close second. Since I was solo I wanted to try both their red and green variety. And what is a trip to a Latin style joint without a taco? I ordered a red pork tamale and a green chicken tamale and a steak taco. Since I am forced to admit to the “aging” of my belly I got the mild salsa. I just can’t handle hot chiles any more.

 

 

 

 

Let’s talk taco. Their tacos are $2.99 and they certainly don’t mess around with the amount of meat they use.

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I probably should have taken the picture before adding the salsa. This just doesn’t show the large amount of steak used. I don’t think I have ever had this much steak in one taco before. And every morsel was tender and tasty. Also the mild was too mild. In the future I think I will opt for the hot stuff.

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Now, for that most noble of corn creations the Tamale.

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Their regular tamales are $3.49 and you should be advised that they are 8 ounce monsters, not the 4 or 6 ounce deals that you normally get. They offer smaller versions called sliders, but they offer them in limited varieties. The first one I tried was the red chile pork.

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Like the taco they were not at all stingy with the pork filling. And like the taco the pig was tender and had great flavor it just needed more intensity, more heat. Of course I realized the solution after I finished the pork and moved on to the chicken.

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When you bite into the chicken tamale you really taste slow cooked chicken at its best. To me it was reminiscent of a piece of chicken out of a pot of chicken and dumplings. Once again their tomatillo sauce was missing heat. While pondering the situation I realized the answer was right there all along on the menu board. For a quarter you can get a 2 oz. portion of red or green sauce, mild or hot.

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Next time I think I can see an Xmas tamale with my name on it. So should anyone from the Tamale Place read this I tip my hat to you folks for constructing a beautiful tamale.

The Tamale Place on Urbanspoon

Everybody has one…

I’m talking about opinions. Opinions as in reviews, specifically restaurant reviews. I read quite a few reviews in the course of determining which joint Pat and I should visit. Reviews have been a part of food preparation since the first person started cooking for strangers. Back when I was in my “prime”, so to speak, reviews were common place. They just weren’t as abundant as they are now. Once only newspapers and magazines took the trouble to send someone to an eatery just to eat the food and write about it. Now with the increase of cable TV we have different food networks,complete with recipe shows and cooking competitions. That might be the reason there is such a surge in the number of new restaurants opening.

Furthermore with the advent of the PC has come Yelp and Urbanspoon. Now every one is a Restaurant Critic. Remember the old saw: “Those who can’t do, teach”? Well I amended it to “Those who can’t do,teach,and those who can’t teach critique.” That is where I am now. As a chef/cook I was also a teacher. They both go hand in hand. As a kitchen head it is your responsibility to create the menu, establish recipes and procedures and to teach everyone who works with you every thing you can. The more the individuals learn the more valuable they become and the more time you can spend on other things. Now that I no longer have a commercial kitchen I can play in I get my kicks vicariously by writing about the food.

In addition to the “like” reviews I also read the “do not like ” reviews as well. These can be just as helpful as the positive ones; maybe more. I pay close attention to the dates as well. If a joint hasn’t been written about in a while it may mean that word of mouth has out paced the reviews. Or it might just mean the “blush is off the rose” and that particular joint is not as “hip” as it used to be. People can be fickle. Another thing I pay attention to is what I call the “geology” of the restaurant. Some places that have been around for a while will have “layers” of differing opinions. At first the reviews are positive for a year or so and then they change to negative. If they stay negative I will usually avoid the place. If the joint rebounds and wins the public over again that means that whatever happened has been rectified. In which case it could be a winner. In all cases the reviews are opinions of 1 or 2 people and damn few joints can be flawless at all times. I like to consider a bunch of the positive and negative posts in order to get the feel if the joints has off days or if it just isn’t very good.

One more thing I find funny is some of the reasons given for the negative comments. The woman who complained about  having trouble figuring which door to use to enter. Or the party that came in 5 minutes before closing and griped about the food they were out of. No joint wants to run out of menu items,but sometimes demand is higher than normal on certain items. And restaurants are always adjusting pars; sometimes just too late. For the most part people are nice. But some folks really aren’t. My personal biggest gripe are the newly relocated people; usually from Chicago; who complain that Indianapolis Restaurants are not Chicago Restaurants. Really. You moved for a reason didn’t you? I am sure some big nasty old Hoosier Hillbilly didn’t drive up to Chi-Town, hog tie you and bring you back in his pick-up truck. Some one in your family or Company picked Indy for a reason. I am sure it wasn’t a conspiracy just to deny you dining pleasure.

So not only is it fun to eat out it is fun to write and read about it. I hope everyone takes advantage of both Yelp and Urbanspoon and plans a dinner date or a family night out. And I hope everyone enjoys their food.

 

Rock-Cola 50’s Cafe 5730 Brookville Road ( Revisit)

About 3 years ago, when we were new to the reviewing world we had lunch here. This was before I had a cell phone or a camera. Any pictures we might have posted were from the Goggle Image Library. The reason we chose this joint was because they had resurrected Choc-Ola. That was a local chocolate drink that came in cans and bottles. It goes back a lot of years and part of those years were Hoosier. It wasn’t much more than Chocolate milk in a can. But it was good,and it was part of our history. The strange thing is we didn’t have it either time. The first time we had chocolate malts. Good malts. The kind that gives you the malt burn in the back of your throat. This time we went the water, Coke route. We also brought a friend, Jim. He has been a regular customer here for quite some time.

Pat and I had discussed hitting a new BBQ place; but we flipped a coin and heads was Rock-Cola. I had planned on getting a malt or a root beer float; since it was my birthday; but I decided to go with the H2O.

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Jim already had his mind made up and ordered a Hawg Dog. That is a big deep-fried  hot dog,  placed in a bun and then topped with pulled BBQ pork and coleslaw. That is something he gets on a regular basis for $6.99.rock cola 014

Now that is what I wanted. However since he ordered first I felt obliged to get something else. He did let me get a bite. And all the incremental pieces worked really well together. Individually they may not have been stellar but the totality was really good.

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Patrick decided on a grilled tenderloin, for $6.99. I do not think he was prepared for the monster piece of meat he was given. It was a least 8 ounces of cubed pig carmelized on a flat-topped griddle to the point of sweet tenderness.

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Since Jim took “my dawg” he recommended the El Paso Pete for $7.99. That is 90% lean ground beef. Cooked like “taco meat” and seasoned with southwest seasoning and green peppers and onion. Then it is smothered with American cheese and served on a toasted bun. I ordered a side of hashed browns to go with the sandwich.

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The potatoes came out as a huge patty. They were nothing spectacular. Just nice shredded ‘taters, nicely browned and mildly seasoned. The “taco-burger thingy” was tasty, but it was really cooked hard. A flat top is a great tool but sometimes a light hand is nice. This was over cooked, in my estimation. It was still all right but a little moisture would have been appreciated.

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Well in summation. This joint is a good little diner. You won’t always find perfection. Just settle for good grub and nice people. Right Tamara?

Rock-Cola 50's Cafe on Urbanspoon

http://www.rockcolacafe.com/

For the history of Choc-ola :

http://www.choc-ola.com/history.html

Julia’s Homestyle American & Caribbean Food 1002 East 38th Street

Everyone hopes to find a little “hole in the wall ” place where the food is good while the structure is ho-hum. Well,this could be one of them.

The building is an odd little A-frame type structure with white stucco walls and rust colored tile roof that gives it a distinct Southwestern air. Common in Arizona but distinctive in Indy. Sitting just east of the State Fair Grounds makes it a familiar sight to quite a few people. It has housed several different “restaurants” over the years. The latest being “Great Western”; or some kind of Western. Pat and I reviewed it last year. The closing of that unfortunate joint was definitely an improvement for the dining community of Indianapolis.

The new operator,Julia, is a retired postal worker and self-taught cook. She is a warm and charming woman who made us both feel at home. She definitely has skill in the kitchen and a tremendous passion for cooking and the history of food that shows in her meals. Whether that successfully translates into a viable business, with the fickle and often cranky public remains to be seen.

She has a very nice website. It does not show the daily specials;for that you have to look on Facebook. Although they don’t always show up in a timely fashion. Or you can always roll in and check out the chalkboard.

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Julia's 004As you can see the prices are reasonable. June 2 started Chowdown Midtown. That is a promotion for restaurants that aren’t downtown. Joints that elect to participate offer 3 course meals at a special price. Julia’s special was 2 dinners, 2 drinks, and 2 desserts for $25, so you save a couple of bucks. It was Pat’s turn to buy and he had to be cajoled a wee bit. The deciding factor was when he discovered he could get meatloaf without onion.

Look at that hunk of meatloaf.

Look at that hunk of meatloaf.

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As you can see I decided on roast chicken with greens and mac and cheese. Since Pat got cornbread I got a homemade roll, that way we could try both. Of course the heathen cut the roll before I could take the picture.

Normally I prefer dark meat but I opted for white meat. All the better to “evaluate” you see. The chicken was very nicely done. Moist, tender and an excellent flavor. Definitely worth repeating. The mac & cheese was very creamy and well seasoned. It may not be the best I have had but it is up there. The greens were of the Collard variety. Unless they are cooked real long they have a tendency to be a wee bit bitter. However that effects the texture. These had a great texture. I cook my greens really long. I am more interested in the complexity of pot liquor and the mellow flavor of the greens. No right or wrong. Just different. The roll was really nice. It’s a shame they don’t have a warming drawer to store them in. A hot roll and unsalted butter. That would rock.

Now for dessert. Julia makes her own custard for the banana pudding. Well, sorry Mr. Cosby but it sure beats Jello pudding. Oh before I forget. I had a glass of their dirty tea. It is ice tea with a secret ingredient. At first taste it had a hint of citrus similar to an Arnold Palmer, but more subtle. I think I know the secret. I’ll never tell. But it is good. Good enough to send you to the moon. Am I right Julia?

One thing that isn’t a secret. That’s the fact that this is nice little joint with good food. A joint that makes you feel welcome.

 

Julia's American and Caribbean Food on Urbanspoon

http://www.juliashomestyle.com

Plow & Anchor Restaurant 43 E. 9th Street.

The news that this place was opening was met with great anticipation by a bunch of folks. The culinary force behind this new joint, John Adams, was also instrumental in the opening of Bluebeard. After Bluebeard kicked off he relocated to Louisville. Now he is back. And his fans can’t wait.

The spot opened for lunch on 5/28 with what I gathered was a good response. The menu is small and features quite a bit of seafood, the anchor, and locally sourced produce. The plow. As you can expect the food features a high level of innovation and creativity. The prices are on the higher end as well.

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By Pat’s own admission he is a “plain sort of guy”. So he opted for a grilled cheese sandwich. The hook on this particular plate was mushroom jam. Since it included shallot Pat declined it.plow and anchor 005

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They had a nice assortment of fish dishes. I was torn between razor clams and halibut. The halibut was roasted and served with a nage, or puree of spring peas, and tender pieces of potato.

The resultant dish was really excellent. Light and delicate and full of flavor. The only thing I missed was a piece of crusty bread to wipe up the puree. I know that’s tacky. But enjoying food shouldn’t be bound by too many rules.

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I had planned on just having water but after ordering my fish I decided I needed something more substantial. So I got a glass of Spanish Verdejo. It was one of the wines our server suggested, and it was spot on. A nice fruity opening and enough dryness and acidity to complement the creaminess of the nage. Needless to say I really enjoyed our lunch and fully intend to be back. This place just has too many neat things to try. And it is close to home. So I expect to have a great time this summer.

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plow and anchor 009 Plow and Anchor on Urbanspoon

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