eating indy

  • bourbon street 004
  • hospital & sam's gyro 016
  • hospital & sam's gyro 009
  • sawmill saloon 012edited
  • fresh catch 002
  • pogues grocery
  • Chilly Water 011
  • rook 008
  • market square ( tamales) 007

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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

After being discharged from the hospital my son Adam picked me up. He had to go pick up his eldest daughter so I tagged along. 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 dolmas.

As for my dolmas 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. May 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 bur 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

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.

 

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