eating indie in indy

  • courses 140
  • mass ave wine shop 222
  • penn and palette 012
  • city market 015
  • st joe 020
  • tokyo 083
  • oasis diner 015
  • ike and jonesy's 010
  • bourbon & BBQ 002

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Courses Restaurant 2820 N. Meridian St.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mass Ave Wine 878 Mass. Ave.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Penn & Palate 28 East 16th Street

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Farmers Market Cafe. 650 W. Washington Street

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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St. Joseph Brewery & Public House 540 N. College Ave.

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This was actually a church from 1880 to 1949. It was owned by the Diocese from then until it was sold to private concerns in the 1990’s. Nothing was done with it until a group bought it to turn into a brewery. This same group owns a couple of other joints in town. Chatham Tap and Ralston Draft House. Now both of these places are solid. I like them both. However I gotta’ say this. Considering the magnitude of this project they might wanna’ kick it up a notch. So let’s go in

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When you first walk in you are simply amazed at the size of the place. Wood floors. Wooden pews and foot worn stairs leading up to the balcony for the choir. Wood and windows gives it bright and warm atmosphere. I spent a half hour just looking at stuff.

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All of these last shots were taken from the loft. They also have seating up there. Pat and I decided to set downstairs. I  ordered a flight of 4 beers. I picked two and Pat picked two

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The flight was $7. That is pretty typical.

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Pat chose his lunch from the small plates or appetizer section of the menu.

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Pat was right. His small plate was $8.50. Small sweet tater tots, a few scraps of bacon and a bit of shredded cheese. They were pretty good, but they were pretty pricey.

I thought the menu was spot on. Of course, as always it depends on the execution. All of their sandwiches come with a choice of fries, pickled veggies, slaw or fruit. I decided on their burger. Named after the chef/partner.

Reifen Burger

Smoked cheddar, pork belly, red onion & Beer B-Q sauce

Sounds tasty, doesn’t it. Well it wasn’t what I thought it would be. There was no bacon,pork belly. As it was explained to me the pork belly was incorporated into the patty, like a frikadellen. That is nice but it should have been written that way. I ordered my burger mid rare. It came out medium. Which is as it should be if there is pig in the mix. Tell people please. Also the smoked cheddar was shredded cheddar. Sorry I do not get it. Shredded cheese is good for a quesadilla. Not a burger.

The BBQ sauce was pretty good. The fries were ho-hum. And I really think a $12.50 price tag was a bit much.

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The bun was really good. Crisp and toasty.

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I did like their choice of greens. So I am not too concerned about this joint. They have experience. They have skill. I am just miffed that my burger wasn’t what I thought it would be. Of course your IPA was pretty good. So I know you will get it together. Just a matter of time. Just do it the way you say you will do it.

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Tokyo Buffet 8810 S. Emerson Av.

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Looks pretty mundane doesn’t it. After all it sits in the middle of a sprawling strip mall. Surrounded by  a bunch more. Don’t let its appearance fool you. There is a nice little buffet behind those doors. One with an amazing array of Chinese food. It even has freshly prepared sushi. All for $6.95 at lunch and $9.95 for dinner.

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This is the first hot line, with about every Chinese tidbit you would want.

Pat and I were shameless in our gluttony. The Chinese food was very well prepared and everything stayed crisp and hot. They never overloaded any one item, relying on frequent restocking to keep the table intact.

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The sushi was nicely done as well. The selection of rolls were rather average, as they bring out the “fancy” rolls at dinner. However they were very tasty. Of course the use of rice and nori was abundant. I don’t think you can expect yellow tail or salmon for 6 bucks.

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This is the second hot line. Pork and chicken were well represented as well as various veggies, in the form of egg rolls, pot stickers and General Tso’s contribution. I would guess they had more than 30 different items on the steam tables. Plus the sushi and deserts and salads. They even had calamari rings and surimi wrapped in bacon.

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This is the salad station. It also had fresh melon and puddings. They even had ice cream in a little freezer. Of course I didn’t see that until we were leaving.

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This was the desert station. Little petits fours and cookies and macaroons. I know none of these were house made, but they were really pretty tasty. The ones with sprinkles were flavored with coffee.

This was one of the better buffets I have eaten at. The marrying of skillfull cooking and ready made items made it a very memorable lunch. I honestly think it’s phenomenal that it is only $6.95.

#1 Tokyo Buffet on Urbanspoon

OOPS

There is a possibility that some folks may have seen a couple of “unusual” posts on this blog. I just got my first smart phone and I have been playing around with the camera. I wanted to see the result when I shared pictures with WordPress. I had no idea that in addition to sending the images to the media library it would publish them. I am just glad I chose G pictures.

We now resume our regular broadcast.

 

Oasis Diner 405 W. Main Street Plainfield Indiana

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This place is as American as you can get. The diner was built in New Jersey in 1954 and then shipped to Indiana where it opened along US 40; The National Highway. It served food until 2009 when structural issues forced its closure in 2009.The Historical Society intervened to prevent its destruction. New owners were found and it was moved down the road and re-opened last year. A link to their website is below. There you can find a short video of the move as well as its menu.

http://www.oasisdiner.com/

According to the reviews on Urbanspoon folks haven’t given a lot of love to this little diner. Of the 3 reviews from this year 2 didn’t like the joint. So I was really interested in eating there.

They do a lot of scratch cooking from biscuits to pies and pastries to gravies. They also make their own sodas. So in that they certainly are following in the diner tradition. And like any self-respecting diner they serve breakfast all day.

We started lunch with an appetizer of fried mozzarella with house made marinara for $6.50.

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As you can see they do it themselves. The cheese is cut into triangles and then lightly battered and deep-fried. They were really pretty good. The sauce they serve with it is has a bit of cream added to it, a nice little surprise.

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Pat went with biscuits and gravy for $3.50 and I decided on a turkey Manhattan for $10. We also had a side of coleslaw each.

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I had a bite of Pat’s food and it was right on and they didn’t skip on the sausage, which is nice.

As for my Manhattan; It was huge.

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They also offer a beef Manhattan but the turkey was cooked in-house which is why I decided on turkey. They shred and not slice their meat, which I find interesting. Regardless the meat was both tender and abundant. They toast the bread which imparts a taste like dressing or stuffing to the dish after it sits under the gravy for a while. An effect I like. As for the gravy they sure do use a lot. So much I really couldn’t tell too much about the potatoes. Also they used a bit of chicken or turkey base which made it very salty. That is something I think they can work on.

So Pat and I were both pretty happy with our food. I think they have some room to improve but don’t most joints? The fact that they make their own fried mozz. app. makes me think this joint is capable of following the tradition of the American diner.

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Oasis Diner on Urbanspoon

Ike & Jonesy’s 17 Jackson Square

I never would have thought of Ike & Jonesy’s for lunch until Pat suggested it. Back in the day; as they say; this was a night club. It opened in ’80 or ’81 right on the periphery of the old Union Station,the train station that was revitalized to be a destination for the party goers of Indy. Ike & Jonesy’s was probably the hottest. Out in front over the front door they have a cut out of the iconic pose of Marilyn Monroe with dress all a flutter. You know the one. Over the subway in “Seven Year Itch”. It’s still there as is the general nostalgic motif. From the wall art to the use of old pin ball machines as table tops at the booths.

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This greets you as soon as you walk in. Say hello to Ms. Monroe.

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I have no idea what this is. I guess it is supposed to be a take off on Marilyn. It can be a bit scary, but it is striking.

The menu is very typical bar or tavern fare. Their execution is better than most. To me their lunch specials are the big draw at lunch time. From roasted pork, prime rib sandwiches to fried chicken all in the 6 to 8 dollar range they seem to have a knack for a business man’s lunch.

Their special this day was a fried chicken breast, mashed potatoes and gravy with coleslaw and cornbread for $7.95. The lighting over the booths cast a red hue over the tables. It wasn’t that noticeable to me,but it shows up in the pictures.

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I thought the special was very special. A nice breast fried crisp with a tasty breading. The mashed were probably not house made, as well as the gravy but they both were nicely done. The coleslaw was really terrific, slightly tossed with a creamy dressing. The corn bread came from a mix and wasn’t anything spectacular but it was fluffy and came with real butter. It was a really nice lunch;especially for the money.

On the menu they offer a group of sandwiches utilizing strip steak. All variations on the theme of a Philly, all for $8.95. Pat opted for their Indy. He had his with only steak and mushrooms, leaving off the onion and cheese.

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Oh the Dick and Spiro that Pat is talking about are Nixon and Agnew. On the back wall they have a bit of memorabilia from that era. I don’t think they have changed much of the interior design since 1980. I am not too sure though. The times I was there back then I wasn’t that attentive to the decor. They also have a small reasonably priced dinner menu featuring steaks and chicken. So Ike and Jonesy’s. It’s not just for parties any more.

Ike & Jonesy's on Urbanspoon

Barbecue and Bourbon 1414 W. Main St. Speedway In.

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Yep here we are. Speedway in May. There is just something special about the month of May in Speedway. Granted it is not the month-long spectacle it once was, but it is still a fun time. I would guess Barbecue and Bourbon has only been open for a couple of years, but as you can see from their sign they know how to make you feel welcome.

They don’t have a real big menu but they have all the essentials needed for a BBQ joint, done on their smoker out back. The first thing we ordered was mushrooms for $5.99.

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These were quite tasty. Nice firm mushrooms with a slight coating that stayed in place went you bit into them. Some places just toss them into a pile of breading and hope for the best. These guys do it right.

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All of their dinners come with 2 sides, ala carte they cost $1.99. Pat ordered a pulled pork sandwich for $6.79 and a side of fried cabbage. I got sliced brisket and mac and cheese. The brisket sandwich will cost you $7.99.

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Way back there in the distance you can see the stands that Pat referenced. Not a great view but that sound is hard not to notice.

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My brisket sandwich was nicely done. The meat was moist and tender, lean and tasty.I didn’t detect a lot of smoke but that’s all right it was still a good sandwich and the toasty bun was great. The mac and cheese was better than your average BBQ place. I can only think of one maybe two places that do it better. But it is a side dish after all and it complemented the beef well.

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It was a beautiful day so we ate outside. However we decided to go in side for our adult beverage.

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It is a compact little joint with a compact little bar. However compact or not they have one of the best, if not the best, collection of Bourbons around. Pat had a light beer for $3.75. Me, being the bargain hunter that I am got a Long Island Ice Tea for $2.50. Now I can not remember the last time I had one of those. No matter how dim my memory is I think that this was an out standing cocktail.

So we had good Q and good drinks, all reasonably priced. So the track isn’t the only reason to head to Speedway. Remember. Don’t go Bacon my Heart.

Oops. I put up the wrong pic for Pat’s pulled pork.

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Here it is.

Barbecue and Bourbon on Urbanspoon

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