eating indie in indy

  • moon dog 244
  • Love Handle 225
  • mama irma 1
  • Iozzo 8
  • Repeal 286
  • Black Diamond 016
  • cropichon and bidibule 012
  • Black Diamond 013
  • mann's grill 038
  • working man's friend 031

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Moon Dog Tavern 4825 E 96th Street

Well we wanted to go to a tavern; a bar; a place what sells alcohol in various form and serves food as well.The trouble is most bars in Indy are pretty much the same. There are a few that bring a little something different to the table but we have already hit most of them. In order to find a place that has something unique to offer we rely on word of mouth or the inter net. If folks don’t offer us suggestions or if joints aren’t willing to use electronic media we are pretty much out of luck. This time we got lucky,via free media. I have noticed Moon Dog before but nothing about it sparked my interest. Then I noticed that it was under new ownership and management;and they had changed their menu in July this year. When I looked at the menu I saw a reference to a smoker,that is always a good sign. So off to the Moon Dog we went.

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This is their smoker. They have it out back,secured and ready to go.

moon dog 242They offer three items from the smoker. Pulled pork butt,sliced brisket and meatloaf sandwich. I was leaning toward the brisket but Pat nudged me toward the meatloaf. He knows how I like meatloaf. I hesitated until our bartender told me that they cook it totally on the smoker. They also used the same meat blend for the meatloaf as they use for the burgers. A custom blend of Sirloin, Tenderloin and Ribeye from Kincaid Meat Market on Illinois St. After that no further discussion was needed.

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It was an excellent sandwich. The meatloaf was moist and succulent and the smoker dude did an excellent job cooking it on the smoker. A beautiful smoke ring, a wonderful aroma of smoke and a delicious texture of good meat cooked just to the point of perfection. And bonus, they offer star tots. I am sure I have covered this before but there is just something about tots.

 

 

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Funny story. When I was perusing their menu a few of the items and words reminded me of the Sinking Ship. Evidently Pat as well. I was going to ask our bartender but I forgot. Well, don’t you know while we were eating ,the bartender mentioned to another patron that the new owner had another joint in Broad Ripple. As one voice:” Sinking Ship “erupted from all 3 of us. Thankfully it was still early so the shock was minimal. So if  you want to grub on some Seitan wings and don’t want to drive to 49th Street trust the Moon Dog. If you are a carnivore these guys can take care of you as well.

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Love Handle 2829 E. 10th Street

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Well another new joint has opened in Indy. This one is unique in that the owner/operators Chris and Ally Benedyke are from Indianapolis originally and have just returned from Milwaukee where they owned a similar place by the same name. The new place, like the old one features specialty sandwiches and small plates using local sources. Since they plan on changing the menu weekly they are relying on Facebook and not a web site. Since that was the case I felt compelled to do a bit of reconnaissance, or reconn-oink-ering if you prefer. You know since they do a lot with pig. Well in either event I went in on Tuesday morning for breakfast.

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It is a small place with a counter and a few tables, so it is rather cozy. I was told it used to be a Subway, if that is the case the size makes sense.

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The one item I was most intrigued with was their version of bacon,egg and toast for $7. It was a big slice of pork belly with a jellied egg yolk and toasted french style bread. It was probably one of the most unusual things I have put in my mouth but also one of the tastiest. The pork belly;or bacon is self-explanatory. Salty and unctuous ( I know I use that word a lot but sometimes it just fits) with just the right amount of tooth. The egg was odd in all the right ways. A poached egg yolk encapsulated in an aspic derived from the preparation of hog feet or trotters. Since it was cold it was a shock to my tongue after puncturing the jelly and seeing the yolk flow out but is was as good a mopping egg as any warm poached one. And you had the bonus of pig jelly. Any talk of egg yolk mopping has to lead to bread and their choice of Amelia’s was good but their treatment of it was better. The bread is toasted then spread with a mixture of unsalted butter, apple butter and a hint of seranno chile. It was delicious. The whole plate was a hit.

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I also tried some of their miso and brown butter ice cream for $4. A browned butter is the start of a caramel so if you add that to sugar and cream you get a true decadent caramel. You freeze it you get this. Again a good job. However I didn’t taste much from the miso. But the earthiness of a brown miso can mimick an aspect of caramal I suppose. Regardless it was a great ice cream I would not hesitate to try again.

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I also tried a sweet roll, a Miso- Ovaltine Sweet Roll to be precise, and in full disclosure Ally gave it to me. I guess she thought I wasn’t getting enough to eat. It was an excellent roll and sells for 4 bucks

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So this brings us to Wednesday, the day Pat and I have decided for lunch. I had told Pat about this place and how I was going to check it out beforehand,and he groaned at my oink joke as I am sure most people would. Actually I was surprised that he was willing to give it a try,possibly because it was my turn to buy.

I was pretty sure what I wanted to try from the beginning the Tesa, $7 and the Trotter Croquettes for $6.

Tesa is similar to Prosciutto in that it is slow cured and is eaten without further cooking. Where it differs is the part of the pig it comes from. Prosciutto is from the hind or ham area Tesa is from the belly.

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I received a big old plate of piggy goodness with a bit of cooked beet,sour turnip and jalapeno as accompaniment as well as a bunch of toast. I also got another one of Chris’s eggs as a bonus. Once again everything fit like a glove. Actually I found this more interesting than prosciutto. With the ratio between fat and lean as it is on pork belly it was like getting Lardo as a bonus.

I also had to try the Trotter. Before you freak remember that there is some good meat in a pig’s foot. It just takes a while to get to it,but you do get the added value of the gelatin. Like everything else these croquettes were very good. A crisp exterior and a moist and meaty interior.

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With Pat it wasn’t so easy. I think he just agreed to go just to humor me.

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I was too busy feeding my face so I forgot to take any shots of Pat’s food until the very end.

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Pat's Popcorn

Pat’s Popcorn

They toss the corn in bacon fat and then sprinkle it with Nutritional Yeast, the result is unique and tasty.

The sauces Pat referenced was a soy type reduction and a soda pop mustard both made in-house. They both went well with the Tesa and the trotters,especially the mustard. That was made with Tamarind flavor Jarrito’s soda pop and minimally ground. A very interesting taste.

One last thing. We shared a slice of Lavender and coconut cream tart.

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Great crust,nice and creamy with good coconut flavor. As for the lavender it wasn’t as pronounced as I thought it would be. Good pie regardless. So as you can see I really enjoyed this place and its food. Pat; not so much. But he was a trooper for going there with me. In either event I think it a place worth exploring.

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Mama Irma 1058 Virginia Ave.

Peru has a reputation of being the greatest cauldron of fusion cooking, much more than the rest of Ibero-America. Italian, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese culture all lent a hand with the food of Peru. This place has been around for a while but it took us a while to get to it.

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It is a nice little cafe,seating about 30. The menu is a nice size and appears to represent Peruvian cuisine. However, before I get into the food I must comment on the cook/owner’s attitude about special requests. As most readers know Pat is allergic to onions. When Pat asked our server the best way to avoid onion,we were informed that the cook/owner becomes “offended” when people request changes in her menu. When we asked about the specials the server went back to the kitchen to ask. The cook came out and asked who had the allergy;with an eye roll; and proceeded to suggest the side dishes. She could have offered suggestions,she chose not to.

 

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I tried a glass of Chicha Morada for $3.50. That is water steeped with blue corn,pineapple skin and brown sugar. It was pretty tasty,but pricey.

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For my lunch,since I am virtually food allergy free, I ordered Aji De Gallina for $9.25. That is shredded chicken in a creamy walnut parmesan sauce and rice. It was a very good dish. The rice was stand alone good and the chicken and sauce was an added bonus. I would eat that dish again. Just somewhere else.

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So I think the food was nicely prepared. I just think that they should cut out the attitude. You don’t have to cater to every whim of the diners just meet them in the middle.

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Iozzo’s Garden of Italy

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Iozzo’s is a place with history. The Great Grandfather, Fred, was the patriarch that started the family business in Indianapolis in the 1920’s. By 1925 he had 2 dozen grocery stores throughout Central Indianapolis. The gem of the empire was an Italian restaurant on South Illinois. It featured a band stand, 2 kitchens,3 bars and seating for 850. A tragedy in 1941 led to a quick and final demise of the restaurant. The family kept their recipes and traditions intact for over 60 years before they opened Iozzo’s Garden of Italy in 2009.

Since it was such a gorgeous day we sat in the garden. A small courtyard paved with cobble stones.

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Along the side were niches that framed some dramatic flame colored blossoms and at the end was a tall lamp-post with lead glass lamps.

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How ever as charming and mellow as the setting was the food was the center of our attention. Also they had half priced wine this day. Pasta, wine and beautiful weather all in a stone and brick courtyard. That just seemed to call to us.

I decided that I needed a glass of Argentine Malbec to start.

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The wine inspired me to have a plate of spaghetti with Bolognese sauce and a salad. The basic pasta with the Family sauce or Marinara is $9. A change to Bolognese is an extra buck and the addition of meatballs is $4. So my pasta and salad was $14. I think it was definitely well worth it.

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Now this was a swell little salad. A bowl of Spring mix,which I really like, one slice of Roma tomato and a cucumber slice. All dressed with a nice Basalmic dressing. Nothing fancy. A simple salad designed to start your appetite.

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My plate of pasta was nicely presented and expertly prepared. A good bite for the noodle and a good sauce made for an excellent lunch, by itself. Add in the meatballs and you get an outstanding meal. They use veal,sausage and beef in making their meatballs. Which,in my estimation is the best combination for a meatball.

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I was very much impressed with this little joint. From the fresh cracked pepper for the salad to the fresh grated cheese for the pasta. Everyone was on point for the service. Also they were short-handed and everyone stepped up and took care of business. That is something I really appreciate. Also, as an aside our server;Elizabeth is one of the grand daughters of Fred. I am not sure how many greats should be injected but she is of the Family Iozzo. A part of the chain. Which I also think is cool.

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Repeal Restaurant 630 Virginia Ave.

I have looked forward to this place opening for a while. It is the restaurant part of 12.05 Distillery. The distillery opened several months back;the second one in Indianapolis. The whole facility, distillery,dining room and kitchen is in an old bank building,built-in 1924. The exterior features the original terra-cotta exterior and uses an abundance of old wood in the interior. The name is a dedication to the date when Prohibition ended. December fifth. I think they are trying to capture a 1930’s vibe and the menu reflects that.

The chef did his due diligence in making some dishes reflective of the era. They offer a Mock Turtle soup as well as a Cream Mongole.

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I opted for a cup of a cup of Mongole to start. This is a crazy combo of split pea, creamy tomato and various root vegetables. It was very earthy and flavorful. It would be great winter time fare for $4 per cup and $8 for a bowl.

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The only critique I could make is the soup,as good as it was cries for some cracker. A bit of a crunch to balance the creaminess.

For my main dish I was really torn. They offer a Hot Brown, a Monte Christo and a smoked beef Manhattan. Well I decided on the raw Beef “sandwich” for $13. It was a half pound mound of chopped steak on a thick slice of a rye type bread, topped with a raw egg, pickled onion and a neon relish.

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I thought it was a very elegant and tasty bite for lunch, but then I have a thing for tartare and Kibbeh Nayyeh and the like so I jumped at the chance. I think there are only 2 joints in Indy that offer this particular dish. Once again I must pick a nit. I don’t know if serving it on a thick slice of bread is the way to go. I slid the meat off of the bread and ate it with pieces of the bread I tore off. Luckily Pat didn’t eat all of his bread so I had enough to finish. Also I always though naan was a thin flat bread. Hey I may be wrong. In either event I admire the person that put it on the menu.

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Pat, true to form, ordered the smoked pork sandwich, for $9.

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So;this is Repeal. A nice little joint with a few minor details to iron out. We had two menus. One said Brioche bun the other said Cholla bun. I guess Cholla is the new name for Challah. Oy Vey. Still I think it is a great new joint. I want to go back and try the Mock Turtle soup and the Pimento Cheese. And while I am there I might as well have a cocktail.

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Blind Owl Brewery 5014 E. 62 nd Street

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cropichon et Bidibule 735 Mass. Ave.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Black Diamond BBQ 6404 Rucker Road

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

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

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

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

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

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Mann’s Grill 1214 S. Tibbs Ave.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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The Working Man’s Friend Tavern 234 N. Belmont

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

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

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

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And a more extensive sigh behind the bar.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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