eating indie in indy

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Rooster’s Kitchen 888 Massachusetts Ave.

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If the address seems familiar that is probably because it is where R Bistro used to be. Now it is a cozy little joint with a great array of comfort food and excellent beer. With a nice porcine centric menu.

With a name like Rooster’s some folks might be expecting fried chicken. However the origin of the name is more personal to the owner. It seems when Ross was a little boy he had a habit of getting up before dawn and waking up the house. His Mother convinced him to stay in bed until dawn. Well he did. Of course he awoke long before dawn so he get wake the house up right at dawn. Naturally that led to the nickname of Rooster. So it was only logical that would be the name of his new restaurant.

Keeping with the pig theme we order a basket of Pork Rinds for $5. They fry them in-house and then dust them with a BBQ seasoning. They were still crackling when they were served. I thought they were great. Pat wasn’t a big fan.

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Pat’s lunch was a Neanderthal plate for $14. Choice of pork shoulder, brisket or roast turkey with 2 sides.

I was more in a sandwich mood so I opted for a Lucy for $12. This was their answer to the Cubano. It was roasted pork shoulder, cured pork loin with,I believe Havarti cheese, pickles and mustard.

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I am with Pat on the pork shoulder and the carrots. So many joints do a good job with pig anymore you can’t really say who has the best. You can say that Rooster’s puts up a very good roasted pork shoulder. The carrots were outstanding as well. They had the right amount of tooth and just a touch of char. I for one would have enjoyed more char. The cured loin set the tone for the sandwich. An excellent curing job on the pork and an excellent sandwich all the way around.

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We sat at the bar so I felt compelled to take a shot of the back bar. Pretty, and they offer some serious beers as well as some serious eats. So I can’t think of any reason why this little place isn’t crowded all the time. Thanks to all of you guys.

Rooster's Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dugout Bar 621 Virginia Ave.

On a rainy day there is just something about an old bar that draws me. We decided to do lunch on Monday instead of Wednesday this week. Since it was rainy we came here. Also since it was raining I forgot to take an outside shot. As soon as we walked in we were greeted by both the bartender and 2 guys sitting at the bar. That is always a good sign. We started off with some breaded mushrooms for $7.95. They offer a choice of 3 dippers, which is unique. Marinara as well as cocktail and ranch.

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They tasted pretty good. I have had a few better. I couldn’t place the breading. Had I know that the Head Food Dude was sitting at the bar with us I would have asked. By the time we were introduced the mushrooms were gone and so was the question.

After a long weekend of tryptophan, turkey and carbs Pat and I both craved a burger. We opted for a bacon cheeseburger for $8.75.

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The only difference in our orders was Pat wanted pepperjack cheese and pickle only. I opted for Swiss with pickle and onion. I asked our bartender if they used red or white onion. I can tolerate red onion in a salad but not a burger. Yes I can be finicky. She told me I could have either one. Now that is service.

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The burger was tasty, the pickles were crisp, the onions crunchy and the Brioche bun was beautiful. It was a very nice sandwich and they didn’t scrimp on the bacon; 3 strips.

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As we entered we were informed of the lunch specials. A Cajun seasoned pork tenderloin and a blackened salmon Etouffee. Normally I would have jumped on the fish but as I said I was craving  red meat. As we chatted with the 2 fellows sitting at the bar I discovered that their current chef had worked at Bourbon Distillery around the time Pat and I went there. If that is the case then he was responsible for my blacked trout with Etouffee that I had that day. The dish was excellent. So this just gives me an added incentive to return and try one of his fish dishes.

So we have an old bar with friendly patrons, excellent service and great food. On and the prices are reasonable. They even offer up great beer specials. PBR and Killian Red for $2.50 per pint. I wish I could remember our server/ bartender’s name. She did a terrific job. So I’ll be back with or with the rain.

Dugout Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A2Z Cafe 4705 East 96th Street

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This little joint changed hands about 2 years ago. Before the change it was an Italian eatery. The current owners, Gina and her husband were frequent diners and friends with the old owner. Cut to the chase and they ended up as the new owners. New owners with no restaurant experience. We got all of this from our discussion with Gina;one of the new owners. She is a delightful lady with both charm and talent. An artist by trade;  and an I.U grad she and her husband are the guiding lights of a cozy little joint with a fun and slightly quirky menu.

It was a rainy morning and we felt we needed a sweet fix so. we started with an order of fried biscuits with apple butter for $4.

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These were delightful little bites. Bits of fried dough covered with sugar. In an act of lily gilding they serve them up with apple butter. Add a cup of coffee and you have a really tasty start to your day.

They serve breakfast and lunch most of the day. In addition to the traditional cafe items they offer some fun dishes. Such as the Tater Tot Scramble. That is two eggs scrambled with ham, bacon, sausage and tots then covered with sausage gravy and then topped with cheddar cheese. It comes with toast for $8.50.

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This is not haute cuisine. It is a a fun and filling dish featuring all of the basic food groups you would expect for breakfast. From a strict culinary standpoint it has too much stuff in it,but that’s okay. The eggs were very soft and the gravy was very creamy. Actually I was impressed with the overall execution of the dish. The only reason I wouldn’t order it again is because all of the other fun stuff I would like to try.

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For a couple of rookies Gina and her husband are doing a really good job. I am including a link to their menu because I think it is a fun one.

http://a2zcafe.com/menu.html

 

 

A2Z Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Grilliant Foods 4320 W. 96th Street

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This a very unique and interesting place. It is a small house in a predominately industrial area, stuck between 2 warehouse type buildings. For years it was just a grocery specializing in Eastern European foods. The place had a commercial kitchen and the owner would occasionally cook up since special meals from the old country. When he decided to retire he needed a special someone to take over. Enter Ernie. He was butcher by trade that had started a catering business that also was active in the competitive BBQ scene. He wanted a commercial kitchen so a deal was made. Ernie could sell his food from the kitchen as long as he maintained the European grocery and deli roots.

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These are two of the smokers Ernie uses. He offers ribs, pulled pork and brisket. He also makes sausage.  Both sweet and spicy Italian as well as Brats. Which he sells both smoked and raw. Their menu is small with a couple of specials tossed in. This day the specials were burnt end chili for $5.99 and beef and noodles for $4.99. For the beef and noodles he used short rib. He smoked them until they fell off the bone and them added them to broth and noodles.

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I wanted the brisket. A decent smoked brisket is still hard to find around here. So that is what I got, for $7.99.

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The meat was chopped which isn’t my favorite way of eating brisket. However I couldn’t complain because the amount I was given was more than generous. Also it had a wonderful smoky flavor. They serve the meat dry and you dress it with your choice of 4 different sauces on a cupboard to the side of the dining room. All of the sauces are pre-made. Sweet Baby Ray’s among them. That tells me that this joint puts it attention to the meat. For an extra 2 bucks I bought a side of baked beans. These were great. Thick and sweet; the way I like them. They could well have been the best I have had. We were also given a sample of their brat. It was delicious and practically melted in your mouth.

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Grilliant also competes in BBQ competition. Hanging above the fireplace are the ribbons they have won.

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So if you have a hankering for some real Q then you can get it on 96th Street. They also have huge breaded tenderloin. Speaking of which they have a challenge plate. One BT, a double order of fries and coleslaw and a full slab of ribs for $40. If you finish in 45 minutes you get your money back. A Fishers fireman tried and failed. I was told that a 119 pound woman body builder is set to try it this weekend. As Pat said it can be tricky to find. As soon as you turn off Michigan Road onto 96th Street start looking. It’s on the north side of the street. That big smoker is right out front.

Grilliant Foods Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Nickel Plate Bar & Grill 8654 E. 116th Street Fishers Indiana

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This is their sign facing 116th Street. I don’t even know if there is a functioning door on the front. The parking is on the side. Where there is definitely a door.

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This is a relief beside the door off the parking lot. It is sculpted from clay and embedded in the brick exterior wall. Worth the trip just to check it out.

As we often do we started with an order of mushrooms for $7.99.

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They give you a bunch. A basket full of hot and crunchy ‘shrums. We consider them as good as that served at the Checkered Flag. Which says a bit.

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I was torn between the brisket and a bison burger. The thought of a bloody hunk of meat won me over and I settled on the bison, mid-rare. As you can see it was a large patty; nearly an inch thick and it was cooked perfectly. Sometimes some joints won’t cook ground meat anything less than 160 degrees; which is a bit more than medium. This was as I wanted it. They use a Brioche bun comes from S. Rosen’s from Chicago. It was wonderful. A shiny soft top and a tender and sweet interior. It was a perfect foil to a mid-rare burger. For sides they give a choice of several different options. Except fries. Fries are a 99 cent up charge. I got the potato salad. It is a brand I am familiar with and like. It was a grand lunch for $10.99/ Pat’s fish was $9.99. pricing you would expect for Fishers.

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This is another member of the R. Lux family of restaurants. We have been to everyone; except for the Meridian. Maybe we’ll do that for the Holidays. The place is very comfortable and the service is as good as the food. Our server/ bar tender, Brenda did a Masterful job. She also makes a wonderful Margarita; which they had on special today for 4 bucks. So I think this joint is worth the trip. Even all the way to 116th Street.

 

 

 

Nickel Plate Bar & Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Scotty’s Dawghouse. 4702 Sunset Ave. #100

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Well the Dawghouse is the just the latest in the ever-growing chain of restaurants and brewhouses started by Scott Wise. The original opened in Muncie Indiana in 1996. Since then he has developed the 3 Wise Men breweries and expanded his original concept to 18 locations. He recently added one in Florida and is soon to move into Ohio. I have been to the first Wise Men brewery in Broad Ripple several times and the Brewhouse downtown a couple of times. Interestingly enough the joint is built into the Majestic building; where my gym is located. Purely co-incidental.

This place is in a golden place. It is across the street from the Holcomb Gardens and within a basketball throw of Hinkle Fieldhouse. When you sit on their patio you have a spectacular view of woods. Wrap all of that ambiance into a college campus add beer and good eats and you have all the earmarks of a grand time.

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I decided to change-up my normal eating habits. I started off with a cup of chili.

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It was pretty good. A bit of spice and heavy meat. The tomatoes were diced and hadn’t had a chance to cook down so there was a definite sweetness and texture. It also had a strong cumin presence. Pretty typical of this area. I also ordered 2 items from their Snacksty menu. These are “little bites”. Sliders, tacos, tots etc. They offer them for $2.99. A couple of nights a week and all day Thursday they sell them for 2 bucks.

I opted for a BBQ slider and  a burnt end taco.

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The slider was pretty tasty. A nice amount of meat with a decent sauce and topped with a good slaw. The bun was very good. It had a brioche quality which gave it a pretty good firmness. It was worth 3 bucks. My second choice was the taco.

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This was very interesting. The ends weren’t what I consider burnt  but they were pretty tasty. I wasn’t a big fan of the BBQ sauce, but that was my fault. The sweet from the taco and the slider added up. In the future I would 86 the sauce and opt for a bottle of hot sauce. I also wasn’t a fan of the slightly crisp flour tort. I prefer corn torts for my tacos.

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Wings were my last choice. They had them as a special for $.75 each. I bought 4 with a pineapple jerk sauce. It was pretty good but I should have considered the sweetness factor in my ordering. So Scotty’s did its job well. The wings were really meaty. I think next time I would roll with a hot sauce. They charge 50 cents each for the celery and blue cheese. Which is not too common,but for .75 each,I get it.

Well, Pat really enjoyed the Dawghouse and so did I. Their menu is large, the service is prompt and pleasant and the space is amazing. Oh and did I mention it is just down the way from the Fieldhouse?

Scotty's Dawghouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Paragon Family Restaurant 118 S. Girls School Road

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This is a big restaurant with a big menu. It is very similar to other joints around Indy. Breakfast served all day, big portions, home-made soups and a bunch of pies and cakes. Usually when we hit places like this we invariably opt for breakfast. Today was an exception. We both decided on lunch dishes. Pat ordered an Italian beef sandwich with a side of coleslaw, for $8.50.

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Pat always says that he provides the “esoterica” for the Blog and I am supposed to handle the technical. Well he did today for sure. He just didn’t mention what he ate.

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He seemed to enjoy it. As a general rule he isn’t too shy about voicing his displeasure.

As for me I had a hankering for a melt. I enjoy the substantial bite you get from a patty enclosed in 2 pieces of toast. They offer 8 different melts and I decided on a Patty Melt. That is a hamburger patty on rye bread toast with grilled onions and cheese. The one they offer was a very good one. They use a coarse ground beef which made it a superior sandwich. Also it was on special for $6.99, and it came with fries and choice of soup or salad. They offered 3 different soups today and I decided on  beef and cabbage. They brought out my soup and Pat’s slaw first with rolls and butter.

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The presentation of my soup may have been sloppy but the taste was fantastic. Savory and beefy. I would definitely order it again.

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The sandwich was good but I didn’t finish it because of the big display case of pies and cakes. Pat and I decided to get dessert. Pat got a eclair for $2.75.

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I tried a slice of Lemon Meringue Pie.

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So we had a very good lunch for a reasonable price. It is a place that is worth checking out for any meal. A bunch of dishes to choose from and easy on the wallet.

Paragon Family Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sister’s Comfort Food 2236 E. Tenth St. (John H. Boner Community Center)

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I try to start out with a picture of the places facade. This one doesn’t really have a facade of its own. What it does have is a cozy little corner in the John H. Boner Community Center, just east of the Tech High School campus. They have been opened for 3 years and I just learned of it last week. After eating here Pat and I both think that it’s a wonder it isn’t always full of hungry customers.

The menu is basic and the prices are in line with most other restaurants of its kind. When you factor in the quality and the quantity it is a true bargain.

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The printing on their carry out menu was light so my copy may be difficult to read for the ocularly challenged.

It is a pretty sweet space. A neat and clean dining room and a spacious kitchen nearly as large as the dining area.

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As for the food it was pretty sweet as well. Pat ordered a breaded tenderloin, $7.50 with a side choice. The cool thing about a “meat and 2” joint is you aren’t stuck with fries or onion rings as side options.

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Yep. Meatloaf. To me the quintessential comfort food. Here you can get a dinner for $11. In addition to a substantial portion of meatloaf you get 2 sides and cornbread. My 2 sides were collard greens and mashed potatoes and gravy. The meatloaf was done very well. It had an excellent flavor and texture. The density was spot on. The Sisters use oats as the filler. Specifically steel-cut oats. To some that may sound odd but steel-cut oats were probably the original binding agent for the “modern” meatloaf. Starting in the 30’s I believe Quaker and others pushed rolled oats as a more economical alternative. That would be the meatloaf of my childhood. In either event the Sister’s version was excellent. The greens were good as well,however Pat and I thought they were a bit on the salty side. As you can imagine the mashed and gravy were outstanding  also. Buttery ‘taters and creamy gravy really rounded out the meal.

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So now you know. As they say this place is on point. The real deal. They offer good cooking in a nice environment at more than fair pricing. I might suggest you save some room for dessert as they also offer a variety of baked goods.

 

 

Sister's Comfort Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Johnson’s BBQ Shack – Food Truck

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Like most cities Indianapolis has a growing population of food trucks. These are trucks or trailers that go to different spots around town and sell food that has been prepared in their brick and mortar kitchens. Commissary style. Occasionally more than one gathers and it is a ClusterTruck. This is what converged on an IU Health facility at 250 N. Shadeland Ave. today.

In addition to Johnson’s was Gaucho’s FireAuthentic Brazilian Food and Flying Cupcake. I had envisioned getting a BBQ sandwich, a Brazilian snack and a cupcake for desert. Didn’t happen. After a BBQ sandwich each Pat and I were pretty full. I might have had room for some Coxinhas but they didn’t have them this day.

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Pat’s sandwich was 7 bucks. The chips were $2, as were the other 2 sides. Mac & Cheese and Corn Casserole. Considering that each sandwich was one half pound makes this THE best bargain around.

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I decided on a brisket sandwich for $8. Boy O Boy. It was one heck of a sandwich. It was tender and juicy. Which is the hallmark of good Q. The juiciness came from the fat that was partially melted into the other flesh. There was a small piece that escaped the heat but that just made the bite that much more sweet. The smoke was pervasive throughout. It was on my hands the rest of the afternoon. We went to Manley’s Irish Mutt afterward and Pat threatened to bite by hand; just because of the aroma of smoke.

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I love eating smoked meat as much as I like smoking meat. In the above pic notice the slight evidence of bark. That wasn’t sauce. I did add a touch of their sweet sauce just to wet the bun. So I really think this is one of the best; if not the best; smoked brisket sans I have had in Indy. Hell even if it isn’t it is worth tracking down. If you can’t get to Bargersville by all means hit Twitter for the location of their food trucks. You will not be disappointed.

Johnson's BBQ Shack Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Mug (Irvington) 118 S. Audubon Road

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Well the wait is over. The Mug East has finally opened. The Mug owner bought the building and did a wonderful job rehabbing it. Originally the space where the Mug is was a Christian Science reading room. The center spot was a laundromat. Now it houses a Tyner Pond Farm store. That is the farm that supplies the Mug with all of its protein. That too is owned by Chris Baggott. Owner of both Mugs. The end unit used to be a cafe but will eventually house an upscale restaurant.

The Mug’s menu is the same as the one in Greenfield. They have Draft beer here. They also raised the prices. What was $5 is now $6.75. What was $6.75 is now $8. Life in the Big City.

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Jimmy has joined us on a couple of other occasions. Since he still has a job we have to plan in advance for the pleasure of his company. He ordered one of their excellent house made sausages.

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I was tempted to order a chicken sandwich. All free range and stuff. I think I ordered a chicken sandwich once. To me grilled chicken is an option only if beef or pork isn’t. I think the 8 buck price turned me off. Not that $8 is too much for a sandwich. Just that maybe $8 for a grilled chicken sandwich is. Since I had already tried their beef and dog I opted for a house smoked pork sandwich. Covered in BBQ sauce and topped with homemade coleslaw, for $6.75. Formerly $5.

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It was a pretty good sandwich. Not bad, just not knock your socks off good. I couldn’t detect much smoke in the pig and the sauce was average. As for the slaw I prefer a sweet slaw with a more prominent sauce presence. So a pretty good sandwich. A decent value at $6.75. Excellent value at 5 bucks.

I think their burgers, hot dogs and breaded tenderloin will keep people coming back. I know I will be back for another burger. One of the multi-patty ones. Their basic patty is one-quarter pound,so two will make a substantial sandwich. That is what Pat ordered. They also serve two forms of fries. One is your standard IQF variety  which was $2.25 in Greenfield. ( same as McDonald’s) They also offer a hand cut version fried in lard for one dollar more. For an extra buck they will take any fry toss it in olive oil and then parsley and garlic. Like Boogie Burger in Broad Ripple.

So I think they will be successful here in Irvington. They offer good service and a good product and now they have beer.

The Mug Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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