eating indie in indy

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Kruger’s Tavern 323 N. Delaware St.

Well this is another import from Cincinnati, courtesy of the Thunder Dome Restaurant Group. This is the group that controls Eagle and Bakersfield which expanded to Indy recently. Bakersfield in 2013 and The Eagle in 2015. I know this joint barely qualifies as an independent but it is owned by 3 people 2 of which are brothers. They are just hugely successful and are expanding their brand.

https://www.kruegerstavern.com/locations/

This place grinds their own meat for the hamburgers and the basic burger is $9.99. They use 2 patties per burger and cook them on a flat top so I was a bit surprise the meat didn’t have crisper edges.

They also make their own sausages. That is what I opted for.

It was their Italian. Sicilian style sausage, polenta cake, braised fennel and olives, Parmigiano Reggiano

This was an outstanding dish. The sausage had a bit of heat from the Calabrian chiles as did the broth the fennel and olives were braised in. This was almost a perfect meal for me. It featured 2 of my favorite non meat items. Fennel and olives. Add in the pig and “corn bread” and I was as happy as a camel on hump day. They offer 2 other styles of sausage all are $12.

I want to come back and try the other two but it will have to be when it is warmer. When I go downtown I use the bus. I don’t even like driving through our downtown. Parking is always an issue when you go downtown to eat. Same with Krueger’s. All I can say is it is worth the trip.

Mom’s Country Kitchen 1313 N. Sherman Drive.

Up until recently this was the Sawmill Saloon. The kind of joint you went to for an uninspired but decent meal or more than a few cheap beers. Now it is a diner, one that serves lunch, dinner and breakfast all day.

Pat and I just thought we were hungry. Pat had their basic breakfast. Two eggs with sausage or bacon, toast and potatoes. He got a pound of potatoes, 4 slices of bacon and what looked like more than 2 scrambled eggs for $7.50. He also decided he needed a half order of biscuits and gravy for $2.99

This is all the food Pat ordered for breakfast.

After all this it is no wonder Pat forgot that we ate here when it was the Sawmill Saloon.

https://kosherhamandcheese.com/2014/07/22/sawmill-saloon-1313-n-sherman-drive/

I had their works platter. Two sausage, 2 biscuits, 2 eggs and potatoes and gravy for $7.99. The amount of food was nearly embarrassing. Not only did we each get a mound of potatoes but they were nicely prepared. A bit under seasoned but still nicely done. The sausage patties were super sized and delicious with a bit of spice. The gravy was pretty good but the biscuits were average.

I don’t think this place is still a destination but if you are hungry for a well prepared breakfast and you are even close by I don’t think you can go wrong with stopping in. I wouldn’t mind trying their lunch just to see how they handle that. They also proudly proclaim steak and eggs for $9.99 all day, every day. Normally I would avoid steaks in a diner but I saw a sign inside announcing that they refuse to cook any steak well done. Now that intrigues me. I just may have to go back for steak and eggs.

The Garrison Sunday Brunch Buffet 6002 N Post Road

I enjoy buffets. It may because they remind me of my time in Vegas or maybe they just appeal to the Glutton in me. In either event here we are at the Garrison. Home to what may be the Mac Daddy of Sunday Brunch Buffets in Indianapolis. They have a smaller buffet at lunch during the week. We reviewed that about 18 months ago. It was because of that trip that we are here today.

I have said before that taking pictures of a buffet can be awkward and this was no exception. I did manage a few shots but for the most part I just took shots of our over stocked plates.

They offered everything you might need for a first or salad course.

And of course a dessert table that would make any casino proud.

The main buffet line is immense, featuring all the protein and veggie options you would ever want. Baked white fish, BBQ ribs, fried chicken and of course sausages and bacon. They also have a separate carving station featuring glazed salmon, ham and roast beef. In the opposite corner is a waffle station and an omelet station.

My first plate of protein was actually a bowl with ribs, bacon and sausage. Underneath was a fried chicken breast. The food was all very good. I discovered their fried chicken on my first visit. It is salty and crisp and the white meat is surprisingly moist; considering that it is warming in a chaffing pan. Some of the ribs were a bit chewy but were still good.

These may be ready-made salads but they were still tasty. The 3 bean and Tortellini salads are not often options on a buffet.

I know the height of gluttony. One piece at a time just would not do for me. I had to shove 3 into my bowl. All of their pies and cakes are done in-house by their pastry chef who spent several years at the “Dutch Oven”.

The buffet is staged in the Blue Heron Ballroom with 2 adjacent dining area for over flow. It is a spacious and beautiful room. One whole wall is nearly all glass with large double doors leading to a grand terrace.

I would also like to comment on the service. I don’t think I have ever seen such an attentive team of servers at a buffet before. Prompt refills and removal of dishes. I also would like to compliment Marsha, our server. Thanks from me as well.

Forgot to mention the price. It is $19.99 per person drink included.

 

Mayfair Taproom 2032 E 10th Street.

For many years this section of 10th street was home to several bars. Small one room bars of varying sophistication and reputation. One of the oldest was the Mayfair Tavern. It was characterized by the upside down sign. It had a very interesting history. This article from NUVO does a good job articulating that history and explaining the origins of the New Mayfair Taproom.

https://www.nuvo.net/beerbuzz/beer-buzz-mayfair-taproom-coming-soon/article_21e19fb0-9e88-11e8-b5aa-3b40a1930233.html

I would add charming to that description. I know the word charming and tavern don’t always go together but those lace curtains in the window just seem so damn charming. The building is old and the restoration/remodel was extensive and very well done.

The menu is quite small but it suits the space. To some degree it follows the BRBP in that it has a few Vegan options. I was intrigued by the Shepherds Pie. In was unique in two ways, The mashed potatoes were on the bottom and on top was arugula and HP sauce.

I must admit that my first impression when presented with my lunch was that it was the wrong dish. I had expected a few stems as garnish but I got a whole salad. I enjoyed my pie very much I just am not sure what the arugula brought to it. The potatoes were delicious and the seasoned ground lamb was on point as well. I like arugula. It is in the same family as mustard greens and its slight peppery flavor is always welcome to me. That taste did indeed bring another layer to the dish as did the HP sauce. I also enjoyed the crispness of the raw green. I have to go back and eat it again. I just can’t decide if the greens are best suited on top or as a side minimally dressed. Of course it is not my call and I am over analyzing. That is what I do. I just can’t help it. This is a great new place and I think the old owners of Mayfair Tavern would approve. They do not have a website but you can view their menu on their Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/mayfairtaproom/menu/

 

Upland Brewing College Ave. 4842 N. College Ave.

Upland is a successful brewery from Bloomington. In the early days of the blog we visited it. About 10 years ago they opened up a tasting room on College. It was a place where you could have a few beers and maybe get a growler refilled. I was only there once or twice because they never seemed open when I wanted to go. A couple of years ago Open Society opened a large space next to Upland’s. When they closed Upland moved in and now they have a real restaurant/bar at a very convenient location.

When I go out to eat I try to get stuff I don’t like to make at home. Either it requires too much time or the ingredients are hard for me to get. On this day I opted for their grilled cheese.

Toasted Sour Dough Bread, Smoking Goose Ham,
Pimento Cheese, Peppadew Peppers

I love each and every one of those ingredients.

It was a messy sandwich but what should you expect? The pimento cheese was very good and the ham had been browned a bit on a flat top so it had a nice crispness. The bread was well toasted and it even had marks that it been but on a char grill. I like that because it brings another layer of flavor. The Peppadews seemed to have gotten lost but it was still a good sandwich. They offer it with fries or chips from the Broad Ripple Chip Co. I got chips. They were okay nothing extraordinary.

We knew the beer was good and now we know that their food on College is on a par as the food they serve in Bloomington and that after all is the Mothership.

Friend’s Diner 989 US 31 Whiteland Indiana

I know I am always complaining about the dearth of meat and threes around here. Well we found one. Shame you have to drive to Whiteland to visit. Actually it is a meat and three for dinner and a meat and two for lunch. In either event it is definitely a place to consider. Drive and all.

I am not sure how long they have been open. Pat came across it more by accident than intent. They do not have much of an electronic presence so don’t look for a menu. However I believe they have a new menu so that may change.

All of their dinners are mostly $9.99 and come with 3 side dishes. The luncheon plates are $6.99 and $7.99 with a choice of 2 sides. They offer a nice variety of sides even including asparagus.

I agree with Pat about the trout. It is not the usual fish you find on a restaurant menu around here. I was impressed with Pat’s plate. The broccoli appeared to be fresh and I tasted Pat’s fish and I found it to be outstanding.

I opted for a more traditional comfort meal. Chicken and dumplings with mashed and coleslaw. The chicken and dumplings were good. They just weren’t made the way I prefer. I like my dumplings to be fluffy pillows. These were rolled and cut. They were good dumplings just not what my mouth was “set for”. It is like biscuits. Rolled and cut or dropped. Both good it is just what you may prefer.

Regardless of the style of dumpling this was an excellent lunch, and for $6.99 I don’t think you could find a better bargain. This joint is farther from me than Pat but I can see myself driving just to try their breakfast. If a place can do a lunch like this I am always curious about their breakfast service. Especially the biscuits and gravy.

This is one of the biscuits we received for lunch. It is of the dropped variety. It was pretty darn good. Now I want a couple of those smothered with sausage gravy; maybe with a side of crisp bacon. Well that will be for another day.

MCL Cafeteria & Bakery Arlington 6060 E. 10th Street

MCL has been around since 1950. It started in Indianapolis and now has several locations in Indiana, Ohio and even Illinois. They pride themselves on scratch made comfort food and homemade pies.

The menus vary slightly from place to place but they all have a Blue Plate special and a Mayfield’s Value Plate. That is reduced portion of protein with 2 small sides and bread for $6.99. It used to be called the Jack Benny Plate. That is what we ordered. Fried chicken for Pat and Roast beef for me.

I honestly don’t recall Pat ever suggesting this joint but then he also thinks a lunch of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy with a huge roll is healthy eating. If I did give him some push back I probably had a reason at the time. Maybe I thought they had enough public exposure that they didn’t need our little bit of recognition. They are just as well-known now but we are running low on joints to go to, that is why I thought of MCL for this weeks lunch. So feel free to offer suggestions we are always looking. We don’t do dinner and nothing too “fancy” please as it may scare Pat off.

This was a great little plate of food. The meat was tender the taters were creamy and the beans were soft, the way I like them. I got a couple of Parkerhouse style rolls but no butter.

Pat and I both opted for a third side. For me it was spinach.

I enjoy spinach as much as any green. Our bus person Heather brought me some vinegar for the spinach and some horse-radish for the beef so the service at this cafeteria is as good as what you would expect from a full service restaurant. Better than some.

This is my pecan pie. Thick and sweet with a very good crust. On Thursday they offer a slice of pie for 99 cents. How is that for motivation to visit? I am sure most who read this are familiar with the MCL Brand. They are still doing what they have done for 68 years. Putting out splendid meals and great pies. Pleasant folks to have a meal with.

 

 

The Free Spirit 6155 E. 86 th Street

Well one more bar.Or tavern. In other words a joint that sells alcoholic beverage with food; as opposed to a joint that sells food with alcoholic beverages. I have no problem with bars or taverns. However a few weeks back someone asked me if ; as a chef ; I found some places or some food beneath me. I had never thought of that before. I just go to different places that sell food, with Pat, we eat then tell folks what we think. I don’t consider any particular food type  boring or “bad” I can consider the preparation of it sub par or as Pat would say “street level”. That being said lets talk about The Free Spirit.

This joint has been at this location nearly 4 years. I believe the former owner had it on Shadeland Ave. They have excellent food and beverage specials and the prices are more than fair. The majority of their sandwiches are under $8. They also sell pizza and breakfast all day.

Pat wanted to show the char grill on his burger because when we went to the Burger Study they aggressively char grilled his burger and he thought it barely edible. And that is a fancy upscale joint that charges $11 and up for their burgers and this burger was $5.49.

I decided on a Cocky burger. That would be a burger with cheddar, bacon. BBQ sauce and an onion ring for $7.49.

This was a delicious burger. I ordered it mid rare and that was exactly how it was served. Every element of the sandwich was on point. From the toasted Brioche style bun to the crisp bacon and the battered french fries. I have paid more for a lesser sandwich.

I think this place will do well. They have great food, excellent service and enough room for a crowd. I can’t think of anything missing. It is a fun place to hang out at.

Vern’s Place 2322 E. Washington Street

The sign pretty much says it all. It is a nondescript block building that would be easy to miss. However when you go inside it’s a whole different story. Inside is a clean and well put together bar. Pool tables in the front and electronic Dart machines in the back. It is like a shotgun house. Stand at the front door and you will pretty much see it all.

Their menu is as straight forward as the building. A few common appetizers and sandwiches and of course pizza. As an added bonus they offer breakfast. If you haven’t eaten breakfast in a bar at least once in your life you are missing out.

I opted for biscuits and gravy. A full order with fried potatoes is $4.99. I added 2 eggs for $2 and a side of 3 pieces of bacon for 3 bucks. So for $10, the price of a burger in some joints, I got a huge breakfast.

The gravy wasn’t as good as Olly’s but the biscuit was excellent and the potatoes were wonderful as well. You can tell from the picture the potatoes were nicely browned and appropriately crunchy. The eggs burst as they were being plated and the kitchen apologized. I thought that was sweet. Mixing the yolk in with the gravy was my goal. Nicely done.

Pat decided on a lunch type meal A tenderloin.

I don’t know if it shows up in the picture but they batter and fry their tenderloin. I have never eaten a battered tenderloin before.

Now no meal at a bar would be complete without a bit of day drinking.

So don’t let the facade fool you. Inside you will find pleasant service and good food at a good price. They open at 11 during the week and are closed on Tuesday. They start at 8 AM on weekends and they have their own lot.

Gina’s Grill 7055 E. 16th Street

This place opened in October and is in a Moose Lodge. That is why the banner has to pass as the facade. I found out about it by searching the internet for any new joints in the Irvington area. I don’t consider this as part of Irvington but obviously Google does. The reason I even mention this is that if you want to find new places to eat sometimes you have to search them out. This little grill definitely makes the search worthwhile.

As you know the purpose of this blog is to cheer lead for the independent restaurant. This restaurant is owned and operated by Gina and her husband and it is housed in a Moose Lodge. Now what is more Mom and Pop than that.

Their menu is pretty standard with the exception of one rather creative side dish.

https://www.ginasgrill.com/

They offer a bit of home cooking, which I like , so I had a tough time deciding what to eat. I opted for a Pollock sandwich. Beer battered white fish seemed like a good idea for a cold December day. Also I spent an extra buck fifty for their creative side dish. Fried onion pearls.

Honestly I was a bit nonplussed when I saw two pieces on a round bun. I had expected one piece on a long roll. My confusion was unwarranted. It was a solid 6 ounces of fish and it was very nicely done. The produce was fresh and overall it was a very good sandwich and those crazy onion pearls were excellent. Very clever idea.

I intend on coming back at least to try cake or cobbler. That is the cool thing about independent joints The menus may be nearly identical but the execution can be very different. Example: Onion Rings. The Mug in Irvington and Greenfield puts mustard in their batter for the rings. Not a fan. Gina’s makes their’s Flamin’ Hot. Have to try those.

One more observation. They have a huge smoker out back that could hold a bunch of pig. Now that is one more thing to get excited about. BBQ. Even without a smoker though this is a joint worth looking into.

 

 

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