eating indie in indy

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Fort Ben Pub 5645 N. Post Road

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We have been asked before why we go to so many bars or taverns. Some folks don’t consider such places as “legitimate restaurants”. Well considering the crowd these joints feed at lunch time I would say that is a minority opinion.

We have been to all the bars we lunch at before; for a beer or cocktail. The ones that  offer something unique or special we add to our list. This week we couldn’t really decide on what we wanted to eat. I recalled Fort Ben’s Wednesday Special. A 6 ounce bacon wrapped filet with fries, toast and a salad for $9.25. Now that is a special Special.

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Pat ordered his medium and mine was medium rare. For all practical purposes they were the same temperature. The beef was very tender and had a very nice char quality to it. It was a record for speed that is for sure. I believe it was because the steak was par cooked prior to the order, and the fries were probably fried earlier and stored under a heat lamp. All perfectly reasonable and legitimate “tricks” done to expedite the lunch service. Also you could eat it in record time since you didn’t need to cool anything down. The meat was still tasty and I would do it again were I in the area. However Murphy’s @Flynn’s use to have a similar steak special for $9.99;and the steaks didn’t start cooking until you ordered. They might have raised the price a buck since Pat and I were there. Check their website.

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This particular place has a full repertoire of daily specials; both lunch and dinner. The specials may make this particular spot your destination. So don’t be too quick to overlook lowly bars or taverns for a bite to eat. Remember some of the best scratch type cooking can often be found at these bars.
Fort Ben Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lord Ashley’s Pub 11703 Pendleton Pike

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Once upon a time there was 2 Lord Ashley’s. One on East Washington and one near Oaklandon. The one on Washington is no more. This location is going strong with a change of ownership 12 years ago. It is a kid friendly joint with both a full menu and a full bar.

When we can we like to start off with come fried mushrooms. They serve a generous portion for $7.99.

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Pat and I both agreed that; while good they didn’t compare with Checkered Flags. Unfortunately all subsequent fried mushrooms will be compared with the Checkered Flag.

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Usually I decide quickly on what I want to eat. Not yesterday. Our server bailed me out by suggesting a breaded pork loin.

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It was huge. It was also confusing. I have never seen one pounded out so thin. My first impression was it was a pre-breaded item. However it was full muscle meat and invariably pre breaded “fritters” are chopped and formed. Normally I would have preferred a thicker slice of meat but the more I ate the more I enjoyed it. I can see myself ordering it again. However I think I would take the owner up on his offer of a second bun. I took the loin out of the bun and cut it in half and ate the first half sans bread.

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They make their own chips and they do a good job with them. Too often “home-made” chips are either burnt or under done. I also enjoyed the added kale garnish, that is old school.

It is so far away I can’t see going there very often. I can see myself stopping in when I am in the area or even making it a destination for a Springtime lunch. They are such nice people and they give you a good product at a good price.

Lord Ashley's Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mama’s House 8867 Pendleton Pike

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For the life of me I have no idea why we haven’t been here before now. It is located in a strip mall just west of Post Road. Unless you are actually looking for it you would more than likely not even notice it. That would be a shame because this is definitely a place worthy of notice.

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Pat forgot to mention the soup he got as a first course.

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It was a delicate broth with small cubes of tofu added. It also had a mystery vegetable(?) in it as well. Opaque strips of something that didn’t really have much intrinsic flavor. It was pretty good for an opening act.

I was really second guessing my lunch choice after Pat was served. I ordered Seolleong- Tang. That is beef tongue boiled in an ox bone broth.  While I am not a fan of boiled meats I like tongue and I am especially fond of bone broths so it sounded like the answer to a cold afternoon.

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The broth was very nice;not as rich as I thought it would be but still very good. The beef tongue was plentiful and tender. As I ate I discovered little bits of tripe and sweet potato starch noodles as well. That was a pleasant surprise. I got another surprise when they brought out the sides for the soup.

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Little bowls of pickled onion and mung bean sprouts, kimchi and some delicious slices of cucumber in a sweet chile sauce. These additions turned a good soup into a great soup. All of their lunch specials are $6.99 or $7.99. I am definitely going back.

Mama's House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

1911 Grill 1067 Main Street Speedway In.

Well we are back in Speedway. Their Main Street is shaping up as a prime destination. In addition to the already existing business they have added Daredevil Brewing, Big Woods and,in 2016 Speedway Indoor Karting.

This is a huge 2 story building that has 2 kart tracks. An oval and a road course. The coolest thing  is, it is owned and operated by Sarah Fisher and her husband Andy O’Gara. For those who don’t know, Sarah Fisher ran in 9 Indy 500 races; more than any other woman driver. She still holds the fastest Indianapolis 500 Qualification run by a woman. 229.439 MPH. Of course we didn’t come to race we came to eat at their adjacent restaurant. The 1911 Grill.

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It is a beautiful place. It has 2 stories and seating that overlooks the kart tracks.

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Their menu is pretty typical featuring burgers, fish and tenderloin. They also offer a few dinner choices for evening.

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One of their lunch specials was a Breakfast Burger. A house burger topped with a fried egg and bacon and American cheese. With fries for $8.99. I know that tossing an egg on a burger is the thing to do now but I have never tried it. I like the yolk and I am not sure It would come out that way. I decided to try it and ordered the egg soft and the burger mid-rare.

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It wasn’t a bad burger. Not the best and definitely not the worse. It was your Standard Sysco ready-made burger. Of course I think it would have had more personality had it come out with more yolk in the egg and more blood in the burger. But it was pretty good and the price was reasonable.

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I think Karting there would be a blast. We set by a window and were able to see several racers while we ate. If you were to go there to race eating at the Grill would be a natural choice. If they want to make the restaurant a destination place as well I think they need to step it up a bit and have some more creative options. At least check out different burger options. You never know I may be back to race; if I can get someone to go with me.

1911 Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Big Woods Speedway 1002 W. 10th Street Speedway In.

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Big Woods is a brewery AND distillery and originated in Nashville Indiana. They also have a joint in Bloomington Indiana. I believe last year they decided to make the move north to Speedway. The home of America’s Greatest Spectacle in Racing; the 500. It is a big beautiful building with an amazing interior of varnished wood.

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Quaff On is the name of the beer they produce. Also each beer has an individual name. So when you order a Quaff On flight you get 5 five ounce pours of beers that are representative of their brewing skills.

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I am not going to begin to describe each beer. I will say they were excellent examples of their craft. All for $13.

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As soon as we pulled up I could smell their smoker. I love smoked meats. I find pulled chicken boring. Brisket is still hit and miss around here. A good smoked pork butt is getting easier to find and from the aroma of their smoker I figured this one should be pretty good.

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It was excellent. A great smokiness and the pickled veggies were a marvelous counterpoint. Of course I would have enjoyed more and a larger variety but carrot and onion are pretty commonplace in most kitchens. The bun was nice and I appreciated the sauce on the side. Their side options were kettle chips with truffle oil and parm, fries or kicked up slaw. For some reason I chose chips. They were okay but I think the truffle and parm bit looked better on paper. I forgot all about the slaw option. That was silly. Next time. My sandwich was $11.25 and Pat’s 2 topping pizza pie was $10.95.

In the beginning I mentioned that Big Woods was a distillery too. Their brand of liquor is called Hard Truth. They offered Vodka, Rum and Gin at first. Now they have a whisky. It is a clear liquor; like moonshine. So in keeping with the spirit of adventure I ordered a Manhattan cocktail.

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It was a wonderful beverage. It was incredibly smooth. Too often when all the components of a cocktail are alcoholic the first taste can be a bit astringent. Not here. That is a testimony to the bartender and the liquor. In my opinion.

Pat and I had a swell time. The food is good. The beer is good. The surroundings are good and the service was outstanding. I think Pat and I will both be back;even though it is a drive for both of us. We think it may be worth it.

Big Woods Speedway Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sherwood Cafe 5645 N. Post Rd. D

Well we discovered this place last week. It is in a strip mall at the corner of 56th and Post Road. It is a quiet and unassuming place. The decor is pretty generic but it does have an interesting wall of various reclaimed planks.

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As for the food it bills itself as a Family restaurant so it has a rather extensive menu. It serves breakfast all day since it closes at 4 PM. It also offers grits. Something I enjoy seeing; although the service cutoff for grits is 11 AM.

Pat was leaning towards lunch and I was feeling an urge for pancakes. That is the nice thing about joints like this. I think they even have a hamburger steak breakfast platter. I guess that could be a fusion Hoosier style.

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As I said I had a “hankering” for pancakes. Also I wouldn’t mind a bit of sausage and bacon. So I got both. Pigs in a Blanket and a side of bacon.

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These crazy little things were great. I have never had them before. The pancakes were outstanding. Light and fluffy and the savory bite of sausage made them that much better. I really could have eaten more.

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Overall our meal was very nice. However I think they need a “hook”. Something unique to set them apart from other joints similar to theirs. Cafe Audrey is close by and they are a tough act to compete with. However I think that area is big enough to support 2 such joints. As for prices our total for food was about $20. Which is about standard for this type of food.

 

 

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

Bookers BBQ 4709 Shadeland Ave.

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This is a little hole in the wall in a strip mall that is supposed to have some good Q.

It is also a neat and tidy little joint.

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I especially liked the window treatment. How often do you see curtain sheers and swags in a business?

Or an aquarium;outside of a Dr.’s office.

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As cozy as the spot was we were quickly disappointed. They were OUT OF Q. It seems they took the last 3 days off for New Years and were building their inventory. I think Pat was more bummed than I. They serve breakfast all day so he was somewhat placated with a bacon platter.

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I had an easy choice. Their House Burger. That is a “big” burger patty filled with peppers and onion; like a meat loaf. Then topped with cheese. I had no idea how big until I got it.

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It was a full pound of meat and I liked everything about it. From the crisp exterior to the peppers and onions inside. From the processed cheese to the over sized toasted bun. It was a guilty treat. As much as I enjoyed it I could only eat half.

Bookers has very reasonable pricing; both of our lunches were $7 each. Frankly I don’t see how they can put out a one pound burger stuffed with onions and peppers for 7 bucks.

Will I be back. Of course. I have to try their BBQ.

Bookers Bar-B-Que Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

ClusterTruck 729 N. Penn. Indianapolis.

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I am sure anyone familiar with the “food scene” in Indy has heard the term ClusterTruck. I think originally it referred to a gathering of food trucks. Two to four trucks would converge on a site and sell their food. It was perfect for a crowd with diverse appetites. It also allowed the individual truck to gain exposure to a different base of eaters.

Now before I go any further I have a few comments about the food scene in Indy. We have a great collection of restaurants in town and the quality and quantity is ever-growing. However the one aspect Indy sucks in is the delivery. Before now all the food delivery was done by a middleman who would pick up the food and then deliver it. That led to slow delivery and cold food. Now this ClusterTruck comes in. I am including a link to a Nuvo article that explains the origin of ClusterTruck better than I.

http://www.nuvo.net/indianapolis/clustertruck-indys-food-delivery-revolution/Content?oid=3995626

So for that reason this review is unique. It is also unique in that we had our lunch delivered to our friend, Jimmy’s office. Being a Realtor he has a tough time meeting us for lunch. Luckily his office is a stone throws away.

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They have an expansive menu. One you can get access to at this link. You can also check out their delivery area.

https://www.clustertruck.com/

This place seems to do a first class job of the delivery. In addition to having “fancy” go boxes they have their boxes and bags personalized.

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Jimmy opted for a burger. Now the menu says it is a Bru Burger. What connection; if any it has to Bru Burger I do not know.

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I believe he had a Bourbon Burger. That is a cheese burger with bacon and a Bourbon sauce. The sauce seems a bit thin for a burger, to me, but Jimmie though it was the best burger he has eaten.

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As for me I wanted something different. They had a whole category of smothered tater tots. I decided on a short rib and kimchi topped order.

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It was actually pretty tasty. It had an abundance of meat ,a slight amount of kimchi, but with kimchi the aroma precedes it and sates the appetite. The only complaint I had with the dish is that the kimchi sauce was thin and the dish was a bit on the dry side. Still it had a good flavor and the short ribs were nicely done. However I wouldn’t get it again unless the sauce was given a leg and maybe the amount was increased beyond a 2 ounce solo.

So Indy I think diners should be happy about this new place. You can actually get food from a place that knows how to prepare it and knows how to deliver it. No more reliance on a second-hand delivery agent. Also the prices include a tip. An actual tip not a hidden delivery charge.

 

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

Four Day Ray 11671 Lantern Road Fishers Indiana

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This joint brews beer. But it is more; it is a Gastropub. I have seen that word around a lot more recently. That led me to believe it was possibly more than a made up word. Like Gastronaut. I looked it up on Google and this is what I discovered.

gas·tro·pub
ˈɡastrōˌpəb/

noun

BRITISH
  •                   a pub that specializes in serving high quality food.
 Yelp even offers a list of the “best” gastropubs in Indy. According to the list I have eaten at a few of these places and I hadn’t even noticed. I am guessing that if their menu uses the words confit and or aioli you may be at a gastropub.  What ever the joint calls itself as long as the food is done well that is all that matters.
As I mentioned this is a brewery. The picture I started with is on the outside of the building in the parking lot. The place is huge and appears to have been constructed just for this operation. They have an upper level  that allows them to seat more than 200 eaters and drinkers.
four-day-ray-006The sandwiches are in the $10 to $13 range and the beers are $5.50 per pint. The going rate at most breweries; and most joints in Fishers. A cautionary note about their beer flights. They serve the flights in 5 ounce pours; as many as you would like at $2.50 each. I think that is a bit high for anywhere.
four-day-rayfour-day-ray-005Since Pat got the BT I opted for a burger. I just feel better when we order different things. I noticed they had a double burger available which made me ask the server how big a patty they serve. He had no idea. He just said they were “big”. Hopefully he will learn his menu soon. I ordered my burger Mid-rare. It came out close to medium. They use a 2-year-old cheddar from Fair Oaks Farms as one of their cheese choices. That is what I ordered and it was delicious. As a matter of fact the burger was pretty damn good, overcook and all. I was also impressed with the fries. They had a crunchy exterior and a soft interior and the sprinkling of coarse salt really made them exceptional. For what it is worth the burgers appear to be 6 ounce.
four-day-ray-004So I wouldn’t mind going back but I agree with Pat about the distance. Maybe when the weather warms again.

Four Day Ray Brewery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

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