eating indie in indy

Latest

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.

 

 

His Place Eatery 6916 E 30th Street (revisit)

About 4 years ago Pat and I had lunch here. We both enjoyed it very much. I haven’t had an occasion to go to that part of town until today. Recently my friend Joey wanted to know if I wanted to join her and the family for Linner. ( her word). I promptly accepted and she asked where we should go. I sent her links to 5 different places and the entire family decided on His Place.

Joey is a turkey Manhattan junkie so that is what she ordered.

Her daughters ordered a pulled pork sandwich with mac and cheese and potato salad and a breaded chicken sandwich with fries.

Jason ( AKA The Mister or Jake ) opted for sliced brisket with 2 sides. For some inexplicable reason I did not take a picture. Luckily for me everyone enjoyed their meals.

Last time I had ribs. This time I tried the rib tips with greens and  Coleslaw. Everything was excellent. The tips were full of flavor and wonderfully tender. They could be the best tips I have eaten.

The portions are lavish. Everyone had food to take home. It was an excellent lunch. I really enjoy sharing a meal with Joey and her family. They are great conversationalist and have a real appreciation for good food. A really nice family.

So His Place is still putting out good food and well worth the trip. The entrees are in the $11 to $12 range and come with 2 sides and bread. The sandwiches are about 8 bucks.

https://hisplaceeatery.com/

If you haven’t been there you really should go.

Virginia Avenue Pizza 619 Virginia Avenue

Once upon a time there was a South of Chicago Pizza in Fletcher Place, on Virginia Avenue. It had one of the best, if not the best, Italian Beef sandwich in the city. they also had a lunchtime buffet. They were so successful they were able to open another joint near Greenwood. Back in July they were told that the new building owners didn’t want to renew their lease. So they are gone and this joint is here.

https://vapizzaco.com/

I enjoy buffets. It is just difficult for me to get any decent pictures of the buffet line.

This is most of the salad bar, in 2 shots. For an inexpensive buffet ($11- drink included) it was well-appointed.

They also offered a plain cheese pie and a meatball dish.

On my first trip I got a slice of both the sausage and bacon pies. Deep dish and a thinner crust. I also tried their meatball dish. I enjoy deep dish sometimes, it depends on the crust. However I consider it more an open-faced Calzone than a pie. I agree with Pat about the sauce it tasted of tomato only. Some people swear that a pizza sauce should be unassuming so that the toppings will stand out. Others contend every element of a dish should stand on its own. In this case I am more a stand by itself sorta guy. This especially is relevant with the meatball dish. The meatballs were huge. One cross-section was about 3 inches. They had a great texture, just no great taste. The overall dish was something I would eat at a buffet but as a primary dish, no.

As I said this was a nice salad bar. This was a very good buffet and from the lunch crowd the folks in the neighborhood agree.

Turchetti Salumeria 1106 Prospect St.

I have wanted to come here for a while now. They have been open for a few months and are primarily a production butcher shop that serves as a deli on Friday and Saturday. They have extended hours just this week so we were fortunate we were able to try them out.

Their menu is small but more than adequate.

https://www.turchettis.com/

Patrick is not too adventurous so he ordered their Pastrami sandwich, without 1000 island dressing, for $14. Their sandwiches come with chips but for a upcharge you can get Tallow fries. Like McDonald’s use to have.

I felt compelled to try as many different things that I could. Rather than try one of their Charcuterie boards I opted for Turchetti’s Tour . That is a sampling of 5 salamis for $10.

Their boards are long so taking a picture was tricky. The selections that day; from back to front; Cacciatorini, Finocchiona, Pepperone, Sopressata and Cotto. Each piece had its own distinct taste and personality and were all excellently prepared. How ever I usually default to a pepperone as my favorite salami. This was the case here. Turchetti’s salami is special. It is softer than most and practically melts in your mouth and would be excellent on a pizza.

Since N’duja was not included in the tour I ordered a plate of N’duja deviled eggs for $5. These were the craziest things I have had in a while. I am looking forward to trying that spicy spreadable salami by itself.

I read that they were now offering a Braunschweiger plate for $6. Now how can anyone pass up a chance to try this Classic German deli spread?

If this isn’t the best I have had it is up at the top. Most Braunschweigers are very assertive, they attack your taste buds. This one slips up on you and you can’t help but want more. I think the word sublime comes to mind. Another thing I discovered was Batch No 2 mustard. It is made locally as well. I have heard of it but have never tried it until today. It has an assertive start, to get your attention, but a more elegant finish with a slight hint of sweetness. A perfect partner to this sausage. Another home run. Overall I think this joint has a definite future in Indy. They are already in the process of re-modeling the space next door. They expect that to be ready by Spring 2019 in which case they are expanding their hours to 7 days per week. That is definitely something to look forward to.

 

 

Shalimar Indian Restaurant 1043 Broad Ripple Avenue.

I am sure that anyone who has been to Broad Ripple know this spot. It is just one slot in a long strip mall loaded with slots offering a plethora of different merchandise. From different ethnicities of food to liquor and alternative smoking equipment.

I enjoy Indian food. It is comforting to me. I believe that the majority of my experience with Indian fare has been at buffets. It also seems that I discover something new most of the time.

In addition to the usual cold salad fixings they offered different chutney and pickles.

One of my go to faves. Lamb meat balls

Another favorite is Tandori Chicken. With few exceptions it has always been well made where ever I got it. Crisp outside and moist inside.

This is my first plate of savouries. Rice and various sauces with both meat and veggies. Each dish was nicely done and fit a chilly afternoon.

I didn’t take a picture of my dessert plate. It was my usual choices of rice and mango pudding and Gulab Jamun. This time I tried Carrot Halwa. That would be grated carrot cooked with sweet milk and nuts and raisin. It was new to me and was pretty good.

So if you want an “exotic” lunch for about $8 I think this would definitely fit.

%d bloggers like this: