eating indie in indy

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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

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

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