eating indie in indy

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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.


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.


Don Gusto P.J. Cafe 3960 S. Meridian Street

Pat “discovered” this joint some time back and we had planned on coming here last week until Bazbeaux got in the way.

Since they are a bakery I wanted to try a Torta. I opted for their Torta Milanese with steak. It can be prepared many different ways but the main ingredient must be breaded and fried. Their version had lettuce, tomato, mayo, cheese and a fried egg to go with a very generous portion of beef steak.

It was an excellent sandwich. All of the components fit well together but what brought it from very good to excellent was the bun. It had a wonderful texture. Soft and fluffy yet with a slight chew to it and perfectly toasted. I was really impressed that sandwich.

The poor Cannoli we shared certainly didn’t last long. I didn’t even have a chance to take a picture. It was crisper than Cannolis I have had else where but it was still pretty good. Since it is in a part of town I hardly ever go to I am not sure when or if I’ll be back. I sure would like to. Those torta rolls are just that good.

 


Bazbeaux Pizza 333 Massachusetts Ave,

Bazbeaux is probably the first “gourmet” pizza joint in the city. That is to say the first joint to offer toppings other than pepperoni, sausage and mozzarella cheese. They opened about 30 years ago and are still pretty popular. They started in Broad Ripple and then expanded to Carmel and downtown Indy.

Patrick has long insisted that we have already reviewed Bazbeaux. My contention was no, we haven’t. We were on our way to some Mexican restaurant on the South side when Pat commented on an article from Nuvo. The article was about local pizza joints and of course Bazbeaux came up. So we decided to go there instead. We didn’t realize that this location was serving a lunch express only. That is when you stand in line to order a slice, some cheese bread or a side salad.

Definitely NOT a Sahm’s salad

I believe they had 4 pizzas that day. Cheese or Pepperoni for $2.75 or a slice of Greek pizza or a BOT for $3.25. I opted for a slice of BOT; which stands for bacon, onion and tomato.

For some reason they added a chiffonade of basil on the top. Having a fresh herb on the top of a hot pie can be tasty at times but when the pie sits under a heat lamp some of the flavor is lost. The pepperoni was fine. Both slices  were fine. Nothing special. A pizza may stay warm on a heated buffet and under a heat lamp but it certainly does not improve the flavor. From the size of lunch crowd this format has probably increased its business but I think the food may have suffered. Of course one could make the point that if people keep coming in what does it matter.

Should I try this joint again it will be at a location where I can get a pie made especially for me.

 

 


Ukiyo 4907 N. College Ave.

This is another Neal Brown restaurant. It is Japanese inspired with some non traditional twists. Or as is stated on the intro to their website a Hip Japanese spot serving ramen at lunch & small plates at dinner, plus reservation-only omakase. They change their menu with the seasons. I had wanted to get there while they were still working on their warm weather menu. However I missed it. They are currently serving their Fall and Winter menu. It has not been updated on their website so I have included a copy.

 

I was very excited by the food so naturally I over ordered. I started off with the shio koji duck breast.

This was an excellent dish, The duck was tender with the texture of beef filet. The greens were new to me but I liked them as much as any salad green. The crunch of the bean sprouts rounded it out nicely.

I ordered all the dishes simultaneously. The duck came out first followed by the other two.

If you like things fermented or pickled I suggest their daily tsukemono.

That day the choices were daikon radish, green bean and burdock root. All three were put up in a different pickle so you had different flavor to combine. The flavor base was familiar yet unique. It would be a great complement to any full or fatty dish. Which leads to my last dish. Their version of poutine. Curry crinkle fries. This is a side of fries smother with a curry beef gravy. I started eating before I took the picture.

This was a huge bowl of curry cheese french fries, well worth the $6 price tag. I wasn’t able to finish it so I took half home along with some of my pickled veggies. It was a cute gimmick but I think a thinner straight cut fry might be better. Regardless of the fry it was good food. So the next time you think you want a Whopper think of this bowl.

They also feature sushi. As a matter of fact they offer half price sushi for an hour on Tuesdays.

They also have a full bar. So I splurged and ordered a Tori Manhattan after lunch.

Brian my server was also my bartender and he did an excellent job with everything. Up to and including mixing my cocktail. I have never had Tori Japanese whiskey; but it does make for a smooth drink. I also appreciated the use of the coupe glass. A nice little touch of old school.

I plan on going back on a Tuesday for sushi. I have never experienced  a Happy Hour for food.

 

 

 


Liter House 5301 Winthrop Ave.

https://literhouse.com/

This was Bent Rail Brewery and now it is another part of the Sahms Family empire. I thought their Big Lug was ambitious but this could at least rival that location. As you can tell from the name that they have a German theme going on with a beer Garden planned. They also have a large smoke house in the works. They hope to have the whole project completed by Oktoberfest.

As an appetizer I was tempted between the rabbit pate and the Cornwurst. They were out of the pate; so by default it was the Cornwurst; pulled pork corn dogs, curried ketchup, rutabaga mustard for $8.

These little things were crazy. A nice pulled pork wrapped in a beautiful corn dog type batter. The curry ketchup and the mustard were very good complements to the corn-ness. The only possible critique would be the dryness of the “wurst”. In order to shape and coat the pork balls they were limited on the amount of sauce they could use. More ketchup would help.

For my main lunch I ordered a Bratwurst. They don’t make their own sausage yet. They do make their own buns though. Right now they have Smoking Goose make their sausages to their own specs.  The brat was excellent, full of flavor and a very nice snap to it. The mustard creme fraiche brought a nice creaminess to the sandwich which balanced nicely with the fried shallot.

For my side I got a simple side salad. However it was hardly simple in taste.

I ordered it with their smoked peach hefeweizen vinaigrette. It was a clean and fresh dressing that clung to the greens and enhanced their taste. The way I think a salad should be. It could be my imagination but it seems as though every salad I have gotten from a Sahms restaurant has been a cut or two above other joints. This new place is another home run for the Sahms and I am looking forward to Oktoberfest.


Loco Mexican Restaurant & Cantina 2205 N. Delaware Street.

There is a growing trend in Indy to erect buildings with a relatively small footprint that has retail spaces on the ground floor and rental residence on upper floors. The structure that Loco is in is one of these mixed use buildings. I think it has been around about three years. The bottom floor has a Mashcraft tasting room and Loco. I believe that it has been there since the beginning. The space that houses Loco has had a sort of revolving door on it; as far as tenants are concerned. That is one reason I was eager to go here. I wanted to see the place if they were gone in 6 months.

I ordered their Chile Colorado plate for $11. That is skirt steak simmered in a red chile and served with rice, salad, avocado and some flour tortillas to build your own mini burritos. The first thing you notice is the size of the meal. Neither one of our dishes were skimpy. Even Pat’s lunch special, which was only $8.

I thought my Chile Colorado was excellent. The chile sauce had that wonderful earthiness of a red chile pod sauce. Even the rice; which is normally just a spear carrier in a Mexican meal had a personality of its own. The meat was abundant and had just a slight chew to it. Which is to be expected of skirt steak. I would do it again. However there are so many other things I would like to try.

https://www.locoindy.com/

One more thing I had to try.

Yes that is a Frozen Margarita. A 27 ounce one for $9. I have not had one in over 30 years. I still have no idea why I ordered one today. It was okay but I prefer my ritas to be up or on the rocks.

Frozen cocktails aside I think this joint has a staying quality the other places didn’t have. It is a beautiful place with a nice patio and they serve kids. Something I think the neighbors might appreciate. I will be back.

A wall of tequila

 

 

 


Gallery Pastry Shop 1101 E. 54th Street G

This shop is a little tricky to find. The address is on 54th. but you can’t see it from the street. It is behind a building. You turn into an entryway and drive to the back of a small business area. Turn right and at the end is the neatest little joint you can imagine.

At the far end you can see what appears to be a Chess set on the ground. That is exactly what it is.

A little whimsy is always appreciated.

Each piece is about 2 feet high and seem to be a lightweight plastic. I say light weight because as we were leaving I saw two little kids moving them off the “board”.

I met my friend Joey, 2 of her teen daughters and her husband Jason today for brunch. The seating is nicely spaced but the acoustics and the loud music made it difficult to talk.

They offer a week day menu and a Brunch menu for Saturday and Sunday.

https://www.gallerypastryshop.com/

Once you are seated you receive small printed sheets with all the menu items listed. You check what you want, add you name and pass it to the server. It sounds pretty efficient but the service was rather choppy. Not bad just not smooth. I ordered 2 crepes, one sweet and one savory. My sweet crepe came out first. Lemon curd folded in and topped with whipped cream.

This was delicious. A tender crepe and a light curd with the proper amount of tartness. Possibly the best I have had.

My savory crepe was chorizo sausage from Smoking Goose, a “mushroom mix” and mozzarella cheese. It was a big hit as well. It held a good amount of meat and the chorizo wasn’t spicy at all. It balance well with the sweet tartness of the lemon curd.

 

I know this is an atrocious picture. I felt hurried for some reason. Each diner in our party had 4 plates and servers were in and out bringing the plates out at different times. I am glad we had a big round table.

This shot is only marginally better, which is a shame. As good as the crepes were this plate was the show stopper. It consisted of a split croissant with a piece of bruleed Trillium Cheese nestled in it. It was placed on a smear of honey with a fresh berry compote next to it.

Trillium cheese is a triple cream cheese similar to Brie and Camembert. This particular cheese comes from a local creamery. Tulip Tree in Zionsville. If you enjoy a warm and gooey cheese you would love this dish. The rind is sugared then torched making a sweet crust. Slice the crust off and put on a piece of the buttery croissant and enjoy the first bite. As you continue eating you get tastes of the cheese, the sweet honey and the slight tartness of the berries. Our table had 4 of them so it wasn’t just me that enjoyed it.

https://www.tuliptreecreamery.com/about-us/

I will be back. Joey and her girls got a dozen Macarons to go, but I was too full. Also on Wednesday they sell them for a buck. Normally they are $2.50. So I will be there at 10 AM this Wednesday.


Jamaican Jerk Chicken 7023 Michigan Road

I don’t know how long this place has been on Michigan Road but at one time it was over on Keystone Ave. and 34th Street. It was inside a gas station and had carry out only. Their menu is small featuring only the essentials.

As soon as you walk in the first thing that hits you is the wonderful aroma. The scent of all the spices and herbs mixed with a bit of smoke makes you want to eat. All of the menu is cooked in advance and stored on a steam table; so service is quick.

I decided on a quarter chicken white meal.

The breast was very good. Often breast meat has a tendency to be dry if not cooked properly. Which is why I usually go for the dark meat. The thigh is my favorite. This breast was properly done so it was both moist and tender. Under the meat is the red beans and rice. The rice was a bit dry. That is the danger of steam tables. Over time they dry the food out. The flavor was there I just would have enjoyed more red bean “juice”. The meat was rubbed with a subtle and savory blend of herbs and spices prior to cooking. Then a jerk sauce is served on the side. He makes 3 of varying degrees of heat. I opted for the “hot”. It wasn’t very hot at all but complemented the dry rub very well. I think a return trip is in my future.

Mr. Natural ordered the quarter white as well, but he opted for just the meat so he could have a side of cabbage.

Pat’s “steamed” cabbage

So if you need a jerk fix now you know where to go. While you are there may I suggest trying some of this.

Good stuff; and it is hot.

 


The Clay Oven 7415 US 31 Indianapolis

This little place sits in a strip mall on land used for the US 31 drive in theater when I was in high school. It is probably an improvement. It is a buffet that only costs $10; which is probably what got Pat’s attention.

Like most buffets taking pictures is difficult. I took selected shots of the buffet line first thing.

This is the cold section featuring Indian raisin pudding and fruit custard.

Fried bread and various Dal or lentil dishes.

Pat’s beloved Palak Paneer.

Gulab Jamun, Allo Tikki, and Veggie Bhuna.

I took a picture of our first plates but regardless of that old saying about eating with ones eyes when you are at a buffet you pick your dishes according to your hunger not your aesthetics.

Pat’s first plate.

My first plate

I have a slight familiarity with common Indian dishes; nearly all through buffets. This is the most complete buffet I have been to. In addition to the dal dishes and Tiki Masala and Vindaloo they offered Potato cakes and vegetable fritters. These were all fried in a Garbanzo bean batter. They were quite tasty but required a sauce. That is what the various chutneys are for.

I had two large plates but still had room for something sweet. They offered my favorite Gulab Jamun. A spongy milky ball simmered in a sugar syrup. Delicious. They also had something I was not familiar with. Rice pudding and fruit custard. The pudding was thinner than that I am accustomed to but was excellent. Their custard was outstanding as well and the added fruit was a bonus. I don’t know that there is a better Indian buffet in town.

The Clay Oven Indian Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato