eating indie in indy

Posts tagged “Cooking

Phyllis’ Soul Food- 4558 North Shadeland Avenue

Well; Pat and I have gotten a couple of good recommendations about this joint. We had planned on going last week. And then we decided on doing some shooting so we ended up on the other side of town. In the interim I gave what information I could to Urbanspoon so they could add it to their base. That is why I am not real happy about what I have to report.

This joint is fine. Located in a strip mall at 45th& Shadeland Ave. The food isn’t bad; it is just that there are “Soul foodjoints that do it so much better.

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The menu isn’t too big. Which is fine. They offer 3 different varieties of fried fish and the usual home-made sides. They do have specials; but we didn’t see the dry erase board until after we had ordered. Pat ordered a pork chop dinner. That came with 2 sides and corn bread for $ 9.

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Well being the meat loaf groupie that I am that is what I ordered. A dinner with mac& cheese and greens. Again $9.

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The meat loaf had a nice compaction but the flavor was hard to determine. The whole portion was covered with an excessive amount of gravy. I spent most of my thoughts while eating trying to figure out the where I might have tasted the gravy before. I realized that it tasted like TV dinner gravy. Sorry; but although it might be “tasty” it ain’t real cooking. As for the greens. OK but I am the kind of guy that thinks greens need more than a couple of hours cook time to be greens. The mac and cheese, well it was macaroni in canned cheese sauce. OK only in a pinch. So now we go to the cornbread. Better to call it a sweet corn cake, from a mix.

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So all I can add is this joint,like all joints has potential. Give them a chance. Small business is the life blood of our country. Oh and if the chef is reading this you might wanna’ try more baking and less deep-frying. I know I am probably out of line, but as long as I used to do this stuff. The boy can’t help it.Phyllis' Soul Food on Urbanspoon

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Three Sisters in Broad Ripple

I have wanted to try this joint for a while. I am not sure why we waited so long? Maybe we needed to wait for a Dark and Stormy Halloween afternoon. You know; to balance out the hip granola vibe of The Ripple.

The place is in an old house; so it’s not too big. The menu is interesting and it has been on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. And that appearance has yet to go to its head. Unlike some joints in Indy.

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As you can see on the menu it offers quite a bit of Vegan Fare. That is why Pat tried their breakfast service. He and Fran went here when their two vegan daughters were in town. Their pricing can be a trifle high on some items. That may be why he was a wee bit snarky at first. It was his turn to buy. Although he did suggest the spot. Ahem.

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These must be the Three Sisters. The name sake of the Cafe.

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3 Sisters 011Our service was a little perfunctory. Everyone was pleasant but our server just seem rather new to the work.

As for the food; I thought my sandwich was outstanding. It was slow cooked Fresh Ham with braised Kale and pepper jack cheese. In other words slow roasted pig and Country Greens. Everything worked so well together. The more you ate the more you enjoyed it. Well you can keep your Manhattans; be they beef or turkey. When the snow stars flying give me one of these. Every time.

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Now every great sandwich deserves a great side. And here that would be calico potatoes. A combo of grated sweet and yellow potatoes. A huge portion fried perfectly, toasted handsomely and tasting wonderfully.

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Cannoli Queen 1279 N. Emerson Ave. Greenwood IN.

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The last few weeks Pat and I appear to be stuck on one specific food genre’. The Italian sandwich or grinder. First, South of Chicago, then Greiner, then Fresco and now the Cannoli Queen on the south side of Indy. Since Pat still resides on the south side. He noticed the place. Sometime back, but thought it was part of a chain. When he discovered that it was a mom-and-pop joint we put it on our list. And after eating there and talking with the Queen herself, I think that this is probably the most complete little Italian joint around. They make their own pasta, sauces, and all those delightful little cannolis and confections. And they even make their own bread.

cannoli_Queen_007[1]cannoli_Queen_006[1]cannoli_Queen_005[1]On top of one of the merchandise cabinets they provided small saucers of samples of their biscotti, and their various other sweets. After trying a few pieces I could not make up my mind as to whether I wanted an Italian Beef or Meatball Grinder. They cook their seasoned beef, along with green peppers and onions for several hours. Which was very tempting. They also make their own meatballs; and who can ignore a plump and tender hand-made meat ball? All of their sandwiches come with Italian fries. These are crinkle cut fries topped with Parmesan cheese and then toasted in an oven. Locked on the horns of a tasty dilemma. I went with the meatballs. And I must say the whole sandwich was nearly flawless. The meatballs were moist and tender; a perfect foil to the bread, which had the perfect tooth. Just the right combination of soft and chew. And the sauce was first rate as well. As for the fries they were deceptively tasty. Pat nor I thought they looked like much but the taste was spot on. Especially with the addition of that excellent “red gravy”. And to gild the Lilly the owner gave us a taste of their beef. It too was excellent. Melt in your mouth tender with a wonderful jus; infused with green pepper and onion.

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After lunch we just had to split a Cannoli. A chocolate dipped cannoli, at that. I think this confection sums up the nature of the culinary endeavor. It is all about both balance and contrast. And when it is done right it is a whole lot of fun to eat. The sweetness of the cream cheese filling, and the texture of the fried tube. Hey I think cannoli should be included in the list of State Fair food. After all it is fried.

cannoli_Queen_008[1]Cannoli Queen on Urbanspoonhttps://kosherhamandcheese.com/?p=2093&preview=true


JT’s Grille 2210 E. 54th Street

One thing Indy does as well as any city is re cycle its restaurant property. This building on 54th street started out as a Long John Silver’s. Then it became Just Judy’s, a long time tavern that relocated about one year ago. Now it’s become JT’s, not just a Tavern but a Grill, with an E. The place has gone through quite a make over. New paint, new furnishings, the whole bit. The lunch menu is pretty much what you would expect for a tavern.

I ordered something I rarely order. A grilled chicken sandwich. It was okay, nothing spectacular. Which is one reason I don’t make a habit of ordering grilled breasts that often. This particular piece of chicken was a half breast, about 4 ounces in weight and easily dwarfed by the all too generic bun. They offer a wide selection of sides to pick from. One is a cup of soup for an extra $1.49. Their SOD was split pea with ham, one of my favorites. And it was excellent. Thick and loaded with ham cubes. I could have eaten a big ol’ bowl.

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Pat was torn between their French Dip and a battered fish sandwich. The man sure does like his fried fish.

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After lunch I discovered that they have a really nice smoker out back, and a nice stack of logs. Covered by a metal roof. So maybe we mis ordered. They did offer a pork bbq sandwich, but at the time of ordering I didn’t know about their smoker. Also after lunch when we were at the bar having our obligatory Pale Ale the Manager/ Server/ Bartender was pouring out a measure of bourbon for their BBQ sauce. Which could be a good sign for future eaters. I really can’t say anything bad about the joint I just didn’t see anything really special. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not there.JT's Grille & Bar on Urbanspoonhttp://www.jtsgrille.com/


Greiner’s Sub Shop

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As you can tell from the header this is an old place. I believe this is where I ate the 2nd submarine sandwich in my life. And until yesterday I haven’t been back. Also as you will readily see there are no pictures of our food due to a slight camera malfunction. Had the lunch been better I’d probably go back and take some shots. However I don’t think the trip is worth the bus fare to relive.

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I think Pat enjoyed his sandwich more than I did mine. I had an 8 inch mushroom steak  sub. For $5.25, you can’t complain about the price. Oh and they bake the bread in-house, so that was pretty good. But that is about the end of the compliments. The “steak” had the taste of a “formed” beef product. That is to say no taste. The only flavor was from the canned mushroom gravy. And that was far from great. Oh and on top of the bad sandwich I also got a cup of “chili” with beans. Straight from a can. I heard that this is a new owner. If that is the case he might want to rethink his position. I am not sure but I just can’t imagine any joint staying open for over 40 years with no more on the ball than this. The help is far superior to the food and that is a shame. He ought to wake up and smell the “5 dollar foot long” before it’s too late.Greiner's Subshop on Urbanspoonhttp://www.greinerssubs.com/cpsiteframepage.lasso?-token.lpuserref=119771.113129


MacNiven’s Restaurant & Bar 339 Mass. Ave.

My first-born son and I decided to recognize his Birthday with lunch; rather than dinner. Initially it was to be Saturday dinner but he got some tickets to the National Drag Races. No father can compete with a dragster. So we decided on MacNiven’s; a Scottish American Tavern, since neither one of us had ever been there before. Frankly I was looking forward to trying their version of Haggis. I had also had read good reviews of their burgers. They take 8 ounces of Angus beef, shape it into a über thin patty 6 to 8 inches in diameter, soak it over night in Worcestershire and cook it on a flat top and serve it on a toasted bun with the usual garden. They also offer a nice selection of house cooked beef selections.

In addition to a Haggis entree they also offer it as an appetizer. That is the first thing I ordered. Along with a Tennents. A Scottish brewed Lager I have never tried before. Unfortunately Adam has had haggis before and did not like it. So I was forced to go it alone. I must tell you I found it to be excellent. Rich and meaty with a great texture. Easily spread on the little pieces of rye bread over a nice foundation of whipped butter. The bread was the weak link. Dry and a trifle generic for such a spread. Akin to serving caviar on a Ritz. Of course I am not sure if I can think of an alternative to keep the same price point. As far as the Tennents beer is concerned it is a great beer with food. An ABV of 4 and a sublime taste perfect to have with a meal.

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Adam decided on Chicken Tenders and Fries. Unfortunately he was not overly impressed. He thought they were pretty run of the mill. I couldn’t really detect any signs that they were prepped in-house. My son thought they were a pre made and frozen piece of chicken.

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As for my entre I opted for a burger. Unfortunately I was underwhelmed. Being a big fan of Worcestershire sauce I was rather disappointed in the flavor. Or lack there of. I think it was because the patty had sort of flat top steam cooking thing going on. It definitely could have benefited from a little carmelization and crunch. For all their sandwiches or Baps as they call them they offer a large variety of sides. I tried a cup of Vegetarian Chili. It was surprisingly tasty, I say surprisingly only because I think of Vegetarian Chili as an oxymoron. This, however had a good Southwest background and was loaded with various beans. Plump Butter Beans ( my favorite) included.

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Naturally I ended up taking half of my food home. From the beginning I wanted to keep room for desert, somehow that never works out. They have a bread pudding with raisins soaked in 18-year-old Glenlivet over night and topped with vanilla ice cream and caramel syrup. Well, not today. But someday; someday I shall have that desert. Before I forget I wish to thank Julie, our, server. She might have been new but she did a great job.MacNiven's Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoonhttp://www.macnivens.com/


Tower Dining

I am sure very few people are familiar with this name as it didn’t open until August 18.you. It is a buffet open from 7 AM to 11 PM Monday to Friday and 7 AM to 3:30 PM on weekends.It was built for; but not exclusively for; IUPUI students. The building, a former hotel now offers housing for students as well as class rooms. In addition to the buffet. So this outing is a first in 2 ways. It is the first time we intentionally set out to eat at other than an independent joint and it was also our first foray out for breakfast. Pat had lunch there the first day and was quite impressed.

In all honesty my initial impression was disappointment. The first station I hit was the heat tray station. It features the immediate foods. Scrambled eggs, sausage etc.  It was in total disarray. It doesn’t take much to fluff up a buffet. As for the food. The eggs were quite good. Moist and fluffy. Their sausage was beautiful to look at but only mediocre to eat. They also offered the worse excuse for bacon I can imagine. As for the potatoes. Well they were more hash tan than hash brown.

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While I was eating I was able to look around and realized how large a venue it is. They do indeed have all the bells and whistles that you might expect in a breakfast buffet. They offer a first-rate omelet station. A make your own Belgian waffle area with several toppings and of course a plethora of dried cereals. From granola to Fruity Pebbles.

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After coffee I had a very nicely made egg white omelet, with spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes and a touch of white cheese.

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So…In a nut shell I think this place has possibilities. It definitely needs some tweaking ( NOT TWERKING). More attention to detail. Maybe a change of product. And definitely the boss needs to put the proverbial clog up some bums. I am pretty sure Chartwells will sort things out. Someone has a lot of money invested in the place. And at $6 and some change it is well worth some patience. I am planning on trying lunch. I hear that is where the action is. They have all of their stations going and it is priced under $8.

On a Sophomoric side note. Pat informed me that University changed the name of the building to Hines Hall, and the 2 letter designation is HO. That gives a whole new nuance to the question. “Where you having lunch”?Tower Dining on Urbanspoon


Cafe Audrey at the Fort

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Do yourself a favor and go to the Fort. For non residents that would be Fort Benjamin Harrison; former Finance Center for the whole U.S.Army. Now that it is no longer a functioning Federal Post, it is home to a few commercial enterprises. To me, possibly the finest of them all is Audrey’s at 9134 Otis Avenue. It’s not a large place and it is only open for breakfast and lunch so if you decide to go don’t dawdle. It strikes me as the kind of joint that opens to a crowd and keeps hopping ’til 3:00.

The menu isn’t ” cutting edge or avant-garde” it is  typical American Cafe. However if what Pat and I ate are representative their preparation is far from typical. The mozzarella sticks were your typical IQF variety; but in addition to the “normal” variety they offered a spicy variety which we really liked. It was a nice change from the more bland stick.

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Now normally I am not a real big fan of fried fish. But for some reason I had a “hankering” for some fried fish. I could get it as a sandwich, or a one or two piece platter. With a choice of two sides. I am so glad I opted for the Big Boy plate. The breading was SO good. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic I think that was the best tasting breading I have eaten. It had a sufficient amount savory and spicy to add pizzazz to the mild swai fish. The portion I got for $10.99 was outstanding. It was a good 10 ounces of fish. And the two sides were a bonus. The potato salad was quite good, with a hint of vinegar; which is always welcome with fried fish. The mac and cheese was pretty typical. Maccaroni covered with cheese;possibly from a can. Don’t get me wrong I am not criticizing just commenting. The dish worked well and I did not leave a trace. So would I order it again” Ya’ betcha’.

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Oh. Did I mention they make their own desserts and ice cream? I didn’t. Well….. Pat tried a strawberry shortcake. They use Madeleine as a base for the ice cream and strawberries. And no, they don’t make the Madeleine in house. I was able to try one bite. I got a taste of cake, ice cream and strawberries a perfect bite of Summer.

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I got a slice of home made Key lime Cheese cake. All I can say is It was good. It was delicious. And instead of reading about it maybe you ought to go eat some of it.

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Looks as though it could have been a school-house at one time doesn’t it. Or a WW II barracks. I hope all the past memories are pleasant ones because I’m pretty sure the future ones will be. Once again I feel compelled to mention the staff. Everyone I saw was super busy and super enthusiastic. There are no slackers at this place. I especially want to thank our server. Sorry I forgot your name. Excuse me. Don’t lose your zest and thanks for the great service. Even though you “forced” us into dessert. Well… maybe you didn’t actually force us.Cafe Audrey at the Fort on Urbanspoonhttps://kosherhamandcheese.com/?p=1876&preview=true


The Golden Jersey Inn of Yellow Springs Ohio.

Well here we are. Fairborn, Ohio, a suburb of Dayton. we planned on meeting David and Chandler for lunch. I had done my due diligence and located lunch options near the Holiday Inn in Fairborn. Maps included. However Chandler had to take his car to Springfield for some work. The general consensus of all the folks at the car repair was the best place for lunch was the Golden Jersey Inn of yellow Springs, Ohio, home of Antioch College. The Inn is part of the Young family farm. It’s a huge dairy farm that has been working since around the time of the Civil War. They make their own cheese and their own ice cream. That in itself is worth the price of admission. the Inn is housed in a huge two-story barn. I probably should have taken some exterior shots of the structure itself, but I did take this classic picture:

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That’s Pat pretending he’s a farmer on a 1946 Case Tractor

David and Chandler were kind enough to let me sample their lunches. so I have some idea of a few different options on their menu. As soon as we arrived we were greeted by the manager on duty. Chandler introduced us as four wayfarers needing advice on what to order. The manager thought we could not go wrong with the buttermilk fried chicken and beef.  But before we made any decisions we had to try some of their in house made fried cheese curds. I don’t think David or Chandler knew what they were. But, every body loved them.

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Pat decided on fried chicken sandwich with a side of green beans. That is one of the great things about a joint that offers country cooking. You can get a side other than french fries.

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golden jersey inn; yellow springs oh 038David ordered a buttermilk fried chicken salad. The salad was nice size and featured slices of red and green pepper,in addition to the usual salad suspects. A nice touch you don’t usually see that much anymore. The piece of chicken I tried was nicely crisp on the outside and moist on the inside. Just the way country fried chicken is supposed to be. It appears they added crushed cracker pieces into the seasoned flour for the breading. An old-school tradition that gives a delightful crunch to fried food.

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Chandlers choice was beef and noodles. On this plate they gilded the lilly by adding a scoop of dirty mashed potatoes. The noodles appeared and tasted as being homemade. About the width of fettuccine but maybe three times the thickness. A great tooth upon biting with good flavor. I did not try the beef ; I was trying to control my fat intake for the day. I could tell by looking at it that it was properly done for a dish of this nature. No Sous Vide here. Simply a nice hunk of beef slowly simmered in liquid until falling apart.

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Oh. That extraneous dish? That’s sweet potato casserole. That was specifically recommended by the guys at the car shop. it was a great dish, sweet and with a nice crunchy pecan top.

I fell back on my default choice, meatloaf. It has been a while since I’ve ordered  meatloaf. Even at joints that offer it. but I thought that might be a good thing to try here. And I was not disappointed. Thick slabs of savory meat and sweet onion paired with delicious skin on mashed potatoes. And the whole thing smothered, I mean smothered with a rich beef gravy. At first I was dismayed by the amount of gravy used on the beef and noodles and the meatloaf. Sometimes kitchens, even so-called fine dining kitchens distract from mediocre cooking by excessive use of sauce or gravy. But not in this case. It is no wonder people recommend this place for lunch or dinner. Or just to hang out with the kids and eat ice cream.

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Now, what kind of customers would we be if we did not try the ice cream at a place that makes its own? We decided to share  a Buckeye Sundae, a chocolate chip mint and hot fudge sundae and a side of Cow Patty ice cream. The Buckeye is a tree and the nickname of the state of Ohio also a peanut butter ball dipped in chocolate. The latter confection set atop a dish of chocolate and peanut butter ice cream covered in tiny chocolate peanut butter candies. The other sundae is what you would expect. Mint ice cream loaded with chocolate chips covered with hot fudge and whipped cream. The Cow Patty ice cream is their own particular concoction. Rich chocolate ice cream filled with pieces and parts of chocolate stuff and things. All were delicious. And they were lovely to look at too. It’s a shame I didn’t get a picture of them. The four of us fell on those three little desserts like a horde of locusts on a Kansas wheat field.

THERE WAS JUST TOO MANY OF THEM. WE DIDN'T HAVE A CHANCE.

“THERE WAS JUST TOO MANY OF THEM. WE DIDN’T HAVE A CHANCE.”

So I must agree with Pat. It is not too far a drive if you live in Indianapolis. And if you live in Ohio. What’s your excuse? The Golden Jersey Inn and the Young family farm are treasures. Enjoy them.Young's Jersey Dairy on Urbanspoonhttp://youngsdairy.com/http://youngsdairy.com/Young's Jersey Dairy on Urbanspoon


Willett’s Diner 301 South Warman Ave.

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A tiny little place that’s been open since 2005. It used to be a bar. Back when neighborhoods had grocery stores and bars. Mr. Willett bought the place and converted it to a neighborhood diner. He passed away and his Mrs. took over operations. She was recently diagnosed with cancer and now it falls to the daughter to keep the joint afloat. You won’t find arugula or confit here but you will find hand breaded tenderloin; breakfast served 7 AM to 2 PM and house made pies on Wed. and Friday. She doesn’t use lard for the crust but she does use Crisco. As you can see the menu is not that large; but they do have daily lunch specials. That is what Pat and I ordered. The special, only difference I got mine covered with fried onions. We shared some fried mushrooms. They were of the pre-breaded IQF variety. Respectable if not remarkable.

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Unlike Pat I would have preferred my meat with a little more pink inside. The onions were nicely done. The crispy char from the hot flat top was excellent. All ground meat patties should come that way. All in all ,like the mushrooms ,tasty and respectable. The broccoli exhibited all the signs of exposure to excessive heat. A faded green color and no snap. Now “chefs” will tell you that is not the way to prepare it. And a broccoli freak such as Pat does not dig it like that. I, on the other hand do not like the bright green crisp member of the cabbage family. I prepare them the “correct” way I just won’t eat them. I prefer mine to be overcooked and covered with canned cheese sauce. So the veggie pleased me enormously. I am such a Hoosier. I know Willett’s is probably not on your beaten path; but if you are in the area try it for breakfast. I mean look at the prices.

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Bluebeard

Well look at us. Two weeks in a row we’ve gone to a couple of the “fancier” joints in town. Bluebeard isn’t really fancy they just have a fancy sounding menu. Trust me Pat and I wouldn’t go to a truly fancy schmancy place; even at lunch. We are like a pair of brown shoes in a tuxedo world. To me Bluebeard is a visual delight. Exposed beams and brick work; mis matched bar stools and dining tables. Not enough to be tedious just enough to be hip. Not in the angst driven Sinking Ship way more in an urbane way. But what the hell do I know? I’m just one brown Florsheim.

The menu is geared for foodies. An eclectic array meant to share. Of course not all the plates are sufficient size to share. And you have to be careful. You can run up a sizable lunch tab without too much trouble. They vary the menu daily which can be a bummer. When we found out they make their own lardo we ordered a small bread appetizer. Lardo is like the name implies. Pig fat that has been cured. It takes 30 to 60 days to process properly. That day lardo was something they varied; substituting mortadella spread. It was nice, but no whipped pork fat. But the spreads all took a back seat to the BREAD. They make their own bread on premise and all of their varieties rock. Pat didn’t want to play what’s that food. I don’t blame him. It’s tough enough to find food with no onion of any kind. So he opted for a sandwich.

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Much to my surprise they get their oysters and octopus in fresh. Since I haven’t had octopus since the last time I was in Florida that is what I started with. The presentation was rather disappointing. The had toast points on top, obscuring the view. The octopus was tender and very nicely done. The bagna cauda was spot on. Full of olive flavor; since they opted for olive rather than anchovy, I thought it fit the octopus nicely. I did find the fennel flavor lacking. Which is odd. Usually when you low roast veggies in oil the flavor is enhanced.

After the octopus I tried a couple of oysters. Admittedly I am hardly an expert on oyster varieties but this particular sort was on the small side. Small but delicious. And the mignonette was a perfect match. The salty,sweet of the oyster and the slight shudder of the vinegar. But in my gluttonous eagerness I forgot to take a picture of the oysters.

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But I wasn’t through yet. Remember my cautionary remark about being careful. I decided I needed a salad. And I figured that if I picked the right one I could forego desert. So I picked the one with mixed greens and asian pear and avocado. Damn if I don’t  think that it could be the perfect salad. From the sweetness of the pear to the buttery creaminess of the avocado and with the bitterness of the greens, crunch of the sunflower kernels and the brightness of the citrus in between this was definitely my favorite.

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Are we through yet? Oh No. Our über pleasant and efficient bartender, Cali, thought we should try their signature buttermilk bread pudding. So she brought us one to share. Just look at it and think of white chocolate sauce, and coco nibs. So on that note we say good-bye.

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These Guys sure Can Cook…

There is a new “best” restaurant in Indy. The Cerulean, at the Alexander Hotel on South Delaware Street. It has nothing to do with the Hotel per se, it is independently owned and operated. Frankly I was ambivalent about the joint. The menus are heavy in chef speak. Quite often that speech does not translate into good cooking. The lunch menu offers a choice of entrees which you pair with three side dishes. The whole meal is served in a series of square ceramic boxes in a larger bento box.

Pat ordered beef teres major ( think shoulder filet ); bib lettuce; strawberry gazpacho and soybeans. Here are his thoughts on the meal.

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I wanted stripped bass. Since bass is an assertive taste and it had the added richness of the gribiche I felt I needed some acidity. I could have over did it with my choices of bib lettuce with blood orange vinaigrette; asparagus and grapes with lemon and rice noodle with vinegar. But every thing fit like the proverbial glove. The fish was crisped in a fry pan, placed on a bed of fresh spinach and topped with the aforementioned gribiche. Every bite was as flawless as the first. As a matter of fact every dish was on point. When ever I eat I automatically try to figure out how the dish was prepared, how I could replicate it and finally how I would change it. With this meal I would not change a thing. I am fighting the urge to write about each and every dish. With this meal I could easily rip off 500 words. I will comment about the economic model for this enterprise. They use all local vendors for their food; and that can be pricey. However as far as the lunch prices go I think the pricing is more than fair. I do have a small confession to make. Deep down inside since there was so much chef speak on the menus I was half way hoping they wouldn’t stand up to their words and I could stick a fork in a sacred cow; so to speak. I know shameful of me. In this case I’m glad to be disappointed.

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cerulean 001I had to come back and add something I forgot to mention. The staff. The entire crew was pleasant, healthful and knowledgeable. If I had to choose one phrase to describe my impression of the staff it would be esprit de corps. Everyone seemed excited about working there. That is something an owner operator strives for. That also should tell the diner that the owner does indeed have a clue.Cerulean Restaurant on Urbanspoon


38 TAP?

Actually the place is called Twenty Tap. But thirty-eight is the number of craft beers they offer on draught. Twenty Tap does sound better than the alternative. They are in SoBro; on N. College;across the street from the former Atlas Market location. They’ve been open for a couple of years but this is our first lunch. We have been in a few times for beer. And tried some fried cheese curds ( good) and another friend and I stopped in one evening and had some brews and the charcuterie platter ( not so good). The menu is definitely not your typical pub & grub.

Since our new ” format ” worked out so well ( for me ) we are doing it again. However Pat wants to write it during lunch. And since I forgot my notebook he wrote it on a napkin.

Deluxe Grilled Cheese- Mushroom, Tomato, Spinach, Beer Mustard (sub Pesto for Beer Mustard)  $8 (veg

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Oh for the record it was determined; after writing; the mushrooms were not canned. They were steamed.

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I needed some meat. And what carnivore could pass up SMOKED BRISKET?

Pressed Brisket- House Smoked, Fischer Farm’s Brisket, Peppadew, Arugula, Onion, Cheddar, Anchovy Butter  $9

The sandwich looked as good as it was described. However I though the taste could have used some tweaking. The portion of meat was meager and I could not detect much smoke. It reminded me of the brisket at The Smokehouse in Fountain Square. Or a leaner version of what was offered at Fat Dan’s. More reminiscent  of pot roast than anything else. Good pot roast but pot roast none the less. The peppadew peppers were a good call. A nice sweet flavor and a great color; but too many can be too much. Again the arugula; another nice call;but the characteristic bitterness; that people enjoy was hit and miss. The portion might need a “review”. Same with the onion and anchovy butter. ( I couldn’t taste it. ) I know I’m coming across as a total p***k in this review. But I can be very picky regarding an ambitious menu. Seriously guys I think you are doing a good job. Owning and running a restaurant is a tough gig. Cooking for strangers can be daunting. Every patron is judging your performance, and your judgement. That can be some ominous stuff.

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Twenty Tap on Urbanspoon


Mike’s Speedway Lounge 3701 W. 16th Street

If you are an aficionado of neighborhood bars, you should definitely put this on your list.Pat and I have stopped in there a few times for beers but this is the first time we ate. We always enjoyed ourselves. Nice place,friendly crowd. Especially as it gets closer to race time. After all the 500 Track is just up the street. However their beer selection is limited to draft Silver Bullet and domestic bottles. But the prices are right.

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They serve breakfast all day and that is a plus. The lunch/dinner menu is pretty typical bar although they do have a few atypical items. For example they offer both home-made chili and beef stew year round. They also have fried chicken livers. I love chicken livers but I’m not supposed to eat them. You know fat, cholesterol and all that stuff. So I tried their signature Spanish Burger. That is an 8 ounce patty of seasoned beef and onion that is baked, meatloaf style. It is then placed on a toasted bun and smothered with their Spanish Sauce. Which is a tomato based sauce with green pepper and redolent with cayenne pepper. The burger itself was pretty good. Nicely made and nicely textured. It was difficult to taste the seasoning of the meat due to the spiciness of the sauce. If you like a high level of heat then you will probably like this. Personally my taste buds have gotten pretty Gringo-fied;since my return to Indiana. Also I think it could use some different types of chile pepper in addition to cayenne. All in all it was a pretty good sandwich for 6 bucks. That’s with choice of fries or a bag of chips.

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Pat ordered a grilled tenderloin. Like a lot of joints they beat out their own with a mallet. He found it to be tender and tasty. Like a lot of tenderloin in a lot of places. He did particularly enjoy the made in-house made cole slaw. It had no onion. Patrick’s kryptonite. It too was $6,with choice.

002So if you are out and about the Westside, especially during the month of May. You really should stop in at Mike’s for a beer and a bite.

006Mike's Speedway Lounge on Urbanspoon


Ich liebe Wurst

001Well as the title suggests I just love sausage. The Heidelberg Haus Café has been on Pendleton Pike since 1968. It has been primarily known as the place to go for wonderful German cakes and cookies. As a matter of fact, Pat and I stopped in there a few months back for some cookies; after a less than mediocre lunch at Papa’s, across the street. A lesser-known fact is, they also offer lunch. Sausage lunch. Their small menu offers nothing but various types of sausage. They buy their sausage from Claus’, formally known as Klemm’s. which is THE place to go for authentic German-made sausages. Their plates are pretty straightforward. One or two sausages; depending on the type you order, with a portion of the German potato salad and a piece of rye bread and butter. Pat chose frankfurters. Two long pieces slightly smoked pork sausage, that were boiled, prior to serving. He and I have both had sausages from Claus before, so we knew what to expect and we were not disappointed. However, we made the same mistake we’ve made too times before. We started eating and then remembered pictures. So are pictures are not the best we have published.

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My eyes were bigger than my stomach, so I ordered two bratwurst. These beauties were slightly fried so there was a slight touch of fat on the outside. The slight resistance of the casing and the smoothness of the sausage inside maked for a delicious pairing. The German style potato salad also made for a great accompaniment. Creamy, with a slight hint of vinegar, it didn’t try to compete with the meat to fill you up. I only ate one sausage, deciding to take the other home in order save room for dessert.

007When we first walked in, we were told that Thursday was national Black Forest day. So to honor the celebration. They were selling slices of black forest cake at 1968 prices. One dollar. So in honor of Black Forest day we had to try a piece. And it was multiple layers of rich chocolate cake and real whipped cream. I had to stop and brush away a tear, just thinking about the last bite.

009So,there’s not much more I can add. If you like good German sausage served to you, at a good price.( Both plates of sausage totaled less than $18. ) then the Heidelberg Haus Café is the place to go. Even if you can take or leave sausages but if you have a hankering for THE BEST German confections in Indianapolis, then get out to Pendleton Pike.You won’t be disappointed

010-001Heidelberg Haus Cafe & GERMAN Bakery on Urbanspoon


Oh no not Duos again.

I know this is the third posting for Duos. But hey, it’s in my neighborhood. Also Duos is planning on a sandwich station. One that features in-house cooked roast beef and turkey. Now that is extremely rare in this area. According to their website their sandwich station was scheduled to kick off this week. However they had some employee problems. So it didn’t happen. Pat managed to get a smoked turkey sandwich featuring turkey from Smoking Goose. It looked good. A nice portion of Turkey topped with white cheddar, with lettuce and tomato on a nice-looking hunk of French bread. It also came with a side of smoked paprika mayo. Pat didn’t even taste it. For that matter neither did I; was busy with my own eyes bigger than my stomach lunch. Pat also had a side of cole slaw, a little sweeter than most and containing no onion. Bonus.

 

 

Duo_3-001I got a Mongolian shredded beef over basmati rice. At least I think they called it Mongolian. Hell it’s been 3 weeks since we went there. I remember how it tastes. And isn’t that the most important part. It was moist and tender with slight spice and a savory background of cumin and turmeric. Very tasty. The only critique I can make is the beef could have used a little more residual liquid to match up with the portion of rice. I also got a side of veggies. This day it was a bowl of brussels sprouts and carrot. Perfectly cooked;tender yet with just the right amount of bite. This is one of the reasons I like this place. No matter the food item, you can depend on it being spot on in its preparation. Naturally a body needs a sweet to balance out any proper lunch. So in addition to my obligatory lemon bar I got a huge browned butter chocolate chip cookie. Since I couldn’t eat all my lunch Pat and I shared the cookie and it was delicious. Nothing more to say. I took my leftovers home for my better half. She wasn’t too hip on the beef but she sure became a fan of their lemon bars. Now when I go I need to remember the carry out.

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Madison Grill

On south side of the city at the corner of Troy Avenue and Madison Avenue is the Madison Grill. It used to be Sunshine Café; and before that I believe it was a Waffle House.So the building has seen a lot of cooking and eating over the years. This current incarnation of a former sunshine Café offers a nice array of home cooking. Nothing fancy. Nothing cutting-edge or chic. Just a nice meal. Pat wanted to try their special. Chicken and noodles. It was served with two sides and a mini loaf of fresh-baked bread and butter.the bread was brought out first so that we could start whetting our appetites.

004There’s just something about warm bread. Even a proof and bake loaf. I did manage to get one slice and it was pretty good. Warm and comforting slathered with real butter. When Pat’s chicken and noodles arrived his first taste was underwhelming. Good but not wow. But all the dish needed was a little more fat. Pat added a bit of butter turning the good into great. You see, fat rules. As for the sides the corn was predictable. His other side was a medley of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots seasoned and cooked on a griddle. By cooking the veggies on the flat top, it added some great brown and crispy bits. There is nothing like crispy bits to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.

005I wanted to try the special as well. However, I was feeling some diet guilt. So I ordered a Cobb salad. Normally I view salads as varying degrees of boring. Not this one. It was huge with lots of stuff on it. First off, it was prepared the way a Cobb Salad should be prepared. All of the toppings were diced and arrayed in columns. Crisp bacon, blue cheese crumbles, ham, tomato and chopped egg. The quantity was almost embarrassingly large. Almost. I finished it all and was able to sit back full and with a sated and smug grin on my face. After all I only ate a salad.

008As a matter of fact I was so full I couldn’t even order dessert. And I really wanted to try some bread pudding. Oh well, there will be other times. And if I only eat a salad. I’m sure my diet could handle dessert.

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010Madison Grill on Urbanspoon


Sushi Bar-Broad Ripple

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The post I made earlier was actually about our little adventure 2 weeks ago. I’m still a little behind from the Holidays. That post was short because; well… Let’s just say the lunch was not very good. This post will be short as well ,only because I neglected to take any pictures of our food. So Pat and I decided we need to revisit soon; with his better half Fran. They have lunch specials ;a whole board full of different rolls. Pat is not a big fan of sushi or sashimi but he is a fan of fried fish. So he ordered shrimp tempura. Five nice shrimp and veggies with miso soup or salad and a cup of sticky rice( the best rice of all ). All for $7.99. For me sushi,sashimi, nigiri etc are all my favorite. So I got a 2 roll deal. That’s 2 rolls;your choice; miso or salad for $6.99. I decided on the ubiquitous spicy tuna and cucumber& eel. I probably could have made a better selection for texture but I serious thought of a 3 roll combo. Thankfully I stayed with 2; and chose two of my favorite proteins. And what is sushi without sake ? Pat; believe it or not has never had hot sake. He merely had a taste. However he did discover the “allure” of hot wine. I don’t need pictures to describe our total delight at the quality of our lunch. However, since we ARE going back I will wait ’til then to be verbose.Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon


The Panorama Grill 901 N. Pennsylvania Street-Indy

Has anyone out there ever been to the Urban Element ? Has anyone ever heard of the Urban Element ? Well no matter. That joint closed and in its place is Panorama Grill;specializing in Mid-East cooking with some American stand by s as well. The place is nicely decorated in urban chic;probably left over from the previous tenant. Our first server was not real knowledgable about the menu and was so timid and soft-spoken; I think she is going to have to “bulk up” if she plans on staying in the business. A more experienced server answered our questions and took our order;I don’t know if that was their system or if the youngster had her table jacked.No matter. Pat took the safe way out and had a burger,a plain hamburger. It was a little more charred than he would have preferred but is was satisfactory. I fell back to my old stand by,the falafel. Like the burger it was satisfactory; maybe a little above satisfactory. The falafel had a hint of cinnamon and a nice crunch. The pita was soft and the tahini sauce was abundant. The whole thing was so abundant I couldn’t eat it all. They also provide fries in abundance. A big pile of your standard 3/16 inch cut skin on french fries dusted with paprika. Again, nothing to get too excited about. All in all a nice lunch in a nice place at a nice price. Less than sixteen bucks for the two of us. And it’s close to downtown. On Penn just a half block north of the central library. So I think it is worth a shot. OH my.I forgot to mention the pickles. They are small non garlicy spears that have the appearance and texture of home-made refrigerator pickles. A perfect choice for any cuisine; especially food with bold taste.Panorama Grill on Urbanspoon


Pure Food…Pure Thoughts?

Another new joint has opened in Fountain Square;Pure Food Eatery and in this case Pure means simple.It is a lovely little place,not too artsy fartsy or too urban tavern chic;just nice.The menu is Panini Press centered.Sandwiches and wraps in simple and tasty combos.Not a single french fry or chicken wing to be found;no fryers anywhere.They did fall into the aioli trap however.That is where you flavor mayo call it (fill in the blank)mayo and “jazz”up your menu.A good emulsion sauce has its place but sometimes people stick it in the most unlikely places;like grilled cheese.Since I am still dentally challenged that is what I ordered.Actually a half sandwich and a cup of soup.All their Panini are available as 1/2 or whole.The wholes are reasonably priced,in the $7-$8 range;the 1/2’s are not as reasonable;at $6.The 3 cheese Panini was pretty good.A curious combo of Havarti,Swiss and Provolone cheeses with the obligatory slice of tomato.Their addition of Pesto mayo;although not traditional,did bring a nice additional taste to the mild cheeses;also a touch of unctiousness to the toasted sour dough bread.Patrick decided on a BLT.Nothing out of the ordinary except for the avocado spread;which Pat turned down;due to onion content.We both enjoyed our sandwiches;and more than enjoyed the SOD;Chicken and Rice. A delicious home-made stock loaded with fresh Tarragon.The stock alone was worth the 90 cent up-charge,the diced chicken and rice was a bonus.In addition to sour dough they also offer wheat and rye bread,which would go well with some of their other filling options.

The biggest deal of the day was the Thursday beer special.New Belgiums for $2.50.I discovered Shift by New Belgium.They call it a Lager but it has a definite Ale quality.Delicious;and a bargain at $2.50 for a 16 oz can.The thing about good beer is you get nutrition and you can consume regardless of  the condition of your teeth.


English Ivy’s

Well this week we are back on a regular schedule. Last week we had lunch on Tuesday because I had a dental appointment on Wednesday to get some teeth removed.Well the procedure was so successful I have to eat soup until my dental project is finished.Ivy’s offers three soups at all times. A soup du jour, a house Black Bean soup and Chili. Their soup of the day was a Southwest chicken, so I ordered a cup of that and a cup of black bean soup. The chicken soup was really good. A slightly creamy base with a touch of tomato and a bunch of cumin. In addition to chicken ,it had  black beans and corn.Evidently, to a lot of folks you add cumin, black beans and corn and you automatically have Southwestern food.Regardless of what you called it, the soup was good;and I believe I’ve had it before;and I believe it is made by Gordon Food Service.It is not uncommon for joints that offer three  soups to buy ready-made soups; especially for the changing soup of the day. I am reasonably sure the black bean soup was made in-house. While not as good as the chicken soup it was pretty tasty. Although I must say I have had better. But at $2.75 per cup, with two packs of crackers it was a bargain.

Patrick; the eternal culinary question mark; had a grilled Portobello mushroom sandwich.It was actually two baby Bella caps grilled then glazed with a balsamic vinaigrette.Since I couldn’t sample it. I had to rely solely on Pat that it was as good as it looked. And it came with a full garden and a side of french fries for only $6.75.As for beer their selection seemed rather limited. I got the feeling that this was more a hard liquor cocktail place than a beer joint. They had three beers on draft. Two domestics and Blue Moon.They offered SunKing cans;but they were out.So I opted for the Blue Moon and Pat had a MGD 64 with tomato juice.That’s right a red beer;a bloody beer or a poor man’s bloody Mary.Come on don’t knock it until you try it.

As for the pictures you’re just going to love them. You see, I forgot to take any of our food. Usually I catch myself after we start eating; however; this time I did not even think of the camera until after we were done and the dishes were removed. But don’t worry I got some background shots and Pat drew a picture of his sandwich.So in addition to an original review of  a local eatery you get an original drawing by Pat, a true Renaissance man.

Click to add a blog post for English Ivy's on Zomato


Bru Burger

OK-it’s a chain not a mom and pop joint.We did not know that until we had already started eating;mea culpa.What intriqued us about this place was the combination of beef used in their patties;sirloin,chuck and brisket.All the meat comes from a local farm,and ground and packaged locally;which is pretty cool.In either event it makes for one delicious burger.They have all the usual combos;mushroom,swiss;bbq,bacon etc.They also have a Pacific Rim;a burger topped with shrimp,pineapple,guacamole and some sort of cheese. Since we wanted to taste the burger Pat and I picked the Classic,a plain old cheeseburger;with a cold set and condiments.Among their cheese offerings they have white cheddar;rare for most burger joints but great for a mid-rare burger.Which brings me to my only “complaint”.My medium rare was more medium than rare,a very minor problem,as the hunk o meat was still delicious.They make their own ketchup as well,thinner than most and sweeter as well.It’s definitely more a dipper than a pourer.

I did discover a great new beer,a Pilsner from Fountain Square Brewery.A slight citrus start and a nice hoppy finish;great with a burger.After wards we went to Berringers;a little tavern on South Meridian.I reviewed it real early in the blog.It’s just a little bar that’s been around forever.And the beer is cheap;$2 for domestic bottles,and $1.75 for Old Style pints.All that was missing was a Cubs game on TV.

So in summation chain or not Bru Burger gives you a great hamburger.And the prices are reasonable;for downtown.I think the burgers range from $8 to $10;depending on the stuff you add to it.They also have other sandwiches on the menu;but if the joint has burger in its name why would you eat chicken?BRU Burger Bar on Urbanspoon


Locally Grown Gardens

On 54th St., just west of the Monon trail sits a rather common looking building that was a gas station in a previous life. Since the place was called Locally Grown Gardens, I naturally assumed it was nothing more than a “farmer’s market,”. And frankly, I haven’t had a lot of success with farmers markets in Indianapolis. Obviously, I’ve been looking at the wrong ones. A young fellow named Christopher N.at Putitinyourface.net told me the full story or least  his review did.It seems that Locally Grown Gardens isn’t just a produce stand, and a good one at that, but also offers a large array of baked goods and lunch and dinner.

Their menu is limited, three entrées and two sides and a whole bunch of pies. They smoke their own pork out back and offer it as an open-faced sandwich for 9 1/2 Bucks. They also offer two salmon dishes at $12.85 each. One with citrus vinaigrette and mixed greens and the other with, I believe with a Rosemary mustard vinaigrette and ginger slaw.Pat ordered the pork, when it came out our jaws dropped. It wasn’t just a big mound of shredded pork sitting on a piece of Texas toast. It was two colossal hunks of smoked pig on a thick slice of the chefs homemade bread and a puddle of rich, reddish-brown sauce on the side.The pork was perfectly smoked and properly moist. The sauce was bold and I could see how too much could overpower the pork. However, it was perfect used as a dip for the meat.My salmon was equally impressive. All their food is served on large white rectangular plates, which enhances the visual spectacle. The portion was at least 8 ounces and was cooked just to the point of inner opaqueness and no more. The perfect mid rare. The mixed greens were thoughtfully selected and presented, with large enough leaves so that you could see what they were,not like these all too common salads that look as if they’ve been run through a blender.The vinaigrette was sweet and acidic enough  to be a proper unifier of the greens and the fish. It was also the perfect foil for the richness of the salmon.

But wait, as a great as the lunch was the best is yet to come ,the desert. A big slice of wait for it… Wait for it. Sugar cream pie. That’s right the state pie of Indiana. To say it was delicious is like saying Padma Lakshimi is cute.The crust was tender and flaky and the filling was more reminiscent of a crème Brulé than a pie.Seriously words can only go so far you really must try this pie. At $3.50 per slice and $10.50 for a whole pie, you can’t go wrong.

You should be forewarned that seating is limited. There is a large table with benches in the library room, a picnic table and a small  café table out under the trees., But that shouldn’t deter you the great food and the other neat stuff they have makes it worth the trip.

Locally Grown Gardens on Urbanspoon


Datsa Pizza

Pizza-glorious Pizza, that ubiquitous American treat available everywhere in the USA.I tried Datsa Pizza with my eldest son quite some time ago and fell in love at first bite.This was before I started This Ain’t no Bistro;but I did post a very lauditory review on Yelp.However I am admittedly a Pizza junkie;but I think my pallet is mature enough to differentiate the quality of various pies.Now Pat,on the other hand is a Pizza epicure;a connoisseur if you will;he is very particular.That’s probably why it took me so long to get him to try it.

Guess what?Pat liked it as much as I did.He declared only one pie better;in his opinion;that being some joint in Homecroft. I believe it is some joint that was a quasi hang out when we were in highschool.

You see they make their own dough which is a great first step.I know a lot of pizzerias make their own crusts but not all brush them with garlic butter.And not all end up with the same result.A beautiful brown with a crisp exterior and soft interior.It is quite literally a hand tossed beauty.I’m sure they don’t make their own sauce but it is one of the better canned sauces I’ve tried;rich and tomato sweet.The sausage they use isn’t from Smoking Goose but it’s very good,both the sweet and the spicy.Pat would have prefered a finer grind but I enjoy either one.You won’t see duck confit or smoked salmon on the menu but you will find anchovies and all the usual suspects that most people want.The coolest thing is at lunch you can get an individual pizza for $4.75 and additional toppings are 50 cents and 75 cents.Pat and I had a small garlic bread and 2 individuals pies with 2 toppings each and spent $16.We drank water;we almost always drink water when we eat;in order to save room for beer.Speaking of which, Datsa does sell beer,$ 2.75 for domestic bottles and I think $ 3.25 for imports.However in this case we decided to “wet our whistles” at The Living Room Lounge;conveniently located across the street.No matter if you drink beer;H2O or Cola if you like Pizza you really ought to give Datsa a try.

Oh we did it again;or I should say I did it again;forgot to take pictures before we started eating-OOPS.Datsa Pizza on Urbanspoon