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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