This is without a doubt the fanciest BBQ joint I have ever been to. Everything was new and bright and quite attractive. For a moment I thought we might have stumbled into the wrong place.
The light fixtures were really cool. You can see one in the above picture. You can tell that pros set this joint up. From the table placement to the bar every thing was on point. After we were seated the Hostess let me check out the smokers in the kitchen.
The exhaust fans are located right behind the outside wall. Also it appears as though it has a digital temp readout. Really nice units. Back in the day I thought an Alto Shaam was high tech. Well enough of the HGTV. Our server was Laura. Delightful and very knowledgeable. I ordered a cup of chili; a cup of red to start.
I thought it was very good. A little spicy, no beans and no pasta; which is unusual in the Midwest. They used cubes of smoked brisket and a touch of house bacon. It had the consistency of Texas red; as I remember it. They also threw in a few cubes of fat. I like to think it was done intentionally not accidentally. Fat adds flavor. Of course my Cardiologist might disagree; but I don’t take him to lunch.
As you can see from the menu the food choices are very solid and the prices are quite reasonable.
Pat decided on a brisket entree with a choice of two sides for $12. When he discovered that the slaw had no onion he picked that with cornbread. After we ordered Laura brought out the Sauce caddy, all made in house.
The sauce options are pretty basic. A Kansas City molasses sweet, a Carolina mustard vinegar, a “Standard”, a little sweet and savory and a Texas spicy. Laura suggested a mix of KC and Carolina. Which worked like a charm for me. The other two were a little non descript. I really like a Carolina sauce sometimes and I definitely have a thing for molasses. Well back to Pat.
As you can see Pat’s coleslaw was a side with some assembly required. I guess he didn’t want to assemble. Since he ordered the brisket I ordered the pulled pork with Collards and Mac& cheese for $10.
The pork was straight up good. Nice flavor and good smoke. My first thought was the dry rub wasn’t as assertive as I would like,but upon a bit of reflection I thought with the 4 sauces maybe an assertive rub might not be the best. I am still pondering. One thing for sure Laura hit the pig on the head with her sauce mix suggestion. The KC and the Carolina together was a great taste. As for the sides I had mixed feelings. The greens were quite good not as much pot liquor as I would like but good none the less. Now for the mac & cheese. I believe they used a Cellentani, a spiral pasta that holds sauce well. As for the sauce it was pretty good it just isn’t what I had anticipated.They added a “jam” which I believe is a mix of KC sauce and spices which did add another layer of flavor but I prefer my mac a bit thicker with a cheesy roux and a buttery brown top. No harm no foul I’ll just keep that in mind next time.
Even though I had to get a go box for some of my pig I thought we should share a slice of Sugar Cream pie. It was unlike any other Sugar Cream pies I’ve had. It appeared that the crust was a crumb crust, not a pastry. Also the filling had almost a carmelized top to it. The pie was rather hard to cut; me thinks it was over cooked. No matter, the filling was delicious. I forgot to take a shot until it was almost done. Here is the ravaged result.
So don’t think that this place is too cool for Que. It isn’t. I read one reviewer who thought they took BBQ too seriously. Well it is BBQ. I really don’t know how anyone can be too serious about BBQ. After all it is All American. Seriously if you want some good Q you should give this joint a try. I’m not saying this is the best Q in the city. I am saying it is really good and it is run by pros. Also everyone that works here is really nice and it is a really pretty place.
Everyone hopes to find a little “hole in the wall ” place where the food is good while the structure is ho-hum. Well,this could be one of them.
The building is an odd little A-frame type structure with white stucco walls and rust colored tile roof that gives it a distinct Southwestern air. Common in Arizona but distinctive in Indy. Sitting just east of the State Fair Grounds makes it a familiar sight to quite a few people. It has housed several different “restaurants” over the years. The latest being “Great Western”; or some kind of Western. Pat and I reviewed it last year. The closing of that unfortunate joint was definitely an improvement for the dining community of Indianapolis.
The new operator,Julia, is a retired postal worker and self-taught cook. She is a warm and charming woman who made us both feel at home. She definitely has skill in the kitchen and a tremendous passion for cooking and the history of food that shows in her meals. Whether that successfully translates into a viable business, with the fickle and often cranky public remains to be seen.
She has a very nice website. It does not show the daily specials;for that you have to look on Facebook. Although they don’t always show up in a timely fashion. Or you can always roll in and check out the chalkboard.
As you can see the prices are reasonable. June 2 started Chowdown Midtown. That is a promotion for restaurants that aren’t downtown. Joints that elect to participate offer 3 course meals at a special price. Julia’s special was 2 dinners, 2 drinks, and 2 desserts for $25, so you save a couple of bucks. It was Pat’s turn to buy and he had to be cajoled a wee bit. The deciding factor was when he discovered he could get meatloaf without onion.
As you can see I decided on roast chicken with greens and mac and cheese. Since Pat got cornbread I got a homemade roll, that way we could try both. Of course the heathen cut the roll before I could take the picture.
Normally I prefer dark meat but I opted for white meat. All the better to “evaluate” you see. The chicken was very nicely done. Moist, tender and an excellent flavor. Definitely worth repeating. The mac & cheese was very creamy and well seasoned. It may not be the best I have had but it is up there. The greens were of the Collard variety. Unless they are cooked real long they have a tendency to be a wee bit bitter. However that effects the texture. These had a great texture. I cook my greens really long. I am more interested in the complexity of pot liquor and the mellow flavor of the greens. No right or wrong. Just different. The roll was really nice. It’s a shame they don’t have a warming drawer to store them in. A hot roll and unsalted butter. That would rock.
Now for dessert. Julia makes her own custard for the banana pudding. Well, sorry Mr. Cosby but it sure beats Jello pudding. Oh before I forget. I had a glass of their dirty tea. It is ice tea with a secret ingredient. At first taste it had a hint of citrus similar to an Arnold Palmer, but more subtle. I think I know the secret. I’ll never tell. But it is good. Good enough to send you to the moon. Am I right Julia?
One thing that isn’t a secret. That’s the fact that this is nice little joint with good food. A joint that makes you feel welcome.
Several years ago; back in the day; so to speak; there was a joint called Big Fella’s. It was a great place for a bite. For whatever reason it changed hands. None of the later tenants fared too well. But no matter the success, or lack there of, of the subsequent tenants the building was always well maintained. Well now Big Fella’s is back. This time under the guidance of The Big Fella’s nephew. It always was an attractive and expansive place and now it has become downright pretty. From the color coordinated walls to the white tablecloths and linen napkins it has added a touch of elegance.
They have retained their Sunday buffet and added a raised dias in their big dining room with a baby grand piano. They now offer live gospel music on Sunday as well as jazz performances selected nights of the week.
Their menu is small, featuring the essential dinners for $11.49, with bread and 2 sides. They also offer sandwiches in the $6 to $7 range with a side of fries. They make everything from scratch. The sides, the desserts, and the cornbread all done on premise. This particular day they were offering specials of baby back ribs for $9.99 and rib tips for $8.99. All with 2 sides and cornbread. Pat opted for the ribs.
They smoke all their own pig. Which is always a good sign. And since they use the same source for the tips as Taste Budds, and since it was one buck cheaper that is what I ordered. And they were as tasty and tender as Taste Budds. The greens had an excellent flavor and a wonderful pot liquor. They were just a tad bit on the salty side. As for the mac and cheese I can think of only one joint that might of had some just a tad bit better. Just because they added real cream. And as Julia Child said: “If you’re afraid of butter just use cream.” So folks, without reservation this is a place to check out. I don’t think you will be disappointed. Personally I am real happy Big Fella’s is back. It’s close to home.
Oh one last thing. When you go, save room for dessert. And if you only have room for one dessert make it Buttermilk pie. I mean what could be a better ending to a meal than a piece of custard goodness.
http://www.bigfellas.biz/ 3469 N. College Ave.
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.
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.
Well being the meat loaf groupie that I am that is what I ordered. A dinner with mac& cheese and greens. Again $9.
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.
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.
Today is a beautiful Saturday; and, you know you have had a long, hot and hard week. So I think you and the whole family should hop into the car; jump on your bikes or pop into an IndyGo; and go to 25th and Oxford streets and have lunch. Taste Budds is a place you must go to if you like good cooking, think you like good cooking or like a lot of people don’t even know what good cooking is. Depending on your age a meal at Taste Budds is the kind of food your mom or grandma would’ve made for you when you were young.I don’t care who you are or what you prefer to eat; I think you’ll find something to like there.They offer small plates for $8.18, tax included and large plates, for $11.99. Either size comes with two sides and choice of bread; one of which is hot-water cornbread; or some would call it Johnnie cake. They also offer $3.99 lunch specials,that are served with fries and coleslaw.
Normally I don’t order, rib tips ; when I go out. The quality as well as the technique is hit and miss. This time,I asked the young man where they got their meat and how they were cooked. That might sound extreme, but believe me, I’ve been burned before by fatty and/or bony tips. I ordered the small plate of tips with collard greens, mac & cheese, and of course cornbread. When I opened the clamshell I was astounded by the big pile of beautiful pieces of pig inside. The pieces were small enough you could pop one into your mouth and chew around the occasional small bone before discreetly depositing it in a napkin. At the same time the pieces were tender enough to cut with a plastic fork.You could taste the slight smokiness from the grill and the sauce did its job properly;enhancing the flavor of the pork not overpowering it. As any good backup singer should.The greens were as good as you would expect from a kitchen this good. They used smoked turkey to season them;a pleasant alternative to the more usual smoked ham hock. As for the mac & cheese all I can say is, it is hands down,the best I’ve eaten in any restaurant I have been to.
Pat opted for a small plate as well.He chose herb roast chicken, mashed potatoes, greens and cornbread. He enjoyed the greens as much as I did, this being the first time he has had them with smoked turkey. And if the speed at which he ate the mashed potatoes and gravy, he must have liked those too. At the risk of sounding gushy the chicken was beautiful. It was a lemon and herb crusted and roasted airline breast. That is to say it was a breast half with a wing attached. The skin was golden brown and the flesh inside moist and tender. Now that I was able to try since, Pat couldn’t finish his meal either.It always amazes me how something so simple could be so delicious and so hard to do by so many folks.The only thing that Pat and I could not agree on was a cornbread. He thought it was the best we have had and I thought it was a tie between , theirs and Dee’s and Pa and Ma’s.
Since the number five bus stops right in front of the place I’m going back, soon. I have to try their liver and onions. To date, every place I’ve gone to always overcook the meat and undercook the onion’s.So folks this place is the real deal.So to all those folks who “whine” about how the chains are taking over; get off your back sides and get to Brightwood and support this great little independent café. To paraphrase myself in my post about Kountry Kitchen: These guys have the skill of a master carpenter and the soul of a church choir.
We went to this place quite some time ago and from what I hear it’s gotten more awesomer since then (what do you expect from a liberal arts degree)?Anyhoo this place is the real deal.Just be hungry when you go in ‘cuz they are serious about portions.From the baked chicken to the smothered pork chops to the meat loaf;everything was spot on.I know some of you are saying “Hey TJ;what’s the deal about meat loaf;everyone does meatloaf”,well you’re right but not everyone does it well.I use meatloaf as a standard to determine a cook’s skill;the texture the density and of course the flavor,are all important.Now the sides;if a properly crafted meat loaf is a testimony to a kitchen’s skill then their sides are indications of their soul.That being said then the Kountry Kitchen has the skill of a master carpenter and the soul of a Sunday morning church choir.The smashed potatoes are “dirty” (skin left on) full of butter;the dressing had great texture,with enough veggie crunch to keep your interest and the flavor was solid enough to match any protein choice.As for the greens they were tremendous,deep complex smoky flavor ,the best in the city.The only better I’ve had in this town was at Vee’s on Boulevard Place;but the place closed sometime ago.Oh yeah,cornbread,they have pretty good corn bread.The thing about corn bread and greens you have to resist the urge to eat all the bread with butter or what not and wait ’til you finish the greens.At the bottom of the bowl,or cup you’ll see a green liquid;that’s called pot liquor.Now you take your corn bread,crumble it up and mix it with the liquor and eat it with a spoon.Now that is a country meal.So if you’re hankering for a meal like grams would make this is the place.
UPDATE: This Post was written some time ago. Since that time as I understand it, the establishment has changed owners. I noticed the website is different and the menu is different. I draw no conclusion from that I am merely saying that the food we ate that day may not be the same as you will have now.