Well this is another import from Cincinnati, courtesy of the Thunder Dome Restaurant Group. This is the group that controls Eagle and Bakersfield which expanded to Indy recently. Bakersfield in 2013 and The Eagle in 2015. I know this joint barely qualifies as an independent but it is owned by 3 people 2 of which are brothers. They are just hugely successful and are expanding their brand.
This place grinds their own meat for the hamburgers and the basic burger is $9.99. They use 2 patties per burger and cook them on a flat top so I was a bit surprise the meat didn’t have crisper edges.
They also make their own sausages. That is what I opted for.
It was their Italian. Sicilian style sausage, polenta cake, braised fennel and olives, Parmigiano Reggiano
This was an outstanding dish. The sausage had a bit of heat from the Calabrian chiles as did the broth the fennel and olives were braised in. This was almost a perfect meal for me. It featured 2 of my favorite non meat items. Fennel and olives. Add in the pig and “corn bread” and I was as happy as a camel on hump day. They offer 2 other styles of sausage all are $12.
I want to come back and try the other two but it will have to be when it is warmer. When I go downtown I use the bus. I don’t even like driving through our downtown. Parking is always an issue when you go downtown to eat. Same with Krueger’s. All I can say is it is worth the trip.
Iaria’s has been around since 1933. So don’t expect Fusion or Cuisine Minceur when you go. What you will get is Old School Italian dishes from very Old School recipes.
The establishment is composed of a dining room and a bar room that has several tables and booths.
They use plenty of glass blocks in their decor. I think the blocks are great. They were out of favor for a while but they are making a comeback,from what I hear. Iaria’s had them before they were cool.
As soon as Pat and I decided on Iaria’s we both started having a “taste” for Italian. Pat Alfredo me Piccata,with capers. I had it on good authority they offer an outstanding version with grouper. Pat stayed with his first thoughts,after much rumination. As for me as soon as I walked into the aroma of fresh bread,tomatoes and garlic I knew it had to be red sauce and red wine.
Pat and I decided to split a half carafe of Malbec for $15, good for 3 glasses,but actually a bit more. It was really a pretty good wine choice. Pat decided on it because he abhors whites. I would have been happy with that or Cab. Once I decided to go red it was an easy decision for my lunch. Spaghetti with red sauce and a meatball. For a 75 cent up charge I got a link of their homemade Italian sausage. Both of our lunches came with a soup or salad choice. Pat;obviously chose salad. I chose a cup of the homemade Minnestroni soup.
It was pretty good,not outstanding,but good. They also had a SOD; a chicken gnocchi. In the future I will give the SOD a try. As for the main course it was what you would expect from folks that have made sauce for so many years. While some red sauces are too sweet or too tart. Too thin or too thick. Or too much or too little. This was Goldilocks “Just Right”. The amount was enough to wet the pasta, enough leg to properly coat and just enough sweetness to whet the appetite and not sate it.
As for the star of the show,the meatball. It was expertly seasoned and nicely formed. It may have had a bit too much compaction for my tastes. But different boats etc. This brings us to the sausage. Now this was a wonderful sausage. A great fennel presence with a touch of crushed red pepper for some heat. I think the sausage stands right up their with any I have eaten
Both of are lunches were about $8 with soup or salad and a basket of homemade bread and butter. They also offer pizza and sandwiches. I think the most expensive lunch item was the Grouper Piccata for $11.95. They do a very brisk lunch business with lots of regulars and I can see why. Cozy surroundings,very good food and charming and friendly service. Worth a visit.
Here is a link to their website
http://www.iariasrestaurant.com/ Since Zomato seems to have fallen down on the job.
I believe this place opened just a few weeks ago. It is owned by the same folks that have Legends in Irvington, so I was confident that it would be pretty good. Since Pat is out in Cali for the next two weeks I was all by myself. I had planned on visiting this place at a later date and was actually on my way to a different joint when I decided to stop at the last-minute.
The place is nicely appointed with dark woods, leather seats and cozy booths. The large windows make for a very bright setting as well.
I was also quite impressed with the level of service. My server Katie was spot on. She was very knowledgable of the menu and not shy of venturing an opinion when asked. As a matter of fact it was her description of their special appetizer of the day that convinced me that I needed it. Normally I don’t get an app for lunch when I am solo. In this case the app was an arancia, a deep-fried polenta (oops, that should be risotto) ball, for $8.
I thought they were nicely done and with the creamy cheese sauce proved a tasty combo of flavors and textures.
For my main dish I opted for a shaved ham and Swiss sandwich. I know that sounds pretty mundane but it was hardly your standard diner fare. It featured Smoking Goose City Ham, a dry cured ham and orange marmalade with a fennel and apple slaw. They offer a choice of bread from Amelia so with Katie’s recommendation I went with semolina.
The bread was a good choice. Dense and herbaceous enough to balance the other strong tastes. The structure of the sandwich was really very delicate and nicely balanced. A hint of orange and apple, a passing note of mustard and the strong presence of ham. And of course the cheese just sort of hanging out to keep the ham company. A really good sandwich for $10. I may have wanted a more prominent presence of fennel but this was probably for the best. You know that meme about moderation.
I noticed on their beer tap they offer a brew called Diesel Oil. It is a Stout from Columbus Indiana and Powerhouse Brewing Company. Well I thought a good Stout would make for a nice desert. Well it does, especially when paired with a Chewy Fruitmeal Cookie.
They make about a half-dozen cookies and their Fruitmeal is an Oatmeal cookie loaded with dried fruit. It was an excellent bite for a buck. Now marry that with a Milk Stout and its touch of chocolate and coffee and you are on to something really nice.
So this is Penn and Palate. So lets recap. Conveniently located in a newly gentrified locale on the near North Side. A swank and charming interior. Well trained staff. And finally an excellent menu that is well prepared and delicious. I think that this is the start of a beautiful friendship with this joint and this City.
Pat has mentioned this place a few times as he sees it quite often while shopping. He and Fran went one evening and thought it was worth a visit for lunch. I trust Pat’s taste and judgement as he can be pretty finicky. However on this I was a bit apprehensive. There are 2 food sites here. Urbanspoon and Yelp. On Yelp people were complimentary of the food not too complimentary on the service. On Urbanspoon only 3 people visited the joint, one liked it and only one wrote a review of it. He didn’t even eat there. He though the place too dirty. Well as soon as I walked in I wondered what joint he was writing about.
The place is huge. They have 3 pool tables and a section for bands. They offer live music on weekends; so I can see prompt service possibly being a problem when they are rockin’. As far as the “dirty” problem I saw a joint that looked pretty clean.
We were the first customers of the day so we had the joint to ourselves for a while. The bartender was quite able. Efficient and friendly. Between serving us, other customers and doing a few bartender jobs I don’t think he stopped for a minute.
When Pat was there last week he and Fran shared an appetizer; Sausage Pie. It’s Italian sausage, salami cubes and cheese with a bread crust, top and bottom. Like a deep dish pizza with a top. The resultant pieces are approximately three inches square and 2 inches thick. They come with sauce on the side and you can get 4 pieces for $4.95 or 8 for $8.95. Pat insisted on the larger order. He intended to “pig out on the pie and get a side salad for his entrée.
Yeah; we started eating before we took the shot. Just visualize 4 more pieces in the empty spaces.
They call this a side salad. $2.95. It’s sort a’ big. I got one just like it with my entrée. But; before I go there let us review the Sausage Pie. It was very good. Lovely taste and texture. A nice fennel flavor from the Italian sausage, melding nicely with the cheese,and a hunk of salami, every now and then. As I understand ,it is someone’s Grandma’s recipe. Very good job.
On the menu featured on their website the offer house made lasagna. And they offer it as a half, for $6.95 or a whole for $12.95. Well I wanted a half portion; but they don’t do that any more. So I ordered a full size. I only ate 2 pieces of my pie, half my salad and I was staring at a rather large piece of pasta, meat, cheese and red sauce. With some help from Pat I was only able to eat maybe one-third of the portion. But what I ate was quite good. The ricotta had a nice herb seasoning that fit the sausage and sauce quite well. This dish was superior to several that I have had at authentic Italian restaurants. My only question when I saw the dish was why so much marinara? It was pretty tasty, but most joints like to show off the browned cheese top. Well, when I got home with the left overs I learned why.
After I got home my better half ate the left overs. And she discovered that approximately half of the lasagna was burned on the top. The half farthest away from me. It wasn’t burned so badly as to render it inedible; but it was pretty dark. In either event it should not have been served. I have theories as to how it could have happened; but they are all moot. The kitchen guy screwed up. Our’s was his first ticket. It wasn’t like he was being slammed and in the weeds. It was his first ticket. Don’t get me wrong I don’t think this makes him a rotten cook or this a rotten joint. He just screwed up. His sausage pie was very good as was the first half of the lasagna. He just should not have sold that ticket. But will that stop me from going back. NO. They offer prime rib on Friday and Saturday nights. And they have ribeye on the menu. And I have a thing for steak and beer.