Well, back to Wanamaker. This Wheatley’s place is very well-known and highly thought of in Wanamaker, and elsewhere. It started out as a grocery store but has since turned to cooking the food before they sell it. It has the oddest hours though. They are only open for business Friday, all day for a fish fry. Saturday morning for biscuits and gravy and Sunday morning for breakfast and fried chicken dinners for the after church lunch crowd. And even with those restrictions they are seasonal; closing up in October. We missed out last year and we were bound and determined to check it out this year. Now, I surely do not understand the fuss. From what people had to say about the food I expected some gum smacking’, salivating fried goodness. Well not quite. It was pretty average. We both had too high of expectations. The fish appeared to be ocean perch. However one review said they used pollock. I am pretty sure it was perch but I think it was priced a little high for what you got. The dinner was $10.49; for 3 pieces of fish, crinkle cut fries, a solo of cole slaw and a portion of so-called baked beans. Oh, and a hush puppie. One hush puppy. The pups were house made and pretty good, with corn kernels mixed in. You could buy them ala carte. A quarter each or 5 for $1. You waited in line to place your order. The fried stuff was stocked under heat lamps and your order was placed into a to go box; whether you carried out or ate in. And then you got a seat at one of several picnic tables in one of two large rooms or outside on a covered patio.
The fish may have been crisp when it was put into the box but once that lid was closed even the short walk to a seat sort of wilted it a bit.
If you look real close you can see the hush puppy under the fish, at the bottom.
I just had to take a picture of one of the tables. They all had seats like that. Have you ever seen such seats. Pat was a little more frugal than I. After all it was his turn to buy. He ordered a 3 piece fish with fries for $7.99.
So neither one of us were too impressed with the fish fry. However they do have desert. Home made pies and cake. I did not take any pictures of the desert case; because we would be tempted to buy something. My O my the cakes were 6 inches of chocolate delight. And they had a deep dish apple pie that stood a full 5 inch high. Truly this joint is sort of a case where they show a whole Lotta’ hat and no cattle. Like the joint last week.http://www.wheatleysfishfry.com/
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.
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.
How I could have overlooked this place for so long, I just don’t know. Well I corrected that over sight Friday. This joint is the quintessential tavern. Dim lighting and wood paneling. It is a credit to its generation. And their food and service is a credit to taverns everywhere. I discovered a new beer from Sun King. I don’t recall the name but after the obligatory notes of hop, the finish had a definite chile pepper smack. This beer made for a great pairing with the Hot Sicilian sandwich. Now this sandwich is standard fare in a lot of places. Ham, pepperoncinis, bacon and mozzarella cheese on a toasted roll with shredded lettuce. The way they prepare their version is what sets it apart from the rest . They par cook the bacon and then finish it per order on the flat top with the remaining ingredients. The result is a flavor filled sandwich full of greasy bacon goodness. I would also recommend a side of potato salad to go with. The salad is of the smashed variety. The first taste is hard-boiled egg, followed by the potato with a touch of sour cream and a hint of vinegar. If you like potato salad as much as I do I think you’ll love this.
After my successful scouting trip Pat and I decided to make this joint our weekly destination. As you will see I wasn’t the only one taken by this joint. Following is Pat’s ode to a French Dip.
I was torn between a grilled chicken sandwich or a burger. Since the menu mentioned char broiled burgers I ordered one, medium rare, with a side of cole slaw. I was a wee bit disappointed. There wasn’t a whole lot of char on the meat and it was cooked past medium. All in all the meat was a little dry. That could have been caused by aggressive spatula use or patty compaction. In either event it really is not that big of a deal. The burger temp is regulated by the Board of Health. The last I heard all ground meat must be cooked to an internal temp of 160 degrees, and held for 15 seconds. Which precludes even a true medium. As for the slaw I thought it could have used more dressing. Now that is purely subjective. Hell you can’t hit a home run every time.
So this is a place worth visiting. And from the lunch crowd I guess a lot of folks feel the same way. Oh. I almost forgot the Chile. I had a cup to start things off. It was house made and really good. Mild enough to appeal to non chile heads and packing enough chile powder and cumin to make it interesting. Also like so many joints the help is such a key to success; and the help here appears to be professional. At least in the front of the house; where it matters. I would also like to thank Kelly for such attentive service. Thanks from both of us.
At the corner of Capital Avenue and 13th street sits the Tip Top Tavern. Pat and I have stopped there a few times,but it has always been closed. A couple of weeks ago we found out why. The place has gone through a few owners the last few years and have never been able to make a go of it. Now the owner of the building has decided to have a go of it himself; and it appears as though he is on the right track. They only operate 7:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M.;Monday through Friday. Which is probably a good call for the neighborhood.
It is certainly a good-looking place. Cozy booths around the perimeter of the dining room and several large dark wood tables down the center. The first thing you notice,when you walk in is the large ,dark, carved wood back bar. It looks antique;but it probably isn’t. The remaining area is spacious and bright; with an abundance of old school glass blocks in the walls ;that allows for a great deal of diffuse natural light to enter. Like I said, like coming home. The service is first-rate and the people are great. The owner is casual and friendly and Echo ;our server/bartender is a charming and lovely young lady that never stops moving.
The menu is pretty much what you would expect in a tavern;but although the fare might be common the execution isn’t. They cut their own tenders from a whole loin;and cube it themselves ; with an honest to gosh cuber; no hammer for these folks. I haven’t had a grilled tender in I don’t know how long. So when I learned they cube their own I had to have one. That hunk o’ pig was 8 ounces if it was a gram. They cook all their meat on a flat top griddle. Would that make it a Tip Top Flat Top? Nevermind. The sandwich was on point. The meat was cooked just to the right point. It offered enough “chew” so that you knew you were eating real meat; but not too much so it would wreak havoc on my store-bought chompers. Pat ordered a Philly cheese steak; and his only complaint was it needed more beef. But then who doesn’t like more meat? The sandwiches come with choice of fries,macaroni or potato salad or fresh fruit cup. I can’t remember the exact price of their sandwiches but I’m pretty sure they are less than 8 bucks. As for beer; well let me tell you they have a very respectable selection of craft brews for $3.50 to $4.00. That’s pretty good for”downtown”. Oh I almost forgot they also serve breakfast, hence the 7:oo A.M. opening. And their pricing is incredible. So it seems like a no brainer to me ,heading into work downtown on Capital pull off at 13th;they have a parking lot; and fuel up.Remember breakfast is the most important meal of the day.