On Shadeland Avenue,in the 900 block sits a free-standing building that houses Zelma’s.As I later learned the building is over 80 years old and has been the home for Zelma’s for more than 30 years.The place is in pretty good shape but it has seen better days.And the cooking has too I’m afraid.Zelma is 93 years old and doesn’t have the hands on as she did, back in the day.When we arrived there was one other customer;an elderly lady finishing her pie at the counter.So when she left we had the whole joint to our selves;and the full attention of the cook/server.The lady was 73 and was doing it all;cooking and covering the counter and the tables.She did have a dish washer that day;normally she wouldn’t.Chatting with her made this one of the most enjoyable lunches we have had.Pat had a grilled cheese with a side of sliced tomatoes and fries.I know, it is really kind of hard to screw that up.But that wasn’t why he ordered it he woke up with a “craving”.I tried their special.Meat loaf with 2 sides and roll and butter for $5.85.The meat loaf was home-made and was good;not spectacular;but good.To the cook’s credit she used ketchup sparingly before baking.The green beans were canned;which is totally acceptable at a diner;but they could have used more seasoning and more cook time.The mac and cheese was smooth and creamy and made by Gordon Food Services (GFS).It comes in a foil pan ,you pop it in the oven and bake,keep warm and serve.After lunch we ordered pie.Chocolate, peanut butter, cream pie to be exact.Can I hear a YUM?The pie was quite good even though it wasn’t 100% house made.Our server lamented that when Zelma was younger they made all their pies,totally from scratch.Crust,filling and meringue.Now they only make the filling.The younger lady that they have doing the baking and the specials does what she can,but….Oh they also have cobbler that they make,but I didn’t think to ask how home-made they were.All in all it was a pleasant meal.What the food missed in originality was more than made up by the charm of the server/cook.Hearing her talk about her early life and her family was a treat.And the whole meal cost less than $16.Such a deal.
I was really looking forward to our excursion to the Patriots Table. The menu seemed extensive and the reviews were rather diverse. They almost seemed to break on age groups. Older folks liked it , younger folks did not. One fellow even decided not to go in when he saw the condition of the parking lot (it had been re-patched many times). I guess he didn’t stray too far from Carmel or the immediate downtown area. The place is spacious all dark wood even some that appeared to be old barn beams.The patriotic theme and the military memorabilia was an excellent choice and a nice change of pace from the more usual modern “clutter”.
They offer a senior menu, with smaller portions at lower prices. Their regular menu has pretty good prices to begin with. Since Pat and I qualify as legitimate seniors we ordered off the senior menu. Pat chose the 7 inch personal pizza, with two toppings for about five dollars. The crust was definitely of the premade frozen variety. However the sauce and toppings were generously applied and the pie was nice and crisp. Overall Pat thought it was a pretty good job. I opted for the calf’s liver. A plate lunch featuring liver and onions with gravy, mashed potatoes with more gravy, country-style green beans and coleslaw. All for around six bucks. I won’t quibble about the age of the cow that sacrificed its organ for my lunch, however I can definitely say the liver was overcooked, and the onions were far from caramelized. The gravy on the liver was a brown mix gravy, a pretty good mix though. I think a good mix beats a bad scratch gravy every time; if for no other reason than consistency. Mashed potatoes were instant and the gravy was a tasteless white gravy mix. Why the difference I have no idea. The green beans were typical canned cooked down with bacon pieces, tasty but common.For some reason some lady walked over (an employee, not a total stranger) while I was chewing asking about my liver (my luncheon liver not my beer soaked personal one) and furthermore commented that their country green beans were the best in the world.She was raised in the country and she knew what she was talking about. After I had swallowed was able to speak again the only thing I could think to say was “I haven’t eaten all the green beans in the world so I really couldn’t say”. At that point Pat intervened and they had a pleasant little chat about country living as a child. The only reason I mention this is I had the impression that if I told her that I thought the beans sucked she would argue with me.Adjacent to the dining room they have an ice cream parlor that serves 27 different varieties; they also make their own cobbler. But we were too full to even think about dessert. You see even though my lunch was mediocre I could still clean my plate; that’s what a pro does.As for the coleslaw it was pretty good, they make their own dressing it was just a little sweet for me to eat it all.
Before I sign off I would like to mention a few peeves of mine about eating out. Servers: when inquiring about your tables please do not ask “how’s everything tasting?”; And always assume the customer wants change back. Asking if they want change is like pandering for a tip.and customers: if you don’t want change tell your server that, it’ll save them an extra trip. Also 10% is no longer the minimum tip.
So to sum it up if you like average food in large quantities cheap and want sitdown service then this is your kind of place.
11 – MaybeShow of hands who has never been to the peppy Grill? I don’t see too many hands. It’s no wonder the peppy Grill is an Indianapolis institution. Back in the day it was always the final destination after an evening of partying. Unless you made a friend in which case you went to waffle house; that always seemed a classier joint to take a lady.Now at my age it’s just a great place to go for a good lunch. The one in Fountain Square is sort of small and seems to be constantly busy. Pat had their Wisconsin cheddar soup and half ham and cheese sandwich both of which he found to be tasty, good honest food that hit the spot on a particularly nasty day.I chose the meatloaf plate, a thick slab of meat loaf with mashed potatoes and gravy and green beans. The meatloaf was nicely seasoned and well made. The green beans were pretty good with little pieces of bacon in them. The potatoes were instant but nicely seasoned and the gravy fit pretty well even though it came out of a mix.Afterwords Pat ordered a piece of pistachio pie. All their pies are made in-house by the nighttime cook. I had a little taste and thought it was pretty good. The crust appeared to be of the of the prebake variety,but the filling was quite tasty and was covered with a whole lot of whipped cream rosettes. The consistency of the filling seemed like a marriage of pistachio pudding and gelatin. But nevertheless I thought it worked. So if you’re just plain hungry and want an honest simple yet tasty meal don’t forget the peppy Grill.
The Steer In has been a staple in Indy’s food scene for a long time;and with good reason.When we first sat down I couldn’t help but notice my neighbor’s plate of meatloaf.A big slab with potatoes and gravy;the perfect elixir for a chilly,rainy day.But I resisted the impulse to order it immediately and went through the menu.They have an extensive new menu.Matter of fact it’s so complete that if you can’t find something to eat either you aren’t hungry or you are too picky to eat out.They offer pizza,with fresh made dough and with that comes various Italian style sandwiches.They also have a section of favorites that includes among other things the aforementioned meatloaf and beef and noodles;which is what I had.Tender chunks of beef with spaetzle style noodles.The noodle choice was an excellent one; just enough “tooth”to balance the smoothness of the real mashed potatoes.They even serve Hoosier green beans;cooked down with bacon.Not that easy to find.Pat wanted a stuffed pizza;which we had on good authority was excellent.However figure on a 40 minute wait time;so he got a mushroom, jack burger instead.And of course it was great;their burgers are always great.Our other companion;Jim; ordered a Pizza Bomb.Toasted Hoagie bread with pepperoni,salami,peppers and onions,topped with red sauce and cheese.It gave him a Happy Danish face,actually we all had Happy faces when we got through.The pictures on this post were all taken by me with my camera phone;they’re not so hot.Trust me the food is a lot better than the photos.They just started delivery service;I don’t know the delivery area but if you fall into that zone consider yourself a lucky eater.