eating indie in indy

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Labor District Cafe 135 N. Penn.

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I have known about this place for quite some time, but have been conflicted about eating here. The website was unclear about the  source of their roast beef, ham or turkey. Was it purchased already cooked from a vendor or did they buy the meat and cook it off themselves. One blog I read really didn’t clarify the issue for me. So I believed that the only think they cooked themselves was the soups and the meatloaf. Granted, at one time I thought it a good idea to eat a joint’s meatloaf whenever possible. To judge their skill. I quit that after running into too many GFS and Sysco thaw and warm products being used. So I figured it would be meatloaf once again.

The place is attractive and bright. I don’t think I saw a single deuce in the dining room. It seemed it was for the most part 4 top tables.

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All the tables are set with cloth napkins and a bottle of water. I have noticed a couple of places doing that. That must be the new “thing” around town. As soon as you sit down your server brings you a bowl of pop corn, giving you instant garnish for your soup.

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This is outside the main entry so it gave me an idea how I would start my lunch. Some beer cheese soup. It had been a long while since I had any. Even though it was August it sounded tasty. Beer and cheese.

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This was a cup. I thought it would pass for a bowl in a lot of joints. I thought it was pretty good. A light cheese presence with a touch of beer. I added some of the popcorn to it. That is why the spoon is in the bowl.

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The meatloaf sandwich is served on sourdough bread. It is topped with provolone cheese, crisp onion and special sauce. I added some bacon to mine. I was quite pleased with their version of an American Classic. The meatloaf had a good amount of thyme added to it as well as grated parmesan. The special sauce is a nice home-made ketchup. My poor bacon got lost in the shuffle. The onions weren’t as crunchy as I hoped. I think me putting some of the kettle chips on it would have given more texture. They aren’t shy about the amount of tater chips they give you.

Meatloaf San. Under the cover

Meatloaf San. Under the cover

Today was the first day of a new menu. After lunch I talked with Patrick, the manager. He told me that in addition to getting all of their product from Hoosier sources they cook off all of their beef, ham and turkey. So I think you should expect some superior club and other “deli” sandwiches. As for me when I return I think it will be a Chef salad. Or maybe a Cuban. Or a Club. Or a Roast Beef or…. I don’t know.

I am including a link to their website as well as scans of the new menu. I hope that helps.

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Labor District Cafe on Urbanspoon

http://labordistrict.com/


Sawmill Saloon 1313 N. Sherman Drive

Okay. Normally our lunch day is Thursday. Pat decided that we would go “rogue” today and hit some joint that we would never normally consider. I decided to hit a joint I have noticed on the “net” that is located in Brightwood. This is a working class neighborhood that some folks call the hood. I grew up in that neighborhood. So actually I was rather excited to check out the new Brightwood.

The building has been around for a long time. For years it was called the Bungalow. A joint noted for its catfish dinners and bar service. I had been there a few times 35 years ago. My dad went there on a few occasions. Actually I forgot about it until I saw an entry on Urbanspoon. From what I recently discovered the Sawmill has been opened for quite a while. It was named after the veneer factory across the street. That particular factory has been around since I was a kid.

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The joint has not changed much in the last few years. A long bar, several tables and a rather cool back bar.

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Their menu is unpretentious and very Hoosier. I didn’t bring my scanner so I was not able to present the menu. Now that is a bummer. I always pride myself on the fact that I can usually present a joint’s menu for everyone to see. This time my camera was not up to the task.

They make their own fries, and onion rings. They also hand cut and pound out the pork loins for breading. Normally I try to avoid breaded and fried food. I am supposed to eat a Heart Healthy diet. However, sometimes a man needs some fried meat.

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Their version of the Hoosier staple was a great example of a simply good sandwich. It was not as intricate as some places. It was simply a nice hunk of pork that was hand pounded and breaded and fried. It wasn’t a great BT by any standard. It was a good one. It was tender. The breading was a little light.

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The fries were nice. They cut them in-house. I don’t think they double fry them. Which I think is how it should be. In either event they really should season the bad boys. Their fries are pretty good. They just need some cojones. One thing I enjoyed was that they put the tenderloin on toast. Not the obligatory Texas toast, on a flat top,but white bread toast from a toaster, I liked the crunch.

The previous day the Sawmill had a hog roast. So they ran their pulled pork sandwich as a lunch special.

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I think I agree with Pat’s assessment. If I found myself in the neighborhood I would go again. However Brightwood is hardly a destination;anymore. The food is tasty,the beer is cold and the new owner; Rhonda is a delight. So should you find yourself on Sherman Drive by all means pop in. For two sandwiches and fries the tab came to under 14 bucks. And a domestic bottle will cost you $2.75. So I think it was a good afternoon in the neighborhood.
Sawmill Saloon on Urbanspoon


Manley’s Irish Mutt -7041 East Tenth Street

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Saloons…Bars…Taverns no matter what term you use Manley’s is a perfect example of one. A  menu heavy on appetizers and with certain must have, or you’re not a real bar, sandwiches. Namely a breaded tenderloin, a burger, some type of chicken and roast beef, or steak. All bars have these. Some do them poorly. Some do them well and in the case of the Mutt some do them extremely well.

We started off with some mushrooms. You could tell from the uniform size that they were probably not made in-house. However at first bite you might think they were hand battered and then breaded back in the kitchen. They were excellent. Very crisp on the outside and almost liquid on the inside. Sort of like a savory mushroom cordial.

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As you can see I nearly forgot to take the picture. That stain at the top of the basket isn’t grease. I’m not sure what it is. These ‘shrums were not at all greasy.

The lunch special that day was a breaded tenderloin, for $6.99. Believe it or not I really try to watch my fried food intake; so I took a pass. Not Patrick.

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I completely forgot to take any pictures until Pat was finished and I was half done. Luckily a guy next to us at the bar ordered one, and he was kind enough to let me use his plate as a stand in.

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I ordered a Cuban Sandwich. Jerk seasoned pork,ham, pickle and swiss cheese on a grilled hoagie. The fillings are pretty much the same at most places around here the only question is the pork and the bread. This version was $6.99 and the coleslaw was an additional $1.99. The sandwich was excellent. From the spicy tenderloin through the ham and pickle to the swiss cheese it was a complete hit for me. So very tender. All the components represented themselves in tasty fashion and the melding of the 4 created another layer of taste. As for the coleslaw it turned out to be a good complement to the sandwich. Creamy and sweet.

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Pat thought I should have tidied the plate up before taking the shot. Obviously I thought otherwise. I think Pat was right.

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They have the usual selection of adult beverage. A few crafts for $4 and more Irish whiskeys than I have seen in one joint in my life. And they sell them for 4 bucks on Saturdays. I must say it is refreshing to see a back bar that doesn’t have 25 different vodkas.Manley's Irish Mutt on Urbanspoonhttps://kosherhamandcheese.com/?p=2342&preview=true


Big Fella’s… it’s Back

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Big Fella's on Urbanspoonhttp://www.bigfellas.biz/   3469 N. College Ave.


black market

A poor shot of a cool artifact on the building across the street.

A poor shot of a cool artifact on the building across the street.

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This is a joint we have been wanting to go to for quite a while. It has a reputation for very good food and a nice selection of craft beers. It’s not a very big place with the seating consisting of a few tables along the wall, a large bar and 3 very big tables in the center. Long and slender, like you would find in a banquet hall. It is an attractive place; all industrial chic with exposed duct work, dark walls, slate and black iron pipe fittings in the men’s room.

We had the bar to ourselves and had the most delightful server. Efficient, professional and attentive, and very knowledgeable of the menu. After much reassurance from the aforementioned server, that he would not get any onion Pat selected baked rigatoni. A pasta dish with butternut squash,kale and both house made mozzarella and focaccia, all for $10.

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At time of service our waitress told Pat that they made a special sauce, just for him, sans onion. I went off menu and ordered their special for $11. That was fried perch with waffle. Served with baked beans, young curly kale and Sirachi butter. Odd ain’t it. This particular dish did not hit on all cylinders for me. I do admire their cojones for doing it though. I think restaurants should push the envelope; as far as they can. In this case I think it could have used a few adjustments. They used, what appeared to be black beans for the baked beans. Not the most attractive choice. That might be why it was buried under the kale. They also could have cooked the beans a mite longer and reduced the cayenne, especially with the Sirachi butter ; which was excellent,as was the perch. As for the waffle it was a wee bit dry. Actually I thought the whole dish was on the arid side. I am surprised they didn’t add some sort of syrup. Possibly a gastrique . I think a little sweet and sour would have fit in well. But; that is just my opinion. This was just one dish and a special at that. I will definitely be back first chance I get. I want to try their chicken pozole and the blue gill and grits. They both sound like a bunch of lip smackin’ fun.Black Market on Urbanspoon

http://www.blackmarketindy.net/

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Legends in Irvington (Revisit)

Charming. That is my word for the day. That is the best one word description of this restaurant that I can think of. We have been here before with our friend Jimmie. That is the reason we decided to go back. We had planned on meeting him there but he had some schedule conflict. So it was just me and the other old guy.

It was a blustery sort of fall day. The kind of day that really suggests comfort food. Which is exactly what Pat ordered. I believe the dish was Dad’s Chicken. That is a breaded breast, pan-fried and finished in the oven. It came with 2 sides for $8. He opted for roasted garlic mashed potatoes and steamed snap peas.

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As you can see I didn’t post Pat’s usual review. The reason for that is I reworked my browser, and upgraded my version of Windows. And with the changes; when I downloaded my scans of his post it went to a different area than I am not accustomed to. And frankly I can’t locate it. Luckily I managed a taste of his food so I can write about it. Pat’s original post was succinct as usual. All I can do is flesh it out; so to speak

The chicken was very tasty and moist. The portion was 5 oz.,and the sides were nicely portioned as well. The ‘taters were garlicky good and fluffy; and buttery enough that gravy would have been a distraction. As for the peas they were incredibly tender, considering their size.

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Regardless of the weather, I had a craving for their salmon wrap. It had both smoked salmon and asparagus. Two of my (many) favorite foods. It also featured cukes, lettuce and wasabi mayo. And it was as good as it sounded. However I think more salmon would have helped. I understand the price of the salmon necessitates the $ 9 price tag, but I think they could get a better product if they smoked their own.

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legends-11-21-2013 008legends-11-21-2013 009Legend Classic Irvington Cafe on Urbanspoonhttp://www.thelegendcafe.com/


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.

3 Sisters 0183 Sisters Cafe on Urbanspoonkosherhamandcheese.com/?p=2202&preview=true


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


Shoefly Public House. 122 East 22nd Street

There is a new place in town and it just happens to be in my neighborhood. To say there was a need in this area, Mapleton Fall Creek , would be a pretty accurate statement. Saturday was their Grand Opening and from all accounts it was very successful. The owner really did it right. A nice wide open space with a lot of room to stretch your legs. And the man built the wooden bar and the tables with his own hands. Now that is special.

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I think the bottles are Ginger Beer, that they bottle on premise.

I think the bottles are Ginger Beer, that they bottle on premise.

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The menu is refreshingly different. They also have a nice supply of local beers. As you know Pat and I have been known to tip a malted beverage every now and again. I didn’t scan the menu but I am including a link for their website which shows their food and beer.

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This joint does something different for the sides that come with sandwiches. They offer a small chef side that changes daily. In this case it was a potato “croquettes” with a Sriracha mayo. The little ‘tater cake was pretty tasty and spicy sauce fit well. I was drawn to the “cold pressed Spanish chicken sandwich. As it was explained to me after the chicken is cooked it is mixed with capers, anchovy, roasted red pepper and olives. Then a focaccia roll is split coated with olive oil and the “fixings” are stuffed inside. Then the whole thing is wrapped and pressed with a brick for two days. I am not familiar with the technique but the result is definitely worthwhile. The texture was soft and almost creamy. Imagine a bread rillette. The only thing else I can add is the flavor was very much a single note. An excellent single note but singular none the less. I added a taste of the spicy sauce that came with the potato cake and it added a nice spot of heat. It could have used some crunch. In my humble opinion.

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I really recommend checking out the menu on the website. It might be a trifle hard to read but I think you can navigate it all right.

A nice view of Talbot Street from the front window.

A nice view of Talbot Street from the front window.

Shoefly Public House on Urbanspoonhttp://www.shoeflypublichouse.com/


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


Kim’s Kake & Kupcake Kreations

Kim's Kakes 005-001Well, that name sure is  a mouthful. But it leaves no doubt as to what this place is all about. It is on the south side, 5401 Madison Avenue, to be precise. I believe it has been open for about three years. It relocated recently to a larger building across the street from its original location. So business has been pretty good. They have a website but I don’t think it is updated too often. So most of their business appears to be by word-of-mouth.

They recently added soups and sandwiches to the menu. The usual fare, you would expect from a joint that made its own bread. With a couple of atypical twists.

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From the beginning, I was intrigued by the pretzel bun. EVERYBODY has a pretzel bun now. Even Wendy’s. But the only similarity between this bun and everyone else’s is the spelling. This creation has the texture and density of a good bread and the flavor and saltiness of a soft German pretzel. I ordered a pretzel club. Which is Cotto salami, ham, bacon, lettuce, tomato and ranch dressing. Ranch dressing would not be my first choice for such a bread but I try to try a dish the way the Cook planned it. The salami was assertive enough to stand up to the bread. The other stuff did not fare as well. When I go back. I hope to try the smoked sausage and pretzel bun sandwich. Or if that’s not available, the straight up salami with mustard. I tried a cup of the loaded potato soup. It was pretty good. Tasty even on a 90° day. The Eclair Pat mentioned was one we got to share. I cannot say that this is the best Eclair I have had. Sometimes when I taste something that I really enjoy I tend to gush like a 14 year old boy meeting a 14 year old girl. But it surely was an excellent pastry. One anyone would be proud to serve. The entire preparation was spot on. From the Choux Pastry to the vanilla cream filling to the chocolate “Shell” on top.

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I couldn’t finish my lunch so I took one half of the sandwich home along with my “better than Hostess” cupcake. As well as a few other items. I mean, these cases are hard to resist.

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My better half, Clara, ( who has a background in Food and Beverage as well ) really liked the pretzel bread, and the cupcake. She just took exception to my chose in take out. Two of them were pretty close in taste. That is why I MUST go back. To score some more pretzel bread and some Cake Truffles. They also offer a gluten free eclair. As far as other gluten free products I honestly am not sure.

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Kim's Kakes 013Kim's Kake & Kupcake Kreations on Urbanspoonhttp://www.kimskakekreations.com/


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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001Willett's Diner on Urbanspoon


Keystone Sports Review.

Pat and I stopped here last week for beers. We were both taken by the friendliness of the crowd at the bar and Mary our bartender. We also enjoyed that draft beers were only $3.50, microbrews included. The menu was inviting and the prices are more than reasonable. Also, Mary seemed genuinely excited about the food. No one should ever underestimate the power of “a happy server face”.

Since Thursday, our normal lunch date was also July 4, we decided to go on Wednesday. Mary. Wasn’t working but Jen, our bartender was equally friendly and gracious. On their appetizer menu they have several half orders as well as full orders. Which I think is a great idea. Quite often appetizer portions are so large, people have an appetizer as an entrée. Which, from a business standpoint lowers your ticket averages. With that in mind we decided to split a half order of battered and fried mushrooms. They were excellent. A crisp fried batter full of flavor was a great foil to the softness of the fried mushroom. We had homemade bleu cheese dressing as a dipping sauce. That was probably the wrong move. Not that the dressing wasn’t very good. It was just too thick to dip the mushrooms in. I think ranch dressing or the cocktail sauce that was offered would’ve been a better choice.

Hand battered and deep fried mushrooms in all their glory.

Hand battered and deep-fried mushrooms in all their glory.

One of their specials for that day was homemade lasagna. It came with soup or salad and garlic toast for $7.25. Since only onion powder was used in making the sauce for the lasagna, Pat felt it was safe to order.

They make their own croutons.

They make their own croutons.

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The picture doesn't do it justice.

The picture doesn’t do it justice.

I ordered strictly off the menu. Something I’ve never had before. A grilled chicken club. that is like a conventional club, 86 turkey, and substitute grilled chicken. I hesitated ordering it because a lot of kitchen guys don’t like making them. If you are busy it doesn’t take too many club orders to put you in the weeds. mine came on some beautiful marbled rye bread. It was an excellent sandwich, and fun to eat. Since it was a triple-decker , you could break it down into smaller flavor profiles. There is just something about the sweetness of fresh tomato and mayonnaise paired up with salty bacon and ham that is delicious. and replacing deli turkey with the tender grilled chicken breast is a no-brainer. And their homemade blue cheese dressing is a great dip for the copious quantity of ruffles that come with the sandwich. I couldn’t eat all of my sandwich so I took it home for my better half. She promptly declared it was the best sandwich I ever brought home.

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So ladies and gentlemen, that was our experience at the Keystone Sports Review. not only is the food good;the prices right and the service great, but to me it was a pleasure to watch such a well-run business. I think it is more than worth a trip. Oh one last thing. The Dr Mc Gillicuddy Pat referred to was Mentholated Schnapps. That was also one of their specials,$ 2 /shot. We each had one as an aperitif. It settled his stomach and gave him fresh breath. I ‘m sure his better half appreciated that.Keystone Sports Review on Urbanspoonhttps://kosherhamandcheese.com/?p=1771&preview=true


Lunch at His Place

012Eureka. I have finally found a place in town that can produce a proper smoked rib. It’s His Place Eatery at 30th Street and Shadeland  Avenue. They call themselves  a soul food restaurant, which is a catch phrase for country cooking. If that is supposed to mean that they offer good food; then they nailed it. They don’t just offer smoked pig they also grill or fry chops, chicken and fish. They even have big salads. And of course they make their own deserts.

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As you can tell they don’t spend a lot on plate garnishment. They want their food to be the center of the plate with no distractions. That little splotch on Pat’s review is a drop of rib juice. Clumsy. The owner does the cooking and he is a man after my own heart in that he prefers a dry rub. Saving sauce as optional not mandatory. The rib is the king. Hands down. The meat really just slides off the bone. The dry rub accentuates the flavor of the pig and keeps it moist. Every bite fills your mouth with smokiness. Not that intense overwhelming liquid smokiness that some people pass off as ” smoked”. But the real hard wood and fire kind. I didn’t even use any of the sauce they provided. 

The sides they provide match the quality of the protein they serve. The greens were as good as any that I have had; and the mac and cheese is on a par with Taste Budds. The bourbon cream corn was interesting. It was pretty good. I am just not a big fan of cream corn. But I had to try it. I also had to try the sweet potato cheesecake. Even though I had to take half my lunch home. The cheesecake was rich and potato sweet. A definite home run. The only negative was the corn bread. It was more a corn muffin of the average kind. But that should not be a deal breaker. To me if you like a lot of sweet red sauce with your Que then by all means go with the Wonder. Which brings to mind. Chef, should you read this, have you ever considered a Carolina vinegar and pepper sauce to go with your ribs? Just a thought.

017https://kosherhamandcheese.com/?p=1720&preview=trueHis Place Eatery on Urbanspoon


Bluebeard

Well look at us. Two weeks in a row we’ve gone to a couple of the “fancier” joints in town. Bluebeard isn’t really fancy they just have a fancy sounding menu. Trust me Pat and I wouldn’t go to a truly fancy schmancy place; even at lunch. We are like a pair of brown shoes in a tuxedo world. To me Bluebeard is a visual delight. Exposed beams and brick work; mis matched bar stools and dining tables. Not enough to be tedious just enough to be hip. Not in the angst driven Sinking Ship way more in an urbane way. But what the hell do I know? I’m just one brown Florsheim.

The menu is geared for foodies. An eclectic array meant to share. Of course not all the plates are sufficient size to share. And you have to be careful. You can run up a sizable lunch tab without too much trouble. They vary the menu daily which can be a bummer. When we found out they make their own lardo we ordered a small bread appetizer. Lardo is like the name implies. Pig fat that has been cured. It takes 30 to 60 days to process properly. That day lardo was something they varied; substituting mortadella spread. It was nice, but no whipped pork fat. But the spreads all took a back seat to the BREAD. They make their own bread on premise and all of their varieties rock. Pat didn’t want to play what’s that food. I don’t blame him. It’s tough enough to find food with no onion of any kind. So he opted for a sandwich.

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Much to my surprise they get their oysters and octopus in fresh. Since I haven’t had octopus since the last time I was in Florida that is what I started with. The presentation was rather disappointing. The had toast points on top, obscuring the view. The octopus was tender and very nicely done. The bagna cauda was spot on. Full of olive flavor; since they opted for olive rather than anchovy, I thought it fit the octopus nicely. I did find the fennel flavor lacking. Which is odd. Usually when you low roast veggies in oil the flavor is enhanced.

After the octopus I tried a couple of oysters. Admittedly I am hardly an expert on oyster varieties but this particular sort was on the small side. Small but delicious. And the mignonette was a perfect match. The salty,sweet of the oyster and the slight shudder of the vinegar. But in my gluttonous eagerness I forgot to take a picture of the oysters.

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But I wasn’t through yet. Remember my cautionary remark about being careful. I decided I needed a salad. And I figured that if I picked the right one I could forego desert. So I picked the one with mixed greens and asian pear and avocado. Damn if I don’t  think that it could be the perfect salad. From the sweetness of the pear to the buttery creaminess of the avocado and with the bitterness of the greens, crunch of the sunflower kernels and the brightness of the citrus in between this was definitely my favorite.

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Are we through yet? Oh No. Our über pleasant and efficient bartender, Cali, thought we should try their signature buttermilk bread pudding. So she brought us one to share. Just look at it and think of white chocolate sauce, and coco nibs. So on that note we say good-bye.

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Moe and Johnnys

This is a different sort of review. I went here with my eldest son, for lunch. I am never sure why I don’t write about some joints that I go to. This is a perfectly fine place. Clean and respectable; with good food. I know I have eaten here a few times; pre- blog days. And Pat and I have been there a couple of times for beers. So today I write.

Adam ( my first-born ) likes to eat and cook he just isn’t crazy about it. So our conversation covered my grand daughters and his work. He has a real job. He has nothing to do with food and beverage. He ordered a pulled pork sandwich with bbq sauce. All he volunteered was that he liked it. He added the lettuce and tomato but removed the onion and pickle. So the pork sandwich has my kid’s approval. 

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I ordered an All American cheese burger. But first I determined it was indeed charbroiled and I could  get it mid-rare. I added cheddar and got the whole garden. Usually I enjoy my burgers the same way I enjoy my Irish Whisky; neat. This was a fine ass burger. And no amount of salad could interfere with the flavor of that char grilled and juicy hunk – of- meat. I am sure a whole bunch of folks know and like this place so I’m sure I am not telling people anything new.

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http://www.moeandjohnnys.com/menu/MJ-Full-Menu.pdfMoe & Johnny's on Urbanspoon


The Sinking Ship

I am sure that anyone under the age of 30 who lives anywhere in the vicinity of 49th St. and College Avenue has been to the Sinking ship. After all, I’m told that it is a joint for hipsters. I’m not sure what that means. All I know is that it’s a big bar, a clean bar with really good beer and really good prices. It also has a very unique menu for a tavern. It offers several vegan options. That includes but is not limited to, soy chorizo and soy cheese. They even offer seitan wings. Seitan is also called “wheat meat“. It is created by some mystical process where wheat is reduced to gluten, leaving protein rich, “meat like” product. I have been wanting to try it for quite a while. However it reminds me too much of the movie Solyent Green. But someday, someday.
Pat and I have been there several times for beer. They don’t start serving lunch until noon and, we like to get started around 11-ish. You know old dudes. Last week I made a solo trip to break the ice. So to speak.I didn’t order off the menu. I tried their special. Which was a chili dog with fries for $7.50. The dog was a good all beef wiener but was only a quarter pounder. They make their own chili and it worked great as a Coney sauce. I will have to try it by itself to see how it works as straight up chili.
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When Pat and I went back together I knew exactly what I would order. They offer smoked pork in two different forms. One as a barbecue sandwich; the other as a Cuban sandwich. That is a combo of pork, ham, cheese, dill pickle and mustard. Pressed in a hoagie roll. And they actually smoke their pig in a smoker, outback behind the kitchen. You could actually taste the smoke, faint but definitely there. The ham was decent Deli style, and worked really well with the cheese and everything else. A compact package of good food in a  Gonnella roll. The fries I had were decidedly different from the ones that came with my hotdog. I asked Bartender Ben and he told me that they had indeed changed. They were now making their own french fries. Well, I think Bartender Ben was pulling my leg a little bit. But that’s okay. He did an outstanding job anticipating our refills.

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As I’ve mentioned before Pat is a traveling puzzlement as to what he’s going to eat at any given time. As if to illustrate the point, he ordered fried tofu with peanut sauce and a slice of pepperoni pizza. Pizza was their three dollar lunch special.He enjoy the pizza,telling me he thought the crust was home-made. The only reason I’m writing this much is that Patrick’s review is a little more esoteric than normal. Nicely done just a little, well, esoteric.

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The Elbow Room

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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.

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004I 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.

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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.

018https://kosherhamandcheese.com/the-elbow-room-menu/Elbow Room Pub & Deli on Urbanspoon