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/