eating indie in indy

Posts tagged “Indianapolis

One More Restaurant Review Site?

You may or not have noticed the badges at the bottom of each of my posts. Currently it is Zomato and Tabelog. Prior to Zomato it was Urbanspoon. All of these are Restaurant listing sites that allow people to voice their opinion and write reviews. They differ from Yelp in that a Blogger has the opportunity to link their posts to the site.

Urbanspoon was started in Seattle and eventually it spread around the world. Last year it was bought out by Zomato ,an India based venture. Admittedly it was a little rough getting used to it but I thought it was something I could get used to. I do know that part of Zomato’s appeal was their willingness to visit businesses in person to obtain their pertinent information. Gradually they ended the personal trips and started relying on Email. A few weeks ago they laid off all of their US employees. Now all inquiries go to India. Hardly the personal touch.

Tabelog is a smaller version of Zomato. It is headquartered in Japan. It has “1 -11 employees” in NYC. I tried to link up 2 of my older posts to their site with no success. I was informed it would take 1 to 3 days. It has been 8. I also linked my most recent post to Tabelog as well as Zomato.

So I am thinking that any site that wants to list Hoosier restaurants and allow diners to write reviews should have a presence in Indianapolis.

So I am in the very preliminary steps of determining if it is possible for me and my resources to develop a site like the old Urbanspoon. Like Zomato. Like Tabelog.

So I need some comments. Something simple. What would be a good name for it. That’s it. A restaurant site for reviewers and bloggers to write about Indianapolis restaurants. Sourced in Indianapolis and staffed by folks here. Any help would be appreciated.


Slippery Noodle Inn 372 S. Meridian Street

Well this luncheon was quite an adventure. The NRA Convention was in town, so we decided to meet up at 9 AM to peruse the Nine Acres of Guns and Gear, and then do lunch. We made a pretty good dent in the 9 acres and saw a bunch of great stuff. When we left the Center at noon the weather was worse than it was at 8:30. Wet, chilly and blustery. We changed our itinerary in order to shorten our walk time as much as possible. However we did cover a lot more turf than two semi-gimpy old guys would have liked. But along the way we learned that the “Gentleman’s Club” we were planning on going to, no longer serves lunch on Fridays. We also got into a little “argument” with the management of a joint we’ve been to before,and left in a “huff”. I’m not sure what huff means but I have heard it a lot in my life and I think it means a little PO’d.

All of which leads us to The Slippery Noodle Inn. Not that it was a desperation choice by any means. It’s just that the Noodle is synonymous to me with an evening of Blues and cocktails. For good reason. It has a pretty good rep for attracting Blues Artists. The building has been housing various business concerns since 1850. I am including a link with a wee bit of history about the place.

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In order to fortify himself on a forced march Pat kept talking about a tenderloin. I figured one of the breaded variety. I figured wrong. He got it grilled with choice of fries or tots for $8.99.

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I decided on a BBQ pork sandwich on rye bread. I know that probably is a wee bit atypical but it was a taste from my youth. It was damn good too. The sauce was a nice combo of sweet and smoky. The smokiness probably came from a bottle, but I thought it was quite tasty. What is it about tater tots that make most grown men think like an adolescent? In this case they were a perfect match. Hot, crisp and well seasoned. I believe the BBQ was $8.49. So as you can see the prices are much in line with other joints downtown.

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Below is the link for the history lesson of the noodle.

http://www.slipperynoodle.com/history.php
Slippery Noodle Inn on Urbanspoon


Fresco

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Well South of Chicago, take notice there is a Hoosier right here in Naptown that cooks a pretty mean hunk of beef. The Fresco Italian Sandwich Shoppe actually has 2 locations. One in the Marsh Grocery at 320 N. New Jersey and the other at 310 W. Michigan. On the canal. Since it was raining we opted for the New Jersey location. The joint has only been opened about three years. It is run by 2 brothers using their Dad’s recipes. And these recipes are golden. Their signature Italian beef is easily as tasty as South of Chicago’s. Fresco might have a slight edge in that they offer their sandwiches as a 4 inch half or an 8 inch whole.

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We started off splitting a small Caprese Salad. He uses Roma tomatoes from a local Farmers Market, uses a local Mozzarella cheese and grows his own Basil. So needless to say the salad was fresh and delicious.

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I was torn between the beef and the meatball. The owner suggested I get the beef and he would give us a sample of meatball to try. So how could I not accept such a generous offer. Again all I can say is the beef is easily as tasty as South of Chicago. On that Pat and I were in agreement. He “discovered” this place when he was shopping and had already tried a half of a beef sandwich. I might suggest you get yours dipped. The Gonnella bun soaks up all the tasty jus and still keeps its shape. A lesser roll would dissolve. As for the meat ball and accompanying red sauce it too was excellent, and on the same level as the beef.

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So I can’t think of anymore to add. Except this. If you like Good Italian Beef now you have a second place to score. In addition if Caprese or meatballs are your thing then this has to be at the top of your list.

frescoe scan 001Fresco Italian Sandwich Shoppe on Urbanspoon


Szechwan Garden ( that’s the one at 3649 Lafayette Road )

There are three or four Szechwan Gardens in Indianapolis. That is why I specified the one on Lafayette Road. I cannot imagine any actual foodies, that don’t like Chinese food. I recall watching a television program (on the food network. Naturally) talking about Chinese food restaurants in the United States. The commentator remarked that were more Chinese restaurants in the US than McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell combined. They also showed one of the proprietors who commented. “Americans love Chinese food because they don’t know how to cook it.” Pat and I were discussing this at lunch with our server, and I remarked that I understood the technique of stir fry, etc. it was the sauces that I found mysterious because I didn’t know what was in them. To which our server replied “neither do we.” So, on that note, let’s do lunch.

As you can see from the extensive menu. This joint is the real deal. The sort of place where you go to get your Chinese food freak on. Pat likes it because he can usually find something with no onion. Still, he usually plays it safe. Today he ordered pork with garlic sauce.

Pat's first course; half eaten.

Pat’s first course; half eaten.

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Szechwan Gardens 005 I was like a kid in a candy store with all this new stuff to try. In Spain there are tapas. In China they have  Dim Sum.  Assorted small plates and dumplings meant to share. With dim sum , the pace and order of your dining is determined by the cook time. The dishes are brought out as they are completed. My first small plate was Short rib with Honey Sauce.

Szechwan Gardens 003The pieces they used were small with big bone and as much cartilage as meat. You had to work at it but the slightly sweet sauce made it worthwhile. Besides, I rather enjoyed the slight “tooth” the cartilage offered. Besides, beef cartilage is supposed to be an effective pain reliever for arthritis. My next dish was Baby Cuttlefish in Curry Sauce.

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I have had squid and octopus before, but this is the first time for cuttlefish. Since all three are cephalopods, I figured it would have similar flavor, fitting somewhere in between. I found it to be more assertive than octopus. That could be because of the curry sauce. The dish had a slightly odd flavor I could not quite describe. I am not even sure if I liked or disliked the dish. I would be willing to try the fish again, perhaps in a different sauce. Next one up was Chicken Feet in Special Sauce.

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Admittedly, chicken feet are probably an acquired taste. as you can expect they don’t have a lot of meat, but to me it’s about the skin. If you like the skin on fried chicken you might like chicken feet. This particular chicken didn’t have real crispy feet but the sauce it was in was.. well.. special and good. Moving on to the deep-fried pork dumpling.

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These were exceptional. A light and airy dough filled with shredded pork. It offered a sweetness more than that of  just the pork. I think these dumplings would be right at home with any sort of barbecue sauce or hot sauce. I think they are definitely a must try. Lastly, we come to the Pan-fried Turnip cake.

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Asian turnips have the flavor similar to a daikon radish. I have been eating them regularly, as a snack or raw in salads. So I was curious to see how the heat might change the flavor. these cakes had a slight sweetness; that could be due to the addition of heat or the recipe. Once again, this should really be on your list of things to try. If you go there.

So. I don’t know about the other Szechwan Gardens in town but I’m of the opinion if you want some Chinese food Lafayette Road is where you ought to go.

Szechwan Garden on Urbanspoonhttps://kosherhamandcheese.com/?p=1737&preview=true MENU


Benny and Pat’s Excellent Adventure.

Southeast of Indianapolis is Wanamaker.It’s a community,founded in 1836, that has the charm and appeal of a small town. That is where we decided to have our Grand Adventure. First stop was Wanamaker Guns. It’s a small shop in a mini strip mall. They have a great inventory of old guns. Black powder long guns, old Springfield rifles and hand guns;and a  plethora of military related models. They also have a nice supply of accessories. As a matter of fact I got a sweet deal on an Uncle Mikes holster; 6 bucks less than current list price. The reason we stopped there first was that it was on the way to Xtraordinary006012009 Pizza. The first thing I noticed about the place was the tableau right next door. It was a little wooden shack covered with old metal signs complete with a gas pump and an old tow truck. It even had its own intersection, with street signs and a Dog ‘N’ Suds drive in sign. My pictures of the little scene don’t even come close to doing it justice. Inside it looked the way a small town Pizza shop should look. Tables and chairs and signs celebrating the local High School,no fancy or fictitious ambiance,just utilitarian function. You ordered at a counter,open to the kitchen,sat down and the cook ( one of the owners ) brought it to you when ready. The pie you get is what you would expect from such a no frill joint. A big tasty no nonsense proletarian pie loaded with toppings. We ordered a 10 inch sausage and mushroom,and the amount of each was almost embarrassing. The crust was thin and crispy, but not brittle. It had a texture more reminiscent of a thin shortbread. Crisp to the tooth,yet sturdy enough to handle the load. It is definitely a pie I would like again. Our 10 inch gave us 8 big slices,so big we couldn’t eat it all. And how much was it? You ask. About 15 bucks,with 2 sodas. After lunch we headed down the street to Brewskies,for ,well some brews. Again the feeling of small town friendly. It may sound trite, but we felt right at home as soon as we walked in. A lot of the reason for that was everyone in the joint ,help included, was closer to our age than most places in the city. AND, for 4 draft beers ( one Killian and three Silver Bullets ) the bill was $9. I can’t remember the last time I ran into so many truly nice people; people who didn’t owe me money. So a tip of the proverbial hat to Wanamaker Indiana. We’ll be back.Xtrodinary Pizza on Urbanspoon


B’s Po Boy 1261 South Shelby

To anyone who has been to New Orleans, you know that the ubiquitous Po’ Boy is the quintessential handheld treat from the city noted for its food. In Indianapolis, you will find an authentic example at B’s Po Boy in Fountain Square. It is located on Shelby Street across the street from the Fountain Square Brewery; which is quite convenient. They buy their bread direct from Leidenheimer, a New Orleans bakery, and it is the real deal.A little crisp on the outside and a little chewy on the inside, a nearly perfect bite. Some of their filling options are not typical of what you would find in Louisiana. They offer barbecue pulled pork, chipped roast beef (which they cook off themselves), sliced ham (which they don’t cook themselves) and homemade chicken salad with a dressing of mayo and Creole mustard. They also offer the usual suspects; andouille sausage, fried shrimp, barbecue shrimp and fried oysters.

I ordered a half andouille sausage and a half oyster. Pat ordered a half ham and we both shared an order of sweet potato fries.The andouille sausage was really quite good, good spice background without being overwhelming. What I couldn’t figure out was the fact they get it from Ireland. I never met a Cajun leprechaun before, but hey, this is an international economy. But as good as the sausage was my hands-down favorite were the oysters. They buy fresh select , lightly bread them and perfectly fry them. On the other hand, Patrick’s ham was merely okay. It was just a good deli style ham.The sweet potato fries, although a “store-bought” product, they were top-notch shoestring cut taters.They dress their sandwiches with shredded lettuce, tomato, pickle and mayonnaise. But obviously you can eliminate anything you want. They also offer red beans and rice and chicken, sausage gumbo; as both a side $3.50 or as an entrée for nine dollars and $10. Their sandwiches are priced at six dollars for a half and nine dollars for a whole. It seems more than reasonable, because they don’t seem to skimp on the portions. And if salad is your thing , they also offer three entrée salads. I’ve no idea how big they are but they seem to come loaded with stuff.They also offer scratch made beignets. If you are not hip to beignets just think Hoosier fried biscuits, only lighter.

As for refreshments. They offer both bottled and draft beers. And since they are right across the street from the Fountain Square brewery what would be better to wash down andouille sausage and fried oysters, then a cold pint of Hop For Teacher;I think the name says it all.I know this would hardly qualify as a heart healthy lunch; but if I have but one life to live let me live a sated one.<a
Click to add a blog post for B's Po Boy on Zomato


Locally Grown Gardens

On 54th St., just west of the Monon trail sits a rather common looking building that was a gas station in a previous life. Since the place was called Locally Grown Gardens, I naturally assumed it was nothing more than a “farmer’s market,”. And frankly, I haven’t had a lot of success with farmers markets in Indianapolis. Obviously, I’ve been looking at the wrong ones. A young fellow named Christopher N.at Putitinyourface.net told me the full story or least  his review did.It seems that Locally Grown Gardens isn’t just a produce stand, and a good one at that, but also offers a large array of baked goods and lunch and dinner.

Their menu is limited, three entrées and two sides and a whole bunch of pies. They smoke their own pork out back and offer it as an open-faced sandwich for 9 1/2 Bucks. They also offer two salmon dishes at $12.85 each. One with citrus vinaigrette and mixed greens and the other with, I believe with a Rosemary mustard vinaigrette and ginger slaw.Pat ordered the pork, when it came out our jaws dropped. It wasn’t just a big mound of shredded pork sitting on a piece of Texas toast. It was two colossal hunks of smoked pig on a thick slice of the chefs homemade bread and a puddle of rich, reddish-brown sauce on the side.The pork was perfectly smoked and properly moist. The sauce was bold and I could see how too much could overpower the pork. However, it was perfect used as a dip for the meat.My salmon was equally impressive. All their food is served on large white rectangular plates, which enhances the visual spectacle. The portion was at least 8 ounces and was cooked just to the point of inner opaqueness and no more. The perfect mid rare. The mixed greens were thoughtfully selected and presented, with large enough leaves so that you could see what they were,not like these all too common salads that look as if they’ve been run through a blender.The vinaigrette was sweet and acidic enough  to be a proper unifier of the greens and the fish. It was also the perfect foil for the richness of the salmon.

But wait, as a great as the lunch was the best is yet to come ,the desert. A big slice of wait for it… Wait for it. Sugar cream pie. That’s right the state pie of Indiana. To say it was delicious is like saying Padma Lakshimi is cute.The crust was tender and flaky and the filling was more reminiscent of a crème Brulé than a pie.Seriously words can only go so far you really must try this pie. At $3.50 per slice and $10.50 for a whole pie, you can’t go wrong.

You should be forewarned that seating is limited. There is a large table with benches in the library room, a picnic table and a small  café table out under the trees., But that shouldn’t deter you the great food and the other neat stuff they have makes it worth the trip.

Locally Grown Gardens on Urbanspoon


When is Georgia Street not Georgia Street? When it is Super Bowl village!

I braved the crowd downtown twice this week. Once by myself and a second time with Pat.I had a marvelous time on each occasion. The crowds were huge but everyone was so happy and in such a great mood I could have camped out there all week. The atmosphere was something I’d not experienced in years and something I will surely remember for years. I just want to post a few of my pictures.


the peppy Grill

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.Peppy Grill on Urbanspoon