eating indie in indy

Posts tagged “Salad

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/


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


A Byrd in the Hand…Jonathan’s Byrd Cafeteria

When Pat and I first started going out to lunch and writing about it. We only had one rule, only independent restaurants, diners or bars would be considered. For the most part we have managed to stick by that. With all kinds results. Both bad and good. We decided on lunch because he didn’t want to fall into that “old man-trap of early bird specials and 3 PM dinners. Besides Pat needed to get home and get dinner ready for his wife when she got home from work. However our list of places to go is getting smaller with every passing week. So we decided to try Jonathan Byrd’s cafeteria in Greenwood. So bring on the blue haired ladies. The joint is well-known for its homemade food. And it is a large and attractive space.

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At the very beginning I made a rookie mistake when visiting a cafeteria or buffet; I did not check out all the options first. In the cafeteria they will put the deserts at the front of the line with the salads; in order to entice you to eat and spend more. With buffets it’s nearly a war of attrition. They try to spread things out so you will spend as much time walking as you can. So what I’m getting at is I got too much food. Again. Pat, almost always the sensible one ate rationally. He had a nice piece of breaded fish with a side of steamed broccoli, a side of carrots and a nice whole-wheat dinner roll. Although the fish had been fried. He blotted any excess grease off prior to eating. They did have a baked option for fish, but the portion was much larger. Pat’s lunch was tasty, filling and nutritionally fulfilling. Very much keeping in line with the man of his maturity.

005Now me, on the other hand, picked a lunch fit for two. Pasta salad, Boston cream pie (why it is called a pie. I don’t know why. It is obviously cake). Having picked the beginning and the end of my lunch . I needed something for the middle. So, I opted for a side of corn bread dressing with a touch of gravy, Turkey pot pie and a biscuit with butter.

004The pasta salad was tasty. One of the better versions I’ve had. Multi colored tortellinis with grape tomatoes, and thin slices of red radish. All in a dressing reminiscent of Buttermilk Ranch. The cornbread dressing was very “genteel”. Fine textured and mildly flavored. But considering the rest of my food it fit in well. The biscuit was nice and fluffy but considering I already had pot pie it was redundant. The pie was rather unique. Don’t get me wrong it was very good. Just in my estimation different from the usual Boston cream pie. The cake was fluffier than I am accustomed to and the chocolate glaze was more milk chocolate, then dark chocolate. As for the cream filling. It was sweet vanilla cream. What’s not to like. However, the winner, winner, turkey dinner was the pot pie. it had a top crust only which was more than sufficient. The crust was handmade and flaky, barely containing a large , thick portion of filling. Big chunks of turkey with carrots and peas in a rich gravy. I cannot imagine this dish being done better. The peas even had a slight bite to them. Meaning they were not cooked into mush. If you have an opportunity to try this. I strongly recommend it.

As soon as we sat down we unloaded our trays. We didn’t want people thinking we are institutionalized.The prices were quite reasonable. I believe the whole tab came to less than $19 and we got a lot of food.

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 Jonathan Byrd's Cafeteria on Urbanspoon


Jockamo Fee Na’ Ne’….

PIZZA….. I just love pizza. This week Pat and I decided we needed to try Jockamo‘s Pizza. They have at least two locations. One on Washington Street in Irvington and one in Greenwood. We decided on the one in Greenwood because that fit in to our beer drinking plans for later. This location is huge. Nicely appointed and decorated and they even have a cute little beer and wine bar nestled in the back corner. As soon as you walk in, you’re greeted by a hostess and what apparently is their monkey mascot.

202-001When you first see the little fella you can help but grin. After all, who doesn’t like monkeys. But after editing the picture , the sucker could be a mite scary. But monkeys are all cute even the scary ones. They have a full menu. Big salads, little salads, sandwiches and daily lunch specials. Which are five dollars for a slice of pizza of the day, a small salad and a soft drink. That seems like a bargain. But Pat and I wanted PIZZA. They offer a 10 inch pie for $6.85. They also have an extensive list of toppings. From the traditional to the not so traditional. Such as chorizo sausage from Smokin’ Goose Meatery to Cajun sausage from a joint in New Orleans. In addition to the common cheese offerings they also have less common. Feta,smoked Gouda and Gorgonzola. Now I like all forms of blue cheese, but I don’t dig melted bleu cheese; it has a metallic aftertaste to me. The verdict was unanimous. They offer a fine ass pizza pie. The crust is thin and slightly crispy and the sauce is slightly chunky, which gives it more mouth appeal. The toppings are nicely portioned and the pricing is more than fair. Two 10 inch pies with two toppings each totaled less than $18. Now what do you need a chain for when you can get a pizza like this at a mom and pops? And as you can see their pies are quite photogenic.

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203Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza on Urbanspoon


Madison Grill

On south side of the city at the corner of Troy Avenue and Madison Avenue is the Madison Grill. It used to be Sunshine Café; and before that I believe it was a Waffle House.So the building has seen a lot of cooking and eating over the years. This current incarnation of a former sunshine Café offers a nice array of home cooking. Nothing fancy. Nothing cutting-edge or chic. Just a nice meal. Pat wanted to try their special. Chicken and noodles. It was served with two sides and a mini loaf of fresh-baked bread and butter.the bread was brought out first so that we could start whetting our appetites.

004There’s just something about warm bread. Even a proof and bake loaf. I did manage to get one slice and it was pretty good. Warm and comforting slathered with real butter. When Pat’s chicken and noodles arrived his first taste was underwhelming. Good but not wow. But all the dish needed was a little more fat. Pat added a bit of butter turning the good into great. You see, fat rules. As for the sides the corn was predictable. His other side was a medley of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots seasoned and cooked on a griddle. By cooking the veggies on the flat top, it added some great brown and crispy bits. There is nothing like crispy bits to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.

005I wanted to try the special as well. However, I was feeling some diet guilt. So I ordered a Cobb salad. Normally I view salads as varying degrees of boring. Not this one. It was huge with lots of stuff on it. First off, it was prepared the way a Cobb Salad should be prepared. All of the toppings were diced and arrayed in columns. Crisp bacon, blue cheese crumbles, ham, tomato and chopped egg. The quantity was almost embarrassingly large. Almost. I finished it all and was able to sit back full and with a sated and smug grin on my face. After all I only ate a salad.

008As a matter of fact I was so full I couldn’t even order dessert. And I really wanted to try some bread pudding. Oh well, there will be other times. And if I only eat a salad. I’m sure my diet could handle dessert.

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010Madison Grill on Urbanspoon


Sushi Bar Broad Ripple ( Revisit )

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Pat,Fran and I haven’t gone back yet. However my first-born son,Adam went there with me for his birthday. The food was just as good as the first time. Adam is not too adventurous. He pretty much sticks with Terriyaki and California rolls. For $15.95 he got a platter of chicken strips on a bed of slivered onion, dressed with a copious amount of Terriyaki sauce. The chicken was accompanied by a cup of rice, and both soup and salad. He also ordered a Cali roll for about 4 bucks. I stuck with the more “traditional” Sushi Bar Special # 3. That is a Cali roll,a Tuna roll and 10 pieces Nigiri ( chef’s choice ) plus soup and salad, for $25.95. The soup was as tasty as before and the salad was a bowl of plain iceberg lettuce with a house dressing that tasted a lot like a thin 1000 Island dressing,without the relish. Tossed in with the lettuce was a super thin slice of carrot and 2 equally thin slices of cucumber. I will say this. The cukes tasted like cukes. An oddity here in the winter. Regardless how tasty the soup and adequate the salad next time I am going ala carte. I had trouble cleaning my plate.

Adam really liked his chicken  and rice and roll. He too had a tough time finishing everything. As for my dinner it left me fat and sassy and smiling. The rolls were good; as to be expected and the nigiri was nice as well. The rice portion was smaller than I am accustomed to and didn’t have the same sweetly sour taste that some have. I received  5 types of fish. The salmon and tuna I recognized the rest were white and I can only guess as to their identity. One had a dab of fish roe on it, a cool touch. That is the fun about eating at a sushi bar. The rolls with the differing flavors and textures. The sashimi or nigiri with the clean taste of the fish. Altered only by the salty heat of the wasabi and soy. And the whole thing balanced by the hot astrigency of the hot sake. And when you throw in some sticky rice you can’t help but have a party in your belly.

Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon


The Illinois Street Food Emporium Bakery & Deli

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What a big name for a rather small place. Pat and I have been meaning to try this place for a while, don’t know why we haven’t until now. They have a pretty good format. They offer a wide variety of deli and sub sandwiches; grilled or cold. Pair that up with house made soups and chili and a plethora of different salads you have a joint with lunch written all over it. If you take that marriage and add a case displaying the most decadent looking cakes and pastries this side of Bavaria you have a brand. They even have a merchandise freezer offering a selection of their products you can take home. Well now that my cheer leader routine is over let’s talk about their food.

They have a category called grilled sandwiches that are all $9.40 and come with choice of soup,salad,chili or mac & cheese. I got a Havarti Delight. Havarti cheese,avocado,sprouts and tomato on wheat bread. It was a nicely prepared and tasty sandwich. Creamy cheese, double buttery from the avocado and the buttered toast with just the right touch of acidity from the  ‘mater. Had I to do it over again I would have added bacon. Bacon is always a nice addition. I did have a bowl of chili. I had to have some meat or else my stomach would have thought I was angry with it. The chili was pretty good better than most; not as good as some. Pat had his usual default lunch; grilled cheese. It had an interesting choice of cheeses. Provolone,jack and Colby on what appeared to be sourdough bread. It was satisfactory. However Pat got a little miffed when he learned ,after the fact, he should have been offered bread choice and an option to add 2 veggies from a list of 4 . I guess he should have read the menu board. He opted for salad with oil and vinegar. Has the manufacture of oil and vinegar cruets been suspended? Once again the oil and vinegar was served in portion cups. OK end of rant. After lunch Pat had a chocolate glazed donut. I had a bite and it was really good. Trouble is it cost $1.67. As Patrick so sagely pointed out it was no better than Longs and for that price he could have gotten 3 donuts. I think you better leave your sweet tooth at home when you stop here for lunch.Illinois Street Food Emporium on Urbanspoon


The Panorama Grill 901 N. Pennsylvania Street-Indy

Has anyone out there ever been to the Urban Element ? Has anyone ever heard of the Urban Element ? Well no matter. That joint closed and in its place is Panorama Grill;specializing in Mid-East cooking with some American stand by s as well. The place is nicely decorated in urban chic;probably left over from the previous tenant. Our first server was not real knowledgable about the menu and was so timid and soft-spoken; I think she is going to have to “bulk up” if she plans on staying in the business. A more experienced server answered our questions and took our order;I don’t know if that was their system or if the youngster had her table jacked.No matter. Pat took the safe way out and had a burger,a plain hamburger. It was a little more charred than he would have preferred but is was satisfactory. I fell back to my old stand by,the falafel. Like the burger it was satisfactory; maybe a little above satisfactory. The falafel had a hint of cinnamon and a nice crunch. The pita was soft and the tahini sauce was abundant. The whole thing was so abundant I couldn’t eat it all. They also provide fries in abundance. A big pile of your standard 3/16 inch cut skin on french fries dusted with paprika. Again, nothing to get too excited about. All in all a nice lunch in a nice place at a nice price. Less than sixteen bucks for the two of us. And it’s close to downtown. On Penn just a half block north of the central library. So I think it is worth a shot. OH my.I forgot to mention the pickles. They are small non garlicy spears that have the appearance and texture of home-made refrigerator pickles. A perfect choice for any cuisine; especially food with bold taste.Panorama Grill on Urbanspoon


Will Some One Stop the Insanity.

There’s a new restaurant on Pennsylvania just north of the central library. There is an apartment building with a ground floor space that appears to have a revolving door for restaurants.First, it was going to be a Yats, that never happened. It became The Bar instead. However, The Bar had some identity issues so it didn’t last long. After that it became a Mexican style restaurant, I forget the name. I ate there once and they had pretty good mole sauce. I wanted to try the homemade Tamales but they closed before I had the opportunity. Now it has reopened as The Diplomat. So, with that in mind I shall try to be as diplomatic as possible.The first question I have is, WHY?The place is really quite attractive and the two ladies we interacted with were both quite charming and enthusiastic. However, I think they have some problems they are not aware of. Their menu is on the small side, which is good, it is both interesting and familiar. Which I think is a good thing. All their sandwiches are in the eight dollar range, and come with your choice of fries or salad. The menu says that the house salad is spring mix. Spring mix is a specific blend of spinach and various lettuce varieties. None of which are iceberg.When I got my salad it appeared as if they had chopped up some iceberg and mixed it with a bag of spring mix. I was a wee bit disappointed but I did not say anything. I figured someone not nearly as nice as I would inform them. But before we even got that far. We had a little dance regarding dressing. I asked what low-fat dressings they had. Our charming server said she didn’t think they had any. So I said, don’t worry I’ll just take oil and vinegar. She wanted to check to make sure she was right. When she came back she told me that though they had no low-fat options they could “fix me up” with oil and vinegar.I expected a cruet of oil and one of vinegar. When my salad arrived, I had two cute monkey dishes one with olive oil and the other with malt vinegar. Evidently, they  possess neither cruets or red wine or balsamic vinegar.

Now,as for the rest of lunch. Pat ate a hamburger with pepper jack cheese and fries. The burger was a hand-made one-third pounder, frankly, a little small for eight bucks. Even “downtown”. The fries I believe were held under a heat lamp. Sometimes that makes them a tad bit limp.And since they were not that busy I thought were that the case it was not necessary.I tried the turkey burger. It was pretty good.Again a 1/3 pound hand formed Patty on what appeared to be a toasted multigrain bun. With fresh spinach leaves and melted goat cheese. That was the hook for me, the goat cheese. It also came with a cranberry aïoli. THIS INSANITY MUST END! I think I know what they tried to do.they wanted to marry the turkey and cranberry tradition with hip spinach and upscale goat cheese. But I really think they would’ve been better off making a cranberry relish or chutney, if you will. I really, thoroughly believe that doctoring up Kraft mayo and calling it something or other aïoli is way past being over.The general consensus for us is the Living Lounge has a much better lunch. Of course, this new place might be worth a try at dinner. Oh, one more thing they spent quite a bit of money on glossy cards and a fancy website that doesn’t include a menu but they don’t own cruets. So in closing, I wish them all the luck in the world.The Diplomat at the Ambassador on Urbanspoon


Thyme to Eat Cafe

There’s a new café in town,Thyme to Eat it’s located at the corner of S. Meridian St. and Hanna Avenue.the building used to house a dark bar in its previous life,now it’s a bright and airy café with light green interior and a pastel painted brick exterior. It might be a little on the girlie side but men are allowed and you don’t have to take off your shoes to enter.But trappings aside, it’s a serious eatery.

It’s “main bag” is to offer healthier options for lunch,and breakfast.their produce is organic and their bacon is uncured.That means you get all the yummy smokiness of pork belly with out all the residual effects of those pesky nitrites and nitrates.That’s what caught Pat’s eye;their uncured BLT;with avocado.They offer different side options;among them Sweet Potato chips;that I believe they make themselves.Since my culinary roots are from the southwest Pat suggested I get the Southwest Chicken salad.So I suggested he get a side of Sweet Tater chips;but Patrick being deaf as a post couldn’t hear so he opted for a side of sliced tomatoes.Yep,sliced tomatoes with a bacon,lettuce,and TOMATO sandwich;but I digress.The sandwich itself looked great,leaf lettuce,Roma tomatoes and a generous portion of both bacon and avocado.More importantly Pat really enjoyed it.

Before I talk about my salad. I have to say I am very finicky about salads, that’s why I don’t eat them out too often. For most places their salad mix consists of Romain, iceberg lettuce, chopped too big or too small and mixed with red cabbage and carrots for color. Now, you can do that yourself or buy it already done in Cryovac bags.There is another option called spring mix; which is an assortment of various salad greens; none of which are romaine or iceberg. That’s my favorite, and it is also what Thyme to Eat Cafe uses.One last thing about restaurant salads, especially the large “dinner” salads. Since most customers nearly always request dressing on the side that is what most establishments do. However, I believe a large salad should be tossed with the dressing be it vinaigrette or creamy. And this is what this place does. It says we have a specific salad with a specific set of ingredients and a specific dressing; so trust us. We did put some thought into this, so don’t get the dressing on the side.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest on to the review of the Southwest chicken salad. As I mentioned, it was spring mix tossed with a tasty creamy avocado dressing. Mixed in was an assortment of corn,black beans, avocado chunks,sweet and roasted peppers and Monterey jack cheese. Sitting on top was some of the tastiest chicken breast I have had out in quite some time. It appeared to be cooked on a flat griddle, just a little brown on the outside, moist and tender on the inside. It was a top-notch salad.Since Pat and I only go to these restaurants once, and since I live on the north side and no longer drive; the odds of me revisiting, as much as I would like to, are remote. However I did e-mail my sister-in-law who lives in that neck of the woods about this place. Maybe she’ll invite me to go there with her. In which case she could pick me up at the nearest bus stop, which I’m told is about a mile away. But to all you folks who live on the south side you really should try this place. A good independent eatery is as rare and priceless as an honest politician.

Thyme to Eat Cafe on Urbanspoon