Oh Goodie! Just what Indy needs one more hip coffee-house with pressed sandwiches. Now don’t get me wrong I have nothing against coffee houses it’s just that they all try so hard to be hip. In much the same way coffee joints in the 60’s tried to be psychedelic and in the 50’s more bongo and beatnik. And Panini can be a delightful lunch. You just have to be a tad circumspect about the fillings otherwise you might have a “mushy” sandwich. This particular joint is in an excellent location at the corner of 16th St. and Alabama St. An area that seems to have changed over night from semi hood to more metropolitan. For want of a better word. As far as decor I would call it industrial chic or proletarian casual. They left the concrete floor untouched. Chipping paint and all. They also enjoyed the use of gray corrugated metal siding and wood. Whoever owns this place put some bucks into it. It was just not my cup of chai. But they obviously are targeting a young crowd, not old farts like me and Pat.
As far as food options go they offer some breakfast options, including pastries from Circle City Sweets, a local bakery that has a pretty good reputation. They also offer soup from Circle City Soups. As I understand it Sweets and Soups are owned by a husband and wife. And no I have no excuse as to why we have not tried these places before. For lunch they offer 5 pressed sandwiches each with a historic Hoosier name. As far as meat options they have smoked turkey, Mortadella and City Ham. They proudly announce that the ham is from Smoking Goose . A well know local meatery. So from that I guess we can assume the turkey and Mortadella are from the same source. Pat tried a Tarkington. A turkey and provolone sandwich 86 mustard.
I tried the Harrison. I am a sucker for avocado. One thing Pat and I both noticed, at the first bite was that they stuck romaine in the sandwich and then toasted it. Now I really like wilted lettuce but toasted romaine? Not a big fan. To me it had an odd taste that detracted from the flavor of the ham. They have spinach on the menu I think spinach would be a better choice than romaine. To me the biggest deal was the lack of texture. The only crunch was the bread, which had a nice toast to it. Between the melted Swiss and avocado the overall effect was rather bland and mushy. It needed some prominent texture and some distinctive flavor. But I am not going to go through the entire menu and suggest alternatives. This is not my joint and they did what they did for a reason. Best of luck to them.
I almost forgot my soup. Gazpacho. It was the best part of lunch. Ironic that they don’t make it here.
Pat and I normally plan our excursions well in advance. This time our decision to go to Irvington was totally spontaneous. The reason I’m putting this in is we have a friend,Jim, who lives in Irvington and works out of his home. Whenever we have lunch in that vicinity we call him and he joins us, This time, since this decision was spur of the moment and I didn’t have my phone with me, and since Pat didn’t have his number-we could not call. So now on to the food.
They have a trendy chic menu of sandwiches,salads and home-made soups. Featuring ham, turkey, different cheeses and sprouts. They also have roast beef which I avoided, thinking it was pre- sliced deli meat. I found out later it might be roasted in-house. Now that is a cow of a different color. Their SOD was creamy chicken and mushroom. We each had a cup and it was wonderful. Thick with chicken and mushrooms in a delicious real heavy cream sauce. The best I have had in quite a while.
Pat had a combo with the aforementioned soup and half a grilled cheese. The sandwich was pretty standard. Thick toast, cheese and tomato. Pretty basic. I on the other hand ordered the most pedestrian sandwich on the menu; a sloppy Joe. What can I say, I’m a Hoosier. I can’t pass up sloppy Joe or meat loaf. The sandwich was good, but it is what it is. Ground beef browned up with peppers and onions with a sweet tomato sauce. You see a sloppy Joe sandwich is like beer. They are all good;just some are better than others.
They don’t serve chips with their sandwiches they serve something they call veggie straws. These are square little tubes in pale green,light red and beige. They don’t have a distinctive flavor. My guess is they are an extruded potato product with vegetable color. Whatever they are they are different and definitely cute. Make paste of cheese or a compound butter and you could make a funky edible log cabin. Oh,one more thing they offer pastries and locally made chocolates. They have a display case up front. I not sure why I didn’t take any pictures. At least of the chocolates. They are turtles and hearts approximately 1-1/2 – 2 inches in diameter. They are made off premise and brought in and painted. That’s right painted in pastel colors. They look like little enameled jewels. Next time I go I am both taking pictures and biting the heads off a few turtles.
I’m sure most foodies in Indy have heard of South of Chicago in Fountain Square. That’s the place that serves Chicago style pizza and Italian beef sandwiches;sandwiches so authentic you can smell the lake with every bite. Well I don’t know about the lake part but ,yes Ma, the beef IS as good as everyone says it is. Pat has been there numerous times,but I had to wait until I had bone fide functional teeth before I could give it a try. Naturally we both had beef sandwiches with cheese. I took mine with hot peppers Pat without. The sandwich is huge. It probably weighs close to 2 pounds. It is most definitely not a hand-held sandwich. At least not until you eat some of the meat out first. The au jus is also the real thing,juice from the roasting meat;not just some beef base and water. That leads us to the proper way to order. You can get it wet; that’s when the bun is lightly wetted with the jus or dipped; the whole thing is submerged in the au jus. I think there is a third option;but I can’t remember what it is. Nor can I recall what else they serve beside the beef or a beef and sausage combo. Oh and pizza. What sort of Chicago style joint would it be without pizza. The pizza might be great but on this day cow was king. A big Gonnella hoagie roll stuffed with tender,slow roasted beef just dripping with beefy goodness. And how much does such a tasty treat cost;you ask. Why 8 bucks. That’s right eight dollars. And it comes with a pack of chips,and it is big enough for two cheap people to share. It is times like this that makes you proud to be an America.
Well like I said last week we went back to the public house for eats. We were not at all disappointed.We started off with a lamb chop appetizer. They brought out four delightful little chops nestled on a mound of delicious Asian inspired slaw. The slaw was quite good, nicely cut and tossed in a delicious slightly sweet vinegar dressing. They also served a nice sweet chili dipping sauce. But for us it wasn’t necessary. The chops were so moist and tender they nearly jumped off the bone into your mouth. But the dipping sauce didn’t go to waste, just think of it as a sweet chili shooter.
For our main course Patrick got their four cheese pizza, smoked Gouda being the selling point. I was torn between the brisket sandwich and the bison. I decided I had to try the bison, not because I haven’t had bison before but because they said it was dredged in Porter beer. And that made me curious.Even though I was pretty sure the Porter wouldn’t impart a whole bunch of flavor I had to try it, because bison is what Americans should eat. That was a slogan for a bison burger vendor some years back. Pat loved the pizza; thin crust, just the right amount of sauce and plenty of cheese. That is his kind of pie. My bison was a great sandwich. I neglected to ask the server for mid-rare so it came to me more medium. But it was still moist and delicious. The selection of accompaniments helped make it great. Fresh tomato and lettuce, smoky bacon,white cheese and a touch of Dijon mustard all on toasted dark rye bread. That is the thing about sandwiches quality ingredients and proper combinations makes the difference good and great.For all of their sandwiches you get a choice of side. And the list is pretty extensive. I chose oven fried fingerling potatoes.They were on par with the rest of the food. Crisp on the outside and soft on the inside; the way I personally like them. So all in all I think this joint is a keeper. You get far North food for less than downtown prices. If you ask me that is something to think about.
As you probably noticed something is odd about our food pictures. For the appetizer picture we took it prior to digging in. The two others we forgot until we were about halfway through. We will try to do better next time.