eating indie in indy

Posts tagged “United States

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


Bearcats Restaurant

 The old Stutz Bearcat auto plant at 12th St. and Senate Avenue has been converted into the Stutz business center. On the ground floor of that huge building sits the Bearcats restaurant. Pat and I tried to go there last year, but apparently it was a nighttime joint. That must not have worked out for them because now it’s open for breakfast and lunch. They have a website but the menu shown is different from the one you see when you sit down. So I scanned the in-house menu. Hopefully that will eliminate any confusion.

It is a nice looking place full of industrial chic from the big overhead ductwork to the yellow caution tape on the floor. The menu was more than adequate for lunch service. Nothing unique just your typical lunch fare. But the one thing this joint was lacking was a big dose of happy server face. There were two servers working so they might have been shorthanded, which always leads to extra stress. However, it don’t take much energy to smile. At least try not to project the vibe: “why don’t you go away?”. Well enough about atmosphere on to the food.005

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We had wanted to share some mushrooms since they were fresh and hand breaded but they were out.I did notice that they cooked off their own corned beef. That’s not the same as making your own, but it is better than buying it already cooked in Cryovac. So I ordered a Reuben. It was very good. Nicely done with an abundant amount of freshly prepared french fries. I just wish those darn servers had smiled more.

008So you can expect a good lunch here. Fresh and quickly prepared. And hopefully a more cheerful atmosphere. And no I don’t expect a server or bartender to entertain me. I do expect them to fulfill my food and beverage requests. And since I am old school I don’t think pretending to enjoy taking my money is out of line.Bearcats Restaurant at the Stutz Business Center on Urbanspoonhttps://kosherhamandcheese.com/?p=1799&preview=true


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


These Guys sure Can Cook…

There is a new “best” restaurant in Indy. The Cerulean, at the Alexander Hotel on South Delaware Street. It has nothing to do with the Hotel per se, it is independently owned and operated. Frankly I was ambivalent about the joint. The menus are heavy in chef speak. Quite often that speech does not translate into good cooking. The lunch menu offers a choice of entrees which you pair with three side dishes. The whole meal is served in a series of square ceramic boxes in a larger bento box.

Pat ordered beef teres major ( think shoulder filet ); bib lettuce; strawberry gazpacho and soybeans. Here are his thoughts on the meal.

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I wanted stripped bass. Since bass is an assertive taste and it had the added richness of the gribiche I felt I needed some acidity. I could have over did it with my choices of bib lettuce with blood orange vinaigrette; asparagus and grapes with lemon and rice noodle with vinegar. But every thing fit like the proverbial glove. The fish was crisped in a fry pan, placed on a bed of fresh spinach and topped with the aforementioned gribiche. Every bite was as flawless as the first. As a matter of fact every dish was on point. When ever I eat I automatically try to figure out how the dish was prepared, how I could replicate it and finally how I would change it. With this meal I would not change a thing. I am fighting the urge to write about each and every dish. With this meal I could easily rip off 500 words. I will comment about the economic model for this enterprise. They use all local vendors for their food; and that can be pricey. However as far as the lunch prices go I think the pricing is more than fair. I do have a small confession to make. Deep down inside since there was so much chef speak on the menus I was half way hoping they wouldn’t stand up to their words and I could stick a fork in a sacred cow; so to speak. I know shameful of me. In this case I’m glad to be disappointed.

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cerulean 001I had to come back and add something I forgot to mention. The staff. The entire crew was pleasant, healthful and knowledgeable. If I had to choose one phrase to describe my impression of the staff it would be esprit de corps. Everyone seemed excited about working there. That is something an owner operator strives for. That also should tell the diner that the owner does indeed have a clue.Cerulean Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Time for the Tick Tock Tavern to ReOpen

On the near east side of Indy ; on 10th street ; there once was a nice little neighborhood. It was anchored by Arsenal Technical High School and three wide thoroughfares of huge turn of the century homes. Several of which even had carriage houses. But that area ; like a lot of places in this country ; deteriorated. One of the businesses that fell on “hard times” was the Tick Tock Tavern. Fell ? Hell it jumped. Back in the early 90’s one of its bartenders shot a customer. That ain’t good customer relations. No matter now, it closed and two sharp and savvy business women have re built it and are starting a new chapter on 10th Street. The born again Tick Tock is bright and airy and offers no pretense. Some new joints try to play a hip and/or sophisticated card. Not this place. You get what you see. They offer about 6 or 7 craft beers. Mostly local and they only charge $5. Their food menu isn’t that large. Which should be common for the first one. Their fare is common bar food; with a slight creative twist. They cook their burgers on a flat top ; like the Living Room Lounge. Imagine that. Tammy, a co-owner, and our bartender/server used to own the Living Room. Well as soon as Pat learned how they cook ’em he ordered one so fast I thought he was gonna’ bite his tongue. 007 tick tock 2 001-001 006 They had 4 lunch specials that day. One included pig. Pulled pork with bbq sauce. They had me at the 1st B. The portion was legit and the flavor had a slight smokiness that I enjoy. Even if it might have come from a bottle. The meat was both shredded and in bigger chunks. The chunks had some great crusty brown pieces and parts. The special came with cole slaw and choice of side. You can see that on the menu that is accompanying this post. We have made some changes in the bistro. Tammy told us she was planning on changing the menu , and adding more apps. Pat and I have already discussed a revisit. We will have to find some peeps to go with us ; so we can try more stuff. This is an exciting little joint. GOOD LUCK LADIES. 005 Oh I almost forgot. Their “hook” is flavored vodkas. At first thought that may not seem too exciting but they infuse their own. Pat and I sampled some bacon vodka ; the center piece for their signature Blood Marys. All we can say is: Damn. 011 004 <img style="border:none;padding:0;width:130px;height:36px;"Tick Tock Lounge on Urbanspoon https://kosherhamandcheese.com/tick-tock-tavern-menu/


Rule Britannia


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Union Jack Pub on Urbanspoon
Meet Matt, bartender/ server at Union Jacks in Broad Ripple. Also may I introduce the bar at Union Jacks; a well-known and established tavern on Broad Ripple Avenue. It is styled after a British pub. Complete with dark wood and big pints and mugs of beer. One of the great things about this place is the “open-air” seating in the bar dining room. Along the outside wall they have seating at a bar  with a mini garage door and windows. On nice days the door can be opened and it is like sitting outside on the sidewalk. Only better. You don’t need to worry about rain or pesky birds. It also gives you a chance to chat with passers-by. Who will either smile and talk back or hurry off; scared by two old louts in a bar. Most people were sociable and we did have a fun time.

Pat's back

Pat’s back

A new friend

A new friend

What is interesting about this joint is although it is an English pub when it comes to food they are really noted for their Italian beef sandwiches and deep dish pizza. Patrick lived in Chicago several years after college so he has a “thing” for Italian beef. And as I think you can see it brought the artiste’ out in him.

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I was craving pizza, especially when I discovered they had a 7 inch personal, deep dish with two toppings for $7.50. Admittedly, I’m a pizza junkie and I’ve tried deep dish in a lot of different places in this country.  I must say they have one of the best I’ve tried. A nice rich sauce thick chunks of sausage and tender yet flaky crust. For some reason some people think deep dish means thick crust. They end up with something closer to a hollowed out bread bowl with stuff in it than a pie.

While we were eating our Italian food. We were drinking a Scottish ale Floyd’s Cutter. That is, the Floyd Cutter that Pat referenced in his review. This was the first time I have tried it. It was excellent.

While we were finishing lunch a young couple came in. Since we were, for the most part, hogging the best seats in the house we moved down to give them room to join us. It seems the gentleman was from England and his wife was American. And he had just been naturalized as an American citizen. So naturally we had to have a pint to celebrate such a momentous occasion. As I said we had a great time.

Rut. new citizen

Rut. new citizen

Lisa Rut's wife

Lisa Rut’s wife

Sitting in an English style pub. Eating Italian food and drinking Scottish ale. In Indianapolis Indiana. What do you say to that Knicks?
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A Visit to the Grove.

Last week Pat and I decided to try out a new shooting range at Beech Grove Firearms. The range is first-rate. In my opinion the best around. After wards we decided to hit The Grove Sports Bar and Eatery for food and beer. For non-locals Beech Grove is a small non incorporated area southeast of Indy. In that regard it is similar to Wanamaker. However that is where the similarities end. It isn’t that everyone we ran into was unfriendly,the folks at the gun store were quite cordial. Maybe they just felt compelled to be nice to guys that were armed. In either event the bartender was a trifle cool,and the 3 or 4 regulars hanging out were far from cordial. Maybe we have just been spoiled by other joints we’ve been to. Oh well; I doubt if we ever go back. The menu is basic bar food; just a little more basic than most. We both decided on their “lunch special” for $5.50. That would be 2 quarter lb. patties, one slice of bacon and one slice cheddar cheese. Well, it was food. The cold set was fresh and the pickle chips were tasty but that’s about all I can say. All they offer for beer is domestic,at $2.25. Well sometimes you find a real gem in some 014015-001013out-of-the-way joint,other times you find the Grove Sports Bar & Eatery.Grove Sports Bar 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


Datsa Pizza

Pizza-glorious Pizza, that ubiquitous American treat available everywhere in the USA.I tried Datsa Pizza with my eldest son quite some time ago and fell in love at first bite.This was before I started This Ain’t no Bistro;but I did post a very lauditory review on Yelp.However I am admittedly a Pizza junkie;but I think my pallet is mature enough to differentiate the quality of various pies.Now Pat,on the other hand is a Pizza epicure;a connoisseur if you will;he is very particular.That’s probably why it took me so long to get him to try it.

Guess what?Pat liked it as much as I did.He declared only one pie better;in his opinion;that being some joint in Homecroft. I believe it is some joint that was a quasi hang out when we were in highschool.

You see they make their own dough which is a great first step.I know a lot of pizzerias make their own crusts but not all brush them with garlic butter.And not all end up with the same result.A beautiful brown with a crisp exterior and soft interior.It is quite literally a hand tossed beauty.I’m sure they don’t make their own sauce but it is one of the better canned sauces I’ve tried;rich and tomato sweet.The sausage they use isn’t from Smoking Goose but it’s very good,both the sweet and the spicy.Pat would have prefered a finer grind but I enjoy either one.You won’t see duck confit or smoked salmon on the menu but you will find anchovies and all the usual suspects that most people want.The coolest thing is at lunch you can get an individual pizza for $4.75 and additional toppings are 50 cents and 75 cents.Pat and I had a small garlic bread and 2 individuals pies with 2 toppings each and spent $16.We drank water;we almost always drink water when we eat;in order to save room for beer.Speaking of which, Datsa does sell beer,$ 2.75 for domestic bottles and I think $ 3.25 for imports.However in this case we decided to “wet our whistles” at The Living Room Lounge;conveniently located across the street.No matter if you drink beer;H2O or Cola if you like Pizza you really ought to give Datsa a try.

Oh we did it again;or I should say I did it again;forgot to take pictures before we started eating-OOPS.Datsa Pizza on Urbanspoon


sure not the end of the line

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.End of the Line Public House on Urbanspoon