Monday, July 27, 2015

Bluebeard -Revisit

Some good friends of ours are getting ready to move away (sad face) and had never been to Bluebeard, so hubby and I decided we needed to remedy that situation. We were also going to a concert downtown, so we needed to eat early, which is sort of ideal when you are going to Bluebeard since they don’t take reservations and usually get pretty crowded any time after 6:00.

Since they had never been before, we started with the bread plate—the small size ($4). It’s always a good choice. Slices of whatever Amelia’s bread they’re featuring that night plus various spreads. This night was almond butter, garlic oil and anchovy butter. I like them all, although I find the anchovy butter just a little too strong. I like anchovies, but this stuff is intense.

We also started with a large Caesar salad ($15) because it’s one of hubby’s favorites. It isn’t your classic Caesar, other than it is tossed with Caesar vinaigrette. They use romaine and frisee and add onion, tomato, basil, parmesan and duck confit. It’s a really good salad, and the duck is super tender and adds heft to the salad.

We just decided to continue with sharing, so we all ordered a bunch of stuff and split it. Everything was good, but I am thinking my favorite item of the evening was the Banh Mi. There was pork belly, Sriracha aioli, pickles carrots and cucumbers, cilantro, and jalapeno on a brioche bun. It was such a great combo of flavors—and had more going on than a lot of traditional banh mi. I liked the addition of the Sriracha to the mayo to give it a bit more heat, and I liked that they put a decent amount of it on the sandwich so it was really moist. The bun was nice and soft, but held up to everything. They also added some little fried bits of shallot, which gave a nice addition of crunch that was different from the crunch of the pickled vegetables. A really great sandwich. I wonder if they offer it for lunch.

We also had the pasta with Bolognese ($26). Usually this is done at Bluebeard with papardelle, but this time they used a different shape of pasta that was sort of a spiral, like a snail shell. I think their Bolognese has nice flavor with fennel and basil and I have always thought it was done well. I still don’t get that excited about it, but it is a crowd pleaser and an easy and plentiful dish to share, and it’s almost always on the menu.

We shared the truffle egg toast ($16) as well, which is a perennial favorite with hubby and me. They change it up regularly, but I have had a similar version before. They give you a big hunk of Pullman bread that has an egg cooked in the middle of it—then there’s cheese on top and whipped St. Andre cheese underneath and then there were peas, mushrooms and bits of crumbled pistachio. And of course, there’s truffle oil in there too. I love this dish because, well, eggs.. I like that they often have some variation of it on the menu, and I nearly always order it. It’s rich for sure, but in all the best ways.

We also shared the halibut ($18) and enjoyed it as well. I really like the way they added morcilla sausage to the dish. I’m a fan of seafood and sausage combinations—adding depth and salt to the seafood. There was also a bunch of veg on the plate, rounding it out as well. I particularly liked the lemon and capers added, because you know me, I like some acid and some salt with just about everything. It was a solid dish, even if the fish were just a tad on the overdone side for me.

We split a piece of chess pie for dessert, and it tasted really good—it’s almost like a sugar cream pie but a bit richer. The crust tasted really good, although it was really hard to cut through—like maybe it had been sitting a day or two. But everyone really enjoyed it.

I have recently heard some complaints about the service at Bluebeard, but I have pretty much always found it to be efficient and knowledgeable. It may be a bit brusque at times, but I just assume that’s because they’re so busy. I still think it is easily one of the top five restaurants in Indy.

653 Virginia Avenue
Indy, 46203

Thursday, July 23, 2015


Hubby and I had a date night, and as usual, I wanted to try something new. I gave him a few of the menus of some of the latest openings and he picked Nourish.  We were trying to picture where exactly this place is—on South East Street—and it made sense when I saw it was right next to Bosphorus Café.  We debated what the space was in its past life. I’m not sure, but we settled on a video store based on the layout and windows.

They have done a nice job with the interior though—they’ve made what are steel beams look like wood, added booths and nice lighting. The bar was cute with the shelves looking like tree branches. The whole place has a slightly more organic, feminine style than most places these days, and I appreciated the variety. (My one knock, the windows are set high up so once you sit down in the booths, you can’t really see out of them—I think I would have raised the booths a bit).

Anyhow, our server was extremely friendly, and was enthusiastic about the menu. She wasn’t overly familiar with the wine list, but we worked through it. They were offering wine specials the night we were there—not sure if it was a weekly thing or what, but it was nice.

The food is fairly sophisticated sounding—and also incorporates a lot of healthier options. There are more vegetarian options than many restaurants (and even some vegan) and they use lots of grains, etc. instead of things like potato and pastas for sides. I’m always a little worried with these kinds of menus, wondering if they can really make “healthier” taste good.

Our first courses were the zucchini tortilla ($6) and the grilled radicchio ($7). I enjoyed the tortilla. It is the Spanish version of a tortilla—which is almost more like a quiche with layers of potato in it. This version incorporated slices of zucchini as well as Idiazabal cheese on top. There was a very strong  smoky pepper sauce underneath that honestly was a bit overwhelming to me with this dish, a little went a long way. But I enjoyed the tortilla, even if it was a fairly simple dish.

Unfortunately, the grilled radicchio did not fare as well. This dish was a couple of radicchio heads that were simply split in half and then grilled—and I think not long enough. If you are familiar with radicchio, you know it is pretty bitter on its own. I think softening it by grilling it is a good plan, but this didn’t go far enough. Also, the menu described it with feta and olives. There was a light creamy (I’m guessing feta-based) sauce under it and on it, and while it was tasty it just couldn’t stand up to that bitter radicchio. As far as olives, there were 4 halves, so didn’t add a lot. I did appreciate the super thinly sliced red onions, which are good on just about anything really. However, when our server noticed we ate very little of the dish, she asked us for honest feedback and we told her what we thought. The manager offered us another salad (we said no) and without saying anything, they just simply took the radicchio off the bill. This is proactive customer service and I really appreciated it.

This was a place where we enjoyed the entrées substantially more than the apps. I ordered the miso chicken ($16). It was a beautifully prepared miso brined chicken breast with lovely crisp skin. They used rye berries as the grain underneath it, and the whole thing was in a ginger scallion sauce—it had a salty kick from the soy but a really nice ginger flavor as well. And the grains had a nice nutty flavor, but I really liked it with the sauce and the chicken. I was impressed with how tender the chicken was and, while it did feel healthier than many restaurant entrées, it still had all the flavor and skill of a high-end dish.

Hubby liked his walleye dish ($17) just as much, and in fact we argued over which was better. I really enjoyed his as well—and it had a richer flavor profile from the mascarpone cheese mixed into the faro that was used here as the side. There were also wilted leeks in there, and a nice drizzle of lemon oil giving it further richness and a hint of acid. The fish was cooked very well—not dried out at all and with a nice crispy skin (just like the chicken). I really like it when the fish or chicken can be so tender, and the skin rendered so crisp. Not only does it add more flavor, but texture as well. The use of both of these grains was done superbly.

All in all, we were pleased with our meal (I would not order the radicchio though for sure). And so far, I’d order heavy on the entrées here, although I am keeping an open mind. I am also looking forward to trying lunch here. If you’ve been, I’d like to know what you had and what you thought. 

931 S. East Street
Indy 46225

Monday, July 20, 2015

Friendly Tavern

Looking to meet up with my friend @wibia on the west side of Carmel, and realizing there aren’t many options there (you guys have any for me?), we ended up deciding on Zionsville. We ended up at Friendly Tavern, which has literally been on my list for years. Every time I do a “best of” type list, people mention it to me as a place to get a good tenderloin sandwich.

This is the kind of old school place you want to like as soon as you walk in—it was pretty well packed for a mid week lunch—mostly with older people and also some business people. I knew I wanted to try the tenderloin ($7.99), so we agreed to get it and split it and also to split something else. So we went with a regular cheeseburger ($6.49) as well.

Honestly, overall I appreciate the fact that they are making most everything in house. The burgers are made with ground chuck and are “hand-pattied” daily according to their menu. They also ask how you want it cooked, and pretty well kept it where I ordered it. The burger was straightforward, but it was a pretty solid one. The patty was tender and cooked close to the medium I ordered (I’d go with medium rare next time). They give you the necessary accompaniments to go with it—red onion and pickles and once I put some mayo, ketchup and mustard, I was pretty happy with it. It won’t blow your mind, and you’re not getting any fancy sauces here, but it’s a good burger. We had the standard fries with the burger, which were just that—pretty standard.

Honestly, the tenderloin wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t one I would probably put on my “best of” lists for tenderloins.  It was one of the super thin giant sized ones that more than covers the bun. We ended up cutting it in half and stacking it on top of each other and then adding the classic toppings—onion, mayo and pickles. It tasted decent, and they are making them there, but it was a touch too dry for me. Overall, I would prefer the burger. Or those fried chicken wings I saw coming out of the kitchen later—they looked delicious. For our side with this one we had the Buffalo Chips. These were more interesting and better than the fries. They were almost like waffle fries but without any holes that are seasoned. I wouldn’t say they tasted a lot like buffalo-flavored things, but they were nicely seasoned. (There is a slight upcharge to get fries or other sides).

I can see why this place stays around even if the food doesn’t blow your mind. It’s a cool, in an old-school divey kind of way, kind of place. The people there are friendly and you can tell it’s a place with a lot of regulars. Even though none of it stood out particularly food-wise, you feel welcome there and you sort of want to go back. And like I said, I need to at some point just to try those fried chicken wings—these aren’t like buffalo wings (which they also have), these are like pieces of fried chicken, but in the form of just little drummies and wings. They looked delicious, so if any of you guys have had them before, please let me know how they are!

Friendly Tavern
290 S. Main Street 
Zionsville, IN 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Dancing Donut (Food Truck)

So far I have left donut reviews to my twitter friend @GwenderWoman who loves to try them all and write about them for me, but the other day the kids and I were at the Indie Arts and Vintage Marketplace and there was a Dancing Donut truck there, so we decided to take advantage of the situation and give them a go. My problem with donuts is that I never seem to want them for breakfast, when they are most available. I am just not a sweet eater in the mornings.

We tried two different kinds of donuts that they had on this day, the chocolate glazed yeast ($2) and the brown butter crumble ($3). So I was the one who ordered the brown butter crumble because it seemed like a grown up fancy donut that I should try. My kids wanted the chocolate glazed.  So guess which one was the best? Yep, the chocolate glazed. And it was fabulous. First of all, it’s huge, but it is also super soft and airy, with just the right amount of choclately goodness without being over the top. It is a simple donut that shines because of the simplicity. I ended up finishing both of theirs off.

Don’t get me wrong, the brown butter crumble was good too, but really just over the top sweet. It was a slightly denser yeast donut (and not quite as big) topped with a very rich buttery icing and then crumbles of nut-looking topping and brown sugar crumbs. I was sort of expecting the “brown butter” aspect to give it a different kind of flavor, but it really was just full on sweet. I enjoyed it, but after a few bites, I couldn’t eat any more of it.

So that’s it, the only ones I have gotten to try so far, but I welcome other suggestions about other flavors to try, and other donut places to try, so let’s hear them.

Dancing Donut
1134 East 54th Street
Indy 46220