Monday, April 27, 2015

Culver's

It’s true; I had never been to Culver’s until now. My friend @wibia would always mention it to me, and then a couple of you guys mentioned patty melts/sourdough melts there, so when @wibia mentioned it for a lunch, I was sold. Lately I totally have this thing for patty melt-type sandwiches that aren’t on rye (not my favorite). Lucky for me, Culvers offers a “sourdough melt” (single is $3.29, double is $4.69). Somehow, although I wanted a single, I ended up with a double. I also got the “value basket” with it, which includes a drink and a side (+$2.80 for regular side, +$3.80 for a premium side).

The sourdough melt comes with grilled red onions and cheddar cheese. It’s a solid sandwich. Nothing mind blowing, and it was a little meat heavy with the two patties for me, but a decently juicy burger with nicely grilled onions. Honestly, it needed a little ketchup or something just to add another dimension to it, so I added some. I really liked the super crisp grilled bread for sure though--that's what's got me so addicted to melts right now I think. A couple of bites of wibia’s "Culver's Deluxe"($4.09 for a double) was probably a bit better. Mainly because they but lots of stuff on it (lettuce, mayo, pickles, onions, cheese and tomato) (I would leave off the tomato, too thick and under ripe). Again, they’re the thin burgers with the crispy edges that I like, but I guess I was sort of hoping for something to make them stand out a little more—maybe some special sauce or something? Anyhow, I would gladly eat it again, but there are certainly other burgers I would go to first. Also, when they use the term “butter burger” I sort of thought it meant cooked in butter, but actually I think it means they butter the bun (not as exciting in my mind).

For sides, I had a premium side, the fried Wisconsin cheese curds. I appreciate the uniqueness of having such a side in what is essentially a fancy fast food place, although they were just okay. Honestly, they tasted like mini mozzarella sticks. Overall, you can’t go wrong with fried cheese, but again, nothing mind blowing. Wibia had fries, which were crinkle cut, and well, that’s all you really need to know about that as far as I am concerned. I don’t think I have ever had a crinkle cut fry that was really any different from any other crinkle cut fry in my life. Overall, they just don’t do it for me.

I do find the place to be different from how I imagined it. It is more like a “fast casual” type place—an interior more like an Applebees or Chili’s—a little nice than fast food, but you still order at the front, although they bring the food out to you. They also have a very large menu—there’s fried chicken, pot roast, fried fish, fried shrimp and shaved prime rib sandwiches, for example. I am curious to know how the rest of the food is, as I always thought this was just a burger and custard place. It was also packed. And freezing inside (nothing like cranking the a/c when it’s 55 degrees outside).

So there you go. What are your favorite Culver’s items? 

Culver’s
7105 East 96th Street (there are multiple locations)
Indianapolis, IN 46250
317/576-1180
Culver's on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Plow and Anchor - Revisit

Even though I have written about Plow and Anchor a couple of times, I feel like this is almost a new post because they have a new chef in the kitchen—Toby Moreno. He took over this winter after John Adams left. Apparently he came from Restaurant Tallent in Bloomington.

I was excited to see all the cold meat and seafood dishes listed as appetizers on the menu—there was a tuna crudo, beef tartare, and rock shrimp ceviche on the night we were there. These kinds of offerings just get me excited.  I was also happy to see a few changes that have been made to the restaurant and the menu. They have taken out those too low, and too hard to get in and out of, church pews that looked cool but just were not user friendly. They have replaced them with regular chairs.  They have also added fries to go with their burger, which was something I have heard a lot of complaints about from people.

If I wasn’t going to get the beef tartare ($13), I would have tried the burger, but that seemed like a bit of overkill. The beef tartare though? It was awesome. Really super delicious. One of those things that when I think of it, I want to eat it again right now. It had a lot of the classic tartare ingredients—the raw beef, capers, mustard and a quail egg on top, which were all great and all things I love in tartare, but they also included some other more unique ingredients that pushed it over the top in deliciousness. There were little dices of Ol’ Kentucky Tomme cheese, bits of bread and butter pickles and bacon all mixed in there. I’m telling you, it was a great combination of flavors and textures. The cheese sort of stands in for the egg that is often included, but gave it some softness and creaminess and the bacon lent some smokiness and a little chewiness that was nice. Plus all the kick and salt from the capers and mustard and it was just great. They’re still doing the little fried fingerling potato chips, which are very tasty and very crunchy, but still a little challenging to use for stacking a hearty topping such as this.

We also shared the rock shrimp ceviche ($13), which was also very delicious and very different from the tartare. The little rock shrimp were marinated in orange instead of the more traditional lime or lemon, giving it a little bit of a sweeter flavor. There were pieces of smoked jalapenos, radish and grilled knob onions mixed in with it. It was all served on top of a black sesame tostada, which gave the whole dish a slightly Asian bent. I wished for a bit more of the tostada part, because you started to run out of it before you ran out of the toppings and the crunch of it was one of the things that made it so good. I loved the smoky flavor of the peppers, taking some of the edge off of them. I also appreciate the pieces of orange to add more acid, which the dish needed. Honestly, I would have liked even a bit more, maybe a squeeze of lime. But all in all, a really great, unique and creative dish. Hubby and I went back and forth about which we liked best. In the end I think this was his fave, while the tartare was mine.

I was so enamored with the appetizer part of the menu that I went ahead and ordered another one for my main dish—the octopus ($13). This was long tentacle pieces, smoked potatoes, fava beans (yay spring!), romesco, pickled chilis and crispy onions. Again, another beautiful and complex dish. I love that this chef integrates some acid in almost everything and the pickled chilis made the dish for me. The smoky potatoes were also creative and added a nice flavor with the grilled octopus. Lots of texture going on here too, which makes me happy.

Hubby was in the mood for a steak and was intrigued by the ribeye ($38), which is one of his favorite cuts when it’s done properly. This was one of those times. The meat is well marbled but was cooked just right allowing it to remain tender.  There was also this really awesome broccoli side dish with the steak—“Brianna broccoli.”  So I actually really like broccoli, but I would never get excited about it at a restaurant. Usually I find restaurant broccoli to be barely cooked and boring. This was delicious. I’m not sure what “Brianna” means when it comes to broccoli, but it was creamy and cheesy and had some onions mixed in there. Hubby and  are still talking about the broccoli.  There were also potato hash and housemade steak sauce. It was a top-notch dish.

Things were going so well, we really felt like we needed to try a dessert too and see if the kithen could carry through such a great meal. As it turns out, it did. We had the ice cream sandwich with blood orange confit and semifreddo, Melomakarona and candied walnuts ($8). I was just sort of intrigued by the fact that I couldn’t remember having a dessert like this. The outside of the sandwich was sort of the texture of a graham cracker and I loved the sweetness of it and the candied walnuts with the tartness of the blood orange. The melmakarona is a type of Greek cookie that involves honey, a cookie and walnuts. Clearly all those flavors were present here, although I think raised a level with the addition of the citrus.

All in all, a top notch meal. The kind of dinner that makes you excited about dinner out. Everything fell into place, and the food was all excellent. I look forward to returning soon.

Plow and Anchor
43 E. 9th Street
Indy  46219
317/964-0538


Monday, April 20, 2015

Georgia Reese's brunch (revisit)

For Easter Sunday, we were looking for a good brunch place for lunch with the family. I had been interested in trying Georgia Reese’s Sunday brunch anyway, just because it is so hard to find Sunday brunch places that take reservations, and in this case we had a large party. My first visit to Georgia Reese’s had its ups and downs for sure, but I am always one to give a place a second chance, especially if there is fried chicken involved. Plus, like I said, it’s good to have a handy list of brunch places.

I was worried that they might be a bit overwhelmed on Easter (again, my first visit wasn’t ideal when it came to waiting for our reservation), but was pleasantly surprised to find the place busy, but not slammed. The bar was only about ½ full and we were seated right at our reservation time.

It’s a buffet ($24.95), so you can pretty much start eating whenever you want. They also leave little sheets of paper on the table on which you can create an omelette that they will then make to order for you in the kitchen and is included as part of the buffet. They will bring you most (non alcoholic) drinks included with the price, including orange juice, coffee and sodas.

We started down the line—there’s the usual brunch buffet stuff—bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, and cream cheese stuffed French toast, but they also had biscuits and gravy, which was a welcome addition. The biscuits themselves were quite delicious. I ended up going back for another one just to eat with butter. They’re the lighter, less greasy kind of biscuits and held up well to the gravy. The gravy had nice chunks of sausage in it, although the gravy itself was kind of thin. It served its purpose, even if it wasn’t the best gravy ever.
getting ready to refill the buffet

They also had nice chafing dishes of fried catfish and fried chicken. And the chicken was constantly being refreshed. It was always hot and juicy on both visits when I refilled my plate with it. I also think they have upped their spice game since my first visit because this chicken had way more flavor than the first time I went. You could see the pepper and seasonings on the meat itself. Based on this visit, this is a place I would go just for the fried chicken now. The catfish is good, but I don’t think the turnover is as high, so it didn’t seem quite as fresh. It could also stand a little more seasoning still.  They also have a carving station of ham—I just had a bite—I am not fanatical about ham and it was okay. A little chewy. I think usually they have prime rib, and I would prefer that.

There was also some alligator/chicken/sausage gumbo—it was spicy and had some nice hunks of the different meats. Hard to tell the difference between the chicken and the alligator, but I appreciate there was something different from typical buffets.

As far as the breakfast meats, the bacon was really outstanding. I mean, I prefer it a little crispy, but the flavor of it was really salty and bacony. There is nothing worse than bacon that doesn’t taste like anything.
As far as cold items, there was a large platter of shrimp cocktail and there was also a little table with a green salad and fresh fruit. People at our table raved about how ripe and juicy the pineapple was.

I can’t say the omelette was really my thing, even though it was a nice idea to include. I had mushrooms and cheese in mine, but it was too stuffed with the ingredients. I like the extra ingredients in an omelette (besides the egg part) to be something to enhance the eggs, not the other way around. But there are lots of options here to make an omelette if you like a big fat one.

They also have a dessert table—there were some really wonderful soft, warm chocolate chip cookies out there. They were slightly addictive. They also did hot peach cobbler, which wasn’t bad, but the cobbler topping was more of a piecrust almost. It was pretty sweet. There were also some little brownie/cake bites that my kids put a hurting on, but which I couldn’t fit. If I had extra room, I was filling it with fried chicken, which I think was probably the single best thing.  Loved the biscuits and the bacon too.

It’s a nice option to know about for a Sunday brunch, particularly if you have a group and need a reservation. The food is decent buffet food and I am glad to see they have improved the chicken.

Georgia Reese’s
3454 West 86th Street
Indy  46268
317/876-3454



Saturday, April 18, 2015

Guest Post - The Dancing Donut

Love having a regular donut guest writer. I have yet to make it to any of the new donut places!

Thanks Gwen!
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Donut lovers rejoice!  The Dancing Donut opened its doors Friday, April 3rd at 1134 East 54th Street in SoBro.  The Dancing Donut is the brainchild of Kate Bova Drury, owner of The Flying Cupcake.  Could customers handle her creative, kitschy brand of confection before their first cup of coffee?  I was about to find out.

When I arrived at The Dancing Donut a few minutes before their 7 am open time, the line already stretched out the door and into the parking lot.  There’s no missing the cheerful, smiling donut sign atop the store.  I couldn’t help but notice what an ideal location for a donut shop.  Just steps from the Monon Trail and several popular breakfast spots, I can imagine families stopping off for a snack in the middle of a bike ride or grabbing a donut while waiting for a table brunch table on Sunday morning.  Oh, and it’s two doors down from a gym, so you won’t have far to go when it’s time to work off those donuts.

Once inside, I was charmed by the atmosphere and décor.  The walls were lined with familiar paintings that you might see in a waiting room or your Grandmother’s parlor, except with colorful donuts tucked in unexpectedly.  In addition to ample tables and chairs, there is a counter with four stools in front of a window that looks into the bakery, providing a place for curious patrons to watch all the donut making action.  Overhead, two disco balls twinkled.  

As I approached the glass bakery case, I had a difficult decision to make: which of their many flavors would I try?  With tongue-in-cheek names like the Carmelo Soprano—a chocolate filled long john covered with caramel glaze--and the Fritta ‘staire—an apple fritter, I was a bit overwhelmed by all of the choices.  My partner in crime and I settled on a Brown Butter Crumble—a yeast donut topped with brown butter frosting and a crunchy sprinking of brown sugar, the Lemony Snickett—a lemon filled yeast donut, the Jelly Rippa—a strawberry jelly covered in sweet powdered sugar, and the Kevin Bacon—a long john topped with maple icing and crisply fried bacon.  Four donuts and two large Intelligentsia brewed coffees, my total came to right at $16.  

As I bit into each of the four pastries, I was delighted by the light, fluffy texture.  The donuts were delicate enough to be delicious on their own yet still able to stand up to the bold flavors of the toppings and fillings.  The bold coffee was the perfect compliment to these morning treats.


The Dancing Donut prides itself on serving “donuts so fresh you’ll blush.”  While a visit to this SoBro bakery might not make you blush, you’ll certainly be smiling.  Whether you sashay, waltz, or shimmy, get to The Dancing Donut for a delectable breakfast treat.  



The Dancing Donut
1134 East 54th Street
Indy 46220
317/737-1751