Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sakura - Revisit

Hubby and I had time for a quick lunch the other day and Sakura is just a stone’s throw from our house. Plus, I figured since I’m always at the Sushi Bar these days, it would be good to mix it up. 

The rolls at Sakura are a little simpler than a lot these days—depending on how you like your rolls, this may please you or not. They don’t have as large a selection of the sort of fancy gooey-type rolls that I often go in for.

We started with miso soup—I know miso soups are fairly standard, but some do stand out more than others. This one wasn’t one of those. It was just your middle of the road miso soup. The only thing that made it stand out is how seriously HOT it is temperature-wise. Don’t burn your tongue before you eat your sushi!

Probably the most intricate roll we had was the Gabe roll ($6.60). It is basically a form of tuna tartare that is mixed with spicy sauce, green onions and smelt roe. It’s their version of spicy tuna, and I would say it’s better than a lot of spicy tunas, but I would love a little crunch in there. There isn’t a lot of texture or flavor variation either, since it’s filled with the stuff and topped with the stuff. You get a lot for your money though.

The soft shell crab (spider) roll ($9.50) is pretty much just that—it’s a fried soft shell crab mixed with spicy sauce and rolled inside and stacked on top. It was similar in style for sure to the Gabe roll, in that it was all the same stuff in the roll and on top of the roll, and used the same spicy sauce I think. It had more texture since it was fried, but overall, I think I preferred the Gabe roll, although I went back and forth.  Both of the rolls were pretty big, especially with all that stuff on top, making them a little challenging to eat. They were both good though, just not crave-worthy for me.

Finally, we just got a shrimp tempura roll ($5) and had them add avocado. This was exactly that—a roll with shrimp tempura and avocado. No sauce or anything. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t very exciting either. I guess I kind of like all that gooey stuff with my sushi. It may not be the most traditional thing, but it sure is tasty.

Hubby also ordered some albacore nigiri ($4.30), which is one of his favorite things there in the past—but this time they didn’t serve it with ponzu sauce, as they have in the past and he was a little bummed. It’s a pretty delicate flavor for soy, but a bit dry with nothing. 

It’s the original sushi house and many people are loyal to it, but I kind of like the newer style myself with more stuff going on in a roll. I guess it just depends on where you fall in your tastes. I am always surprised by how slow the service is (to get your sushi, not drinks, etc.). We were like the second people in there for lunch and it probably took at least 30 minutes to get our food. And every time I go, I feel the same about that issue.

Sushi is one of the most common things I am asked about so what’s your favorite sushi in Indy?

7201 North Keystone
Indy  46240

Monday, March 23, 2015


I have been itching to get to Revery for months, but it’s in Greenwood. It’s a trek for me, and even harder to convince hubby of. Luckily I convinced my sister and husband that it was where they wanted to go for their birthdays (their birthdays are a couple weeks apart) so hubby had to relent. Honestly, it’s mostly highway driving for us, so it doesn’t really take much longer than going downtown. And, get this…THEY TAKE RESERVATIONS! So nice to go to a place and know there’s a table waiting for you. A departure from new restaurants around town for sure.

The buzz about this place has been really positive and I was excited. And the buzz inside the actual restaurant was loud as well—it’s a cute place in the old downtown. They’ve done a nice job of creating a restaurant with a lot of character—it’s a crowded, busy little place, and I love all the windows looking out onto the street. When you sit down, they bring you a complimentary bucket of popcorn—they change the flavor every day and will freeze it with liquid nitrogen for an upcharge (we passed). Ours was supposedly jalapeno cheddar, but I got little of either flavor in there. Tasted like plain popcorn to me. A nice playful touch, but didn’t start me out thinking this place was going to wow me.

I was most excited by the appetizers, as I usually am—we ordered several to share between us. We were having a hard time because a lot of them seemed based around bread, and we didn’t want to fill up too much, but we had to try the “best part of French Onion soup” ($8) and the crab cake bruschetta ($10), both bread-based. The French onion soup dip was an interesting one—it was literally like the flavor of French onion soup without the broth. Caramelized onions and lots of melted cheese on top. It was basically a cheese dip with onion flavor and was probably the favorite at the table. It was served with nice hunks of grilled bread. We also enjoyed the crab cake bruschetta, which interestingly looked like a sushi roll almost when it came out. It is served on softer bread, and the topping is like what a crab cake would be made out of. It isn’t fried though, so it has a softer consistency. The crab itself tasted very fresh. There is remoulade and lemon sauce drizzled on top and I liked both—some heat from the remoulade and a lemon kick as well. A nice combination.

The most disappointing item we shared as an appetizer was the fried calamari—they call it “tubes and tentacles” on the menu ($6)—and that it was. There was a good showing of each, and it inherently was okay on its own, but it was described as coming with arugula, honey wasabi and a truffle ginger vinaigrette. All of those things sounded intriguing to me, but were not very successful on the plate. The calamari sat in one of the sauces making it soggy, and the greens just seemed thrown on the plate as an afterthought. Everything was just sort of mish-mashed together making nothing stand out.

Both couples got a salad to share as well as a middle course, and I really liked both of them. They may have been my favorite part of the meal. Hubby and I got the Caesar ($8) because the crispy egg and the pickled white anchovy lured me in. The crispy egg wasn’t what I expected—it was actually a beautifully soft boiled egg that was then lightly fried on the outside. It was wonderfully runny, making the dressing even richer. I really liked the pickled anchovy to add to the acid kick, but wished there were a few more bits of them in there for a little more balance. It was a fun take on traditional Caesar ingredients—egg and anchovy-- and was well done.

My sister and hubby shared the apple salad with raisin vinaigrette ($6), almonds, goat cheese, bacon, apple and cinnamon toast croutons. This one was a great mix of tart acid and lots of sweet stuff as well as just enough salty flavor from the bacon. Some might say it was too acidic, but I loved it. I like that the salads are not ridiculously big as well, so you don’t feel like you can’t have a salad course without getting too full. I’d get either of these again.

This was another restaurant where I found the entrées better than the apps overall. Again, I’m always surprised when that happens, because I seem to usually like apps better. My favorite entrée was the fried shrimp ($21). I know, it sounds basic, but it was really well done. There were 4-5 large shrimps battered in Mashcraft beer (a local Greenwood beer) and served on top of shoestring-type fries that had a sweet and salty kick. The shrimp were nice and tender inside and I liked the very, very crispy airy batter on the shrimp. We were all obsessed with the fries though and ended up ordering one of the appetizer portions of them ($5) as a side. I liked these even better, because they were just straight up fries—purely seasoned with salt but then with a trio of interesting dips. There was “ball park” cheese dip, garlic aioli and ketchup. They were all good, but I tend to be partial to aiolis and this one was sharp with garlic. I really enjoyed it. I would certainly add some of these fries to any future order.

My sister and brother-in-law also shared the special prime New York strip steak ($39). It was really good as well. This is not a cut I often would choose, but the high quality of this piece of beef made it melt in your mouth. It came with a blue cheese sauce (which they had on the side) and which was super delicious with the steak. It had a distinct blue cheese taste, but was thin and smooth, making for a perfect thing to dip your bites of steak into. There were also potatoes served underneath. This was easily the most expensive item on the menu, but for a prime steak with a side, it was pretty reasonably priced at $39. Steakhouses in this town would likely charge $50 or more just for the meat. In general though, most entrées here are under $25.

I was really disappointed in the ricotta gnocchi. I made hubby get it to share with me and it wasn’t great. They have housemade ricotta on the app menu, and it was listed as part of the name of this dish (along with mushrooms, roasted garlic, and brown butter), but I guess I was actually expected gnocchi made from ricotta, not regular dense potato gnocchi with a dollop of ricotta on top. And there were so many other things in the dish, the dumplings actually got kind of lost in the dish. This one just didn’t come together for me. It was a small portion, and we didn’t even finish it.

We had a couple of desserts—one was a caramel and banana based dish served in a jar (two of hubby’s favorite dessert items) and was tasty. The other was a chocolate-based dessert and had a slab of ganache with some chocolate sorbet. This one was over the top for me. It was too rich to eat more than a bite of it. To be fair, our server warned us about it and listed it last in her list of favorite desserts. The caramel banana was tasty though. Following in the theme with the popcorn at the beginning, they also bring you a little bowl of cotton candy at the very end of the dinner. They change the flavor daily and we really enjoyed our grape version.

Service-wise, our server was helpful and friendly, but also a bit swamped. Our drinks came at random intervals, and the glass pours were fairly small on the wine. (I would share a bottle next time to prevent dealing with both of these problems).

Overall, I think Revery is a fun, creative place and I can see being a regular if I was a Greenwood resident. I would like to try several other items I have seen on the menu (or that they were already out of by the time we got there). I like that they change the menu on the regular and use ingredients that aren’t necessarily common on many menus. I am sure it is a welcome relief to have a place like this in Greenwood. And did I mention? They take reservations!! I’m not sure anything wowed me enough to make me venture all the way there on a regular basis, but I do plan on trying it again at some point.  I would love to be able to go regularly for lunch and just eat the salads—they were really good.

299 West Main Street
Greenwood, IN 46142

Revery on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 19, 2015

End of the Line Public House

I met up with my book club the other morning at the End of the Line in Fountain Square. They said they had a good weekend breakfast/brunch menu and naturally, I was intrigued. I was going to try and be on the healthy side, but really wanted to try the breakfast burrito ($5.95 for just the burrito, no potatoes), so that’s what I had instead.

The burrito was straightforward—nothing fancy going on here, but it was really good. It was a large flour tortilla wrapped around 2 scrambled eggs, my choice of meat (I went with sausage on the server’s recommendation), cheddar cheese and pico de gallo. On the side they gave you sour cream and guacamole. It hit the spot though—there was enough eggs and cheese with just the right amount of flavor from the sausage and seasoning from the pico. I really liked the way the entire burrito was grilled so the tortilla was hot and crisp. I am not a fan of a tortilla that just comes straight out of a bag and remains room temp.

I liked having the guac and the sour cream on the side to dip into although the guac was a bit bland. I’m guessing they’re not making it there. 

One person at our table had a burger that looked pretty darn delicious (you don’t have to order breakfast, which I appreciate) and a side of homemade white cheddar mac and cheese that looked decadent. I’m going to have to go back to try that.

All in all, it was a good, solid breakfast—it was a great place for our group of 6-7 because we could get right in without a crazy wait (weekend breakfast in this town can be ridiculous). The service was a bit on the slow side—I am going to venture to guess because we had a larger group. We didn’t mind because we were talking about our book (duh) but keep it in mind if you’re in a hurry.

It’s been a long time since I have been here—and I think it had a different name the last time I was there. What about you guys? Have you been?

The End of the Line Public House
1105 Shelby Street
Indy 46203

  End of the Line Public House on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 16, 2015

Tinker Street

I think everyone has been very excited about Tinker Street opening, including me. I broke my own rule and went like 6 days after they opened the first time and thought it was probably best to wait a bit to write about it, especially since it’s my own rule. I will say though I was really impressed with how professional the service was right from the start. It makes sense though, knowing that Peter George and Tom Main run the place --they are experienced restaurateurs in Indy.

Food-wise, I think it’s a good solid place. I love the energy—it’s small and a little noisy when it’s full (I’m pretty sure it’s always full) but has a very well-trained and friendly staff. The whole place is focused around a bar area, so just be warned, it’s 21 and up (much to my kids’ chagrin, but probably not to most people).

On our most recent visit, hubby and I ordered the hummus plate ($7) based on some recommendations. We both enjoyed it—I liked the line of salty dried olive along the edge of the plate to dredge your hummus through to give it that little pop of flavor. I love to eat olives with my hummus, and appreciated it. The triangles of pita were fresh and soft (and slightly warm) and the hummus was thick with a nice garlic edge. The lemon oil in the bowl also gave it a little acidic flavor, which you know I liked as well. I mean, ultimately, it’s hummus, and there’s only so far you can go with it, but it was well done. On our first visit, we enjoyed the cheese plate ($13), which seemed to be a favorite in the dining room. We all really enjoyed the honey butter particularly. Again, it’s a cheese plate. It’s straightforward simple flavors, but you can’t really go wrong.

Hubby and I had enjoyed the housemade papardelle with tomato ragu and house made ricotta ($14) on our first visit, so we were interested in trying the housemade pea ravioli with peas and Parmesan and brown butter that had replaced it on the current menu. I really, really appreciate restaurants that make their own pasta, especially since so few do around town, although to be honest, I wasn’t totally blown away by the flavors of either. The papardelle was a little brighter with the tomato and ricotta—the ravioli just seemed dense and could have used a squeeze of lemon or something to freshen it up. But I  will certainly always be willing to try any new concoctions.

Unusually, I found the stars on both visits to be the entrées. I say unusually because I tend to think appetizers are often more interesting and more seasoned. To me, they just tend to stand out more. Not at Tinker Street. The one item hubby insisted on getting on both visits was the pork belly ($14) and I will agree it was delicious. I loved the meatier slab of the pork, with not as much of the gelatinous fat. The flavors of the kimchi, sorghum seed and the seasoned sunny side up egg on top were unusual, and really delicious. There was distinct spiciness and Asian flavor to the sauce that was on the bottom of the plate. There was nice acid from the kimchi and sorghum seed was new to me, but gave a nice texture and almost pasta-like accompaniment. It tasted like you took all the good stuff out of a bowl of really good ramen or something.

We also had the tuna entrée ($15) on this second visit, and it was also very good. I appreciated that they asked how I wanted it cooked and cooked it to my specification. It was served on top of a kale and celeriac salad. The salad was a very good accompaniment because it had some heartiness from the kale, but not too much and some almost fruity feel from the celeriac. I really, really liked the molasses pomegranate vinaigrette. I am always happiest with something with some acid in it, and this was a good one—and unique in its combination of sweet and tart. My only complaint was that I would have liked a little more on the plate between the fish and the salad. I was trying to soak up every little drop, and there just wasn’t quite enough. It was fairly delicate (especially in contrast to the sauce on the pork belly), and really delicious. I just needed more.

This tendency to be a little light handed with some of the seasonings was something I noticed more on my first visit with dishes like the ruby grapefruit and avocado salad with feta and black rice. All the ingredients were great, but it needed something more to tie it together. Same was true of the rice noodles in the red curry broth. The broth just seemed a little under-seasoned.

After several recommendations, we went with the s’more pot de crème ($6) and were very happy. It was a nice rich chocolate pot de crème topped with roasted marshmallow fluff and a little line of ash on the plate that we just dabbed each bite in. The combination of everything really gave you the sense of eating something cooked in a campfire. We also enjoyed the housemade “twinkie” from our last visit ($7) with coffee cream, pecan and toffee, although I only had a little bite. For a fruity, lighter dessert, I enjoyed the poached Asian pear  ($6) with hibiscus granita (I love granita) and a kind of granola around it. Less successful was the “Mere’s crepes” ($8), which was actually a cake made of stacked up crepes and topped with dark chocolate. Not at all what I was expecting, and it was just okay.

Like I said, I am really impressed with the professionalism of this place, particularly right after opening. This is something a lot of restaurants around town could learn from. They have clearly trained their staff well. I love the little welcome glass of sparkling wine they bring you upon being seated, and the decently priced, interesting wine list. Speaking of prices, I think this place does a good job of not breaking the bank, even with a lot of local ingredients on the menu. The portions are moderately sized—I think perfect, but some might say they’re small.

This is a great addition to Indy—it has a great vibe—and feels so friendly. The downside is no reservations (sigh) so go prepared to wait unless you show up at 5:00. The menu is very approachable but still has enough creativity to make it interesting. And I tell you what, I can’t wait to try the burger and shoestring fries. We eyed the one the table next to us had and it looked really good. And I enjoy the interesting wine list as well (yay! Not another list where they’ve only paid attention to the beer). Anyway, please share your thoughts and favorite dishes.

Tinker Street
402 East 16th Street
Indy  46202
Tinker Street on Urbanspoon