Monday, July 28, 2014

Guest Post: Road Trip: The Exchange, New Albany, IN

Guess who’s back, back again…   say it like Eminem at least for that line.  Best wishes to a speedy recovery to my pal Erin. 

My wife and I enjoyed a weekend trip to Louisville and decided to commit to the major hipster music festival called Forecastle.  It is a great 3 day music festival that is run well and very approachable.   At roughly $150, you get a ton of good music and the grub is not that bad.   The first band that we wanted to see on Saturday was started at 2:30, so we had a little time to explore.   We took a trip back over the river to the Horseshoe Casino where our casino winning streak ended in a blaze of glory.  Stupid roulette and stupid red 17.

The Eater hot list is my first go-to list when visiting a city that I am not extremely familiar with.  On the top of the list, The Exchange in New Albany.   On Saturday, they open at 1:00 and it is the dinner menu only, which was more interesting to me anyway and I didn’t mind spending the extra dough as money and calories do not count when on vacation (note: red 17).  There were a few other patrons knocking down the doors at 1:00, so I was hopeful that the locals knew a thing or two and this was a good place.

The interior is quite nice.  They spared no expense.  The tables are reclaimed wood from the renovation and the steel beam trusses give it a warm but industrial look to it.   The restaurant itself is quite nice actually.  The menu is a modern gastro pub which is a significant as natural food labeling, but to me is just means – let's try to fancy up bar food and charge $2 more on everything.    

We started off with roasted red pepper hummus ($7) and roasted corn chowder ($6).   I realized after ordering the hummus, am I ever blown away by hummus? No.  I actually enjoyed this dish quite a bit and I liked the Klaus’ soft pretzel crostini.  Though it seems like an obvious fit, this is the first time that I had pico on hummus and I thought that it added nice texture to the dish.  The corn chowder was a disappointment.   For having bacon in it, I could’ve used a little more salt and pepper.  The soup wasn’t served hot enough for my liking and the green chile crema didn’t add anything significant and I didn’t care for the lukewarm soup and really cold crema combination.  Back to the drawing board on this.

My wife ordered a grilled cheese with white cheddar, green chiles, pickled onions, dijon mayo and brioche bread ($12).   She enjoyed this quite a bit, but I can’t say that I felt the same way.  The big issues here for me is that the bread and cheese proportions where out of whack.  More bread than cheese that is.  The pickled onions added a little bit of crunch that tasted out of place here.  Again, my wife liked it, I didn’t – it is probably a matter of taste.

I ordered the rock shrimp gnocchi ($20).  Cream, parmesan, red fresno peppers, asparagus, and bread crumbs.  I liked this quite a bit except it suffered the same fate as my corn chowder where a little salt and pepper could help this dish.  I didn’t get a lot of notes from the fresnos, but they added a lot of asparagus in the dish.  The gnocchi was just a bit soft for my taste, but I have had a lot worse.  The bread crumbs added texture to the dish and I have to say that this was a winner.

The Exchange was a nice surprise. There were a few issues here and there, but it was an overall strong effort for a young restaurant.  I enjoyed exploring New Albany and it was worth the 10 minute drive from downtown Louisville.  It’s a great space, the food showed promise, good beer and bourbon list, and I wouldn’t have any reservations in going there or recommending it. 


The Exchange
118 W Main
New Albany, IN

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Guest Post: General American Donut Campany

by: Gwen 

When it comes to donuts, Indy is a city divided.  There are die-hard Taylor’s Bakery fans, Boyden’s Bakery devotees, and east coast transplants who will only eat Dunkin’ Donuts.  And don’t forget about Long’s Bakery, whose donuts have an almost religious following.  But the folks at General American Donut Company hope to unite the Circle City with their creative take on breakfast goodies.  

General American Donut Company is Indianapolis’s first craft donut shop.  Their menu features inventive varieties like Peanut Butter & Jelly and Crème Brulee, classic flavors like the Raised Glazed, and The Bennie—GADCo’s version of the “cronut.”  But the initial draw for me was the Stumptown Coffee.  This rich, flavorful java hails from Portland, Oregon and tastes great as brewed coffee, espresso, or bottled as a “Cold Brew.”  The cup I drank had a rich, smooth taste that did not disappoint.

I may have come for the coffee, but I quickly realized that the donuts were worth sticking around for.  I wasn’t alone—on their opening day, the line to reach the glass bakery case stretched out the door.  Patrons who braved the almost hour-long line were rewarded with warm, melt-in-your-mouth treats.  I ordered a Salted Caramel donut, a S’mores donut, and a vanilla Bennie.  With a medium coffee, my total came to just under $10.  While this seemed a little steep for three donuts, these pastries were substantial and much larger than most donuts—I only ended up eating about half of each one, leaving me with a terrific late-night snack.

The S’mores variety had a cake donut base filled with homemade marshmallow fluff and topped with a thick chocolate icing and a graham cracker.  Talk about decadence!  The Bennie had buttery, flaky croissant layers but was glazed like a donut.  My absolute favorite was the Salted Caramel.  This yeast donut was topped with subtle caramel icing and beautiful flaked sea salt.  I go gaga over anything salted caramel, but this was absolute perfection.  The caramel had a rich flavor, but it didn’t overpower the delicate flavor of the donut.  

If there is an area where General American Donut Company missed the mark, it was in décor and ambiance.  The bakery is located in what appears to be an old garage that has been painted a bright white inside.  The furniture is a hodgepodge of old tables and chairs, many of which looked rickety and uncomfortable.  The walls were scantily decorated with kitschy Americana deer.  I normally love this shabby chic style, but if you’re going to do it, you really have to commit.  A handful of paintings from your grandmother’s basement and a deer statue don’t cut it.  I couldn’t see myself cozying up here to study with a cup of coffee.  

What General American Donut Company lacks in atmosphere it makes up for with an outstanding product.  Unlike craft donuts I’ve had in other cities, these didn’t feel gimmicky or as if the donuts themselves took a backseat to crazy flavors.  GADCo got basic donuts just right, then dressed them with innovative but crowd-pleasing toppings and fillings.  Indianapolis may just have a new favorite donut.  

General American Donut Company
827 S. East Street
Indy 46225

Monday, July 21, 2014

Guest Post: Bearcats

Hi Indianapolis Restaurant Scene readers!  I am Megan from the NapTownDiva Blog.  I am filling in for Erin today who is taking some time off to let her wrist heal.  Poor thing!  No fun to have a broken bone in the middle of summer.  Lots of well wishes headed your way, Erin!

Just like Erin I love to eat at local Indy restaurants.  I live/work downtown and consider myself an expert of eateries in this area.  A hidden gem I would love to share with you is Bearcats.  It is located just south of 11th St. and Senate Ave. in the historical Stutz Building.  Quick history lesson for you if you haven't heard of the Stutz Building.  Harry Stutz owned and operated Stutz Motorcar Company here from 1911-1919.  It was here he built the 'Bearcat' which raced in the very first Indianapolis 500.  Talk about history!  Now the building is home to all kinds of businesses including Bearcats Restaurant.

I frequent Bearcats as it not too far from where I work.  Only a block east of the canal.  They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and have a nice bar area.   They have a variety of food such as soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps, and burgers.

I would say their pork tenderloin sandwich ($7.99) is their specialty.  It is big enough to make 2 sandwiches!  My friend enjoyed this feast and had plenty of leftovers.  I have had this sandwich before and it is the best tenderloin in town!

I decided to try one of their new sandwiches, the Grouper Po' Boy ($8.99).  Oh man was it delicious.  So fresh and that breading is out of this world!!!  It was topped with chipolte mayo and onion straws.  It just was amazing!  And those sweet potato waffle fries.  They really topped the meal off.

Another one of my favorites here is their Endless Soup and Salad.  For just $7.99 you get a bottomless bowl garden salad with all the fixins.  You also choose from one of their 3 soups which change daily.  My co-worker and I like to go here when we are in the mood for a good soup.  Their onion rings and breaded mushrooms are heavenly.  I'm telling you anything batter dipped here is going to make your taste buds dance.  Their bar offers 16 beers on tap including some from Indiana.

If you decide to give Bearcats a try, let me know what you think. Please connect with me at NaptownDiva Blog. Happy Eating, Indy!

1055 N. Senate Ave
Indy 46202

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Guest Post: Antojitos Domis

by Krista

We celebrated our honeymoon in beautiful Cozumel recently and this week, I woke up craving a torta (Mexican sandwich with deliciously crusty bread and your choice of meats). I hopped in my car around lunch time the other day and found myself in Indy's NW side.

Antojitos Domis caught my eye, located next to several Mexican supermarkets. The menu is primarily in Spanish, and really, they offer only a select few items -- tortas, tacos, burritos, and chilaquilles. The place was busy, and everyone was ordering tacos! The restaurant is very small and clean, and I felt welcome despite knowing only a few Spanish phrases.

I ended up ordering 3 tacos and a side of guacamole. All the tacos at Antojitos are meat-heavy with onion and cilantro on top. If you've only eaten tacos smothered in cheese and sour cream, try this more authentic version next time. Each taco was a reasonable $1.99.

The first taco was chorizo; it was salty, fatty, and quite delicious. Chorizo is often served at breakfast time, and as such, it wasn't listed as an option for tacos. The server was happy to accommodate my request, luckily. The second taco was pastor (pork), but wasn't nearly as juicy or as flavorful as I have had elsewhere. Though the menu said pineapple was mixed with the pastor, I couldn't find any. Pastor is my absolute favorite thing to order in a taco, reminiscent of shawarma meat. Last, the chicken taco was quite good -- lots of smoky flavor and very tender. All the tacos were served in freshly made corn tortillas with lime on the side.

Antojitos brings two salsas in squirt bottles (smart!!) - one green and one red. These were sensational -- spicy and full of flavor. The guacamole was freshly made, but I suspect mixed with mayo or sour cream as it was very creamy.

Three tacos made to order with a heaping portion of guacamole was less than 9 bucks. I'll definitely be back to try a torta sometime soon. No complimentary chips and salsa offered on my visit -- but with prices this low and servings so large, I doubt you'll go hungry.

Antojitos Domis
7940 Michigan Rd, 
Indianapolis, IN 46268
(317) 471-8455