Monday, July 25, 2011

Papa Roux - A little bit o' Nawlins in Naptown

   We heard somewhere through the grapevine that this place was pretty awesome, I can't seem to remember for the life of me where on the vine that I apologize to whoever suggested this place to us!  But, please do let me thank you!  Because of said glowing review, and in hopes of getting our serious nosh on, we made our way over to Irvington last week and hit up a taste of Nawlins at Papa Roux.

The joint

   This is not an area of town we venture to often, and there was some interstate and gps use involved in our getting there.  When we arrived, it was not near the only other restaurant I've been to in the Irvington area.  It was a little more rough looking than I expected...and I immediately was very excited.  This hole in the wall might be just the kind of thing I love to discover!

The big bold "Papa Roux" and the oh so familiar sign of NO, the fleur de lis, on the outside of the building let us know we had arrived.  We walked in and approached the counter and said "Hello, 2 please."  Clearly, we had not been here...yeah, your order at the counter.  They have kind of a cool, and different way of ordering here.  You choose what you would like off the menu and then find yourself a seat.  Once your sitting, each table has a little placard, which when you decide, you place in a car holder on the table indicating you would like to order your sides.  The service is super fast.  They see you putting that card up and they are already there!  It was crowded and everyone there looked like they were really enjoying their meals, they were stoked to be eating their po'boys in Indy.

The food

The menu speaks for itself.  You can get po'boys, sandwiches or stews, Hubs' favorite, Zapp's potato chips.  Once you decided your order is accompanied by all you can eat sides that come free with your meal and are served to you as you see fit once at your table.  The picture shows my choice, which was a roast beef po'boy sammich and a side of cornbread and Zapp's chips.  The roast beef was sooooo delicious.  It was real hearty and so tasty.  Underneath, you can't really see the cole slaw, which if you remember from some previous blog not my favorite food.  I went with the go to eating at new restaurants theory of "listen to the chef" with this one though.  I am glad I did because the cole slaw was a necessary addition to this sandwich.  The roast beef was really moist, but the cole slaw really added something to it.  It was a perfect combination, complementing each other with meaty goodness and creamy, sweet crunchiness from the slaw.  The sides were also uh-mazing.  They have a bunch of choices and many of the patrons were going crazy with them.  They ask you to order two sides per person each time you put up your placard (so as not to waste food, I guess).  Good idea.  I only ordered one...cornbread.  Hubs scored some bread pudding and excited enjoyed his Zapp's.  Also, for his entree his ordered a Muffaletta, which is one of his favorite things to eat ever.  He's always talking about this amazing Muffaletta he had in New Orleans on time and never finds anything that matches up outside of that crazy city.  So, him saying that this Muffaletta was the best darn one he's had since then is saying quite a bit.  He was pleased friends.  And, I was pleased with not just my sandwich, but those sides were supa yummy.  We both were doing some ooohhhing and ahhhhing about the bread pudding!  For me, 2 sides and the sandwich was plenty of food.  I guess you can get crazy, but to enjoy it, leaving there feeling satisfied but not on the verge of explosion, that combo did it.  I will be wanting to try the etoufee next time...and let's just go ahead and say awwwww yeah, there will definitely be a next time.  I can't wait to take some visitors to Papa Roux's.  It's the perfect kind of restaurant to show off how cool and diverse your city is :)

The wrap

   I think I said it, I want to show off how awesome Indy is based on restaurants like this.  It's fun and different and the food is really good.  There are no frills and I love that about it.  The food speaks for itself, no fanciness or gimmicks needed.

Papa Roux on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 22, 2011

10-01 Food & Drink - Midwestern Comfort Food with a Culinary Twist?

   Another new restaurant has opened up in Broad Ripple, while a couple others have closed (i.e. Barley Island).  I'm thinking this area is pretty transitional??  My first favorite part about this new place, 10-01 Food & Drink is that they made a run-down old building look A LOT nicer.  You can never go wrong there...who doesn't like the disappearance of empty and run down eyesores in their neighborhood, right?  And fill them with a new, local business?  Double score.
   For the reasons stated above...and the description on the signage during construction..."Midwestern comfort food with a culinary twist,"  I was pretty stoked to try this place when it opened.  The concept sounds delicious, right?  I have to admit, I had some ideas in my head based on a restaurant I love in Asheville, NC, Tupelo Honey Cafe.  Seriously, this place is wicked good, southern food with a culinary twist if you will.
   My expectations:  hearty deliciousness with a homestyle feel, but for foodies.  And by that, I mean, putting a different spin on some of your old favorites....creative presentations, locally sourced foods, etc.
  It's always a risky little game to have expectations...because even if it's good, it often is difficult to match up to what you've created in your mind.  Brains are awesome at making something "the best thing ever...." that you remember anyway. 

The Place & Food

   I called to see if they took reservations because you know how crazy the new places can get.  They don't, but they suggested they have plenty of seating and we were welcome to enjoy their bar downstairs for appetizers and drinks while we waited for our table.  Okay...I like it.  The bar downstairs was actually really cool.  Temperature-wise as well, which might tempt some of you that are melting out there this week!!  It's a basement, but they've done a good job of making it feel like happening bar.  Of course, all the people in the joint certainly help with that too.  It was pretty busy down there.  The waitstaff was busy, but on point for being a new place.  It wasn't his first dog and pony show.  We ordered some corn and clam fritters to share between 3 of us.  Luckily, they were big and conveniently, there were 3 of them :).

It was dark...sorry about the grainy pic of the fritters!
     They were pretty yummy.  The sriracha lavender butter sauce that drew me to them (check on the culinary twist!), was good, and kinda spicy!!  My friend did laugh at me and tell me I was a wuss, but you make your own decisions about that one!  I thought they were spicy, but fried and comfort foody.  Alright, good appetizer, pretty extensive drink selection...we're off to a good start.  We were called up to our table for dinner on the top floor of the restaurant.

The dinners

I ordered myself some pulled chicken bbq sammy, served on a pretzel bun with sweet potato fries.  I came to this decision after looking over the menu for quite some time.  I have to admit, my first look at them menu (I didn't scope it out online before we went), I wasn't as excited as I thought I would be.  I was expecting a little more culinary twist, I guess.  There are some interesting choices on the menu...and very Midwestern like the open faced duck burger, but while many of the entrees sounded tasty, I felt like I make some of them at home too often and too easily to order while I am eating out.  So, my expectations may have gotten the nest of me on this one.  Despite my slight disappointment with the menu choices, my sandwich was really good.  As you can see in the photo, there was a heaping serving of pulled chicken on that bun.  I do also love me a pretzel roll :)  The sweet potato fries we really sweet and salty and I always love them...they were just how I like my fries, crunchy on the outside, potatoey on the inside.  I'm not a connoisseur of cole slaws, but Hubs kind of is...and he thought it was pretty tangy and tasted as homemade as they said it was.

Hubs got the blackened catfish sandwich...and of course, the sweet potato fries.  We can never resist a sweet potato, I'll tell you!  His fish sandwich was topped with pepperjack cheese and a sriracha tarter sauce served on an egg bun.  Okay, it's a bit of a culinary twist.  A bit.  He liked it though.  The food was decent...we definitely didn't have many complaints.  We had an enjoyable meal and tried not to annoy our Friday night dinner guest with our over-analysis of the food and restaurant :)  But, hey, that's how we roll I guess!  We were pretty full and had a couple of drinks too, so we didn't partake in any dessert.  One of the great things about this restaurant, that I'm sure we've all seen make or break your experience at a new place, is the service.  Our server in the restaurant was also pretty kick ass.  They really had it figured out for only having been open for a short period of time.  It can be easy to overlook good service, but if the service is bad, it can often be enough to ruin your whole night and often it can make me feel like never returning.

The wrap-up

   10-01 food & drink is an interesting concept, and I don't think there's anything like it in BR.  We enjoyed our meals and our super good service.  I think we will likely return and try some other things on the menu.  My only complaint is that it felt a little more chainy than I was expecting and maybe a more intimate feeling would help us get to that "culinary twist" idea more freely and to really wow us.  But, I understand the need for space to accommodate all of us foodies!  We did really enjoy the bar area, which did have more of an intimate feel and was pretty bustling.  I think we'll certainly be back for drinks down there and some more of those appetizers!!  Happy Friday and have fun eating this weekend...although ice cream may be all you want with the heat :)

10-01 Food & Drink on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Osteria Pronto & Chateau Ste Michelle Winery

   Let me start by saying we were really excited to have been invited to attend this event at the JW Marriot's restaurant Osteria Pronto and I haven't been more excited to write a review.  White Winemaker, Wendy Stuckey of Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington state was visiting Indianapolis promoting her wines.  Together with world renowned Chef Rino Baglio (seriously, check out his bio!!), Osteria Pronto held an amazing wine and food event to showcase her wines complemented beautifully by the chef's food pairings.

The Place

   The JW Marriot is a new, modern and very cool hotel in downtown Indianapolis.  Inside there are a few options for entertainment that you should partake in whether you are staying at this swanky joint or not.  The sports bar, High Velocity, and outdoor restaurant bar, Tavern on the Plaza, and last but not least, the contemporary Italian restaurant headed by Chef Baglio, Osteria Pronto.  This place is getting it done, right?  A great place to go for a nice night out on the town in Indy.
  Osteria Pronto is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  This was our first visit to the restaurant and we were led through the restaurant with it's sea of tables and it's upscale, but causal feel into a back room where we were greeted and ushered in to begin drinking and eating.

The Food & Beverage there was a LOT of food and even MORE wine during this particular even, so I'm going to try to separate it out into courses so it's clear.


   As I mentioned, we were ushered into a room with cocktail tables and served a glass of 2010 Horse Heaven Sauvignon Blanc accompanied by Escargot (yes, snails), served on a baguette with pesto and mushrooms.  The wine was super tasty and a great start.  You can't go wrong with walking into a room and immediately having a nice adult beverage in hand, can you?!?  It was very fruity and acidic and complemented the salty escargot well.  I don't know about you, but escargot is not one of those foods I eat very often.  In fact, I think I have only had it one other time maybe 10 years ago.  But, when in Rome...I did it.  All in the name of food blogging, just for you!!!  It was actually really quite good with the wine.  Very nice flavors, the escargot was not as chewy as I remembered.  After about 10-15 minutes of hanging and enjoying our wine, we were seated in another room complete with tables set with place cards.

   Course 2

   The tables were very pretty, clean and crisp white linens and lots of glasses waiting to be filled with wine.  A little bread basket was the centerpiece.

   The kind of sad thing is, this was simply a centerpiece.  It did not get touched!!  For me, not touching the bread means something else awesome must of been happening.  Oh, you was!!  On to the food we actually ate!

Our first meal course came pretty quickly after an introduction and a welcome from the winemaker.  We were served our second wine, the Chateau Ste Michelle Cold Creek Chardonnay (2008).  With this wine, the chef decided to serve a Wild King Salmon on top of a zucchini fritter, lemon yogurt and arugula pesto and garnished with a bit of arugula.  I seriously can't say enough good things about this entire pairing.  The wine had a very oaky aftertaste and the salmon was just cooked perfectly.  It was seared which made it quite crisp on the outside and left it cool and fresh on the inside.  The flavor of this was excellent and the wine only added to it's deliciousness.  Not to mention the zucchini fritter, which was absolutely amazing.  I was going about my business enjoying the salmon when I got a bite of the fritter and was really surprised at how good it was.  Hubs and I both loved this course and were ready for the next one!  I love being stoked about food while you are eating it, where you have to hold in all of your comments to not sound so annoying to those around "yummm...mmmmm...this is so good.  oh my you love it?  yummm..mmmm. "  Yeah, that's annoying, I I tried to refrain.

   Course 3

   This course began with the Eroica Reisling (2009).  Exactly what I love about a wine pairing, if it were up to me, I'd have Pinot Noir with everything and call it a day.  But, it's really awesome to have someone THINK about the wine you are drinking and try to pair that with something that brings out the flavors of the wine and the food all at the same time.  It helps me broaden my wine horizons and step outside of my box.

I was really excited about this course as well because I love scallops.  But, Hubs was a little more hesitant.  He's not an eater of the bi-valve.  I was proud of him though, he tried and it and ate a good portion of it too.  How could you not??  Look at it!  It tasted as good as it looks there too.  Pictured here is a seared sea scallop over a fava bean puree, leak and smokey bacon bread pudding and a white wine creme.  I don't even know what to say about that.  So creative, and unlike anything I have had before.  The scallop was less cooked than I have had them, but, truthfully I think that's everything I have been missing in a good scallop.  It was awesome and dipping it in the creamy goodness underneath it was heaven polished off with bacon and the reisling just blew it up in your mouth.  The sweetness of the wine brought all of these flavors in this dish to the forefront.  Perfecto!

   Course 4

   Yep, seriously, there's ANOTHER course...and that's not even it.  Beginning this course were TWO wines!  These were not skimp bottles of wine either, friends.  This course brought some reds into the mix, Col Solare (2006) and Ethos Cabernet (2006).

The cool part about this pairing was that the filet mignon was prepared two ways, one for each of the wines.  On the left, we had a filet with horseradish gremolada to be enjoyed with the Col Solare.  The right side was also a filet, but with roasted peppers and a cabernet jus for the Ethos.  The weird thing was this was probably the most well done filet I have ever had.  I was really surprised for two reasons.  I thought chefs hated cooking well done filet because it ruins it, but despite it being well done, it was actually still really tender and juicy.  So, I would have liked it medium, but wasn't disappointed in the final outcome.  Hubs and I later decided it probably came out cooked less, but sitting on the plate for a few minutes while the wines got situated and introduced, it must have cooked through.  Anyway...the Ethos Cabernet was my favorite wine of the evening.  Just goes to prove that I am a red lover, I guess.  By this time, I do have to admit that I was feeling a little wined.  It was A LOT!!  But, we were enjoying ourselves and the company at our tables.  Some very nice folks and one of the guests at the table had helped organize the event a bit and was very skilled at fielding all of our questions about the food, the wine, the pairings, etc.

   Course 5 - The dessert

   Strangely enough, this was the same dessert we had at Recess a few weeks ago, and I have never had it prior to that!  We were served yet another wine (best dinner event ever!!!), the Domaine Ste Michelle, Luxe (2004).  This wine was a sparkling white wine and is apparently very difficult to make.  Going back and forth from the wine to our dessert was stellar.  One bite, one drink...mmmmmm.

This was a Lemon Anglaise Panna Cotta with strawberry coulis and fresh berries.  Now, the one other time I had this at Recess it was delicious.  The chef came out and talked about this and wanted to explain to us why this was different from any other panna cotta we've had.  I didn't have a lot to compare to, but I was willing to take the challenge!  The difference was pretty apparent.  Normally a panna cotta is made with a gelatin base, but this one was creamy and a very different texture than my previous experience.  It was pretty dang amazing.  I can't think of a better way to end this meal than with this perfectly prepared dessert and a hearing how proud the chef was of his interpretation of it.  He was right on, though, I was impressed.

The wrap

   Sometimes I wonder why I even do a wrap up?!  I think it's pretty obvious that I am overly stoked about this place...probably annoyingly so, I know :)  I apologize, but I think the wrap might be necessary to discuss Osteria Pronto in general.  I think that our experience here might be a little bit different from an experience at the restaurant ordering from the regular menu.  Now, I haven't heard anything but good things about the restaurant AND Chef Baglio is still the head chef.  I am very, very excited about going back and recommending for you to go and give me some feedback about your experience here.  ALSO, this was their second wine dinner, so if it seems like something you might be interested in trying out, check out their specials (on the website).  They are actually hosting a Sun King Brewers Dinner on August 2nd for around $50.00 per person.  From what I've seen, they do it right, and it would definitely be an event worth trying!
  Thank you to Adrienne Bailey for inviting us to this event!  We had so much fun.

Chateau Ste Michelle Winemaker, Wendy Stuckey and myself

The wine setup at the event

Osteria Pronto on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Happy Go Foodie by Avec Moi

   Okay, I'm going to tell you a quick story, because I'm pretty sure there are a few of you out there that can relate.  It's been a long day of ____________ (insert what your day consists of here).  You get home and all you want to do is hang out and maybe try to relax a bit (unless you have children, then I am assuming this hope has long ago faded into the mist).  Nevertheless, you made a stop by the grocery store on the way home to pick up the last couple of ingredients you needed for the semi-complicated dinner you have been planning to make for the past week or so, but have been procrastinating on because you have found something easier to cook each night.  You finally peel yourself away from any idea of relaxation and realize, oh crap!!, the main ingredient for your dish is shriveled, spoiled, rotten....unusable!
Shriveled and dried out ronde de nice squashes :(

  Yep, your dinner is NOT happening.  AND, to top it have no backup, besides easy mac or pb & j.  Is that an acceptable dinner for a couple of 30 somethings, you ask yourself?  No, nope, certainly not.  What to do?  Ding!!!  The light in my head pops on, I have a little gift card I got as a promotion a couple of months back for a new business that I think will solve my problem (and very likely your same problem...stat!).

   Happy Go Foodie is all about fresh, home-cooked take out meals.  Perfect for families or those of us that just can't stomach fast food when not on a road trip.  The owner Kris, has opened a small storefront conveniently located right of College Ave. on 62nd Street in the BR.

The Food...and how it works

   As mentioned, almost everything here is made fresh daily for you to enjoy (there are some frozen options too).  You can go online and reserve what you want to pick up later, which is highly recommended if something looks good to you.  It would be sad to show up there and for her to be out of what you were craving...but that's the price you might pay for fresh food if you don't get on it!  Check out the website and see.
   So, last night we were very last minute because of our dinner predicament.  We did still manage to score some delicious dinner options, though sadly a couple things on the menu were out.  There were still two orders of chicken and pineapple skewers and we accompanied them with a serving of green beans with lemon zest.  Sounds pretty good, and healthy, huh?

So, the idea is, you pick your serving a la carte from the little refrigerated case.  There are instructions for reheating, as you can see in the photo, as well as a list of the ingredients contained.  These green beans were a nice little side to accompany our skewers.  Now, the one thing I will admit is that I make these a LOT at home.  Fresh green beans, toss 'em in a pan, throw in some olive oil and seasoning and Voila!  BUT, I didn't tonight, did I?  Nope, but Happy Go Foodie did.  So, we had fresh green beans, that yes, I could have made easily at home, but the fact is, I did not.

As our entree, we scored these delicious little chicken and pineapple skewers.  Three skewers for each serving at $5.50.  At first I thought maybe this wouldn't be enough.  My eyes are always bigger than my stomach, though.  I threw these in the oven for the time specified and when they came out, they smelled GOOD.  Hubs and I were totally satisfied by the amount of food seen here.  It was actually a perfect portion for not gorging oneself :)  In theory, these are not too complicated either, but again, I didn't have chicken or pineapple on hand.  And it would've been a little prep for me to get this together.  These were really good.  With the green beans, we were really happy with our quick and very painless fix to my flop of a dinner on a Tuesday night.

The wrap.

   If you are tight on time and budget or you just want something healthy and fresh for your family, check this place out.  I think it's a really great idea, whatever your reason.  Let someone else cook for you for a night.  Check out their website and see what Kris has cookin' today.  The menu changes daily and she also has desserts.  There were some wicked good lookin' sugar cookies there last night too.  I might have to stop by and get one of those sometime!  Oh yeah, she also usually has a gluten free option and kids meal options as well.  Have fun with a fresh new take on "fast food."

Avec Moi on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 11, 2011

Zest! At Night

   I actually didn't even know Zest served dinner because, while I have had quite a few recommendations to go there to eat, they have all been glowing reviews about their brunch.  I am a big fan of brunch, it's actually my favorite meal, and I definitely thought I would make it there for it by now.  But, alas, I was searching for restaurants that I could easily make a reservation for and I saw Zest as an option.  I took a look at their menu and decided we should give it a try.

THe placE

   I didn't spend much time looking around inside because there was plenty of seating outside and the weather was beautiful.  Our reservation wasn't really necessary at 7:30 on Friday, which is good to know for future reference.  We were seated outside on the patio under the shades, which is nice :)  Zest is located in SoBro on 54th, so not as much people traffic to watch as sitting outside in the BR, but I still like it down there.  I would have expected it to be a bit busier, but I think you know as well as I do, there are so many good restaurants in Indy, it's got to be hard to keep busy for dinner!!  There were a decent number of people out there enjoying the summer night over dinner though.  The only think I was kind of disappointed about was that online it was indicated that on Friday nights there would be live jazz.  Now, I know we were there kind of early at 7:30, but we stayed for awhile and there were no signs of jazz happening.  Maybe inside?  But, why would that be?  Outside would be perfect and it would also be great to have something like that at dinner time.  I moved on though and got to enjoying some food, which is what we were there for anyway, right?  Right.

The Food

   For starters, they brought us out this cute little can full o' warm fresh pretzel bread and a french loaf. favsies.  I am pretty easy to please in the bread department, warm, delicious and fresh, I'm in.  They served it with an olive tapenade, olive oil with sundried tomato and a nice hearty mustard.  Hubs really liked the pretzel bread with the mustard.  I almost didn't get any he liked it so much.  I did want to try it, so I grabbed a bite right before they completely disappeared down his gullet.  The french loaf was pretty to die for and I preferred it in the olive oil anyway.  Nice and simple, and, like I said, my favsies.

My entree

  I had a difficult time deciding what to order, there were a few interesting sounding choices, including one of the specials, which was pork and shrimp skewers over some tasty sounding couscous.  But, I decided to try something off the regular menu for reviewing purposes and I wanted to make sure I was getting a real taste of what a Zest dinner had to offer.  I scored me some Baja Tacos.  And dang, they seriously look good, don't they?!?

   A light cornmeal crusted fish served on corn tortillas with white cheddar and a chipotle slaw.  Now, the chipotle slaw was a push for me, I'm not much on slaw usually, but I trusted the combo.  Something I have been trying to do lately, I figure the chefs know what they are doing!!  And, with this, I really think they did.  It was tangy and fun, not too spicy, but a little kick.  The fish was prepared well and I loved the light breading.  I am also a sucker for a corn tortilla always. 

   My Baja Tacos were served with refried black beans made in house (which when I saw on the menu, may have pushed me to ordering this option...I love some beans).  The beans were topped with an avocado salad.  They were also drizzled with the same chipotle sauce that was on the tacos, which made them taste similar, but brought them together as a meal.  For me, the tacos were really good.  I am very glad I ordered them, but the beans were a bit of a pass.  They were not too tasty, a bit bland and I would have preferred more avocado.  

Hubs' Meal

Hubs has been talking about going to Maxine's chicken and waffles for a few weeks now, so when I saw chicken and waffles on the menu, I directed his eyes there.  He thought this might be a good opportunity to fill that craving, or at least give the whole chicken and waffles thing a try.  They also looked really good.  Zest sure did a good job with their presentation.
  As far as the chicken and waffles went, I think Hubs might not have read the menu closely :)  He was surprised by the white-cheddar scallion waffles at first.  They were topped with a dijon gravy and gralic mashed potatoes.  It looked like the chicken was breaded with the same cornmeal breading as my fish.  Hubs' impression of this was that it was interesting, but he thought maybe a little more gourmet than it needed to be.  You know how sometimes something that is simple and delicious can be made weird if you try too hard to make in gourmet?  That's what he thought.  So, it looked pretty, but it wasn't his favorite.  Looks like he's gonna have to try Maxine's for comparison!!

The wrap

   Overall, I liked Zest.  They had a cool little menu and the specials sounded pretty good too.  It was nice to sit out on the patio, even without the jazz (sad face).  I really liked the tacos, and would totally get them again, but I think Hubs will try something different.  I am still looking forward to trying brunch here...AND I am dying to try the world famous mac and cheese.  I am expecting it to be super good, which sometimes works...if it's super good.  So, here's to high expectations!!  Oh yeah, this place was also featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  I didn't do too much research on that and I haven't seen the episode, but I know some people are really into that, so I thought I mention it (not that you didn't already know :)).  I have no idea what they tried here, I didn't want to taint my personal decision-making.

Zest Exciting Food Creations on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Rathskeller

   We went to The Rathskeller a couple of weeks ago after we had been indulging for a few hours at the Brew Ha Ha.  For those of you who don't know, the Brew Ha Ha was a beer tasting festival that took place downtown around the Mass Ave area.  If you have never been to one before, you basically make your way around to all the various vendors and get "samples" of their beer.  This can go on for awhile, so as you can imagine, many samples = many beers.  It was fun though, and some of our seasoned Indianapolis friends suggested we go to The Rathskeller afterward because we hadn't been there yet.  I was excited to go, I had heard good things about it.


   I don't know why, but I was expecting a very bar/hole in the wall atmosphere.  I was very wrong actually.  It's quite interesting in there and the building, the 19th century Athenaeum, is absolutely beautiful.  Now, we did sit in the dining area, and it was like 5:00 PM.  I am certain this can change the atmosphere of a place, but we were definitely the loudest people there!  Not that this is completely uncommon for me, I'm kind of loud all the time, but like I said, I was expecting something different.  Not that it's bad, it's a really historic and cool place, they describe it as feeling like you are nestled in a Bavarian inn.  They do also have a bar area as well that is supposed to make you feel as though you are in Europe also.  Okay, I'm with was different and we were getting into it.

THe Food

   Despite the fact that I had been "sampling" a bit during the day, I'm just going to go ahead and say this is by far the best Bavarian/German food I have ever had.  I haven't been to Austria or Germany, but Hubs almost had us moving to Austria for a job last year.  I think I would've gained like 500 pounds if I lived there!!  The food was really, really delicious.  They started us with breads and pretzels with various dipping sauces.  One of which was the most insane, spiciest mustards you have ever laid your tastebuds on.  Literally, it was cuh-razy!  I am not too into that, but it seemed to be popular at the table, and a challenge to see who could handle it.  PS - not me :)  The pretzels were to die for too, probably the best soft pretzel I've had.  And this is just what they give you to start!!  I was feeling good about what was to come.
   The Appetizers - We ordered the Rathskeller Appetizer Sampler & the Hot Wurst Plate

This is good to order for trying to get the feel of a place.  If it were just Hubs and I, we would have never have ordered all of this food.  It was A LOT!  But, I'm glad we had some veterans with us to convince us of the things we shouldn't miss.  Seriously, the deep fried chicken cordon bleu fingers....yummmmmm.

Rathskeller Appetizer Sampler (for 2-4) $15.95
A chance to try our tasty deep fried appetizers on one platter! 3 chicken cordon bleu fingers, 3 cajun chicken poppers, 4 brat 'n kraut balls, and 2 jalape√Īo corn bread hush puppies served with an array of sauces.

This was our SECOND appetizer.  Yeah, that's how we were rollin' that night!  All out kids!  Holy sausages.  This was just an excellent way to get a sampling of the different brats and wursts The Rathskeller was slingin'.  You even got some 'kraut, cabbage and some more mustards.  I felt like were in The Sound of Music!

The Entree -  J√§egerschnitzel $24.50  Our signature schnitzel topped with a wonderful sauce of wild mushrooms, shallots, fresh garlic, red wine and select herbs.

   Three of us split the Jaegerschnitzel.  Prior to this, I had never had a schnitzel before, so I was very excited to taste it, although I can't believe I had any more space in my stomach for more food.  Nevertheless, I made it happen.

The schnitzel was served with a vegetable!  We had some veggie and some of that yummy cornbread.  But, clearly the highlight was the jaegerschnitzel.  It was topped with this deliciously seasoned mushroom, garlic gravy.  The meat was so tender and literally melted when you put it in your mouth.  It was soooooo good.  I wish I wasn't so full.  I tasted it and the three of us put a dent in it, but we couldn't even finish it.  It was so sad to see it sitting there on that plate, calling out for us to eat it.  But, we just couldn't.  We finished most of it though, but that's only because it was amazing!

The Wrap

   I think that this was some seriously authentic German/Bavarian cuisine.  From start to finish you really got the feeling you were eating something you would be eating in the mountains of Vienna.  The atmosphere of The Rathskeller set in the Athenaeum only added to the authenticity.  I know this is a popular place, and I am here to tell you there is a reason for that.  My only suggestion is to roll how we rolled and do this family style.  You get to try more food and there is so much of it, you almost have to share!!  I passed Kindergarten with flying colors many moons ago...I'm a good sharer.  Are you?

Rathskeller on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 1, 2011

It's a Holiday Feeding Frenzy!

   Happy early 4th everyone!  I know I am really looking forward to a nice holiday weekend with friends and lots of food.  I think I can only think of one "person" who may not be...and that's our pup, Bugsy.  He's not such a big fan of this holiday in particular.  I'm sure you can imagine why (Psssst...fireworks!!).  Yeah, he hates them, it makes me not like them so much either.  That's sad, because I used to love them.  I guess that's what you do for your kids, you have to hate the things that scare them and protect them, right?!?
   So, to comfort him, I think I will drop some food under the picnic table where he will be cowering likely all weekend.  Hope your four-legged friends do okay and are ready to celebrate some Independence!!  Let's take some time to celebrate some Independent restaurants and breweries while we're at it :)

The Date Place

   While I am thinking about this weekend's breakfast, I'm pretty sure we are going to end up at Long's again because a couple of our friends visiting town will insist...okay twist my arm!  So, since I just blogged about Long's last Friday, I want to tell you about our Friday date night dinner last week.  We hit up Mesh on Massachusetts Ave., which was actually planned AND reserved by Hubs.  Whoa!!!  I do love that!

   I am really starting to like Mass Ave.  The more I explore it, the better it gets...but I am sure many of you already know that.  I apologize for my newbiness shining through.  Okay, moving on.  Aside from the awesome location of Mesh, it is quite a swanky place. The thing we really liked about it is that it is a far cry from Broad Ripple anywhere.  Now, that's not good or bad, it just nice to have different sometimes and to feel like a grown-up.  Mesh is cool without feeling stuffy in my opinion.  You can get a little dressed up and have a martini and not feel out of place.  The clientele and the inside are Indy fabulous.  ALSO, they have a $2 drink menu from 3-6, so a great place for happy hour if you are into that.    We didn't hit up happy hour on our visit, but it seems like that might be a good idea in the very near future.


   In the spirit of smaller portion-sizes, we decided not to order an appetizer.  It's hard to do when they all look so good, but we avoided.  The menu is full of your gourmet American treats, steaks, fish, some vegetarian options.  They get a little creative with the sides and the preparation of the entrees.

For example, Hubs chose to get the asian short ribs accompanied by spicy pickled cucumber and onion, over sticky rice and topped with a roasted garlic rangoon and drizzled over that and on the plate for a delicious-looking presentation, a soy caramel sauce.  Hmmm...interesting.  I apologize for the grainy photo, it's difficult to be inconspicuous while snapping shots at restaurants!  You bloggers know what I'm talking about!

Hubs was pretty happy with his choice, it certainly looks amazing.  We were also pleasantly held over with some soft and garlicky bread.  So, when our dinner came, we weren't famished, but ready to enjoy it.  He mentioned that it tasted great and he loved the interesting soy caramel addition, but that the sticky rice might have been a bit much.  Not that it was bad, but that it was quite heavy and there was a lot of it.  Otherwise, a good meal and a very decent portion.  He was member of the CPC (Clean plate case you didn't play that game as a kid!).

   I actually had quite a difficult time deciding, but I of course was happy to ponder over a cocktail and some bread...yum.

   The bread was served with simple olive oil and red pepper for dipping, which sounds like no biggie, but I have never had that before.  It was a great color and tasted really good.  I love these little details that just make it slightly different and the restaurant claims it as their own!  Good job and with a little kick and a zing too.
   After contemplating the menu for long enough, I finally made a decision.  The Millers Farm Amish Chicken.  I have not even mentioned yet, but Mesh also uses local foods at their establishment, so kudos to them for that.  You don't have to be hippy dippy anymore to get in on this trend.  I love it, and I love to support it, especially since I bring the hippy dippy wherever I my heart anyway!

   I normally don't order chicken out.  It just seems not very exciting, but the goat cheese raviolis enticed me to make an exception.  I'm really glad I did because this whole combo really hit the spot.  I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.  So, we had chicken breasts over goat cheese ravioli, caponata, spinach, arugula and fresh cut parmesan.  Again, a wonderful plating, but I didn't have much to complain about.  Everything was really good, from the goat cheese and pine nuts in the pasta to the tomatoes that were so sweet and delicious I had to make Hubs try one!  Really, they were so good...sweet like a dessert.  This was an A+ meal for me.

  Remember how I mentioned portion size?  Yeah, that all goes down the drain when the dessert menu is mentioned, right?  Especially when the rest of my meal is so good, I just want to see what else they have up their sleeves.  Fried Apple and Cranberry Pie...E-nuf said.  Now, look and drool.  So ridiculously decadent.

The wrap up

   So, that was that.  I had a good experience here.  I love the location and I think they even have an outdoor seating section in the back.  I should've checked it out further, but that would only be a bonus.  We will definitely be eating here again.  Oh yeah, on top of a good food experience, the service was really great.  They were very attentive and concerned about our enjoyment at the restaurant and of the food.  Can't ask for much more than that if you ask me...did you ask?  Well, I forced you to take my opinion if you have read this far into my post :)
   Happy, Happy 4th of July!!  Please have fun and be safe.  And give your pups some love for me!!

Mesh on Mass Avenue on Urbanspoon
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