Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Charleston's Restaurant

FLO decided to finish up 2008 with a visit to Charleston’s on 82nd street off of I-69. Fred had the pleasure of devouring one of the best prime rib sandwiches of his life thanks to a holiday lunch at work and insisted the whole FLO give it a go! And we are so glad we did!
From the outside, there doesn’t seem to be anything particularly special about the design, but from the moment you walk in the door, the feeling of dark, warm, and classy shines through. There are two main dining areas, the bar, well placed to your left, the kitchen straight ahead and the main dining area across from the kitchen with the hustle and bustle visible to the clientele. Interior elements include, exposed stone, brick, dark wood paneling and lattice, wrought iron, gas sconces, and high backed leather booths as the majority of seating options. The especially loud atmosphere definitely makes one feel just fine bringing the kids along, and somehow makes it homey.
We were fortunate enough to be seated in a booth adjacent to the kitchen scene…5-6 chefs running around the kitchen, a meticulous expeditor, and stressed waitstaff dealing with a very busy dining area. Although, you wouldn’t necessarily know it. Not only was our own waiter able to keep up with our needs, but another waitperson went out of her way to make small talk with Ozzy on a couple of occasions, adding to a real family feel.
Oh, and in case you hadn’t guessed already, the food was awesome! The menu is simple…a one pager shared between lunch and dinner with a nice variety of somewhat familiar dishes. FLO started with the Shrimp Escargot, then Fred chose the Chicken Piccata, Libby the Rigatoni Bolognese and Ozzy, hmmmm…the Mac ‘n Cheese? No?! Really?! All the entrées were home runs! Straight out of the ballpark!
Our starter was shrimp, escargot-style, covered in crispy melted havarti. It was accompanied by two slices of light garlic toast. A nice dish, very scampi-like, but the real proof was in the entrees!
Fred’s very tender chicken was smothered in a caper/asparagus/artichoke/tomato medley that was out of this world – almost a side-dish unto itself! Just the right amount of zest, a little crunch and a melt in your mouth experience. One of the best piccatas Fred has ever had!
Libby’s Bolognese was delightful. A robust, cream based sauce with a perfectly spiced sausage. Not only did the sausage add a warm-to-the-tummy experience, but the herbs and spices in the sauce gave it a real flavor punch. It was hard to decide who’s entrée was the best.
Ozzy’s Mac ‘n Cheese? Almost too good to be considered a kid’s entrée. Simple penne with a lightly cheesy cream sauce…yum. We were a little worried it wasn’t cheesy enough for a 4-year-old palate, but BOY did Oz prove us wrong! After he finished his penne, out came a HUGE complimentary two scoops of vanilla ice cream with a giant chocolate chip snickerdoodle cookie! Charleston certainly knows the route to a boy’s heart!


Wrap Up
-$$-$$$, Very affordable. Especially for the quality of the food!
-****, Deep and sumptuous.
Service-***, Very accommodating and professional.
- A+, High praise!! I'm not sure you could beat the quality of food combined with very reasonable prices. All I needed was a snifter of brandy and a cigar.
Libby - A+, Wonderful overall experience. As an avid people-watcher, being able to observe the kitchen and the pulse of the dining area served as entertainment in itself. The food overall was excellent and the decor, simply beautiful.
-B+, "Pretty good." "Cold ice cream and a giant cookie. It was a circle." :)

Charleston's on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Arni's Restaurant

Having opened less then 2 weeks ago, we went into Arni's new Greenwood location with low expectations. Not being a fan of the chain bar & grill's, FLO was prepared to be underwhelmed. Although still a chain, technically, Arni's is an Indiana-only organization based out of Lafayette and operating since 1965.

Problem #1. Location. They chose a very remote area on US135 where a previous Damon's had already perished. If you don't live south of Smith Valley, you'd never know it's there. With as many other open commercial spaces available in town, we hope the rent is darned near free. Not to mention Applebee's & O'Charley's are a mere 1/4 mile away and in better locations. Being as anti-chain as we are, we hope they can overcome.

But all is not lost, as Arni's provides people with good reason to look down the road from the "TGI-McFunster" mediocrity. (Thank you, Mr. Bourdain)

While the interior design is obviously still a work-in-progress (some lighting non-functional and all walls bare), the layout is sensible. They provide a good-sized entry, followed by a large front dining area with fireplace, a central bar & a large family dining area in the rear. It is obvious, even though they have a comfortable looking bar room, that this is a family-centric establishment.

Unfortunately, we noticed areas that lacked working lighting were still being utilized for guests. Not a smart first impression for those diners. On a better note, we observed that each server had been given a pager. A smart way, presumably, for the kitchen to communicate with the wait staff. Why is this not done elsewhere?

But we digress. It's about the food, right?! The menu is quite extensive. Appetizers, burgers, pizzas, pastas, wraps, sandwiches, salads and desserts. Nothing out of the ordinary, but something for everyone. Fred was worried he was in for a sub-par evening.
Libby was hopeful, considering it's roots. Ozzy's carb levels were low.

Upon searching, seemingly in vain, for something different, Fred stumbled upon the Chipotle Shrimp & Bacon tacos. They proved to be a super-spicy explosion! No McFunsters here! One criticism. Instead of a ranch dressing side, how about sour cream or blue cheese? The ranch didn't complement an otherwise incredibly flavorful dish. The accompanying caesar salad, while nothing to write home about, was tasty.

With the sign's proclamation of "Pizza and Stuff ", Libby opted for the pizza. While we find that restaurants usually can only do either the Pizza or the Stuff adequately, we needed a balanced perspective. Although there is an extensive ingredient list and some interesting specialty pizzas, Libby decided to go with a base pepperoni pizza. What makes this pizza a little different is that they are a thin crust and the pepperoni is diced. Not to it's detriment, Libby was initially reminded of Totinos. A huge fan of the spiced beef, or "monkey meat" Totinos, this offered an excellent dining out alternative. The crust, although thin, still had a chewy texture, slight crisp, and a nice spice to the pepperoni. It was definitely greasy, as they did not skimp on the cheese either. If only they offered monkey meat...

Ok, so guess what? Ozzy got the Mac 'n Cheese (Kraft variety, per the menu). No comment. But the fries on the side were "good". After a weekend of not eating due to illness, we were happy to see the boy enjoying sustenance.


Wrap Up
Price-$-$$, Very affordable.
Atmosphere-***, Assuming that the interior will be completed in due time.
Service-***, Fast. Although a generally young staff, they were very accommodating and well coordinated.
Fred -B, Variety is good. But not the SAME variety everyone else has, please....
Libby - B, Pizza wise, there's some serious competition in this city. A good pizza, but I'd like to sample more! The beer tap left something to be desired with Blue Moon as the only viable option.
Ozzy -B, Two bites of Kraft Mac and fries almost gone. Libby, "Is it good?". Ozzy, "Yeah."
Arni's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

J Gumbo's

With Ozzy in preschool (big boy!!), Fred and Libby had a rare opportunity for a quick weekday lunch. After hearing of the combination of good beer and cajun, we decided to try this 2nd attempt at reinventing BW3's old downtown location. Upon entering, we were immediately greeted by the take-out counter -- a confusing holdover from the restaurant's first incarnation. Once it was explained that we could either order and then sit down or sit first and order from a waitress, we decided on the latter. The tasteful, upscale decor only served to make the front counter that much more out of place.

Libby excitedly ordered a Brugge Triple de Ripple while Fred begrudgingly chose an iced tea, it being a working lunch. He regretted his decision immediately after tasting, suspecting that the tea came from a bag. Not a teabag, mind you, but a concentrate one. Bad form.

After skimming over the simple menu, we violated our own rule by both ordering our favorite cajun staple, crawfish etouffee. At only $5 a bowl, a true steal. We were quickly presented with a small but adequate portion of simple white rice covered in a brown crawfish gravy and a piece of garlic toast. While not unpleasant, we were both nonplused. Although an etouffee is always mild in spice (assuming that the patron will add their own), there should always be a depth of flavor. Not only was the rice undercooked, but the flavor of the etouffee was muddied and lifeless. Bad food, and in such small portions!

Simply because the food is cheap does not mean one's expectations are. It's surprising that a product like this would keep even a regional chain such as J. Gumbo's afloat. With exceptional competition in town from Yat's, they will be hard pressed to stay in business for long, even with their extensive beer selection.

Wrap Up
Price-$, A very cheap downtown lunch location.
Atmosphere-***, Apart from the out of place front counter, the actual decor was tasteful and comfortable. Would be a **** considering the price
Service-**, Fast, yet with only one server for the whole room, she was unable to keep up with clearing tables.
Fred -C+, Saved only by the beer selection. But I will most likely be back to sample a different cajun staple.
Libby - C, My beer was the saving grace. While the etouffee wasn't horrible, it wasn't enough to bring me back again.
Ozzy - N/A

J. Gumbo's  on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Vito Provolone's

Nestled in a run-down strip mall off of Stop 11 & US135 in Greenwood, the FLO drive past Vito Provolone's almost every day. Yet in our 10 years in town, we'd never eaten there. A victim of judging the book by it's cover and our penchant for pickiness with Italian food. No Buca's or Johnny Carino's for us. We can make a better tomato sauce at home. But our blogging duties demanded an end to the chain madness!

We were well prepared to write a negative review. Expecting the worst, we entered into a small, low-lit, worn-but-comfortable dining room with stucco walls, sconces and faux-brick. Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra played in the background. Libby immediately felt they were going for an outdoor Italian cafe, inside... The half-brick walls and tight table arrangement played this out. Even though everyone was whispering, several conversations could be heard at all times. It led to a family-friendly intimate feel. Very pleasant.

We were immediately impressed with the Northern Italian influence in the menu. We're suckers for Piccattas, Marsalas and clam sauces. Fred and Libby immediately decided on ordering our bellwether italian dishes to give a true basis for comparison. Libby went with the Chicken Marsala, Fred with the Chicken Lamone (Vito's piccata). Italian is one of Ozzy's favorites (carb-based of course) so it was the kid's spaghetti for him.

After ordering two glasses of the house Chianti (nice! f-f-f-f), Ozzy's eye's lit up as the complimentary garlic bread arrived. Baked fresh (or sure seemed like it!) and brushed with a nice salty garlic-butter, Oz was in heaven. After Fred gave him only one piece at a time, he eventually grabbed half a loaf in a hilarious display that was too cute to stop. So much for our appetizer...

Each entree came with a soup or salad option. Fred went with a house salad with blue cheese (one of their 4 homemade dressings) while Libby enjoyed a wonderful cream of mushroom soup. Well seasoned. Not too powerful. A nice mild flavor that most people would enjoy.

The main courses arrived quickly and we were immediately impressed with the quality. Fred couldn't wait for Libby to finish cutting up Ozzy's noodles before he tried his first bite. Yum. The chicken was pounded flat (which usually spells of disastrous, dried hunks of jerky) but instead it was moist with a crisp pan fry. They were very generous with the capers, much to Fred's delight. It was a very zesty lemon-caper sauce with angel hair. Perfect.

Libby was equally happy with her Marsala. The same preparation for the chicken and pasta. After enjoying the mushroom soup, it seemed a natural progression to move to this lightly mushroom flavored Marsala sauce. It was a more sweet, yet still a mild version that was unique to Vito's.

But the real grand-slam was Ozzy's spaghetti. It's always a good sign when the boy is still eating after Mom & Dad have finished. He actually gave his own review. "This is good." and "Still not done yet." We stole a few tastes and the sauce was a sweet, heavy basil and oregano marinara that was screaming to go on pizza. We both made a mental note for next time.

Wrap Up
Price-$$$, A bit on the pricey side, but we didn't exactly go with the cheap eats either...
Atmosphere-**1/2, We think we know where they were going, but it wouldn't hurt to put a little more effort into it. Especially if you're actually in a rundown strip mall and only open for dinner.
Service-***, Fast, friendly, and quick to offer more bread & drinks.
Fred -B+, I was SO looking forward to a negative review! Oh well. Darned good wine sauce!
Libby - B, Although I was pleasantly surprised with both my soup and entree, I prefer bolder flavors.
Ozzy - A, See above!

Vito Provolone's on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thai Spice

Another fine Saturday afternoon, and the FLO was on the hunt for food. After being shut down by the new barbecue place(a wait we could not bare), we had a fabulous idea....time for thai! Thai Spice opened a few years ago on county line in Greenwood and was a much celebrated arrival. This was a first for the south side. We have been faithful customers since it opened and have enjoyed every dish we've had. We finally decided it was time to share our enthusiasm.

Ozzy had made it very clear that he was not in the mood for experimenting. The chicken strips and fries, available for kids, was calling his name. While he waited, Mom and Dad went for the lemon grass soup(Thom Yum) as a starter. On this chilly fall day, Fred and Libby couldn't imagine a more savory warm up. A broth base, with chili oil, lemon grass(leaf and stem), ginger, tofu, basil, tomato, mushroom, and a host of spices greeted us with a bouquet that was nothing short of intoxicating. The flavors were so fragrant that Libby couldn't stop thinking that it was like a potpourri soup. Smooth. A dish that exemplifies what Thai food is all about.

On this occasion, Libby chose the Padd Makur(#86)...a delicious stir fry of spicy Japanese eggplant, basil, peppers, and chicken for the protein; all served with a side of steamed rice. The real genius in this dish (other than an amazing spice combination) is the Japanese eggplant. Unfamiliar to the FLO before Thai Spice, it is a much more flavorful version of the popular grocery variety eggplant. It is cooked until soft and mushy and the flavor is...how to explain...velvet. Sweet velvet in a symphony of spice and texture. As with most thai eateries, you get to choose your heat. Libby went with medium. For this dish, it was a perfect amount with a build that left you warm and cozy.

Fred went with the Padd Kemau(#63). Pictured above, it is easy to see the wonderful flat, wide noodles stir fried with brocolli, bok choy, tomatoes, basil and Fred's choice of tofu for the protein. This dish, heavy in basil, and ordered hot, (per Fred's preference) also displayed thai foods' wonderful heat building talent. With a healthy dose of chili oil, this dish never disappoints. Fred's only addition would have been some of that tasty Japanese eggplant!

When Ozzy's linner arrived, before our main entrees, Libby and Fred were distracted by how good his fries smelled. He quickly dove into the still-hot-pile and remained occupied the rest of the meal. Although, chicken strips are always a challenge, he tried a bite and opted to just finish the fries. When asked his opinion, a short and simple "good" was mumbled in between bites. We were surprised that a thai place would provide decent grub for the rugrats.

We would also like to mention the tasty-fried-tofu-goodness served with a spicy/sweet thai sauce as a complimentary appetizer. Chinese sweet and sour makers could take a lesson from their thai bretherin. Just yummy! And how do you make tofu so crispy and delicious?! Ask Thai Spice!

Wrap Up
Price-$-$$, Definitely a cheap lunch and an affordable dinner. It's never a matter of concern when deciding to dine here.
Atmosphere-***, Simple buddhist gold accents, neutral tones, and one open dining area that is inviting to all who come!
Service-***, Very accommodating. Language barriers are always a good sign when considering ethinic cuisine, yet it doesn't affect the speed and quality of service.
Fred -A, always good to have a slow burn on the lips the rest of the afternoon.
Libby - A, as a thai lover, Thai Spice is in my top two thai expriences...definitely the top ethnic choice on the south side.
Ozzy - B, Fries gone. Chicken strips tried and failed. "Good"

Thai Spice on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Ted's Montana Grill

For the Oz-man's 4th birthday, we decided to visit a place he has enjoyed a few times...Ted's Montana Grill. What makes Ted's so awesome? Why, the best buffalo burgers ever, that's what! It is a tall order to even find buffalo burgers on menus around the city. FLO makes a point to always sample the bison whenever we find it -- for better or worse. But there is never a question in our minds when we walk into Ted's.

Naturally, Ozzy isn't there for the meat. He was all about the mac 'n cheese and fries. And yes, he did finish a full bowl of the velveeta-ey goodness. He was actually silent and focused while consuming.

Libby decided to go for George's Cadillac...a succulent bison burger with barbecue, cheddar cheese, and bacon. Oh yes, so rich and delicious! Just look into those eyes! It is so easy to overcook bison due to the lower fat content and with the Cadillac, you would never know it. And as all good fries are, they're double fried and perfectly seasoned.

Fred went with a lot more in the Kitchen Sink...grilled ham, mushrooms, Anaheim peppers(instead of onion), fried egg, bacon, and cheddar on the bison burger....wow, what a mouth full!

While enjoying our burgers, we began taking in the 1920's & 30's decor. At first we did not notice the small art-deco touches which oddly melded well with western-style paintings, horns & buffalo heads on the walls. Our booth was surprisingly private and while Ozzy was on his best behavior, any shenanigans would not have upset the other diners.

Although a small detail to note, it was a pleasant surprise to find our own personal pepper grinder on the table, rather than the standard shaker. Why these are not a common item throughout the restaurant landscape is beyond us. Such a simple, cheap way to enhance your diner's total experience!

Ted's should also receive kudos for it's environmental awareness. Napkins are all cloth, to-go cups are biodegradable... They even reintroduced paper straws back to the US. Impressive.

If we must find a weak point in Ted's armor, it would be the breadth of menu. If you want your bison in a form other than steak, burger, or meatloaf, you must go on it's specific day of the week.


Wrap Up
Price-$$-$$$, Ok, so a burger & drink is gonna run you $10. But we dare you to find a better one.
Atmosphere-***, Inspired. surprisingly comfortable and equally welcoming to the t-shirted or the suited.
Service-***, Very accommodating. Well paced and even brought the birthday boy an ice cream & cookie.
Fred - A, Sorry cow-pokes. I'm a buffalo man.
Libby - A, It is rare that I will travel 40 minutes for a burger.
Ozzy - A, No words, just a glazed-over shoveling with little care of the dripping cheese.

Ted's Montana Grill on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Brozinni Pizzeria

Okay, okay, so we had to try the new New York style pizza place after reading several rave reviews and we have to say...damn right! That is some impressive pie!

Ozzy had an impromptu night with Grammy, so we had to go out! Tonight we started with the knuckles...dough twists smothered in a garlic butter sauce. Yeah, how can that NOT be good? Super buttery and too much for two, so order if you're in a group.

Then, there was the pizza. The pie was as big as New York and it was only the 16"! (their smallest!!) Although the specialty pizzas were very tempting, from the Canal Street(sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, and green peppers) to the 34th Street(fresh garlic, basil, mozzarella cheese, and a special white sauce), we decided to create our own. Spicy Sausage, pepperoni, zesty peppers, and WOW, just look at Fred's face! Truly magnificent. We are not usually sausage pizza people, but that may have changed. This is a sliced sausage with a mild heat when mixed with the zesty peppers(pepperoncini's) was a mouth pleasing party! Let's not discount the pepperoni, which could easily stand on its own.

The menu is not limited to pizza and bread sticks, either. There are the usual appetizers, soups and salads, calzones, subs, and pastas. We were also intrigued by the "Grandma's Pie," a square deep dish style pizza that will have to be sampled at our next visit.

Not to be redundant, but yet again, this is NOT a toppings pizza. Although the meats are much higher quality than your local papa john's, it's really a great pie in it's entirety. Excellent crust, light marinara, good meat, and overall a pizza that you cannot get anywhere else in the Indianapolis area. Although the crust was almost a third of the pie, it could stand alone as an exceptional breadstick. We did happen to witness a 20" 34th street walk by and the crust was more proportional. Might we add that the table of 8 sharing it, ooed and awed audibly from across the room!

The beer selection was satisfactory, although they were out of half of what was listed on the chalk board. Something tells us, with the size of the portions, they're not going to be selling any of those yummy sounding cannoli's on the dessert menu.

Wrap Up
Price-$$, Decently priced food, but we spent as much on beer as food, unfortunately.
Atmosphere-***, Black and white New York photos, faux brick and visible dough tossing...nice.
Service-***, Courteous staff and perfect timing.

Fred - A-, Top notch ingredients and great technique make for a killer, unique in Indy pie.
Libby - A, A serious competitor with Some Guy's, yet they are totally different. Without a doubt, the best pizza on the south side!
Ozzy -slumber party at Grammy's!

Brozinni Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sophia's Original House of Pancakes

Another groggy Sunday morning for Libby and breakfast was sounding mighty good. So, it was time to try the new(only open 2 1/2 weeks) regional chain, Sophia's. Taking over the old location of a rather grimy, smokey Sunshine Cafe, Libby was pleasantly surprised to walk into a very clean, bright, fresh environment. Not only was the air clear, but the host was fast and furious...quickly getting me to a seat as a swarm of waitstaff brought water, silverware, menus, and coffee...thank you.

Fred and Ozzy joined a few minutes later and we began to take in the enormous menu. Not only the usual pancakes, egg combo's and omelets, but also blintzes, Belgian waffles, crepes, hash, and that southern staple, grits. It was quite a feat to settle on one entree a piece, but we finally did.

Ozzy, the Mickey Mouse chocolate chip pancakes. Something tells us Disney isn't getting their royalties, but Ozzy certainly didn't seem to mind! Libby, struggling deeply within between a carb breakfast or the hash, finally went with the hash breakfast...four eggs, hash, hash browns, and two flapjacks....come to mama. Fred decided to try a staple for any new breakfast place, the eggs benedict(although the eggs florentine was very tempting).

All in all, very good. All eggs cooked as ordered, hash browns nicely crisped, pancakes, fluffy, yet not with an annoying skin that makes them hard to cut. The coffee, an average cup of joe, but not watery or burned...fresh, hot, caffeine.

Libby found the hash, although nothing exciting, very delicious and simple. The eggs and hash browns really made for a complete experience. The pancakes, although very good for a plain flapjack, were unnecessary. Libby was working her way to a carb coma to ensure a good days sleep.

Fred, on the other hand, ordered his benchmark breakfast dish. If you want to call yourself a true breakfast place, then you must know your eggs benedict. Sophia is well acquainted and did not disappoint. As Fred has mentioned before, he loves a lemony hollandaise. This one, while bland, was still full of buttery goodness. He is happy that they didn't go with a cheese sauce rather than an actual hollandaise like so many others tend to do.

This is what we were referring to when lamenting Four Seasons. While Sophia's is not the end all be all of breakfast establishments, it sets the bar at "good eats"-a step above your average Denny's. It saddens us that a chain is one upping the mom-and-pop. But let's hope a little healthy competition will make them up their game. As far as FLO is concerned, another visit to Sophia's is in the near future to either partake of some other breakfast delights or sample the lunch menu...they are open 7 days a week from 7-3.

Wrap Up
Price-$-$$, Not dirt cheap, but very reasonable.
Atmosphere-**, Unfortunately the decor left a lot to be desired...commercial Grandma's house with no personality, but bright and clean.
Service-****, Fast and efficient. You can tell this place had good management...ran like a well-oiled machine already in it's first month!

Fred - B, While nothing special, I feel like I can count on a solid breakfast every time.
Libby - B+, As the resident carbo-holic parent, I am glad to say I will be back to sample the waffles, blintzes and crepes...Yay!
Ozzy - A, There was no talking once the food arrived from this sleepy-eyed boy.
Sophia's Original House of Pancakes on Urbanspoon

Stone Creek Dining Company

The first time we went to Stone Creek was soon after it's opening several years ago. At first, we found it a little pretentious with it's fine dining prices and oddly chosen decor(servers in Hawaiian shirts, eclectic lodge-like interior with blown glass), but after our first meal, we were pleasantly surprised. We are happy to say that the Hawaiian shirts have been retired for a more classy black on black. Not only is it family-friendly, but it has a wide variety of tasty dishes. One of Libby's favorites is the salmon salad. Pan seared salmon on a bed of mixed lettuce with boiled eggs, nuts and the appropriate amount of dressing. Our favorite architectural choice is the kitchen. It is open to the dining area and there is nothing better than watching the chaos during a dinner service.

Our most recent visit was at lunch and this time we were in the mood for sandwiches. We hadn't had the pleasure and Libby quickly eyed the Cuban. For Fred, it would be the Chicago(Italian) beef. Ozzy, you guessed it, the grilled cheese.

In a word, WOW. Libby was immediately happy. Not only were the ingredients perfect...excellent meat, thinly sliced, crispy ciabatta, and the accompanying horseradish sauce were inspired on their own, but *drum roll* the most ingenious addition---giardenera. Yes, that was the perfect accoutrement, not just the pickled deliciousness, but this one had some oily heat. And for the first time, Libby understood the point of ciabatta. It always seemed like too much for most sandwiches, but the greasiness of the giardenera coupled with the hearty pork---ciabatta was an excellent delivery device...just heaven.

Fred's Chicago beef gave Libby's Cuban a run for it's money. The same crispy ciabatta covered in massive amounts of chipped, juicy cheese covered beef goodness, spiced to the max with the same giardenera. Fred's been looking for a good Italian in Indy, and this is certainly the best he's found. It was served with crispy double-fried shoestring french fries, sopping wet in the spicy giardenera juice....ahhhhhh. For those who preferred their Italian's wet, au jou was provided on the side.

Ozzy finished his double fried fries first(they were yummy), then did decide to sample the grilled cheese. Pity, because it looked pretty good.

Wrap Up
Price-$$$-$$$$, Quite possibly one of the most expensive restaurants in Greenwood.
Atmosphere-***, Comfortable with odd taste in art and other decorations...fake, dried flowers, anyone?
Service-***, good, professional service.

Fred - A-, Is there anything better than a gentle burn on your lips after that perfect amount of spice?
Libby - B+, Although a bit pricey for a sandwich, I wasn't upset about it...damn good Cuban.
Ozzy - B, ate all the fries, tried the grilled cheese, but seemed happy overall.

Stone Creek Dining Company on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Barcelona Tapas

Peckish but interested in more than just some chips and dip? How about teasing your palate with small yet delicately appointed dishes presented by our Iberian friends as tapas. If you've never had tapas, the concept is simple. They are small appetizer-sized portions of some very sophisticated dishes meant to be ordered in quantity and shared among a table.

It is rare that you can order an entire dish based on artichokes or asparagus. Much less begin moaning when the goat cheese comes out! Thus is the case at Barcelona Tapas.

FLO first visited Barcelona soon after opening in 2007 and found it to be quite wonderful. A refreshing twist on the entire concept of a restaurant not seen elsewhere in Indianapolis. Not only are it's dishes reflective of the Spanish culture's cuisine, but Barcelona Tapas also has the open-to-the-street feel you only find in more old-world destinations.

We were long over-due for another visit and knew the Queso de Cabra al Horno (baked goat cheese in tomato sauce with garlic bread) would be the first of our list of tapas for the evening. Just as with our first visit, Fred wished to bathe in it. If only an Italian restaurant would serve a marinara as exquisite! It was so spectacular that we ended up dipping everything in it.

Along with our Queso, we ordered 3 other tapas:
-- A skewer of fried shrimp in a sherry cream and "caperberry" salsa. Yum! It was the first casualty.
-- Fried artichoke hearts with a Romesco sauce and shaved Manchego cheese. Very very tasty, and the perfect dipper for that baked goat cheese and tomato sauce!!! While the Romesco was good, it just couldn't compete.
-- Last but not least, the grilled lamb chops with sherry alioli and rioja reduction. Oh-mah-gawd. Perfectly tender, perfectly moist, perfectly seasoned. If only they made lambs the size of cows. . . hmm.

And did we mention they have a decent beer selection on tap? Bells Oberon, Stella Artois or Hoegarten? Nice. We forget the other choices, but there was a wide enough range to satisfy most palates.

Ozzy was happy to munch on the complimentary warm bread and enjoy the afternoon sun. While Barcelona does not offer a children's menu, he did not seem out of place nor unwelcome.

Wrap Up
Price-$$$-$$$$, Not cheap. But did we mention the sauce?
Atmosphere-****, The garish colors & decor transport you out of the midwest.
Service-****, very attentive and almost too fast service
Fred - A, I know I'm splitting hairs, but our food actually arrived so quickly that we were not ready for it. Gosh what a problem to have!
Libby - A, Any time I can enjoy my meal and feel like I've experienced a taste of the culture, I am very happy.
Ozzy - C, Ozzy seemed to almost understand that Mommy and Daddy needed their private time with the goat cheese. Thank you boy!!!


Barcelona Tapas on Urbanspoon

Four Seasons

The FLO have frequented the Four Seasons for several years, but sadly, we can't say anything remarkable about it.

As far as a typical "diner," it is as greasy spoon and non-chain as you can get in Greenwood. Not that it is all bad, but it wouldn't take a lot to make this place really stand out. For one, it is owned and operated by Greek immigrants, and the menu definitely reflects a few more ethnic options. Libby loves Greek, Fred hates it..se la vie. Every meal we have ever gotten has settled in the "okay" category. Not terrible, not wonderful, just okay.

Our latest experience was for lunch on a weekend. Fred went with the house omelet and Libby the Greek Lasagna. Libby was pleasantly surprised with the mildness considering the amount of onion in the dish. It wasn't bad, just not exciting. Her salad had several brown pieces of lettuce and this is not the first time. Ozzy ordered the grilled cheese and actually ate it!

Fred's omelet was well below par. The egg was brown, dry & rubbery. The potatoes, while done, were not crispy and lacked any seasoning of any kind. The best thing on the plate was his out-of-a-box english muffin.

In the past, Fred has enjoyed the house omelet...a Greek rendition with tomato, spinach and feta. Libby has also enjoyed the Greek platter with it's deconstructed gyros. So, it's not all bad. It just wouldn't take too much more effort to make crispier fried potatoes, tastier pancakes, and more carefully prepared salads. The service is always good. Attentive and fast.

The FLO would suppose that watching Food Network's Diners, Drive-in's and Dive's has made us even more critical of Four Seasons. I guess a "bananas" is too much to ask, but we yearn for the "killer" and the "money" that it sorely lacks and that Greenwood desperately needs. It's not that the food is bad, they could easily kick it up a notch and really have something special. Instead, they cater to the steady stream of business on the south side that doesn't demand much of the palate.

Wrap Up
Price-$, At least the price is right...
Atmosphere-**, Recently updated greasy spoon motif. No complaints.
Service-***, very attentive and fast service
Fred - D, I'm rethinking my aversion to Denny's.
Libby - C, I do love a good gyro, and their's suffices, but there is a lot lacking here.
Ozzy - A, Very family friendly and they know how to make a grilled cheese.

Four Seasons on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 25, 2008

La Hacienda

Having noticed a distinct lack of ethnic foods on these pages, the FLO decided to treat ourselves to the one type of ethnic food that is plentiful on the south side... Mexican. Here in the land of chains, we are blessed with a plethora of Mom & Pops specializing in south-of-the-border cuisine.

Having listened to Fred rave about the lunches at the Binford Blvd location, Libby and Ozzy were excited to try La Hacienda. A local chain, with several locations circling Indy proper, La Hacienda specializes in authentic Mexican grub without pretense.

While you can get all the basics -- tacos, burritos, enchiladas and the like -- these guys offer a whole host of entrees you're not going to find at your local Taco Bell. Fred's water mark for any Mexican place is the Chile Colorado and these guys deliver. A healthy portion of heavily seasoned red meat in a delectable sauce served with beans and their heavenly spanish rice. He also recommends the roasted poblano peppers stuffed with meat, cheese & beans. Yum!

Having been there, done that, Fred chose a burrito combo, one chicken and one beef. Libby weighed in with the chicken enchiladas verde. At Fred's insistence, we added on a bowl of their chicken soup. Sure it was going to be way too much food, but that's what doggie bags are for!

Fred was very happy with his burritos... very flavorful and perfectly balanced spices. The chicken was all white meat and talk about a healthy portion! Libby's enchiladas were bordering on spectacular. Neither of us could believe the rice. Usually a bland afterthought on the plate, this stuff was front and center. We couldn't put our fingers on the spicing, but it offset the verde sauce beautifully.

Finally, we moved on to the soup -- Fred's staple lunch. Obviously chicken soup is the first thing you think of when you envision Mexican food.... or if this is any indication, it should be. It has a creaminess to it that we can not put our fingers on; very much like the coconut milk in a thai red curry. But instead of curry, this is a heavy tortilla, rice & chicken affair with some avocado thrown in for good measure. So satisfying.

FYI, there are 8 locations around town(that we know of) and they have been in business for over 10 years. And we shouldn't leave out one very important note, they were voted "Best Mexican Food in Indy," which most locations boast on their signs.

Wrap Up
Price-$, A more authentic Mexican restaurant with more than reasonable prices.
Atmosphere-**, Dated yet cozy with low key booths and tables, nice flat panel televisions, and pleasing wall art of Mexican scenery.
Service-***, very attentive and fast service
Fred - A- While the salsa wasn't quite up to snuff, the strength of the food throughout the menu gives this one the A
Libby -A, Really impressive. Everything was above average, and some things, namely my enchiladas and the chicken soup, outstanding! Cheap, delicious, convenient and fast?! What more do you want?
Ozzy - B, Um , yeah, he really shouldn't comment as he only ate the chips...but, they were very acceptable as he was so protective of the basket.

La Hacienda on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Broad Ripple Brewpub

So where ELSE in this town has killer beer? Oh yeah! Maybe Broad Ripple Brewpub? Yup. Page 6. Why they don't put them front & center is anyone's guess... I mean, food? Who needs it before they get one of those delicious English pints (no 16 ounces here!)!

After ordering our pints -- Wheat for the lady, a hearty Alt-bier for the lad. (no, not Ozzy. He wanted water? Go figure!) -- Libby decided we needed to try the cheese dip special...Chorizo, ancho chiles & cheese. While the dip was very very tasty, it was served with stale chips. ugh. This appetizer is a perfect microcosm of the meal. Parts bordering on the inspired, others not meeting McDonalds' quality control.

Having had a huge lunch, Libby considered simply having the appetizer, but decided on a light dinner as well. She ordered Lori's Favorite -- a pita filled with basil hummus, lettuce, tomato & swiss cheese. While we are both huge hummus fans, this was a flop. A stale pita (is this a trend?) and entirely too much hummus. It was a case where less would be more. The flavor was intense, yet the product itself dry and unsatisfying. But even after removing 1/3 of the hummus, it was just not working for us.

Fred ordered Barry's Favorite -- honey smoked turkey, apple smoked bacon, tomato, lettuce & brie on sourdough. While Libby found the sandwich to be only mediocre, Fred was very happy with the bite from the brie. It was that little difference that put it above your average club.

Ozzy's meal continued the hit & miss performance. He requested the grilled cheese with pub chips. As with so many other establishments, somehow the grilled cheese is never grilled enough. What is so hard about putting cheese between two pieces of bread and then melting it? Oh well, we're beginning to expect no better. Ozzy, a big fan of Dad's grilled cheese at home, didn't even touch it. BUT. . . the pub chips!! Niiiice! Double-fried and perfect. No fancy spices, just discs of brown crispiness that dipped well in both ketchup and leftover queso. Certainly worth the subsitution over the standard Mike Sells.

One brief note on the beer. Although Libby's Wheat had not a hint of head or carbonation it still demanded a second pint with no complaints. The flavor was there, even at the end of the keg. Fred's Alt-bier left him wanting to sit and stay for 2-6 more.

Wrap Up

Price-$$ - $$$, A well balanced menu not filled with just the typical burgers & pizzas
Atmosphere-***, Indoor crowded English pub or outdoor peoplewatching. The sum of all broadripple's eccentricities.
Service-**, Nothing special good or bad.
Fred - B, I'll give it a one time pass on stale chips. But our pen will FLY if we encounter it again.
Libby - B-, Overall this would be a higher mark, if not for the culinary execution issues. For such a well-established Broadripple icon, it felt like quality was being sacrificed in the name of inherited superiority. Even with it's flatness, the beer (and excellent cheese dip) has saved this rating.
Ozzy - B, Ozzy digs outdoor seating. To his detriment, he had just awoken from his nap and was a little on the cranky side. But they provided a decent selection and it's refreshing to see a child-friendly brewpub. The Monon being across the street certainly didn't hurt.

Broad Ripple Brew Pub on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 14, 2008


So, instead of a month or two later, it was more like 5 months later, but Fireside is definitely doing all the right moves. From kitchen expansion plans to their 5th menu, it appears the owners have the backing to really make this place work. As we were watching Kitchen Nightmares last week, Chef Gordon Ramsey helped a Long Island train wreck get back in shape and he introduced the concept of the "gastropub." This is exactly how we would describe Fireside Brewhouse...the southside's only real gastropub...high-end eats with a relaxed yet classy dining/bar atmosphere.

And speaking of high-end eats, the head Chef, Tommy Thompson, is concocting some seriously tasty dishes! Even from the first week of opening, it was obvious a real chef was behind the menu and we are happy to say things have only gotten better.

For our return visit, it was a late Saturday lunch. After deciding on a draft Bell's Oberon, Libby was feeling like a sandwich and the Brood Witch was speaking her language...peppered turkey, cheese, cherry smoked bacon, over sourdough with hollandaise...oh, yeah! It was served with a caesar side salad(homemade croutons and shaved parmesan, anyone?) and was delicious. The hollandaise was very mild(we usually douse ours with lemon juice to tang it up) yet this culmination was smooth and very filling.

Fred started with the Bell's and followed with Avita Turbodog(a meal!). Then, Fred went with the "wet pig" or grilled tenderloin dipped in a chipotle/garlic sauce served on a kaiser bun. It was a solid(if somewhat uninspired) sandwich. It was served alongside the house fries, very tasty shoestrings, that dipped well in the leftover "wet pig" sauce!

Now, to Ozzy. We knew we were going out on a limb here, but we went with the kids cheese pizza. Crazy, we know. Ozzy doesn't do pizza. He's a breadstick kid. Sauce only goes on pasta, duh! Even though he had issues with the sauce, he gave it a go and ended up leaving most of it. So, Fred and Libby gave it a taste and wow(!), this is a damn good cheese pizza! The sauce had this wonderful sweet garlic essence, with loads of mozzarella and a great woodfire crust. It was so good in fact, Fred and Libby ended up finishing the majority of Ozzy's entree while leaving some of their own behind. Excellent pairing with a good brew.

And speaking of brews, they still have a monster beer menu. The organization is better, but we still think there should be more taps...16 is good, yes, but more is better!

It seems that Fireside has really made it a point to stand out as a hang out. Their lunch menu advertised their weekly karaoke, DJ's, live bands and sporting event activities and specials. They are certainly broadening their customer base with a family-friendly atmosphere that turns adult only after 10pm-good idea!

One suggestion...please get that website up and running...it's been "under construction" since opening.

Wrap Up
Price-$$-$$$, Not cheap, but very worth the price tag
Atmosphere-***, More relaxed than before, yet kept the high-end feel
Service-***, excellent waitress, Thank you, Jessica!
Fred - B+, Next time need to try an "adult" style pizza.
Libby - A-,Better menu, better ambiance, great sandwich, excellent beer and pizza!
Ozzy - B-, No matter how hard we try, he's still not a pizza boy yet.*sigh*
Fireside Brewhouse on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Boogie Burger

On the rare occasion that Fred and Libby get a "date night," we knew exactly where we wanted to go...Boogie Burger! Fred had read about it in The Dish from Indianapolis Monthly and we were jonesin' for some juicy goodness.

After a little jaunt in the rain, we came across the hole in the wall Broadripple location. It seemed right, screen door, windows lined with bar stools and tables and the larger than life wall menu. Since we had done our research, we knew what we wanted to try before we got there.

Fred had feasted his eyes on the Disco Inferno. A third pound of Angus beef topped with Serrano peppers, pepper jack cheese, lettuce/tomato/mayo...cooked to perfection. A good char, not over done, and a nice heated finish. One bite provided enough heat for Libby, and she had other things to consider like...the Wild Wild West!

This burger was the same delicious Angus beef, a fried onion, cheddar cheese, hickory smoked bacon, lettuce/tomato/mayo and a nice sweet BBQ sauce. It was butta! Even, Fred, the onion-o-phob found the burger delicious. The garlic and parsley fries were the perfect match. Libby is especially fond of fresh chopped garlic, and this side had enough piled on to add some zing and spice to the not so exciting fries...honestly, they should have been double fried.

While sitting and watching the passers by run in the rain, it was the perfect, relaxing "burger joint" atmosphere. A customer came in just to get a smoothie, something we will have to sample next time! As it appears to be set up to ensnare the post-bar partiers on the prowl to satisfy that drunken craving, we actually did it in reverse---which also works very nicely. ;)

Wrap Up
Price-$$, worth the money for a burger done right!
Atmosphere-***, fun, inviting atmosphere that was small, intimate and had a great view.
Service-***, quick service, friendly, easy going.
Fred - B+, Thoroughly enjoyable grease-bomb. When can we expect a southside location to open?!
Libby - B+, A delicious, well-cooked product(Angus Beef). The toppings were a mouth pleasing combo and the fries, although needing a double fry, were very satisfying...gimme that gah-lic!
Ozzy - no comment, enjoying the night with Aunt Mary and Uncle Eric! (Thank you, guys!)

Boogie Burger on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 1, 2008

Maxine's Chicken and Waffles

After searching in vain in both Fountain Square and Mass Ave for an eatery open on Labor Day, the FLO stumbled upon a vision in southern deep fried glory on East Street. We had heard that a new soul food restaurant had opened up downtown. Usually our waistline concerns prevent us from considering such delicacies, but hey, we were in a pinch. And man are we happier for it!

Maxine's Chicken and Waffles may make northerners scratch their heads. Fried chicken atop waffles? We decided to leave that for another time. But we will be back to give it a go!

Upon entering, we were surprised to be seated; not just expected to walk up to a counter and grab a tray? We immediately noticed the large shower/fountain/wishing well in the center of the dining room. This made for a loud, but not unpleasant atmosphere. The rest of the interior was adorned in stucco with large arches and sconces on the walls. While tasteful, it seemed somehow out of place with the deep fried goodness being served.

After being seated, we both opted for one of the house specialties: B&K Ice tea. It's a mixture of sweetened iced tea & lemonade. Very refreshing! While looking over the menu, we immediately decided on a FLO-favorite as an appetizer: fried green tomatoes! YUM! Somehow we knew they'd be done right: thinly sliced. no flour. Just the perfect cornmeal breading. They were served with a creamy dipping sauce heavy on the onion. Ozzy, spying the green within the crust, dove into the complimentary corn bread instead. One very buttery face later, he was a happy boy.

For the main course, Libby opted for the smothered boneless friend chicken, mashed potatoes and collard greens. She bestowed her mac-n-cheese on Ozzy who gave it two big thumbs up. Fred was torn between several of the hearty breakfast-all-day offerings, but ended up going with a blackened catfish sandwich with fried apples on the side.

Yowsa! Libby's boneless fried chicken was cooked to perfection. How do you get boneless chicken with the skin intact? The gravy was unlike any we'd tasted before. There was no milk, just the drippings from the chicken, some stock, flour and spices. Heavenly.

Fred's blackened catfish sandwich was well seasoned and perfectly cooked, but unfortunately too small a fillet for the oversized bun and toppings. Good stuff though and the fried apples were pie without the crust. Tender, sweet and warm. Delish.

Libby had never tried collard greens before. She was pleasantly surprised to find them something familiar. Very cabbage-like without the tang of vinegar. Instead, these had a porky goodness that complimented the smothered chicken.

After seeing a plate of the chicken and waffles walk past, Libby was ready for another visit. Somehow we don't think Ozzy would complain.

Wrap Up
Price-$$, Certainly reasonable especially for the large portions (Fred's sandwich not withstanding)
Atmosphere-** - ***, Open kitchen and lively dining area as one might expect. But the contemporary decor was somehow too stuffy for the comfort food within.
Service-***, Greeted at the door by an eager and accommodating host. Our server seemed almost offended that we were not able to finish our plates...sorry...wanted to...believe us.

Fred - B, Fried chicken. fried catfish. fried green tomatoes. fried apples. fried arteries. oh yeah.
Libby - B+, Although I don't have the most experienced southern food palate, the fried chicken was perfect. As for the mashed potatoes and gravy, more seasoning please!
Ozzy - B+, When asked if his mac-n-cheese was good, he simply replied "yup". But 3 piece of cornbread spoke volumes...
Maxine's Chicken and Waffles on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Some Guys Pizza Pasta Grill

To see it from it's strip mall location off of Allisonville, one would never expect the great decor surprises inside. Dark interior, with brick accents and the very visibly bustling kitchen makes for a cozy venue for the brick oven pizza and pasta joint. Fred has been going there for lunch on and off for the last several months, and today the FLO in it's entirety was finally able to see what all the fuss was about.

First off, our waitress was pure positive energy with a real passion for her work. Her sincerity was unwavering through the whole experience...even when our "beer eliteness" reared it's ugly head and discovered our Brugge White pitcher was flat and tasteless. She went the extra mile to get another server's opinion, and then while trying to pour another, the keg gave it's last explosive effort before emptiness...ahhh, beer-snob-chops validation! Gotta love the Brugge!

What to choose? What to choose? Hmmm, well, there are 7 cheeses, 7 sauces, 10 base toppings, 10 specialty meats(from meatballs to clams to Cajun shrimp!), and 13 specialty veggies/toppings(fresh garlic, basil, capers or pimentos?)!!! Help!

Ozzy, as we know, must have carbs...and carbs a plenty there are, but today, Ozzy chose the angel hair with the surprisingly zesty tomato basil marinara from their pasta selections. Only a direct quote will do..."This is delicious... and tasty!" 'Nuf said. Libby decided to try a concoction Fred had sampled on an earlier occasion...the personal with roma tomato, basil, and goat cheese. Wow. It was fresh and light. The crust was thin and had that perfect brick oven crispness. Fred decided to create another masterpiece, and that he did! A personal with pepperoni, anchovy, and gorgonzola...oh... mah... gawd! The best palate pleaser pizza to date! Libby was impressed with Fred's ingenuity and Some Guys' superior ingredients/product. It paired perfectly with the now- fresh Brugge tap.

All in all, the FLO is ready to say....drumroll...this is Indy's #1 pizza!...until proven otherwise.
A word to "toppings pizza joint" skeptics(a-hem)...this is more than a great toppings pizza. There is a thin, perfectly baked crust, with a mild and well marrying marinara. Unlike so many pizza places, this crust is solo. There is no deep dish, hand-tossed and whatnot, just the perfect woodfire crust. We didn't even detail the other sauces available(7 total to choose from). And lest we forget to mention, the menu is very extensive, including several sandwiches, pastas, salads and signature pizzas. These people have been doing it for over 17 years and it shows.


Wrap Up
Price-$$, very reasonable...especially when there's a pitcher of Brugge for $9!
Atmosphere-***, not much curb appeal, but once inside, one can easily see the love poured into this hidden treasure
Service-****, perky, happy staff that understand the importance of service...will keep bringing us back!

Fred - A, Just need to figure out the combo to take advantage of the capers...
Libby - A-, Although Indy's best in my humble opinion, among the pizza world, Chicago will never be outdone(deep dish rules me)!
Ozzy - A, Half an adult size portion of pasta gone. And did we mention the vanilla bean ice cream sundae?...please see quote above.
Some Guys Pizza on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hoaglin To Go Cafe & Marketplace

So, it's Sunday morning and Libby just got off of work...what is the first thing on her mind other than a margarita???

Or in this case, brunch.
And what a brunch it was!

Hidden deep in the heart of Mass Ave, this eclectic cafe was already abuzz with an equally unique clientele and staff.
First off, we were happy to see another youngster there as there was definitely an initial impression of an artsy singles establishment. Dress code: cut offs, Sunday best, and everything in between.

Now to the important stuff...the coffee! Wow, talk about smack yo mama brew, this is it and it's only the house standard. We were so blown away, we didn't attempt any fanciness from the coffee bar. Folgers lovers need not apply.

As we were sipping out delectable coffees, we started to really pay attention to the dishes surrounding us...quiche 4 inches tall, eggs benedict done right, crispy fried potatoes and an abundance of fresh produce and house baked goods. In what appeared to be the standard, they had 3 "quiches of the day" and "the big O" which immediately caught Libby's attention! In this case, the reference was to the omelet of the day. This was serious business, no denver, no frozen veggie...today it was asparagus, gruyere, tomato, and broccoli with some herbs we can no longer recall, but wow...that was some mouth popping flavor.

Libby enjoyed "the big O" with a side of augratin potatoes and heavily buttered wheat toast. Fred decided to go with a triple cream brie, tomato and spinach omelet, a side of rosemary roasted potatoes and some incredible butter dripping sour dough toast. A word about the triple cream brie--OH MAH GAWD!!! It is what made the omelet. Smooth texture and mounds of it! Each bite was 50% creamy goodness! Ozzy, the carbovore we know and love, chose the thick stack of pancakes with strawberries! Yummy.

How did this brunch measure up? With the best! It is conceivably on the top five breakfasts/brunches of our lives! Not only were the potato sides tasty and perfectly cooked, but the omelets were fresh and spectacular. Even the toast, usually an afterthought, was worth every single fat gram and calorie! Ozzy, the man who hardly ever eats, finished more than HALF of the hungryman sized flapjack stack!! Even at our urging that he should stop, he kept saying "not done yet" and continued to press on. The whole way home he complained of his belly was full and that he needed to lay down! Hilarious!

Did we mention the size of these omelets? Fred barely touched his potatoes--not for lack of want, but due to the attention the omelet demanded. Libby loved the augratin so much, she had to finish that and left a third of the omelet...toast was too good to leave behind and two cups of coffee gave Libby a rough day of sleep, but again, so worth it!

It's rare you can say that a meal is one of the best in your life and has also made you miserable from it's side effects...too full, to0 awake, too good!

Not to be left unmentioned, the menu board made decision making most difficult...next time, it will either be the eggs benedict or the vanilla challah french toast (or perhaps, the cherry chocolate). And going by the outstanding fresh bread/toast we were able to sample, there is no doubt that will be an experience to remember as well.


Wrap Up
Price-$$, worth every penny
Atmosphere-***,decor was acceptable with local art on the walls, a coffee bar, the bread/pastry counter and modernish design, but the real attribute to the ambiance were not only the staff, but the diverse clientele.
Service-***, polite, but with a little appreciated attitude of "yeah, you're gonna love what I serve you, but are you worthy?"
Fred - A+, It's hard to turn down anything that involves a triple cream, BUT next time it's eggs benedict!
Libby - A+, Can I just say after I ordered I saw the vanilla challah french toast and knew I would be back again and again and again.
Ozzy - A+, it's not often that Mommy and Daddy have to wait for OZZY to finish eating! "tummy too full"

Hoaglin To Go Cafe & Marketplace on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 20, 2008

Fogo de Chao

Fogo de Chao is a new Brazillian steakhouse that just opened up in downtown Indianapolis. And were we ever in need of this!!! When you walk in, the place is abuzz. There are 3-4 times the usual number of servers. This is mainly due to the large number of them marching around with large skewers of meat. And we dont mean just any meat. We're talking the creme de la creme. More on that later.

Upon seating you, the hostess explains that there are no menus and that the meal is served in two parts: the salad bar followed by the meats. Before heading off to the salad bar, we decided to both order the national drink of Brazil, the caipirinha; a cousin of the mojito, and may we say very very tasty.

The salad bar is definitely a misnomer. Yes, there is lettuce (no iceberg in sight! always a good sign) but mainly this is a vegetable side-dish bar. They have a very large variety offerings, many of them quite different than you see elsewhere and all suitably tasty. But let's be honest here... Do you really want to fill up on veggies after entering the cathedral de meat?!?

After finishing the veggies, we were given a quick run-down on how the second course works. They give each person this little disk that's red on one side and green on the other. You flip over your disk and within 10 seconds someone has come over with whatever he has. But each server who passes will come over to you as long as you have the disk on green. So you end up getting 2-3 meats at a time and then quickly flipping back to red. I'd say they had at least 10-15 different meats. And ALL of them were mouth-watering. Everything from fillet mignon to ribeye to tenderloin to leg of lamb. The side dishes are fried polenta (corn-meal mush if you've never had it. it was good), baked (or fried?) bananas (awesome!!), cheesey puff pastries and mashed potatoes.

The service was done as a team. While there were 2-3 head waiters/waitresses roaming around, the majority of the work was performed by what can only be described as a hive of staff. The result was unbelievable. We just started laughing at the insanity of service. If you ran out of a side dish, it was immediately replaced within 10 seconds. Without a word said. But it was so hectic in there 1/2 the time we didn't even see who had brought it! It was insanity. You finish your drink and before you put the cup down, someone was there asking if you'd like another. But at the same time, since everyone is running around in such an organized chaos, you dont feel like you're being stared at or pestered.

For dessert we somehow found room for a papaya smoothy with blackberry cassis. It was excellent and the perfect ending to one of the most memorable meals we've ever experienced.



Price-$$$$, Now yes, it's pricey. But worth every penny.
Atmosphere-***,Fun and totally different from any other place we've ever been!
Service-****, almost too good...a welcome and entertaining experience.
Fred - A+, When can I go again?! and again?! and again!?
Libby - A+, Uh, I'm not even a big carnivore and I can't wait to enjoy some more Gaucho boy served meats!
Ozzy - Enjoyed the evening with Aunt Mary and Uncle Eric.

Fogo de Chao on Urbanspoon

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Acapulco Joes

Ahh, Joe's.

What's not to love about the 70's decor, the salsa in a squeeze bottle or the ultra americanized versions of Mexican classics? This downtown tradition has been filling people to the brink for 30 years.

While more of a lunch place, we decided to head down for a quick dinner before sending Libby off to work. Haute cuisine it's not, but FLO digs a good dive. Libby, being a nightshift worker, has been a big fan of the breakfast burrito and margarita for many a year. If only they served breakfast all day!

If you've never had the pleasure, Joe's homemade chips are the best around. They are basically half a tortilla that has been fried on site. The so good salsa it's like ketchup for mexican is available tableside with a oil/vinegar dressing. Being as we've been going for so long, we have our favorites. For Fred, the three crisp taco lunch is a cheap ultra-satisfying waistline expander. For Libby, if it's lunchtime, mis tres amigos, taking beef three ways with excellent sauces.

The margarita specials are a daily occurrence...although Sunday morning I was rudely awakened to the blue laws invasion, no margaritas before 11!!! Obviously, the Indiana Senate doesn't work nights.

Price-$ Can't beat the price.
Atmosphere-**, Only because of the nostalgia factor. The old panelling must go! They have replaced part of it, and the new portion looks great!
Fred - B, What is it about the ketchup-based salsa that's actually really good?!?.
Libby - B, It's the first thing I want after a hard night's work.
Ozzy -B+, Chips for dinner?!? Grilled cheese got trumped, but looked good.
Acapulco Joe's Mexican Foods on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 26, 2008

MacNivens Scottish Pub

Celebrating our anniversary, we decided to try a place we couldn't take Ozzy. Since we seem to have noticed a preference of suds-soaked eats, a new pub sounded perfect. Located on Mass. Ave in the heart of Indianapolis, this dark, yet airy downtown hotspot offers "authentic" Scottish food along with an extensive and exotic beer selection.

Since this is a food blog, we decided to order the more obviously Scottish fare. After ordering a tasty beer each, we started with the Scotch Eggs. In a word..... Fried. Lets just take the relatively boiled healthy egg, cover it in a spicy, fatty sausage, coat it in breadcrumbs and deep-fry it. Our hearts quivered in fear. But when dipped in the equally heart-healthy mayo based sauce, we hate to say it was quite tasty.

Libby decided to go with the haggis. Yeah. You heard it right, haggis. The traditional hodge-podge of organ meats and barely, served with mashed potatoes and mashed nips (turnips). To be perfectly honest, it wasn't half bad. She expected to verp, but found herself satiated quite quickly with it's heartiness. This, of course, must be a very americanized version as it was not served in a sheep's stomach (thankfully).

Fred, somehow not satiated with the sausage in the Scotch Eggs, went with more of the same. More sausage, but this time encased in dough, baked and served with beans and steak fries. Talk about belly bomb overload. Not a fan of traditional English food, this was not a palate pleaser. Full bellies with little flavor.

Other items on the menu included the usual bar sandwiches and salads. Upon our next visit (for the beer!), Fred intends to try the only other Scottish/English offering, a chicken curry.

Price-$$ - $$$
Atmosphere-***, Wood as far as the eye can see. Adds a touch of nostalgia for our old college days in Bloomington
Service-**, The staff were accommodating and knowledgeable.
Fred - C+, Great beer, nice atmosphere. But maybe just have a drink next time.
Libby - B-, Satisfactory, and saved by it's beer selection.
Ozzy -N/A
Macniven's Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 19, 2008

BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse

Attention Indianapolis restaurateurs. This is how a first night can be performed, with the right planning and know-how. You would never have known that this was BJ's first night in full operation.

Look forward to art deco decor and an open floorplan, extremely attentive and experienced staff(some flown in from the CA locale), and a menu to rival the Cheesecake Factory...just add BEER! Although our waiter, Michael, had mentioned never "carding" anyone before(Thanks, Sweetie!), he had an experienced shadow. There were many tenured waitstaff roaming about keeping a tight ship in the dining room.

With our knowledge of an actual BJ's brewery involved, we opted for the sampler...strangely, we had to ask as it was not on the beer menu nor mentioned by our waiter. Seven 7 ounce delights before us, we set about to our chosen task! We found that both extremes were quite impressive, but the "Jeremiah Red" and "Nutty Brewnette" options were weak and rather flavorless. Surprising since they are two styles that we normally enjoy. Even more surprising, was that we found their IPA to be pleasant, fruity, and only the hoppy after taste to be against our grain. Favorites would be the "Brewhouse Blonde," "Harvest Hefeweisen," and the "P.M. Porter." After perusing their website http://www.bjsrestaurants.com/, it became clear as to why we might like them more...the brewmaster's tended to favor IPA's and Belgian ales!!! Yay!

On to the food...an enormous menu, seemingly styled by the same marketing team as the Cheesecake Factory...a binder, beautiful pics, and well organized. This place started in 1978 in Santa Ana, CA as a Chicago style pizzeria. Since FLO had just had pizza the night before, we will save that review until our inevitable return! Instead, we opted for the two new chicken dishes, the Parmesan Crusted Chicken Breast and the Balsamic Glazed Chicken Breast.

While Ozzy was verbally appraising the mac 'n cheese as he ate..."That's good, Daddy!" We were doing the same. Fred was notably impressed with his dish. Of course he's a sucker for a wine sauce, but the chicken was perfectly cooked and yielded enough for lunch tomorrow! Libby, in kind, digs a good balsamic, and this one was complimented with a bloomin' onion garnish?! Okay! Both of us found the white cheddar mashed potatoes to be good, but unremarkable. Thankfully, the same cannot be said for dessert.

Pizookie, anyone? Let's just say, does it get any better than a hot, ooey gooey chocolate chunk cookie with two scoops of vanilla bean ice cream? We think not! Reminiscent of the deep dish pizza pan, this witty compliment is served pie style and easy for all to dig in and enjoy. Ozzy was in sugar heaven and was considering licking the hot pan. Touche, BJ.


Price-$$-$$$, You can easily go overboard, but it's well worth it!
Atmosphere-***, Beautiful and open, perhaps a bit loud as Ozzy was acting like he was on meth.
Service-****, Opening night off without a hitch? Our food was to the table within 10 minutes and perfectly cooked? Waitstaff totally accomodating and relaxed? Wow.
Fred - A, The chicken was perfect, the sauce was excellent and the Pizookie! Would be an A+ for not being too safe with flavors of the majority of the beers.
Libby - A, Our dishes were superb. The service, well thought out and the atmosphere condusive to much beer sampling. Dessert a delight. I look forward to our next visit!
Ozzy -B+, While Ozzy enjoyed the experience, the atmosphere proved to be too much for the boy and the time-outs, a plenty.
Bj's Restaurant and Brewhouse on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Alright. That's it. Next time we'll remember to take a gall-darned picture. It was a beautiful pie too.....

OK. That's out of the way. We decided to try a hole-in-the-wall place that we've driven by for years. To be honest, we didn't have a good reason for not trying it sooner, and we've definitely been missing out. Pasquales, for those of you not native to Indy's south side, is located right across Madison St. from Greenwood Park Mall. Don't blink. You'll miss it.

It's not much to look at from the outside. As a matter of fact, until you see the open sign, you may assume it's not. Inside, it's surprisingly inviting with it's open kitchen and non-imposing size. It's easy to strike up a conversation with the people near you as the seating is reminiscent of a diner. The jukebox, though not loud enough to hear, was actually the only piece of electronics within the dining area. No TV's. No other distractions other than the entertaining view of the staff obviously having a good time preparing pies in the kitchen.

We were happy to see that Ozzy responded very well to his surroundings and seemed more content waiting for his food than we've ever seen him in any other establishment...just humming to himself watching the cooks do their thing. The decor is definitely circa 1980's, but according to the literature, the place has been around since 1953. It was certainly full of regulars carrying out and dining in. People seemed to know each other and what they wanted before they walked in the door.

The pie was ready in 10-15 minutes(pepperoni and anchovies and a kids spaghetti for the wee-man). This was a counter pick-up with self serve beverage/utensils and bus boy set-up. The really fun part was being able to see everything made and served right from the kitchen. There's nothing like watching people in their element, listening to 80's radio and serving up the same thing they've made a thousand times before. While waiting for our food, Fred realized that every other order had contained the breadsticks...hmmm, perhaps an oversight that will be rectified at our next visit.

Now, the food. Fred was still chuckling from the reaction of the chefs once they read the order for anchovies...guess we're in the minority here, as usual. The pizza was 15 inches, their largest. Good. Great sauce, zesty with a strong hint of basil and a crust that had that great chewiness with a crispy outside....a combination that has stood the test of time. When our food arrived, we found the kids spaghetti came with two pieces of garlic bread. Ozzy was silent. He finished both pieces, then moved to the spaghetti...no complaints, no requests, no stopping. Pasquales had already won 4 chevrons from the most finicky of our team! While Fred and Libby found the spaghetti sauce to be too sweet, it was an excellent recipe for any tot.

As beer snobs, the selection was of the typical bud/michelob variety, but coke products sufficed. For those interested, buckets were available to entice patrons to sit and stay awhile.

Price-$, Cheap eats!
Atmosphere-**, Simple, low-maintenance, yet somehow homey.
Service-**, Self-service. But the staff were very accommodating.
Fred - B+, Darned good pizza. Wish I'd known about it years ago.
Libby - B, I will definitely be going back. And next time I must try their "famous" meatball sub!
Ozzy -A+, see above.
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