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, 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 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 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.
Pasquale's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Shapiro's Deli

Are you ready for a serious reuben???
Well, bring your appetite for some Delicatessen! Shapiro's is the next destination!

I'm sure most of you have heard of the Indy based Jewish Deli established in 1905, famous for their meaty sandwiches on in-house bakery fresh bread. This is not the destination for the weak of appetite. When you enter the cafeteria style line-up, you are hit with about 30-50 different desserts, from lemon meringue pie to layered chocolate cake! Who says save the best for last?!

Then you have generous salads and cold sides, followed by the hot stuff...stuffed peppers, spaghetti, to die for mac-n-cheese, matzo ball soup and of course, made to order sandwiches. Be sure to not let your eyes be bigger than your stomach. Everything in this line is in the "Hungry Man" size.

This once grocery is now in it's 4th generation of leadership. There is a great website at to give you the entire history of this sensational Indy treasure. Come one and all and lets khap a nash!!!

Price-$$-$$$, a little too pricey for deli food. Careful how much you put on your tray.
Atmosphere-**, Typical cafeteria feel. Normal to be a long line, but well worth the short wait.
Service-**, Self-service. Grab a tray, fill it up, pay at the register and seat yourself! Easy and they clean up tables after you go.
Fred - B, Too expensive, but what is the true value of the best reuben on the planet?! and dammit my Jewish Mother isn't in town to make matzo ball soup!
Libby - B+, Can I just say I had no idea New York had the genius to make a reuben with slaw?! Love it and must be accompanied by the mac 'n cheese...and a huge piece of any cake...I'm not picky!
Ozzy -B+, Shocking, we know, but Ozzy digs the mac 'n cheese...any dessert will do and he feels free to roam around on the floor under the table without the awkward stares of onlookers...did we mention he's 3?
Shapiro's Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

The Bay Window Restaurant

Another Greenwood strip mall jewel in the rough would be The Bay Window. A quaint tea room with daily specials and a peaceful setting that is not only a family-friendly establishment, but host to many larger gatherings.

The FLO has been going for years and is always eager to hear of the daily homemade quiche choices and soups du jour. If you are looking for a unique breakfast experience, be sure to indulge in the French toast that has been so lovingly marinating in an orange glaze overnight…yeeeeum. Ozzy highly recommends this dessert-like delight. If the quiche is more your speed, be sure to include the cheesy casserole(their answer to hash browns.) Although, invariably it always seems to arrive luke warm.

One particular fun menu item is the “Thanksgiving” entree available everyday. How about some turkey with dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy to hold you off until the holidays roll back around? Not too shabby.

And then, of course, there are the teas. A basket of the pre-packaged variety come to your table…sadly, there are no homemade blends. Although, it would an awesome addition if they did, the FLO has been happy to enjoy the delicious quiches, quiet atmosphere and appropriate portions. We have never left feeling overfull. The amounts are just right and seem to satisfy the entire pallet.

Price-$, very reasonable.
Atmosphere-**, Quiet, no frills, just a few antiques, some tea decorations and that lovely strip mall local.
Service-**, Relaxed and the food is luke warm on many occasions. Waitstaff usually seem inexperienced. Only open for breakfast and lunch.
Fred - B-, Great breakfast spot for those long Sunday mornings. Bring a paper and chill.
Libby - B-, A dependable place to get some well cooked home style meals in a snobbish presentation. The lack of homemade teas for a very tea-room like establishment eludes me. Very relaxing.
Ozzy -A-, seems to enjoy the several baked goods he has tried. They tolerate his mood swings and always serve with a smile.
Bay Window on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Shallo's Antique Restaurant and Brewhouse

Not to be redundant, but yes, this is yet another brewpub establishment on the southside that offers a wide variety of bottled and draft suds as well as a commendable menu. When it comes to personality, this unique and old-world pub is nestled in...a strip mall!?

To our surprise, the interior takes you back, from their dark woods with tin ceilings to the many antiques that have been collected over the years. And what a bar(!) with it's open view to the upper balcony. Be ready to sample some of their homemade chips followed by a ridiculously creamy twice baked potato that reminds one more of a potato soup or cheesy dip. There are also the more familiar burgers, sandwiches and steaks to choose from. "Swamp" is the spice language here and you can enjoy chicken and burger choices.

It is your basic pub grub, but really, the food is secondary to the ambiance and beer selection. Shallo's calls itself a beer museum and it is easy to see why between the collections of beer taps and beer bottles to the many Indiana antiques located around the venue. Be sure to ignore the beer menu, as most of it is wrong, but you will always be amazed by what they have to offer. And even beer snobs like Fred and Libby can find something they haven't tried before...and that's saying something.

Ozzy naturally approves of the homemade chips, but little else. The mac 'n cheese was a big thumbs down for the boy. For him, it really is about the atmosphere. He loves to check out the various hanging objects and gaze down at the bar from above...Ahhh, a boy after his parents' hearts!

So, be sure to give this southside icon a go...and if you try a Tuesday, be ready for some live tunes!


Price-$-$$, depending on your beer of choice as some run up to $18 (but are ALL worth it!)

Atmosphere-****, dark & rich. Something unique, especially when found in a south-side strip mall

Service-***, Feel free to ask the wait staff for beer recommendations!
Fred - B, Beer selection is unmatched, but unless you're willing to check your cholesterol level at the door, it's hard to find a "healthy" choice.
Libby - B+, For beer selection and atmosphere. But more like a B- in the grub dept.
Ozzy -C+, At least he enjoys the view.

Shallo's Restaurant & Brewhouse on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 12, 2008

Oaken Barrel Brewing Company

Yes, we're Schmoozer Card members. This is FLO's most frequent haunt. Not only is it tasty, homey and reliable, they offer a wide menu with something for just about everyone. We have been going there almost weekly for years now and it is a rare occasion if the meal is not up to snuff. And in case you haven't noticed, the FLO digs a good brew. Might we recommend the Alabaster, or whatever seasonal the brew master has bubbling up!

While Ozzy may have mixed feelings about the chicken fingers, we relentlessly order them for him anyway. He is happy to munch on the fries or their wonderful brown bread rolls while Libby and Fred steal the best chicken strips in town. Not a fan of fare usually found in every chain restaurant ever built, there's something in the breading and preparation that leaves them moist and delicious on the inside while crispy and flavorful on the outside. While we have our suspicions that they are not made in-house, they sure are doing something right.

Ozzy does, however know a good fry when he sees one. In this case, of the beer-battered variety. Served either with malt vinegar or Red Gold, they are even better dipped in the house ranch dressing.

Since we've sampled almost the entire menu, we have only once been disappointed. I'm sorry guys, but you really should leave the Jambalaya to Yats! Otherwise, our favorites would have to include the Ranch Chicken salad (those darned strips again!!), the reuben (made unique with the addition of roasted red peppers), the black bean soup (hold the onion, please!), the Mediterranean pasta made with a heavy hand full of garlic, and the fish & chips.

While the menu doesn't speak to a classically trained chef, the product is always spot on and the specials are inventive and praiseworthy. I do believe the chef may (GASP) be sampling the brew, as it always pairs well.

To learn more, go to or just show up and grab a growler to go! For those not familiar with their line-up, FLO might suggest a beer sampler.

Price-$-$$, depending on your beer quantity
Atmosphere-**, dark and travel-worn. But familiar and unimposing.
Service-***, Immediate seating and a knowledgeable, experienced wait staff never leaves you wanting.

Fred - B+, Go for the beer, stay for... the beer. Oh yeah, and the food's good too!
Libby - B+, although not the best food I've ever tasted, they definitely live up to a good brew accompanied by good pub grub. Solid.
Ozzy -C+, perhaps he's a little bored of the place, but he does know it and seems happy to go.

Oaken Barrel Brewing on Urbanspoon

Fireside Brewhouse

UPDATE: Please see our second visit's entry here:

We went to opening night at the new south side brew house one week ago. With the chaos of an opening night, expectations were low...and to be honest, we were pleasantly surprised.

Our wait was long, but not ridiculous, maybe an hour. We were happy to see a view of the hustling and bustling going on in the kitchen through a large picture window as you enter. Unfortunately, there are no seating areas for waiting inside. Perhaps people are expected to wait at the bar, but that leaves little option for families.

After being seated, it was obvious from the surrounding patrons that there were some serious problems in the kitchen... running out of fries, overcooked meats, and poor communication between table and kitchen. There were a lot of groans over the very lengthy wait times. Our harried waitress was visibly frustrated at the lack of food coming out of the kitchen. So, as mentioned's opening night, what do you expect, people?!

At seating, we were presented with a beer list and the not so strategically planned food menu. The beer list was very reminiscent of another great south side brew house, Shallo's, but we had some confusion, or rather, disagreement with the classification of brews. Since when is an amber ale a lager? Otherwise, a decent selection, although we were secretly hoping for an in-house brewery.

FLO's first point of frustration was the food menu. Okay, first everything looked delicious from the 24 hour buttermilk bathed catfish to the fireside chili. You can tell there is a real chef in the kitchen. This is not your average pub grub. Now, the menu...WTF?! It is a one pager front and back that goes from appetizer to dessert to kid's menu to entrees, then flip over...for burgers, steaks and then lunch? It was very hard to understand where one section ended and another began...headers were either missing or not differentiated from the text and font sizes somehow eluded them. For a venue that put so much thought into their design and entree choices, the menu literally looked thrown together in the last second.

So, finally, the food. The appetizer was suppose to be a take on loaded fries, but ended up being loaded chips due to a run on the dish. A table next to us was obnoxiously referring to how much a fry looked like a potato chip. While substitutions are fine, the kitchen and waitstaff should warn the patrons before the food arrives. Otherwise they were tasty, and received the Ozzy seal of approval!

Fred had the buttermilk catfish with slaw and fries. An upscale fish and chips that truly showcased what this place is about. The marinade was easily distinguishable in each bite and the slaw, although a very minute portion, was a happy compliment. Libby had their version of chicken marsala and risotto. It was well cooked, well seasoned and a delight after the wait. Ozzy was pleasantly surprised to enjoy the mac and cheese, a penne pasta with a super creaminess that he could not get enough of!

We ended our evening with a berry layered shortcake, that sadly, was still frozen when it got to the table. While Ozzy didn't seem to mind, Fred was nonplussed. Libby was just unhappy that they had run out of their only chocolate dessert selection. We left vowing to return in a month's time when things would hopefully be in order and that damn menu fixed.


Price-$$-$$$, depending on your beer taste and quantity
Atmosphere-***, well thought out and pleasant
Service-**, opening night, but our waitress was workin' it

Fred -an A-, I can see the catfish becoming not only a staple of the menu, but a signature item.
Libby - a B, I enjoyed the experience in general, but you can't give an A on opening night unless it was outstanding...sorry, Honey. :)
Ozzy -total A+, never before has he eaten all three courses in any establishment!

Return visit one week later yielded no wait and the same waitress! Unfortunately, the slightly re-worked menu was still lacking and they removed that wonderful chicken marsala! Fred found that his rubbed chicken with berry sauce overcooked and bland. Libby happily enjoyed the buttermilk catfish that she had eyed last time! Ozzy again, still approved of the mac 'n cheese, even though it was undercooked. Service was outstanding. After a suggestion that the waitress warn the kitchen that the chicken was dry and overcooked, the dish was immediately comped! Unexpected and very professional. There was also a $5 off coupon for our next visit to boot...heck yes!

FLO expects big things from a month or two! :)
Fireside Brewhouse on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Brugge Brasserie

Here it is, Mother's Day and Libby has insisted we go to Brugge! This is definitely not our first visit, nor our last. How this little Broadripple joint with only about 15 tables doesn't have a line around the block, we'll never know. News is, expansion is planned for upstairs! Hallelujah!

For an eclectic Belgian delight somehow transplanted in the mid west, the Brugge Brasserie is a shining star on the Indy foodie scene. Talk about beer. Talk about frittes (dipping sauces, anyone?!?)!! Talk about mussels! Crepes! NUTELLA FOR GOD'S SAKE!!! Ok. We like this place.

Charlie Brugge has definitely found his niche. He has created a place that FLO would never have believed could succeed here in Indianapolis. For more information on his brewing establishment in Terre Haute, visit or just ask at your local beer shop as they have started bottling!

Setting the stage, this is a BELGIAN establishment. There are no burgers, chicken strips or pizzas here. That is not to say that it is not kid-friendly! As a matter of fact, families do not shy away from this small brewpub in Broadripple. FLO was shocked to see a family with small kids all noshing on pickled herring! (??) Ok, so maybe they were European. But still. It will be our appetizer next time. Not to expect all children to eat herring, some amends have been made in the form of pb&j and grilled cheese crepes.

For those who have not been to the Brugge, the frittes (that's fries to us 'mericans) are not just a side dish, they are a must. They offer 11 different and truly unique dipping sauces. Everything from a homemade ketchup (with lovely hints of clove) to garlic aioli to a sweet chili taste bud shocker.

We cannot even express how well paired the frittes are with the amazing Belgian ales. While the ale selection changes with season, they currently offer a Black, White, Pale Ale and the Triple de Ripple (limit 2). All are strong, robust brews that are not for the Bud Light crowd. Only true beer drinkers need apply.

Now lets talk about mussels. Variety? How about a whole range of flavors! FLO's favorite being the red curry. Be prepared for a dutch oven filled to the brim with 2 lbs of fresh mussels, steamed in the sauce of your choice. We find ourselves giddy to lap up the remaining goodness. Thankfully, lest we become uncouth, a french baguette is provided to sop up. Libby had never tried mussels before the Brugge. Never had any desire. But all it took was one bite of Fred's red curry mussels and she was hooked.

If shellfish isn't your forte, Brugge offers multiple savory crepe and sandwich choices. May we suggest the pork tenderloin with goat cheese and spicy mustard crepe? (hold the leeks for FLO --we don't do the onion thing, even if they're only a relative)

After all that savory deliciousness, how about dessert? Here again, the Brugge shines. Keeping it simple with flavorful crepes you cannot find anywhere else in the city. Libby being the choc-oholic, always insists on the Nutella crepe drizzled in raspberry sauce. Ozzy, naturally as a carb-oholic does well between the frittes, baguette and crepe. Somehow we don't see him sampling the herring, but hey, we shall still try.

Price-$$-$$$, depending on your alcohol tolerance
Atmosphere-***, holes in the copper-topped tables for cones of frittes? GENIUS!
Service-****, the servers have always been deadpan hard workers. No frills with a "yeah, and what else ya want" attitude that somehow just adds to the ambiance. Your beer glass is never empty yet you feel as if you're lucky to get one (and you are!!). We wouldn't change a thing.

Fred - A, Best fries in town. And sauces? Fred loves his condiments more than life itself!
Libby - A+, This place is my top. Simple food. Excellent beer. And an eclectic atmosphere that beckons me back to life in Europe.
Ozzy -B, he loves the fries. But unless the crepe has chocolate in it, he's shown little interest.
Brugge Brasserie on Urbanspoon