Monday, March 23, 2009

Hoghead's BBQ

After enjoying a fabulous walk on the Monon, FLO feasted their eyes on the excellent location of Hoghead's BBQ! Just off the beaten path, and with the weather holding up nicely, we decided to go with the outdoor seating. Ozzy was stoked to be able to park his wagon to the side and strike up a conversation with a lovely young lady sitting close by. Our server arrived with an almost post-dooby aire and was most pleasant, albeit a little loopy.

The Brisket Queso and Bull Chips(homemade potato chips) immediately caught our attention! All the great barbecue guests were in attendance...a brisket, pulled pork or chicken, baby backs, smoked sausage and of course, the sides. Libby decided on the half rack of baby backs with baked apples and corn casserole. Fred went with the 2 meat sampler and chose the brisket, pulled pork and cole slaw and baked beans on the side. Ozzy volunteered gleefully to try the mac 'n cheese.

First off, the Brisket Queso and Bull Chips were flippin' awesome! The chips were the perfect thickness, fried just right and what flavor! And could the Brisket Queso dip not be good?...don't think so...this appy was the show stealer, fo sho.

Fred found the brisket tender and the pulled pork standard. Neither were outstanding, but both were a great vessel to douse in sauce! The house spicy mustard bbq sauce was awesome and he proceeded to put it on everything. A true condiment man by heart. The beans were zesty with a fair amount of pork thrown in for good measure. The slaw demanded to be put on a pulled pork sandwich. Therefore, he decided to make his own with the provided texas toast...muuuuch better!

Libby definitely enjoyed the baby backs. They had a nice char and were still juicy and tender. She also preferred the spicy mustard sauce, but the original was also nice. There was also a house hot bbq, but it came off too sweet in the front and ended with a nice heat. The corn casserole was more dense that Libby usually makes...seems like it was made with a coarser corn meal, but wasn't bad. The apples were great and played very well with the bbq.

Ozzy gobbled down the mac 'n cheese quickly then made his way to the young lady so they could chase each other around the front porch and side ramp...this was not a problem and served to be great fun for the two of them.

Wrap Up
Price-$-$$, Good price for good grub.
Atmosphere-****, Very relaxing and laid back...just what you would expect from a bbq joint. Be aware there is smoking outside, so if you have issues you may want to sit inside.
Service-***, Major entertainment. Although most likely stoned, she served our food quickly...the check took a bit, but all was forgiven.

Fred -B, The homemade chips and dip are worth a stop unto themselves. And the BBQ is no slouch either.
Libby -B+, Darned good. Probably not the best bbq of my life, but a very enjoyable meal and I just can't get over that brisket queso dip and bullchips!
Ozzy -A, Mac 'n cheese, a pretty little lady, and space to run...what more could the boy want?

Hoghead's BBQ on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Siam Square

We seldom venture up to Fountain Square, but found ourselves along with 9 acquaintances enjoying an evening together at Siam Square. Unlike most Thai restaurants, we immediately noticed Siam Square is heavy on the ambiance, even a little overtly trendy. This seemed to be a place that catered more to the adult crowd, rather than families. Not to say that Ozzy wasn't welcome. He and another pre-school companion were quite rowdy and thanks to the louder atmosphere, did not seem to disturb anyone.

The menu is the typical rundown of basic stir-frys, noodles, and curries. There were a few "safer" options to cater to the less adventurous(i.e. a sweet & sour chinese variation), which you could oddly request hot like any of the other Thai dishes. There was one children's option of chicken strips with fries. Guess who got that? It went down well and he was happy.

Fred began his Thai adventure with the thom yum, accidently ordered hot and weeping through most of the bowl. Libby had one spoonful and had her fill. It was very tasty, but it was easy to see how quickly that heat would build. To follow, Fred had the Pad Ped with tofu(all entrees could be ordered with chicken, pork, beef or tofu). Quite tasty, and although ordered equally as hot as the soup, was thankfully, not in the same league of pain.

Libby, as with any first time at a new Thai place, decided to go with the Pad Thai, hot. Sadly, not that hot in either spice or flavor depth. Not that it was bad, just nothing outstanding. It seemed more a noodle carb-bomb with little veggie or even peanut. Given the other outstanding pad thai's around town, it fell flat, but might be a good choice for the first time Thai taster.

We were very pleasantly surprised with the beer selection. Fred had the privilege of enjoying a Barley Island Stout and a Flying Dog Gonzo Porter...not a selection we are used to seeing in any asian establishment. The iced green and ginger teas were also quite nice. No milk for the little ones.

Wrap Up
Price-$$-$$$, About what you would expect for Thai, nothing out of the ordinary high or low.
Atmosphere-****, Very pleasant and certainly a step above...more posh than take out. Loud yet private.
Service-***, Handled an unexpected 12 top fairly well.

Fred - C+, Perhaps lower than it should be on it's own merit, but given the incredible thai competition in town, I put 3 or 4 others ahead of it.
Libby - C+, My favorite Thai is Sawasdee followed by Thai Spice. Both seem a little more complex and have a larger range of heat and dish variety. Not that I wouldn't go back, but it didn't make the top of my list.
Ozzy -B+, "pretty good" He definitely enjoyed the fries and had a bit of chicken. For him, the best was being able to be himself without upsetting the neighbors.

Siam Square on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Granite City Food & Brewery

A new brewpub on the north side, Granite City has definitely brought game. While it is a regional chain, we felt that since there was a brewery involved, it needed to be reviewed. Reminiscent of BJ's on the south side, it has a contemporary clean design that is open, comfortable and family friendly.

But seriously, how about that beer? Fred naturally went with the sampler to see the full line-up. Six brews are available: "The Duke"(an India Pale Ale), Broad Axe Stout, Brother Benedict Bock, Northern Light Lager, and The Two-Pull, a mixture of Northern Light and the Bock. While Fred was unsure about the two-pull, he was pleased that it melded well and seemed to be a taste unto itself. Not simply two beers mixed, but it's own brew. We are not hop-heads, therefore, an India Pale Ale is never going to rank high on our list, but we were pleasantly surprised by both the Bock and the Light. Both would bring us back for more.

As far as menu, there is a nice selection. We had a high pressure waiter, so he was good at encouraging us to get certain items. We did take him up on the suggestion to start with one of their flatbread pizzas as the appetizer. We went with the tomato and basil and it was darned tasty. Light, and refreshing...a good start to the evening.

Fred chose the Mediterranean Chicken. A perfectly cooked breast fillet, in a balsamic glaze, a basil/tomato salsa and some of the most flavorful long grain and wild rice this side of mama's house! Needless to say, Fred was happy.

Libby was in the mood for a samich, so the Cuban was a must...and wow, Libby wins! It was one of the best cubans in memory. A delicious soft ciabatta bread, tender and juicy pork and of course mustard and pickle. The fries on the side were pretty good, but they really shined with the Granite Sauce(a sour cream, horseradish concoction)...we dipped everything in it...including Fred's chicken!

Ozzy was running on fumes, so we decided to go with a pasta. We had ordered it with red sauce, but they brought it out with butter and parmesan and he loved it! Ate the whole bowl without complaint or comment other than emphatic nods when asked if he liked it.

Another BJ's parallel was dessert. A giant, warm, gooey cookie topped with ice cream! A delicious, huge treat, but honestly, we like BJ's better. They have more flavors and it's more gooey there...but hey, it's a gooey cookie...not complaining!

The best surprise at the end was the bill. Well worth the money.

Wrap Up
Price-$$-$$$, With the bounty we ordered, an appetizer, a beer sampler, an English pint, three entrees, and dessert...we were elated to have a total under $60 before tip! Aces!
Atmosphere-****, Comfortable, open, loud. Good for all and a great view of the brew house in the bar.
Service-***, Attentive, knowledgeable and good salespeople!

Fred - A-, Did I mention the rice? While the chicken was perfect, I could have done with a little more balsalmic glaze. Yum.
Libby - A, Kick-ass Cuban, great fries and sauce. The sauce is extra and you must get it. Have to go back for brunch!
Ozzy -A, Gobbled up the buttered pasta with parmesan and as much of the cookie as he could before sinking into the coma we had been waiting for! :)

Granite City Food & Brewery on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 9, 2009

Bosphorus Istanbul Cafe

Bosphorus has been on our minds for quite a few months now. It seemed to be the perennial second stop. The other choice that we never chose to review when some new place came to mind. Well, no longer.

Bosphorus is Indiana's first (and we believe only) Turkish restaurant. Bearing quite a resemblance to Greek cuisine, but with a slightly different spicing which appeals more to Fred's palate. Libby is all-too-happy to get her Greek fix in without Fred's complaints of "phantom spices in the lamb which ruined the whole gyro."

Located off the beaten path for anyone not working at Eli Lilly, Bosphorus is another of Indianapolis' well-known secrets. It seems everyone has heard of the place, but somehow not yet tried it themselves. Well what's stopping you people?! Is it the perfectly cooked lamb? The best hummus (by far) in Indy? A strange aversion to grape leaves, perhaps? Whether it be Dolma, Babaganush, Falafel, Adana kabobs or the Turkish Delight, sign us up.

This afternoon, Fred called home for an impromptu lunch. We decided immediately on rectifying our oversight and agreed to meet downtown at Bosphorus. Since the Oz had just finished 1/2 a box of Bugs mac 'n cheese, he will not be able to provide a food review. But he was certainly welcomed by the staff and spent a good few minutes being completely bashful, refusing to return their gazes.

We started off with the apetizer combo. Wonderful, fresh, hot pita, Indy's best hummus, grape leaves stuffed with rice, currants & pine nuts, tabouli (a cold couscous salad), babaganush, borek (pastry filled with feta & parsley), and an eggplant salsa. While we both dove for the grape leaves, the eggplant salsa really stole the show. If you like any sort of middle-eastern faire, you'll LOVE this dish!! Softened eggplant in a chunky tomato relish seasoned with garlic. Fabulous with their amazing pita!!

Fred ordered the lamb kebab lunch special with tomato soup, rice & veggies while Libby went with a lamb wrap with a side of fries (hoping Ozzy might be tempted). Fred's soup was simply amazing. He likened it more to a bean & meat-free chili -- highly seasoned and without a hint of that Campbells bland sweetness. The lamb was lightly seasoned and allowed the real flavor of the meat to come through.

Libby's wrap was simply the lamb, a salad mixture and a wonderful spicy cucumber dressing. Not the cool cucumber you'd find a Greek gyro. It was very fresh and the lamb was yet again cooked to perfection; a little char, very tender. Surprisingly, although Ozzy wasn't tempted, the fries were actually pretty good. We wouldnt expect that from a Turkish place, but wouldn't order it normally either!!

Oh, and lest we forget, you MUST order the hot tea. Strong and vibrant of the bagless variety. The perfect compliment for the meal.

Wrap Up
Price-$$-$$$, Lunches for as little as $6, but upwards of $14 for the more exciting stuff!
Atmosphere-****, Perhaps twenty tables. Turkish sports or news on TV and a family who obviously could tell you the names of the whole Turkish soccer team.
Service-***, Friendly and patient, even with a labile 4-year-old.

Fred - B+, Some of my favorite ethnic meals have been here, and that's saying something! Try the Turkish Delight. No, not that one! The insanely good vegetarian dinner!!
Libby - A-, I'm a real sucker for well-prepared lamb. Unfortunately they were out of Dolma today, but that surprisingly delicious eggplant salsa has become a new favorite.
Ozzy -N/A - But he was welcomed by staff even though he prefered to play with Dad's iphone.

Bosphorus on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Edelweiss Restaurant

Finally, after telling ourselves it's time to get some good German food, we made it back to Edelweiss Restaurant. Located on the south-side, just north of County Line, this hidden treasure is worth every pfennig! Honestly, we haven't been there for over 5 years. The last time we went, Fred and Libby were pre-Ozzy and we couldn't remember if it was a kid-friendly environment or not. Luckily, it is!

Tucked back in German Park, a nicely wooded area, this quaint and somewhat kitchy eatery is located in the lower level of the German-American Klub's Haus. The paneled walls, varying steins displayed on floating shelves, Klub members playing cards and yoddeling background music make for a nice departure from the usual hustle and bustle of most dining experiences.

The menu offers a very American children's menu, hot dogs, grilled cheese, etc. for the more picky eaters. Even though Ozzy is definitely in that category, Fred and Libby knew the Pretzel would more than satisfy his carb-appetite...and Woah! What a Pretzel! This was definitely a homemade delight! Taking up the entire plate, it had a healthy portion of kosher salt with both spicy mustard and yellow cheese sauce on the side. This puts any other pretzel we've had to shame...a must have for anyone who visits.

Fred, after watching Anthony Bourdain down a beautiful pork shoulder on No Reservations last night, decided to go for the Schweinebraten with red cabbage and potato pancakes on the side. Not to mention he had a refreshing Weihenstephaner to accompany. The shoulder was fork tender to the extreme! And while it was already pulled from the bone and skin, Fred was sure those would be equally as tasty! Pure pork goodness on a plate. It was accompanied by a wonderful brown gravy that bound the pork to the side of red cabbage as if it were a dish unto itself. The latkes(potato pancakes) came with a very flavorful, almost apple butter, apple sauce. Used to latkes out of a box, this homemade variety was a pleasure to behold. Fred could even withstand the small amount of onion essence.

Libby, a huge schnitzel fan, went with the grilled Jaegerschnitzel with both spaetzle with gravy and German potato salad on the side. Just heaven! The grilled schnitzel was wonderfully tender with a very flavorful char and a hearty mushroom gravy. The spaetzle were chunkier than Libby is used to, but very buttery and tender. The German potato salad was perfect! Just the right amount of tang and so warm and yummy. Libby was more than happy with her entire meal!

Ozzy said nothing, but silently chewed the pretzel as we dined. Recovering from a nasty cold, Fred and Libby were just glad to see him eating with such enthusiasm!

As we were leaving, we did get a peek at the wurst platter, and we have to say we're sorry we didn't have room for it...looked completely de-lish!

Wrap Up
Price-$$, Very reasonable. The entire dinner feast, including the pretzel and the beer was around $35 before tip...not too shabby!
Atmosphere-****, Perhaps a bit on the tacky German trinkets side, but very relaxing and somehow homey...not to mention the no smoking law has definitely improved the whole experience.
Service-****, Very attentive waitress and the food was out lightening fast!
Fred - A, Nestled a good quarter mile off the beaten path, it's easy to forget even when you know it's there. A truly "secret" treasure on the south-side!
Libby - A, I don't know what took us so long to go back! Such a great meal...if only I could've had a big brew myself!
Ozzy -A, Pretzel was "pretty good" and when asked how he felt.."Great!"

Edelweiss on Urbanspoon