Sunday, December 26, 2010

Red Lion Grog House--take 2!

FLOE has decided after the last review, that some places should get another look after that fresh, awkward opening phase.  So, with the winter chill in the air and the Colts win confirmed, we decided to head out to a family pub, The Red Lion Grog House.  It was about 9 months ago we first ventured to the very "green" Red Lion.  So, green if fact they didn't even have their "grog" license.  Not cool.  But now, liquor license acquired, Red Lion has a pretty impressive beer selection on hand and has accomplished the lived in, comfy neighborhood pub feel. 

Our most entertaining waitress brought Libby a Sun King Cream Ale, and Fred, a Strongbow Cider.  Yum.  The kids were going with water today--no milk in da house.  No biggie.  We were here to see how the dishes were holding up!  So, to start, the Toad in the Hole sounded like a good way to begin the evening in an English pub! 

While waiting we soaked in the warm setting--a long, galley-shaped dining area, multiple flat screens aglow, and that lovely sound coming from over the kitchen wall---deep frying!  Crackling, bubbling, somehow so comforting to hear that happy dance! 

Our appy arrived quickly and as it was our first toad in the hole, we had no idea what to expect.  A small chunk of sausage lay in a circular disk or nest of some phyllo-like dough, three in total resting on a bed of brown gravy.  The sausage was different, a nice (not hot) spice to it---sage, thyme?  The breading was a bit dry so the dish definitely needed the brown gravy that was very seasoned(a bit salty) and quite good.  Aioli garnished the dish and was a good addition.

Fred decided the Chicken Piccata sandwich with chips was the way to go while Libby went with some more of that lovely sausage in the Blanket Bangers with chips and a side of aioli. All chips (remember folks, these are fries) orders come with a side of sauce...we went with one of the hot curry and one of the mild curry.  Ozzy ordered the grilled cheese with bacon (on the side) with chips to share with Stella.  Such a thoughtful young lad.

The Blanket Bangers(awesome name) were quite nice.  The dish came with three wrapped sausages.  The aioli was a must and the mild curry was Libby's favorite!  Not healthy in the least, but damn yummy.  The fries were a good cut, brown, but definitley more laden by the frying than crisp and lightened.  Not complaining, just an observation.

Fred's Chicken Piccata Sandwich was a first of its kind for him.  While he always loves piccata, the concept of a sandwich is the sort of unexpected twist that makes Fred love food so much!  How was it?  Interesting and flavorful, but the novelty wore off after 4 or 5 bites.  All in all, it was a half decent sandwich, but really nothing to write home about.  The real hit was the chips in the mild curry sauce.  It was wonderful going between the hot and mild curry. Normally, Fred goes for the hotter stuff, but this time the mild was where it was at!  The chips and curry sauces are available as an appy...and if you don't get them as a side as your meal, you should seriously consider ordering the appy.

Ozzy gobbled down the grilled cheese, even though it was cheddar instead of his beloved American.  Stella concurred and they happily munched away between bits of chips and cheesy goodness.  Ozzy even ventured into the mild curry and went back for seconds!!!  Stella will, of course, dip into anything. :)

Wrap Up
Price-$$,- A bit on the pricey side, but good beer comes with a price we are usually willing to pay.
Atmosphere***,-Welcoming and cozy for a neighborhood pub.  Definitely would be a great place to watch the game.
Service****,-Great service with personality and personability!

Fred- B+ ,While English pub food is never going to win any Michelin stars no matter who is in the kitchen, everything was well-prepared and thoroughly enjoyable. 
Libby- A, Totally appreciate good pub grub--especially sausage, chips and sauce!  Beer was really good and as always, I sooo appreciate it when I can go to a pub with the kids!
Ozzy- A, Happy boy and quietly munching!
Estelle- A, Dipped and enjoyed her meal.
Red Lion Grog House on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Teddy's Burger Joint

FLOE was psyched to see another home-grown startup on the south side of Indy. We hurried over to Teddy's Burger Joint for a quick bite on a weekday night. At the corner of State Road 37 and Southport, we thought it'd be a snap to find. We easily found Teddy's sign, but the restaurant itself wasn't so easy.  For a strip mall, this was about the worst spot you could get for visibility. Teddy's is located in the back corner, behind a Steak & Shake.  It's not really visible from the road. Location choice? Not so good.

Appointed with diamond plate and (nicely done) homemade tables, Teddy's decor seems like a cross between a garage & a finished basement. They've added a stage in the corner for live entertainment, a playroom in back for the kids and a fireplace in the middle of the open dining room. Several large flat-screens are positioned around the room ready for the sport du jour.

Being an order-at-the-counter type of place, we had to stop for a minute to take in the menu. Teddy's sports an impressive microbrew selection on tap, but we decided against it tonight. We were a little taken aback that the only size burger they offer is a 1/2 pound monster.  Smaller size options would be nice, considering the price.  Even for husky mom & dad, a 1/2 lb burger is a bit much.  They come in Angus by default, but it can be substituted with a bison, turkey or veggie burger.   As Teddy's is shooting for the gourmet burger angle, we stuck with the red meat, except for our resident carbitarian. 

Libby opted for the Cajun burger on a wheat bun with a side of cheese fries and a draft root beer. Fred can never pass up a chance to order bison, this time on wheat with a fried egg and one of Teddy's 5 specialty mayos, horseradish! He also threw in a side of cheese fries for good measure. We were surprised that a specialty 'burger joint' didn't ask how we would like them prepared, but decided they must know what they're doing.

First impression of the food? Mammoth slabs of meat on burnt buns along side straight-from-a-bag fries (seasoned at least) and a cup of pre-packaged nacho cheese. Seriously? For the prices they're charging, those buns should never have left the kitchen. We thought this was supposed to be a specialty place....

Fred's bison was a little over-done and dry.  The egg fried within an inch of it's life.  The whole sandwich would have been a complete disaster but was saved by the horseradish mayo. Now THAT'S the kind stuff that will put a place on the map. Crazy-good mixed with a little ketchup for the heavily seasoned fries too. Speaking of fries, the nacho cheese was surprisingly good -- nice and zesty.

Libby's Cajun burger arrived with the same, obvious burned circle on the bun (as seen above).  It was nicely dressed with grilled onion, green pepper & cheese.  The first bite revealed a pleasant seasoning, but she didn't find anything particularly Cajun about the burger.  It was a little overcooked to her taste.  The fries dipped in the nacho cheese sauce was surprisingly good for something that looked like it came out of a can.  The root beer was root beer.  It was sweet and hefty on the price @ $2.99 a glass.  That's more than half way to a real beer.

Ozzy really enjoyed his extra healthy meal of kraft mac & cheese also with a side of fries & chocolate milk.  Oh! He did have some fruit with it! (ketchup) *sigh* He took a quick trip to the chalkboard-lined playroom but got bored without any other children to play with. This is a good idea. 

Stella absolutely loved dipping the fries.  She had no interest in bites of the cajun burger, but had a bit of the bison.  Again, the nacho cheese was the star.

Given that condiments seemed to be a real strong point and can have such an effect on a meal, Teddy's staff need to actively promote it.  The person behind the counter should have been putting their best foot forward by promoting their specialty mayos and nacho cheese.  A format that requires standing in line and staring at a huge menu on the wall requires the staff to help lead the customer.  When you charge as much as you do for a gourmet burger, your staff has got to steer people in the right direction.  You need to ask "how would you like that cooked".  Libby didn't even notice that the specialty mayos existed on the menu...

Wrap Up
Price-$$,- Hefty for burgers and fries---were they actually gourmet burgers, this would not have been an issue.
Atmosphere**,- A good startWe liked the homemade tables, but nothing said "stop, watch the game and have a few beers."  A pity, with this outstanding beer menu.
Service*,- Order at the counter than they bring the food to your table.  No enthusiasm for their own food.

Fred- D,  This is just bad execution.  Overcooked meat and burnt buns.  The mayo was good as were the cheese fries.  But when you're supposed to be a gourmet burger place, that's not exactly high praise. When I compare it to other burger places around like Boogie Burger or Brickhouse burgers, it just doesn't compare.  There was just a lack of caring in both burgers.  They were both dry, uninspired and on burnt buns.  An incredible disappointment.   
Libby- C-, I can appreciate a good beer selection, especially in a homegrown establishment.  But you still have to woo me with good service, reasonable prices and high quality preparation.  I found the prices to be too high.  It's ridiculous that the only option is half a pound of meat!  There were some high notes with the nacho cheese sauce & Fred's mayo, but everything else was just "meh".  I can get a huge sandwich prepared exquisitely with attention to detail and preparation, standing in line looking at a wall menu at Shapiro's and feel like I got a good deal paying $12 (with no sides).  It's not the price, it's the price for what you get.
Ozzy- B+, Ozzy really liked the play room and certainly didn't have a problem with the food.  He gobbled up his meal completely.
Stella- B+, She was content through the meal dipping her fries in nacho cheese sauce and then sucking it off!
Teddy's Burger Joint on Urbanspoon