Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Company

For months now, we knew that a new brewery was surfacing in Broadripple and were excited to find they had opened in January.  Almost a month ago, we planned to go on Fred's birthday, but some mean, nasty virus had other plans.  Last weekend was our moment and the melting snow and glaring sunshine made us thirsty for one thing.  A good brew!

Across Broadripple avenue from the McDonald's, Thr3e Wise Men has an excellent location...gooood parking (for Broadripple, at least).  As soon as you enter, Scotty's marketing know-how is apparent.  Not only is there great merchandising between t-shirts, growlers, very professional advertising, and a knock-out view of the heart and soul of the brewing process, but the techie factor is almost a bit much.  Even the picnic table seating went above and beyond with seat padding, smooth table surfacing, and the greatest high chair ever...a table-top latch on that really allowed Stella to be at table height.  Yay!  Since the dining area is a bit small, they made up for lost space by placing 4-tops like us at the same table as another couple.  Smart.  We've always thought it was strange that more places don't do this.  What's the worst that can happen?  You speak to a stranger?!?

There are at least 7 hanging flat screens in the very open dining area, each table has an i-pad and even the bathroom stalls have tv's?!  Naturally the faucet and soap dispenser were automatic, but even the hand dryer was some sort of high-tech freakiness.  We couldn't figure out what we were supposed to do with the i-pad(only could see a map and they'd blocked the home button) and the toilet tv wasn't getting a signal, but when it's all humming...

Anyhow, let's talk chow!  Although it may not be obvious from the fact that the name on the sign says "Brewery", this is a pizza place.  Yes, there are appetizers, salads, and a few desserts, but the main course is pizza.  This made Ozzy a happy camper.

But first, what to drink?  Why a sampler of course!  Unfortunately, they only offered three of their eight brews in each sampler, so Fred and Libby just had to get their own...shucks. Since neither of us are hop-heads, we stayed away from the single & double IPAs.  We were excited by the color & milkiness of their Blackberry Wheat, but as with most fruit beers, the flavor just didn't come through.  Pity.  Both of us decided that the Blonde was the choice of the night for our second round.  We found none of the beers to be extraordinary, just simple easy drinking beers that would all go well with pizza.  If you're really looking for a knock-out pint, there are better breweries in town (heck, there are three of them within walking distance!), but in this case, the beer does what it's intended to do, wash down a pie.

We started with the Goat Cheese and Wise Men Marinara.  Can you really go wrong with this most delicious combo?  No.  The only negative we can say is that the pizza crust chips they gave for dipping had some fairly burned up pieces -- the sauce was good, the cheese premium quality and the cooked pizza crust idea, not bad! 

For the entree, we decided to go with two pizzas.  A small plain cheese to appease Ozzy and a garlic, spinach, and basil for the rest of us.  Normally, thin crust is not our preference, but this was very impressive.  The sauce was outstanding!  The cheeses somehow different in a really good way (parmesan melted in maybe?) and the ingredients great quality.  I think we were all pretty shocked by how much we liked it.  Ozzy's comments of "Fantastic!" and "This is the best pizza ever!"  spoke volumes.  This coming from a kid whose normal praise for a meal is "pretty good."  Stella was shoveling as fast as she could....well, so were mom and dad.  Next time we'll go for a meat topping, but the spinach, basil, garlic mix was perfect to show off that awesome sauce.

 For dessert there are three options: elephant ear, brew-homemade carrot cake, and brew-homemade german chocolate cake.  Fred expressed no interest in dessert(too full), but the rest of the family was feeling chocolate!  Shaped like a small bundt cake and covered in crushed toffee bar, this was a hit.  Very rich and in Libby's opinion, was screaming for a good coffee---should've gotten some Hubbared & Cravens!  Next time.  Ozzy and Stella were equally enthusiastic.  The elephant ear looked really popular and pretty tasty.  And knowing Fred's love for carrot cake, next time he's in the mood, he'll be sampling.

Wrap Up
Price-$-$$,- Large pizza & a growler for $20?!  Sounds like a deal to us.
Atmosphere***,- Reminiscent of Scotty's other establishments.  Loved the padded picnic tables.
Service***,-  Plenty of staff, but we're not so sure the electronic ordering system was really helping much.  Our waitress had to step away from our table to punch everything into a gadget strapped to her hip.  It took at about 2 minutes for her to enter the order.  By that time she could have easily written it down and walked it to the kitchen.

Fred- B+,  Very good pizza, but there's so much better beer in Broadripple... Maybe if they'd called themselves Thr3e Wise Men Pizza Co I would have had lower expectations...  But all in all, it's a good deal and I'd definitely go back.
Libby-B+, I had a great time just soaking it all in---beer and atmosphere.  I was really happy to see they use as many local ingredients as they can--thank you, Thr3e Wise Men!  Next time, we'll have to try a meat pizza and hopefully they will have the amber available since so many seem to enjoy it.
Ozzy- A+, We've never heard such high praise from our boy!
Estelle- A+, Awesome high chair and she loved every bite.

Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Co. on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ichiban Sushi Bar & Sammy's Asian Cuisine

We're back in the saddle after more than a month of post-holiday quarantine!  Weather and illness woes be gone!  Oddly, we were in the mood for sushi.  With Ozzy's lunch finickiness the school's problem today, we decided to see what has been going on at Ichiban.

Being very familiar with Ichiban for the past several years, we noticed something different a few months back.  Not only a much longer name, but more than twice the space!  The entry alone made it clear this place had gone from neighborhood (charming) hole in the wall to new southside dining hotspot!  Just beautiful!  Somebody dropped a dime and kept it classy for a strip mall locale.

It's about 4 times the size of the old place with a private dining room, a second bar and a lot of intimate dining space for such an open feel.The menu has changed a bit adding a few more pan-asian dishes, but we chose to ignore this and eat what we came for---the best sushi on the southside.

Crazy Roll sans tail ends...forgot to photograph before diving in!
So accustomed to grabbing a sushi order ticket, we were happy to see a few lunch roll combos available that would more than satisfy our appetites---including a small third diner who would sample from everyone.  All sushi combos come with miso soup and a small salad with house asian ginger dressing.  Knowing what we wanted, we couldn't stop with just the combo.  We had to add the true guilty sushi pleasure---the crazy share. :)

As yummy as it is gorgeous!

Service was as expected---fast, professional and accommodating.  Our salads and soups came out quickly and something was pleasantly different about the dressing.  Not that it was at all bad before, but a small amount of yummy liquid sat at the bottom of the bowl and really kicked it up a notch...Stella agreed!  Seeing her eat salad is a real treat after the long standing protests from Ozzy.

We did end up getting Stella one of the kids meals as we weren't sure how she would respond to sushi.  We were happily surprised she sampled a bit of everything with great zest!  Her favorites were the sticky rice, orange pieces, and salad.  She wanted to like the shrimp, but the texture was too challenging for her to master without far too much of a choking hazard.  

The sushi was fast and especially pleasing to the eye as you can see.  If you haven't experienced the crazy really shouldn't qualify as sushi.  But it is such a delightful fried treat wrapped in a sushi package---basically a tempura roll with extra crab meat and some killer sauces to boot!  There's no denying this is a creation for the western palate.

We also went with two eels rolls, a tuna roll, and a shrimp tempura(as if there wasn't enough fried goodness from the crazy roll).  All fantastic!  Fred proclaimed being weak in the knees, while Libby silently stared off into space.
We were so glad to get out and get some really good food after such a long time.

Wrap Up
Price-$-$$$,- Half priced Monday's still available, but for sushi, you can't complain about the price.
Atmosphere****,-Absolutely beautiful!!!  Well designed and no spared expense.
Service***,-Same good service we have always experienced.

Fred- A+ , The best sushi I've had outside the coasts!  With an atmosphere like that, it makes me proud to finally say there is a classy, high-end restaurant on the south side.
Libby- A+, Just what the doctor ordered.  A perfectly prepared meal in a quiet, intimate atmosphere that made us feel like we were going out, rather than just grabbing some lunch.
Ozzy- school lunch today.
Estelle- A+, Stella was not out of place in the least and seemed to appreciate everything she ate.  One happy baby!

Ichiban on Urbanspoon