Ever drive by a place multiple times and think, “I wonder if it is worth it?” Nippers II is one of those places. Located on the northwest corner of 116th and Rangeline in Carmel, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was just a place to grab a drink or if the bar food would be decent. On a random Friday night, hubs and I met up with a few friends to give it a try.
Welcoming isn’t really a word I would use when entering the establishment. Stale smoke filled the air as you stepped straight directly into the bar. Odd placement I thought as I saw our friends waving across the dark room. A dance floor and stage graced a corner of the room and several tables lined the rest of the flooring. Friday at 6:30pm, the place is dead. No one is anywhere except for the 4 patrons at the bar and the group of the 5 of us. We grabbed a seat only to be informed by our friends that if we wanted anything, we had to go to the bar and get it ourselves. Not a big deal by any means, but really? No servers prior to 7pm? Interesting…
I went up to the bar and ordered two Gumballhead’s to drink. Since they weren’t approaching our table for service, I ordered dinner at the bar as well. I had asked if the bartender if the pork tenderloin or the pizza burger was better. He was honest when he said ‘not many people like the tenderloin. But the pizza burger is new; give it a try.’ So, I did. Hubs ordered a sandwich as well, but we also ordered chicken nachos to share as well.
About 20 minute later, the kitchen staff and bartender helped deliver the food. Everyone dug in to the fried festivus on the table while I grabbed a french fry to start. Mine were definitely cold, basic frozen fries from a bag. But everyone else had hot fries – and from their comments, they were your basic fries. My pizza burger was a basic frozen patty that had been cooked on a griddle, then topped with shredded mozzarella, pepperoni and marinara sauce. Nothing was impressive about this as it was something anyone could make out of canned items at home. At least the bun, which was a standard white bun, was slightly grilled.
The nachos weren’t much better. The chips were salty and semi stale here and there – though I think the ‘staleness’ came from being under the broiler. The cheese wasn’t all completely melted, and it was a mixture of shredded cheddar and jack. Raw, white onions; black olives and sliced scallions were the toppings. That is, besides the shredded dried chicken that was piled on top. There was a lot of chicken for sure, but it just wasn’t extremely appetizing.
The reviews I’ve read is this is a neighborhood place. Staff wasn’t rude, but they weren’t overly friendly when we were there. Pricing was average, paid around $30 for drinks and food. The food wasn’t what I would say is good bar food. I would have been better off ordering fried food, and from the looks of what my friends ordered, was right out of the freezer. I may be missing the point, but if you are looking for a drink late night and don’t mind a smokey dive, this may be the place for you. Who knows, the stage could leave it open for many possibilities. From the looks of it, they’ll be getting a new menu soon too, if not already. But I won’t be eating here again anytime in the near future.
Nippers II * 1772 East 116th Street* Carmel, 46032 * 317.818.9980