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Chick-fil-A (Giveaway!)

23 May

Winner update, 5.25.12 – Thank you to all who participated. Random numbers have been chosen. Congratulations to:

  • 2 – Miranda
  • 14 – Maria
  • 19 – Kim
  • 6 – Dana H.
  • 17 – Wen
  • 3 – Amy M.

Once again, congratulations! Email me at angieahrens@gmail.com with your name and address. I’ll drop your gift card in the mail as soon as possible. Thank you to all of you for your great comments. I appreciate you reading!

*******

I normally wouldn’t review a chain, let along one that is fast food. But when Chick-fil-A reached out and asked me to give their restaurant a go because of their new desserts, I decided to say ‘absolutely!’ Why? Let me tell you.

  1. A reason to eat a spicy chicken sandwich. Eating out at lunch is rare, especially fast food. So an excuse to have the spicy sandwich was accepted. I like that it is a tender chicken sandwich with subtle, spicy breading. The end pieces are crispy, but most of it is barely covered with the thin breading. Plus, a pickle ends it well for me.
  2. I like chocolate. The whole reason was the try desserts. And I’m not one to turn down some ice cream, cookies, and brownies.
  3. Desserts for you! Yup, you heard me. YOU can get these wonderful desserts yourself. But of course, I had to try them first.

After I noshed on my chicken sandwich and waffle fries, I gave the cookie sundae a try. A chocolate chunk cookie was broken up in the bottom of the cup and topped with soft serve ice cream. Vanilla I may add. Whipped cream and cherry with more chocolate cookie chunks rounded out the simple dessert. Something I would expect from CFA. They take simple food and make sure it is solid and yum (that’s a technical term – yum). And yes, this sundae was the perfect sweet ending to my lunch. The cookie was soft, chewy, and loaded with chocolate chunks. Delicious.

But, I want you to try for yourself. And though I paid for my lunch and sundae (the sundae is a mere $1.79!), CFA and I don’t want you to. They want you to enjoy it all just because you are a reader of City Nom Noms. Talk about a deal.

I have a numerous gift cards to give out to you! Each card gives you an opportunity to try a dessert every month, all summer long.

  • May – chocolate chunk cookie
  • June – brownie
  • July – chocolate chunk cookie sundae

How do you win a gift card? All you need to do is leave a comment telling me why you love CFA! Maybe it is the fantastic service you always receive, or maybe it is because you appreciate that they close on Sunday for their employees to have a weekend. Or, maybe you like the spicy chicken sandwich as much as I do.

That’s it. And don’t hesitate to share the opportunity via twitter or Facebook. There are plenty to give away – I have a total of six cards for you to enjoy. Well, six of you!

As I have been out of town for a large chunk of May, I understand there isn’t much time left for this. So this will be a quick contest, as I don’t want you missing out on that cookie! The contest will end at Friday, May 25 at 5:00 p.m. eastern standard time. I’ll randomly (via computerized system) pick six winners and send all of you a card to enjoy (and then you best get to CFA for your May dessert!)

Start commenting, and as always, thanks for reading (and be sure to thank CFA for this opportunity!)

Note: the opinions of all restaurants are those of the restaurant and not mine. This giveaway is sponsored by Chick-fil-A to promote their new desserts.

El Meson

1 May

A colleague and I have decided to try a new restaurant around our office space once a month. After working there for several years, I was shocked to see all the random places I have not been. Hoping to cure that over the next few months, we began with El Meson.

In the quite large restaurant, there is more than meets the eye of the bright exterior Mexican restaurant. Set up to simulate an outdoor garden in decor, the colors are bright and bold. To the right of the main dining area is more dining, but to the left is this dark, mysterious night club atmosphere. Open late, I have to imagine that a club atmosphere is exactly what it turns into. But on a lunch hour, we weren’t interested in those details. We came hungry for some chips and Mexican flavors.

I opted for a chimichanga as it had been quite a while since the chimi and I engaged with one another. What I received was a full plate of food, all that was good but not the best thing I ever ate. The beans and rice were simple, mild in any flavor profile. The main component, the chimi, was also average. I had expected something a bit different as most chimi’s are wrapped up tight and are full of filling. This was wrapped with open ends, stuffed only with a mild and slightly dry chicken filling. The edges were all crispy due to the frying, but it wasn’t heavy in oil taste or anything like that. Just an average meal. Covering the chimi, the classic white cheese sauce was the highlight of the meal for me. Basic quest is always good in my book – very rarely will I turn on a cheese.

It took quite a while to order our food, though our server was pleasant and engaging. That day, El Meson filled my Mexican craving though I would have liked a bit more flavor throughout. My colleagues enjoyed their meal, so maybe I just need to break up with the chimichanga once in for all.

El Meson * 8920 wesleyan road * indianapolis, 46268 * 317.872.4600

Grille 39

19 Apr

Located in the Renaissance Indianapolis hotel on North Meridian, Grille 39 may be ignored because it is a hotel restaurant. Usually, if you live in the area, you don’t visit hotels thus ignoring the restaurants within. As someone who travels for work, I have no problem with many hotel restaurants. In this case, I was looking forward to the atmosphere that blended well with the Renaissance feel of earthly elements. Together, the two fit nicely, and I was impressed with the overall experience of the restaurant that evening.

We had Easter brunch at the hotel the previous weekend and had been invited to return for the Grille 39 experience. We dined at the restaurant on a Friday evening, around 7 p.m., and I wasn’t surprised to see many open tables due to it being a hotel restaurant. However, once you are seated you may even forget you were in a hotel lobby. The decor is rich in colors: burnt orange, dark yet brilliant blues. The seating was comfortable as we were sat near the fire for the evening. We were quickly seated and met by our server who was pleasant and informative throughout the evening. She explained the weekly specials and a few of her favorites after we placed our drink orders. With a smile, she delivered our drinks and we relaxed with images of a delicious meal in our heads.

Our appetizer were the bleu cheese potato chips. We had been looking at few other items but I just couldn’t resist a bleu cheese fondue and crispy, homemade potato chips. They were quick to be delivered and we immediately started crunching away. The potato chips were crisp with a heavier weight and flavorful with each bite as they were seasoned with something more than your typical salt and pepper. They were great on their own, but I really did enjoy the creamy and decadent bleu cheese fondue all over the chips. It wasn’t sharp like I imagined it to be, but still rich in flavor. Bleu cheese crumbles gave it the subtle sharpness that I was expecting. I liked the contrast of creamy and crunchy. It was also quite a large portion as we didn’t finish knowing we had a good meal ahead. But even with that being said, we also were given a basket of their breads. I had a nibble (okay, a whole slice) of their toasted cinnamon bread. It may have had some raisin components, but it was dried and delicious. Imagine taking a loaf of cinnamon bread and slicing it incredibly thin and drying it out. That’s what you got, but the flavor is so intense that it was a sweet treat for the beginning of the meal.

Hubs had ordered the sea bass for his dinner, grilled in cooking style. This 10 oz. piece of fish looked much bigger than we both imagined (and it warmed up great the next day for the two of us to split I might add). It doesn’t look like the classically grilled piece of fish we both imagined. We believe it was cooked in their infra-red broiler like their steaks. Despite this dish being bland in presentation color (that was due to the side items hubs selected), the fish wasn’t even close to being bland in flavor. It was cooked perfectly and had such moisture locked in the slightly crunch crust. It was a really great piece of fish, leaving us both wondering when the last time was that we had fish that great. He had also ordered it Oscar style. The subtle sweetness of the lump crab was great with the creamy richness of the hollandaise. The best bite included the fish, crab, risotto and hollandaise. His two sides were a potato au gratin (will explain later) and a Parmesan risotto. The risotto was a little too creamy for me (I know, it’s cheese risotto) and monotone in flavor. But hubs really enjoyed it and thought I was crazy for thinking that. I personally think I just wasn’t in the mood for risotto, because the next day it tasted pretty good as leftovers.

I enjoyed a steak dinner – something I normally never order out. But our server informed us that they sell more steaks than anything else so I couldn’t resist to see why. I ordered the ribeye (once again, completely out of character for me) to see how their infra-red broiler would work with the marble of fat and meat. I ordered it medium rare and what I got was spot on. One of the best cooked steaks I have ever ordered out, it had a beautiful sear locking in all the juices and resting to the perfect temperature that I had ordered. The crust was created through high heat and a house bast wad used to create a great flavor component. Olive oil, soy sauce, garlic, and black olives created a tapenade type of topping for the steak. A steak purist might baulk at this, but I thought it added such a great and unique flavor to every bite. Like the fish, the steak also came with a sauce on the side. I ordered the bernaise, a classic egg and butter sauce, but didn’t really eat it as the steak was so flavorful on it’s own. But I do have to mention the bearnaise was made very well. My sides were grilled asparagus, delightfully crisp and tender at the same time, and the potato au gratin. The au gratin looked great, loaded with four different types of cheese, but when eating it I was left wanting something else. I couldn’t help but see it prepared in a large pan and refrigerated, cooked and then cut into portions before being reheated. I’m sure that wasn’t the case (though I didn’t ask how it was prepared) but there was nothing to rave about. The flavors of four cheeses was underwhelming as cheddar was the main taste. It didn’t seem like it was cooked all the way through either, too dense in texture. The steak was clearly the winner of my meal as it was absolutely delicious.

I left surprised. I couldn’t help it. Even as one who isn’t against hotel restaurants, I wasn’t expecting the really great meal that hubs and I had. The prices seemed a little high (steak was mid-$30’s, as was the fish) but a few other items seemed standard. There was an ahi tuna burger that I was tempted to try and would have if it had been lunch. I could easily see having a drink and some appetizers and progressing into a casual dinner. I liked the environment, I really enjoyed the food, and with company like I had, you can’t go wrong on a Friday night date.

Note: the meal was compliments of Grille 39, but the opinions are honest and entirely my own.

Grille 39 * 11925 north meridian (renaissance hotel) * carmel, 46032 * 317.814.2550

Grille 39 (Marriott) on Urbanspoon

Lulu’s Coffee + Bakehouse

10 Apr

Coffee shops. Indy may not be Seattle where Starbucks are on almost every corner. And because of that, we have other great, local coffee shops that we are able to pop in before work. Lulu’s is one of them. Lulu’s Coffee + Bakehouse, formerly named Lulu’s Electric Cafe, has not only changed their name and locations (moved from 86th and Ditch towards Township Line), but also the overall feel of their space.

A casual, slightly artsy type of environment, Lulu’s is a relaxed third space for a group of 10-15 individuals at one time. A few small tables, a comfy couch here, and a little game playing area there behind the coffee beans for sale. I really liked the vibe of the shop. But unfortunately, it was a little before 8am and I had to get to work for the day. Sitting down and enjoying the paper wasn’t an option on that Friday morning.

My co-worker (and friend) and I ordered our drinks from the friendly man behind the counter. He was thoughtful in explaining the different brews available that day as we perused the menu of the items available. Of course, with perfect placement by Lulu’s, I had to grab a cinnamon chip scone for my breakfast nibble. The scone was very light, not dense or heavy like I normally anticipate with a scone. And though it wasn’t what I anticipated, I still enjoyed every bite. Almost like a cinnamon muffin with more fluff. The cinnamon spice was perfect in the baked good as I quickly ate it all. And the coffee, I had ordered their medium roast, was a good cup of coffee. It was hot in temperature, not too strong or light in flavor either. Not to mention, the fancy top kept the coffee in place when driving.

I look forward to stopping in Lulu’s again, especially with the image of the scone in my head. Maybe a sandwich next time?

Lulu’s Coffee + Bakehouse* 2292 W. 86th Street * Indy, 46260 *317.879.1995

Lulu's Coffee + Bakehouse on Urbanspoon