Tag Archives: Brunch

Woody’s Library

17 Apr

I’m a sucker for Sunday brunch. Wanting to stay somewhere close to home, hubs and I settled on Woody’s Library for some good eats before running a few weekend errands. I love Woody’s atmosphere – an older library layout that has been converted into a restaurant. The separate rooms allow it to feel more intimate while still maintaining a business casual environment. The restaurant wasn’t busy when we arrived, thus allowing us to take in the atmosphere while being seated quickly.

I began with a berry sparkling beverage. Sparkling wine mixed with a berry simple syrup, though a little sweet for my normal drink preference, was a great way to begin this meal. Hubs had ordered an iced tea and enjoyed the carafe he was given without request to ensure his thirst was constantly quenched. The menu for their brunch is somewhere between simple/expected and unique. There are the scrambles, but you can add on a variety of ingredients. We somehow both decided on one of my all time faves, eggs benedict, but each with our own little twist.

Hubs ordered the classic benedict with ham. Appropriate as the following day was also national eggs benedict day. He said the ham wasn’t very apparent, he missed the taste that it could have lent the dish. But he was really enjoying all the other components that even though he missed the ham, he didn’t miss the enjoyment of the dish. With brunch items, you also order a side for your dish. He opted for the mini sausages. When he received them, it was definitely different from our expectations. Mini sausages, like you would use to make pigs in a blanket, were swimming in a sweet and sour sauce. No explanation anywhere that you would receive it that way. Personally, we didn’t mind as we are okay with sweet and sour, but if you didn’t like that flavor combination, you would have been severely disappointed with your selection. They were pretty good, but we both acknowledged that the sausages weren’t local or homemade by any means. We wouldn’t be surprised if the sauce was the same situation. They were fine, but nothing earth shattering.

As mentioned, I too ordered the benedict. But mine was with crab cakes – yum! I love seafood benedict, it is one of my all time favorite breakfast dishes. Like hubs, two biscuits served as the base. They were dense as I expect a biscuit to be, and a little dry on their own. I prefer the classic toasted english muffin though because it isn’t as filling and is always adds just a bit of crunch to the base. My crab cakes were apparent with every bite, but when eating them without the fillers of the benedict, I was slightly disappointed to see how bread dense they were. They definitely had the flavor of crab, but the texture was heavy in breadcrumbs. But they were cooked well, crispy on the edges and tender inside. The two poached eggs were just a tad bit overcooked, so I wasn’t given the runny yolk that I adore sopping up with every bite. But the holandaise was luscious and savory. It was simple, not heavy in any ingredient, as all the ingredient flavors meshed perfectly. What I really liked about the benedict was the fried leeks that adorned the top. They were crisp and gave the perfect onion flavor that I didn’t realize I wanted.

As my side, I ordered the mini potato cakes. They were adorable (I love mini foods!) in size and great in flavor. Light, not with that greasy fried taste, the potatoes were seasoned well with salt and pepper and had a crisp edge. I also ordered the cinnamon roll wedges solely because I can never say no to a cinnamon roll. I should have in this case though as it was extremely dry. Don’t be fooled by the photo, this was hard and could have been warmed up a bit. I’m sure that would have helped and made it more enjoyable if it was at least served warm. The flavor could have been there, but I was so consumed with how dry it was that I ended up only taking a few bites and finishing with the strawberries. But honestly, I was so full with my main dish that I really didn’t even need the half of the roll for $2.

Overall, the meal was good. I really enjoyed the benedict despite the eggs being slightly overcooked and the cakes being breadcrumb heavy. I thought the flavor components were all there as expected. I may swap out the sides next time just to try something new, but I may ask to be sure there are no unexpected twists like the sausage hubs ordered. Once again, not bad, but out of left field. I’ll definitely be back, maybe for lunch or dinner as I haven’t been for those meals. Anyone else?

And another note, Woody’s is owned by the same restauranteur of Divvy. Two great restaurants with two very different feels.

Woody’s Library * 40 east main street * carmel, 46032 * 317.573.4444

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Big Mike’s Cafe Americana

5 Apr

I see Big Mike’s many times on the weekend when I’m driving home from working weekend events. I always pass it at 1 a.m. after the weddings I’m working and think “I wonder what the place is like?” This past weekend, hubs and I were gearing up to go run a few errands, but our stomachs reminded us food is good. And usually, food comes first. We have these diner cards and saw Big Mike’s was in the pack, so we agreed to give it a go.

The outside doesn’t seem very inviting or anything special. Big Mike’s is located in a strip mall adorned with wooden boards on the exterior on College near 96th Street. It looks slightly run down and unwelcoming, with a few tables outside that were not prepped for the nice weather (I clearly do NOT hold this against them though – this weather is odd!) Upon walking in, we were slightly confused on what to do as it seems like you would order at the counter and then grab a seat. Instead the server/host present greeted us warmly from behind the cash register and enthusiastically ushered us to a seat. At noon, the restaurant was empty which explained his enthusiasm. We grabbed a corner booth and took in the atmosphere. It is quite plain inside, full of tables and booths for guests. As mentioned, when you walk in there is a counter straight ahead across the room. One can’t help but walk towards it, so I wonder how the flow is when the restaurant is busy. Nothing special in the decor, so I was hoping that the food would help the mood.

We began with an order of garlic knots. Nothing beats bread dipped in delicious garlic butter. These knots were delivered quickly (which was good – we were the only ones there after all) and were piping hot. At first, I thought they were straight up fried. But, after a few bites I came to the conclusion that they could have been partially baked and then finished in the fryer. They were extremely tender and perfectly cooked on the inside, but had a slightly crisp exterior giving them that crunch. They were swimming in butter and covered in Parmesan cheese, It may have been the bottle shaker cheese and didn’t add too much. But don’t let that lead you to believe I didn’t like this, cause I did. They were good, but very rarely do I think bread is bad, especially when baked/fried and dipped in a side of ranch or nacho sauce. They were slightly greasy, a little messy, but that is what happens when you fry your lunch. We opted to add on a side of ranch and nacho cheese, though marinara does come with the knots.

For our meals, hubs ordered the Chicago sandwich. From where I was sitting, it looked quite messy with a huge portion of roast beef, sausage and mozzarella. Hubs comment on the sandwich was ‘it’s okay.’ The sandwich looked good so I had to grab a bite. But he was right, there really wasn’t anything spectacular about the sandwich. The bread was great, but the bite that I had was pretty much all Italian rope sausage. The sausage was part of the upgraded ‘Minchman’ combo consisting of the addition of Italian rope sausage and mozzarella. Was the extra dollar for the upgrade worth it? He shrugged his shoulders and I nodded in agreement – not really. He did eat all the fries – average, but they were hot and crispy.

I decided to try the tenderloin which is given 5 stars by the Tenderloin Connoisseur.  Clearly the tenderloin was hand pounded and breaded – no frozen tenderloin here. The meat was tender and flavorful, the breading slightly salty from being fried and crispy all around. I really enjoyed the pork flavor, clean and not muddles with the fried outer shell as it only complimented each bite. I heard about the pretzel roll and was anxious to see it for myself. I was little taken back as the pretzel roll as maybe 1/3 of the size of the tenderloin, though I did enjoy the pretzel bun versus a regular bun. It seemed fresh as it was soft with a slight crunch on the exterior. It was slightly sweet too like a pretzel normally would be. Only set back is that the pretzel roll made it that much more filling. A little too carby for me and I (at times) had trouble concentrating on the tenderloins flavor.  I was surprised that the flavor combination worked though and would easily order it again as my tummy was quite full with leftover tenderloin on the plate.

As mentioned, we had one of dining cards with us so we had to spend $30 for the meal to receive $10 off. I would have normally boycotted spending $3 on a side of ranch and nacho sauce ($1.50 a piece), but knowing that we needed to spend all $30 prior to tax/tip, we were okay with it. Our sodas and sandwiches on top of that got us to $30.75 before tax and gratuity. It seemed a bit more expensive than what I expected. But the breakfast buffet (which we obviously didn’t get) seemed like quite a deal if you were hungry. Our server, who stayed enthusiastic (maybe too much) the whole time, explained the breakfast well. You are given a list of potentials to order, and they cook it as ordered, as much as you want. So if you are hungry and looking for a buffet with a to-order twist, I would say give Big Mike’s a try.

Anyone else been? What were your thoughts on the atmosphere and food? I’d definitely give it a go again, though I do wish the outdoor seating would be ramped up just a bit. I’m a sucker for al fresco after all.

Big Mike’s Cafe Americana * 9611 N. College Ave * Carmel, 46280 * 317-571-1000

Big Mike's Cafe Americana on Urbanspoon

Taste

21 Mar

Broad Ripple has many restaurants, from fine dining to casual, it is sometimes difficult to keep up. At least for me, since I dwell in the ‘burbs and don’t go south of 82nd as often as I would like. But as I work in (north) Indianapolis, I sometimes get to Broad Ripple for lunch with colleagues. This past week was one of those times, and someone suggested Taste. I had driven by, never been, and thought it was the perfect time to give it a try.

We arrived early, approximately 11:30ish, due to a few meetings and conference calls we all had in the afternoon at our respective places of employment. So when we arrived, there was only a slight line with a lot of open tables. An open seating restaurant, Taste embraces the concept of counter ordering and then delivering food to the corresponding table number you are given upon ordering. I liked the casual environment as well as the mix of the crowd of who was dining. We sauntered up to the counter and perused the menu while we waited in line.

Now, this counter of sweet treats smiles at you as you try to avoid eye contact and stare up at the menu. Then the smell of the freshly baked bread and cinnamon rolls meander their way to your nose. Suddenly, you find your eyes wandering. I have no idea how I stayed strong, but I did. Heck, I even ended up ordering a salad as my main dish. As I successfully avoided the sweets, I also noticed all the eclectic yet homey items on the menu. I definitely want to make it back for breakfast as there were some items screaming my name. But instead, a salad it was. I’d like to take a minute to mention you can build your own salad from quite a variety of items, but I opted to pick one already put together for me.

But to start the excitement of our luncheon meeting, one of my colleagues ordered deviled eggs to begin as well as the pommes frites. As I silently jumped for joy (I knew we’d be splitting these), we made our way to the table and waited patiently. The two ‘appetizer side dishes’ arrived first, and we dived in. The deviled eggs were creamy with a rich yolk and mustard taste, yet sharpened with a dill flavor. They were great, though a bit pricey for half an egg at $1.25. But it was a treat that I’d probably get again (a variety of eggs would be an even better treat though!)

The pommes frites were thing and crispy, everything that I want in a fry of this variation. Salted with thick, kosher salt and seasoned with black pepper, the seasoning was moderate thus complimenting the salty fried taste that is expected. A basil aiole was served to mellow down any salty flavor one might have (though I didn’t see it apparent by any means) and added a slightly elevated scale to otherwise normal fry. I liked the bright contrast of the basil, and the creamy texture played nicely with the crisp fry.

As for the main event, I had ordered chopped salad. First off, the portion was quite big. And it wasn’t all romaine like I anticipated, but a good mix of the toppings that sometimes make people to perceive salads as unhealthy. However, that wasn’t really my thought as I began to break apart the whole side of corn, straight of the cob. I bet in the summer the corn adds a depth of sweetness, but this time around, I wasn’t getting it. ::sigh:: Seasons. But the pungent bleu cheese flavor played well with the other expected flavors of sharp red onion and smokey bacon. I did like the tart green apple that were chopped within the salad and the lightness that the sherry vinaigrette provided the greens. Overall, it was a good, solid salad. I wasn’t blown away, maybe should have gone with my second choice, but it was still a good salad.

Overall, a great menu that seemed moderately priced as cafes go. I look forward to getting back (maybe for breakfast, though they do now serve dinner) and ‘tasting’ a few other things on the menu. Yup, I went there. With a name like Taste, how could one resist?

Taste Cafe * 5164 N. College Avenue * Indy (Broad Ripple), 46205 * 317).925.cafe

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Eggshell Bistro

20 Feb

I’ve been staring at the brown canopy reading Eggshell for quite some time. I knew that I would visit sooner than later, but with my parents in town over Super Bowl weekend, I thought it would be the perfect time to try it out. From what I had heard, I knew Eggshell was focusing on espresso and caffeinated drinks with a European and slow brew philosophy. But, I didn’t know much about the food. We made our way into the restaurant and were lucky to be able to grab the last open table.

Located in the Carmel City Center, the Bistro is a small venue packed with character. The tables are a work of art, looking like tree branches supporting the small tabletop. The chairs (according to the website) are imported from France and have the charm of an outdoor cafe. A nice touch, but I’m not sure if it is necessary to have imported them. There is quite an eclectic collection of items giving the overall feel of an antique garden with rustic charm. We had a good view from our table in the back of the room, and the clientele matched the mood and feel of the restaurant that morning. The server greeted us with her iPad, ready to take our order.

I was all over the place in a good way where I think my parents were all over the place because it was something new for them to try. They opted with the quiche and crostini – both which they really enjoyed. I had ordered a variety of items to share with hubs. The main dish was the sweet potato hash. I love sweet potatoes and was anticipating some great things knowing it would be a fresh, artisan taste. The sweet potatoes were shredded rather than cubed adding a different texture than what I was expecting. It made the taste a little subdued, so you could taste the combination of the spicy chorizo and jalapenos in the mix. The spice of these items was subtle though, not overwhelming the sweetness of the potato or the rustic black beans that were in the mix. On top, two perfectly poached eggs that when cut into, delivered a smooth, rich creamy yolk ‘dressing’ for the hash. Some tomato relish and creamy goat cheese was a nice accompaniment as well. I  make things like this at home all the time on the weekend, and this was exactly what I wanted out on Saturday morning.

In addition to the hash, we also had a cup of fruit, grits, and lamb bacon. The fruit was the best fruit cup I’ve ever had. A collection of fruit that you wouldn’t normally see, a lot of vibrant and tart fruit. I especially loved the pomegranate. The order of lamb bacon from the Smoking Goose was a bit more greasy and fatty than I would have liked. But, it had the deep, satisfying flavor that only the Smoking Goose can deliver in their meats. My favorite side was the Anson Mills stone ground grits. They were cooked perfectly, creating a wholesome and filling creamy base heightened with the sharp cheddar cheese. I loved every bite as I was scrapping the small taste bowl I ordered.

Overall, the plates seemed small. But in reality, they were all one serving – what we are supposed to be eating but just don’t see at everyday restaurants. I was completely satisfied with what we had ordered, both in flavor and in size. However, it was a bit pricey for what we were given as our total bill was close to $60 for the four of us, prior to tip. I loved the environment and could see having a quite lunch with my friends. If you are looking for something of large satisfying proportions after a late night binge, this won’t be where you want to go. But, it is a great brunch spot for a light, global inspired meal and an amazing cup of coffee.

Eggshell Bistro * 51 W City Center Dr * Carmel, 46032 * 317.660.1616

Note: the website is out of date, but you can view the menu and up to date information on facebook

Eggshell Bistro on Urbanspoon