Tag Archives: Coffee

Sonata Cafe

11 May

In celebration of a friend’s birthday and birthday month, a few girls and I decided to participate in a progressive dinner in the Carmel Arts & Design District. After a few sips of wine at Shiraz, we walked our way down the street towards Sonata, one of the newer restaurants in the area. We were excited to share a few tapas while continuing great conversation and company.

Walking into the restaurant, we were warmly greeted by the hostess. The main floor of the restaurant was empty on this particular Wednesday evening, but it was pretty easy to imagine people lounging at the tables with a coffee in hand. A casual environment, there was a coffee bar and counter that had bakery items available for purchase. Art adorned the walls, though I didn’t get a very warm fuzzy vibe. More of a casual, clean and simple feel of a Spanish cafe. The hostess grabbed a few menus and we walked through this area to the stairs to head our way up to the second floor. Upstairs, there was a larger group (also celebrating a birthday) enjoying their evening, a full bar with several seats open for patrons, and a table of six seats perfect for our group.

After ordering a round of sangria, beer, and one whiskey old fashioned for me, we settled on a few plates for our first round. We began with (starting left and moving clockwise) empanadas, brick vegetariano, and hummus. The empanadas were stuffed with gouda and sweet corn. A crisp exterior, the empanada was served with a simple concasse sauce – which really is a red marinara sauce. Overall, it was crisp and tasty, though a bit dry in the contents for me as I couldn’t taste much from the gouda. The brick vegetariano was delicious: layers of vegetables and phyllo covered with a concasse sauce once again. The mozzarella between the layers melted beautifully tying in the perfect level of salt to the dish among the crisp phyllo. I really enjoyed every bit. The edamame hummus was creamy in texture and subtle in flavor. I did enjoy it, but the brick won my heart in the first round.

Second round had us focused on the bread basket. We ordered a few breads to compare, all different in their own way. From the top moving clockwise, we ordered goya, monet, and giotto. The goya was a portabello mushroom on top of a toasted ciabatta type of bread, slathered with herbed goat cheese. Goat cheese goes a long way in my book, especially with some marinara. The mushroom was tender and rustic in flavor, but really I was loving up on the goat cheese. Carrying on with the goat love, the monet was the same bread vehicle slathered in the herbed goat cheese, but this time topped with a bacon jam. Per the menu description, it was a tampenade. Per my taste buds, it was sweet, salty, and savory. I wanted a bit more out of it, but it was still good. Just my least fave of the bunch. Finally, the giotto was fantastic all because of the balsamic glaze that adorned the bread. Under the savory glaze were sauteed leeks, onions, and garlic. It was missing asparagus (and the server noticed this, taking off some money to make up for it), but to be honest, I really didn’t miss it as I enjoyed all the flavors melting together with each bite. I enjoyed all three though I think the goya and giotto may have slightly bat out the monet.

Our final round has us munching on four plates. Beginning on the right and moving clockwise, we began with the gambas, which are essentially deep fried shrimp. The shrimp are somehow stuffed with cream cheese before battered in a corn flake crust and deep fried. They were then served with this intense raspberry sauce. It was too sweet for me, though I could see how one may really love all the flavors. The shrimp was lost in flavor though as the raspberry was the dominate flavor. We also had the dedo de poll: goat cheese stuffed chicken wrapped in bacon. The chicken was tender with mild taste of goat cheese and the bacon was crisp, but I really enjoyed the slightly spicy sauce on top. Chunks of apples gave it a slight sweetness which balanced the sweet & spicy contrast nicely.

Next up was the gnocchi con gambas, or pasta with shrimp. Gnocchi is a dense, potato pasta and these were tender and cooked well. Once again, the marinara is very clean and has good, simple flavors. I wasn’t blown away though. It is definitely a simple yet good dish, I was looking for something a bit more extravagant that evening. I didn’t get that extravagance with the croquetas de jamon either, though I did enjoy popping these little fried pieces of deliciousness in my mouth. Simple, but yum. a mixture of ham and bechamel cheese is always great. When you fry them up croquete style, that fried and crispy crust always ties them well.

With drink, prior to gratuity, total bill was $24 per person. Not bad when you have a plethora of food to select from. Service was good and I really enjoyed the relaxed environment. We definitely were all full as we had bites of everything around the table. It is good to note that a few things are capable of being added onto if you have a larger group. For instance, we ordered additional gambas to ensure we all one to taste for a few dollars more. I’ll be returning with a group, because that is the best way to do tapas!

I also have to apologize. I’ve been absent due to traveling and catching up with life. And unfortunately, during professional dinners, taking photos isn’t usually a top priority. I may be critiquing in my head, but just not in a picture. BUT, I’ll be making it up to you come the 21st. They’ll be a give away for some delicious food. Why the 21st? Well, I’m traveling again…stay tuned…and thanks for being a reader and contributor!

Sonata Cafe, Bar & Art * 31 east main street * carmel, 46032 * 317.844.5551

Sonata Cafe Bar Art 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

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

iCafe

7 Feb

I had bought this Groupon for iCafe a while back, so hubs and I made our way there on a Saturday morning for a quick bite to eat before running errands. I didn’t really know what to expect, but figured it would be more of a ‘third space’ like a Starbucks rather than a sit down restaurant. Either way, we were looking for something satisfying, fast, and with $10 credit on hand, cheap.

Upon our arrival, there were only a few people inside. An older couple each reading sections of the paper while enjoying a cup of a coffee; two young business men chatting over their laptops about a work project. Not a restaurant, but a third space. A place to grab a cup of joe and relax with your favorite book or digital device. This is exactly what the individuals were doing, so I was cautious about what we were doing there.

We sauntered our way up to the counter and were immediately greeted by one of the two individuals working. I ordered a hot chai latte and french toast bake while hubs ordered the breakfast nachos and a coffee. Then, we waited. We had to wait a good 5 minutes for our coffee drinks – a bit longer than the usual wait at a Starbucks. And then we waited some more. It took about 25 minutes for us to receive our breakfast items – something that shouldn’t happen in a quick service local.

The food left me wanting more. Hubs breakfast nachos weren’t what I would have expected, and they were actually the reason we waited for our meal. The woman who dropped off our food said she had to make the chips since they were out. From what he got, it was basically a wrap that they would use for their lunch sandwiches cut up and baked. A scrambled egg, bacon crumbles, fresh veggies and a blend of cheese were in the center of the plate. It was very basic in flavor, nothing extraordinary but nothing inedible either. I would have liked to see chips a bit different, and maybe melted cheese. It definitely left us both desiring more.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I ordered the french toast bake, but I know I wasn’t expecting a cinnamon french toast muffin. But that really is what I got. Almost like a dry monkey bread, pieces of bread were soaked in eggs, milk and cinnamon. I would have liked to see a more tender interior as it was pretty dry. But, the flavors of french toast were there, heavy in cinnamon which is what I love. I just wish I had know that was what it would have been – I guess I could have asked, but either way, I ended up with a glorified muffin. I did like that it was served with maple syrup, which helped the bake. I’d get again…maybe.

Overall, I would say it is a good place to grab a cup of coffee with friends or while enjoying a book. Maybe a snack, but I wouldn’t recommend going here for a substantial meal by any means. Which, now that I read their website, is what they seem to be going for. Pricing was what I would expect where the coffee drinks are more than the food. I think our bill without the coffee was only $8. I liked the environment – comfortable chairs with a fireplace in the center of the room. The logo left me a bit confused with the branding as it seemed out of place with the comfortable atmosphere. But, I’d stop by again for a cup of coffee if I was in the area, or if I was looking for a different work space.

iCafe * 2316 E. 116th Street * Carmel, 46032

iCafe on Urbanspoon