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Northside Nights: Spring Edition (Special Event)

2 Mar

It is that time again – another restaurant week is approaching. Northside Nights, a version of Devour Downtown but on the North side, will be up and running March 8-18 for the Spring eating edition.

There are quite a variety of restaurants available; almost all are local or local chains. I’ve been to most, but for a few, it has been quite a while. I think I may have to try to the restaurants I’ve never been to, including some chains, like Ruth’s Chris. Yup, never been. Here are the others I may need to try:

  • Bella Vita
  • Hellas Cafe
  • Ruth’s Chris
  • LA Cafe
  • Michael’s Southshore

I’m most curious about Michael’s Southshore as I haven’t heard of them prior to this. From a quick look at their menu, I really wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up there. Though, I did discover this 2 for $57 deal which also included wine. This does leave the debate of ‘wine vs. dessert’, but another option to consider.

Another great thing about Northside Nights? Daily giveaways. Be sure to register to win gift certificates – and you can do so everyday!

Save the date for these other events this year too:

  • Devour Downtown: July 30-August 12
  • Chow Down Midtown: June 11 – 24
  • Northside Nights & Savor the Southside: September 11-23

Where are you looking to try, or where will you return to? Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts!, as well as how your experience was.

La Hacienda

27 Feb

We all know that you shouldn’t go grocery shopping when hungry. With that in mind, hubs and I made our way to La Hacienda for a quick bite to settle our stomachs before we shopped the shelves of food. Out of all the Mexican restaurants in the area, we had never been here. Two of our friends make this their go-to Mexican restaurant, so we decided to give it a go. I’m sure I’m late to the table as I know this is a chain and all, but alas, we stepped into the colorful restaurant around 2:00 on a Sunday with images of queso and chips dancing in our head.s

After quickly being seated, greeted and our drink orders in, we placed our orders. Of course, we started off with some queso and tortilla chips. The death of me. I could keep eating and eating these things – which I do. I liked the queso, but it was because it was exactly what I expected out of the classic Mexican melted cheese. Nothing fancy, but it hit the spot. I also liked the fresh taste of the salsa. Quickly after we polished that off, our entrees showed up.

We both ordered some combination meals and the portions were quite large. I ordered number 22 (got to love numbered combos – do they show up anywhere else than Mexican restaurant menus?) – a combination that included a taco, tostaguac and chili relleno – with chicken. I had no idea what a tostaguac was, so I was looking forward to the surprise I had in store. The taco was crispy shelled, with marinated chicken all stuffed inside. The chicken was tender, having sat in a spicy sauce, and slightly messy. But, I really liked the cumin and chili spices I was getting with every bite. The shredded cheese and iceberg lettuce freshened up the taste, completing the flavors that I craved. The tostaguac, as I discovered, was a tostada with guacamole. I had an ‘a-ha’ moment – it seemed like a no brainer. But, it was exactly the same flavors of the taco with an added spoonful of guacamole. It was creamy, but I would have preferred more cilantro and spice to compliment it. I also prefer mine to be a bit more chunky in texture – I guess I could have gone without it. The biggest surprise for me was the chili relleno. Normally, I receive a whole fried poblano stuffed with creamy goodness. Instead, this was an odd globe of similar flavors. It had an exterior of crispness, but not the typical fried shell. Inside, more of a tamale texture of cheese and diced pieces of chilis. It wasn’t what I was looking for in regards to flavor, texture and design; I probably wouldn’t order it again. But I did like the other portions – even if I only ate about 1/3 of my plate.

La Hacienda fit what I was looking for. Hubs got a red enchilada sauce plate of a few different things – of course all tasting similar because of the red sauce that was ladled all over it. He wasn’t expecting that either, so a few more surprises I guess. The decor was bright – brightly painted chairs and booth boards – and the service was fast and efficient. Overall, a good solid Mexican food experience. It will satisfy the craving when I’m looking for something close to home as it is one of the better ‘cheap’ Mexican places in the area.

La Hacienda * 12237 N. Meridian * Carmel, 46032 * 317.566.9563

La Hacienda Mexican on Urbanspoon

Taste of Carmel (Special Event)

22 Feb

I love food events. And there is one coming up in my neighborhood. I’ve been graciously given complimentary tickets to the Taste of Carmel, which will be at the The Ritz Charles on Thursday, March 1 from 6-9pm, and am looking forward to it.

A few restaurants/breweries who will be in attendance include:

I acknowledge I haven’t been huge fan of a few of these restaurants, so I’m actually a little excited to see what they come up with for this event knowing they’ll be bringing them their a-game. I’m most excited for Cooper’s Hawk and Sunny Chinese Kitchen since I haven’t tried them yet. In addition, also excited to see Happy Everything will be in attendance – they have a great chicken salad I’ve tried at the Farmer’s Market and I’m hoping it will be available. This small list is only the beginning of all the restaurants that will be available for tastes.

If you are available and want to grab bites from local restaurants and sips from the wineries and breweries available, tickets are extremely reasonable and all for a good cause. 100% of the proceeds go to the Orchard Park Elementary school as this event is set up by the Parent Teacher Organization. A mere $25 gets you drinks and tastes, acoustic guitar entertainment from Shane Rodimeland, and the opportunity to bid on some great packages including (a personal love of mine) Disney World tickets. Or, grab a group of your friends and reserve a table for 8 at a mere $175.

AND today and tomorrow only, there is a special discount just for you. A buy one, get one FREE offer!  Visit this link and use the code TASTE to purchase one ticket at $25 and receive one ticket at no cost. Remember, two days only! Two tickets for the price of one? You can’t beat that! Update: This offer has been extended to Friday, February 24 at midnight!

I haven’t been to the event before, but I’m looking forward to Thursday. Hopefully I’ll see some of you there as I’m tasting my way around the room.

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