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Thr3e Wise Men (return)

26 May

Our last visit to the Thr3e Wise Men wasn’t the best first experience.  Scotty and his staff, being stellar at customer service, invited me back by providing comp tickets for our meal.  It was about time we make our way back to the brewery, and since the coupons could only be used during the week, we ventured out on Tuesday for dinner.  Full disclosure – though a portion of our meal and drinks were complimentary from the Thr3e Wise Men, my opinions are honest and all my own.  

I knew the establishment wouldn’t be as busy like our first visit because it was during the week.  We walked into an empty restaurant inside, but the patio was full of patrons.  Luckily we were able to grab the last outdoor table to soak in the setting sun and were quickly sat.  Our server, Katie, quickly greeted us with a bucket of popcorn and water.  We ordered a few beers (the Blonde and hubs the blackberry wheat) and perused the menu.  The server who delivered our beer struck up a convo (hubs was wearing a Wisconsin shirt) as she too was from Wisconsin.  In a matter of 5 minutes, we were seated, had a beer in hand, and already encountered 3 friendly staff members.  Things were looking good.

We began with appetizers; hubs ordered stuffed breadsticks while I ordered the chopped salad for the two of us.  Knowing the stuffed breadsticks wouldn’t contain cheese, I found that I was more pleased with them this time around.  The dough was once again slightly crunchy on the outside, but soft and tender on the inside with the pepperoni.  I would have liked a bit more pepperoni, it seemed slightly lacking.  Hubs ordered nacho cheese as the sauce, and once again, it seemed like your basic ballpark nacho cheese sauce.  But still great breadsticks.

I was more about the salad – it included many ingredients I adore and I was ready to dig in.  Our server tossed together the ingredients table side – a nice surprise for a casual brewery atmosphere – and served the family style salad in individual bowls.  The salad was light and flavorful, mostly a mix of spinach and iceberg, dressed with an oil and vinegar based house dressing.  Simple in flavors, the dressing was perfect and didn’t overwhelm the ingredients.  Chopped applewood bacon (local from Lone Pine Farms) gave a nice salty crunch while my favorite, goat cheese, added a creamy touch.  There was also mozzarella, mushrooms, pepperoni and red onions.  The red onions were a nice addition, giving a sharpness that cut the rich pepperoni and cheese.

While we were finishing up on our appetizers, the pizzas quickly arrived.  We each ordered a small for ourselves; the menu indicated a small could feed 1-2 people.  However, I could easily see three people eating this pizza pending on how hungry you are.  After eating the salad and a few breadsticks, we didn’t eat much and had a lot of pizza leftover for lunch (or maybe two).  Hubs had ordered spicy Italian sausage and mushrooms for his (pictured below on the right) while I indulged a bit more with spicy Italian sausage, basil, mushrooms and yes, more goat cheese (pictured on the left).  At a pricey $5 add on, I have to say I was happy to have received a lot of goat cheese.  So much goat cheese though that it slightly overpowered everything else.  I couldn’t really taste the mushrooms, their delicate flavor was just lost.  And even basil, such a fresh ingredient, I only got tid bits here and there.  The sausage was good and I enjoyed how crumbled it was, covering the whole pizza, but I would have liked a bit more spice to it.  There was a thin coating of chunky tomato sauce, but once again, it was only a hint of taste.  The crust was very thin, crispy on the edges but soft and flimsy at the center.  The ingredients weighed down the crust, making it a necessity to fold and hold to eat.  The pizza was good despite not being what I anticipated (not sure what I was expecting, but I was still surprised.)  I had a bite of hubs pizza, I just had to know how it tasted without the goat cheese, and overall, it was a light tasting pizza.  From the crust to the ingredients, I wanted more from his in taste.  Fortunately, I found it in mine and enjoyed the goat cheese love.

As we were wrapping up, we ordered a round of the Hubbard & Craven’s Porter to round out our meal.  Always a smooth brew, I just love how it isn’t heavy and rich in that coffee flavor.  As we sipped, we had the growler we brought filled with the Blonde for $6, a discount they offer on Tuesdays.  I have to talk about how great the service was through the duration of our visit as the growler is the perfect example.  When we first sat down, our server offered to put our growler in the fridge because we were sitting outside in the sun to ensure it was cool for the pending brew.  Then, after we decided on a beer, Katie kept in the fridge until we were ready to go.  And thanks to Chris as well, the manager on duty who wanted to ensure our meal and experience was better this time around.  The food and drinks were good and the service was excellent – looking forward to next time.

Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Company * 1021 Broad Ripple Ave * Indy, 46220 * 317.255.5151

Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Co. on Urbanspoon

Naked Tchopstix

19 Apr

Every year for my birthday, I must have sushi.  This birthday was no different as hubs and I found ourselves in Broad Ripple for an early dinner at Naked Tchopstix.  We had dined at the 96th Street location previously, but never at this location.  The restaurant was empty and the weather was beautiful; we were quickly sat outside in the sunshine.

We started off with an order of steamed potstickers.  These weren’t anything special – a blend of finely chopped vegetables (carrots, celery, etc.) steamed in a thick wonton.  They were bland and unfortunately, there was also a hair on the plate.  Our server was utterly apologetic and the manager addressed the situation and removed it from our bill, which was a nice gesture.  We weren’t planning on finishing them either way because we ordered three rolls and though they handled the situation fantastically, I was surprised that our server didn’t remove the plate.  But honestly, we weren’t even planning on ordering them, so I chalk it up as a wash.

The first roll we received was the fire roll.  Wrapped up in sushi rice was cream cheese, crab, unagi (freshwater eel), avocado and masago (roe).  I love the sweet crunch of the masago, and the subtle creamy texture from the cream cheese.  I didn’t really taste too much of the crab, to me it was too subtle and got lost in all the other flavors.

The second roll was my least favorite out of the three: crunch munch.  A slight spice due to the spicy mayo, the roll was very creamy, maybe even too creamy with the mayo.  Crab and shrimp were the main ingredients, but the one ingredient that made it the crunch munch were the tempura flakes.  I wasn’t extremely happy with the texture of the flakes, which ruined the roll for me.  It wasn’t an exciting bite for me, just standard (this roll is pictured to the right below, while the fire is on the left side.)

My favorite out of the three was the Playboy roll.  Wrapped up in aluminum foil, I was surprised to see all the components of the roll when it was served.  I don’t know why I wasn’t expecting the warm temperature (after all, the description did say cooked shrimp), but I wasn’t.  Though present in this roll, tempura chips didn’t ruin the texture for me.  I think they were not as noticeable because inside the roll was also shrimp tempura, crisp asparagus and spicy tuna.  I loved the creaminess of the tuna – it was my favorite of the inside portion.  Outside was a spicy & sweet sauce, which really tasted like a sweet barbecue sauce if anything.  Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it, but there wasn’t a kick of spice in the yellow colored sauce.  I would have preferred it to have a little kick, but I added some wasabi and I was good to go.

A bottle of birthday wine later, hubs and I were on our way home with a full tummy.  I loved sitting outside, and the service was pleasant.  But I know I can get the same quality of sushi at the 96th Street location (which is closer to my home), as well as other places in the city.

Naked Tchopstix * 6253 N. College Dr., Indy *317.252.5555

Naked Tchopstix on Urbanspoon

The Illinois Street Food Emporium

14 Apr

This is one of those places that I have driven by so many times, yet haven’t given it much thought.  So when I was meeting up with a group of colleagues for lunch and one of them suggested we dine at the Illinois Street Food Emporium, I eagerly shook my head with a yes.

I had no clue what to expect, because from the outside on a cold spring day, it didn’t look extremely inviting.  But once you walk through those doors and see the cases full of baked goods, you know you are in for something good.  From cakes to pies, danishes to doughnuts, there was so many baked items to try.  But I didn’t visit for something sweet (despite me thinking about changing my mind), I came for savory.  I turned and waited in line to order some food.  Little did I know, while waiting for the counter, they set you up next to these refrigerators full of some great looking products including sandwiches, quiches and more.  If you are in the mood to grab something quick for dinner, but still have it be fresh and homemade, this may be a stop to add to your list.

I tweeted to see what I should get, and received an overwhelming response to try their chicken salad.  Guess what I ordered?  On a soft, fresh and flaky croissant of course.  I also added a small cup of their soup of the day – cream of broccoli.  The woman who took my order was extremely friendly and helpful as I asked what was in the chicken salad that made it so great.  Good service and a wide selection – so far so good.

We had sat down and waited for our food, which was extremely quick.  A mere 5 minutes later, I had this very large, flaky croissant stuffed with chicken salad sitting in front of me.  The croissant – let me start there because it was the best part – was flaky and tender.  It may have been one of the best croissants I’ve ever had.  Subtly buttery, light and airy, I don’t think I could have had a better vehicle to get that chicken salad into my mouth.  Chunks of chicken, which I think may have been poached for preparation, were tender and perfectly bite sized for portion.  To my surprise (and why I can see so many people liking it), there were chunks of pineapple and mandarin oranges mixed into the creamy base.  The fruit gave the sandwich a subtly sweet taste and interesting bite.  It was a heavier type of chicken salad, so I would lean towards the idea that they used mayo rather than yogurt mix (which I prefer.)  Though random, I loved the garnish supplied with the sandwich: two pieces of apple, two slices of cheese (maybe gouda?) and an orange peel.  Better than your standard side of lettuce, that is for sure. And that is something I’ll remember.  I guess when it comes to cheese, I’ll always remember it.

Not going to comment too much on the soup – it seemed to be a standard cream of broccoli to me.  Decent flavor, little bites of broccoli rather than chunky, and more watery than creamy.  It still had good flavor, but I leaned towards the sandwich for bites rather than the soup.

On the way out, I did grab a sample of their brownie.  It was absolutely delicious, chocolaty in all the right ways without being overly sweet.  Bits of chocolate chunks graced the bite I had, but I did see others had walnuts present.  I may need to get a dessert next time I’m there.

It may be a little pricey for a sandwich and soup.  I got both and an iced tea for about $14.  But, overall a great lunch spot.  It wasn’t busy when we got there, but I could see how it would be during the work week.   Good service, good food and a good location.

The Illinois Street Food Emporium Bakery & Deli * 5550 N. Illinois Street, Indy * 317.253.9513

Illinois Street Food Emporium on Urbanspoon

Brugge Brassiere (special event)

4 Apr

An event that hubs and I have been looking forward to for the past few month’s was this past weekend.  The men and women of Hoosier Beer Geeks hosted the Craft Beer Meal that Comes Before Lunch (CBMTCBL).  CBMTCBL is a beer tasting and brunch at the Brugge Brassiere, which hubs and I dined at recently when we purchased tickets to this event.  The sold-out event had several tastings of some finely crafted brews, but also some fine tastes as well.

The tastes included some great cheese from Goose the Market (which I love after dining there – must go shopping soon for some more good eats) as well as one of the three meal options offered by Brugge.  Selections included a German cheese & meat platter, a sweet potato & goat cheese crepe and the steak & eggs entree from their menu.  Though all were tempting, you only get one to nibble on while sipping on your beverages.

I have posted a whole review on Entertaining Life Daily for those interested, but wanted to comment on the food a little here as well.  This is to showcase how great some restaurants can be for events and specialized menus, as well as the service that we received.

Hubs and I both ordered the steak and eggs, and though I have already reviewed that dish, I just want to say it was once again fantastic.  Perfectly cooked and seasoned well, the steak was delicious.  Frites were also great as I dipped them into bleu cheese and hot curry.  We were seated with two of our friends, one who ordered the German platter.  Full of a variety of meats, cheeses (there was a mustard cheese that was utterly fantastic) and fruits, the platter looked great.  I also got to taste a bite of the crepe (thank you Kristin!) and it was earthy and delicious.  All the food was phenomenal, a perfect compliment to the great brews we were sipping.

The service was great – a few individuals serving up hot plates of delicious food and pouring beverages.  It was a scattered service, but due to the entertainment and good conversations, it didn’t matter if you got the first or last dish.  And I appreciated the server being honest.  I love goat cheese and sweet potatoes and was heavily leaning towards the crepe for my dish, so I asked his opinion.  He mentioned he didn’t try it, and though it looked good, he didn’t feel comfortable recommending it which is why I stuck with the delicious steak & eggs.  Thank you to the kitchen for serving up consistent food.  It is always great to get exactly what you expect in a dish you’ve had before.

Now, I don’t know all the logistics of the event, but I thoroughly enjoy local food meshing with local brews.  I love going to these type of pairings, and luckily, Indy is always offering them up to those who choose to attend.  And when you know the food is going to be good, it is always a treat.

Brugge Brasserie * 1011 E. Westfield Blvd. * Indianapolis, IN 46220 * 317.255.0978