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Taste of Carmel – Recap (Special Event)

6 Mar

I hope some of you were able to make it out to the Taste of Carmel event this past Thursday evening at the Ritz Charles. For those who weren’t able to join us, you missed out on a tasty, and completely reasonably priced, evening. Even without the deal that was promoted, $25 allowed a guest to enjoy over 40 restaurants, caterers, wineries and breweries. I meandered my way through the crowd with hubs and two friends as we filled our stomachs with some great food and drink.

We didn’t get to try everything. A few things I easily passed because I knew what exactly what I would get, like Jet’s pizza. Not that it was necessarily bad, but I just knew what I would be getting from the bite (or in that case, the whole slice of pepperoni pizza). The portions weren’t small either: full sliders, half an enchilada, half glasses of wine. Even if you wanted to go back and get more, there was plenty for you to nibble on.

Here is a recap of a few of the things we ate:

The best thing of the evening was from a new found favorite, The Local. A crisp beet chip with the sharpness of bleu cheese finishing the bite; a tortilla chip with tender, rare sirloin and spicy serrano pepper bringing the bite all together; and a bite of salmon with creme fraiche (though this was a bit lackluster). That beet chip was so fantastic: crisp and creamy, earthy yet sharp. It was a great bite that the whole crew agreed upon.

My second favorite of the night was from Pizzology. One of the reasons I loved it so much was that they featured something other than their pizza: polenta. The polenta had a creamy bite to it, working perfectly with the rich pulled pork that was on top. A sprinkle of Parmesan on top brought a perfect saltiness to the dish.

Though Happy Everything Catering didn’t have the chicken salad I love, they did have other simple foods on hand. A great hummus and tabouli combination (though a few more chips would have been helpful to finish eating the dips), a tortilla Mexican wrap contained cream cheese with basic Mexican flavors, and then a really great meatball. Not dense in texture, it had a rich sauce that was so subtly sweet. Sunny Chinese Kitchen was also there, showcasing her cooking talents with demonstrations, leaving us to have all the great bites that were produced, including this great potsticker. Pan fried on the outside left a crisp crust that was stuffed with a great mix of veggies and meat – not to mention, made to order as it was steamed and fried on-site.

A few other items we tried included Bub’s Cafe & Season’s 52 desserts, Eddie Merlot’s rich and creamy pasta, Cooking Greek’s Mediterranean collection (mmm, cinnamon rice pudding – see above), Taste of Sensu’s sushi, Sullivan’s lobster bisque and cheese steak egg roll (shown above, bottom right), Woody’s Homestyle BBQ pulled pork and brisket, and Daddy Jack’s Asian coleslaw with shrimp (top right). We also sampled wines from The People’s Winery, Cooper’s Hawk Winery, Harmony Winery (sparkling wine shown with Kincaid’s dish), Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Co., and Sun King Brewing.

Among all the food, there was also entertainment from Shane Rodimel, chair massages by Rangeline Chiropractic, and of course, the silent auction that included a variety of packages. It was a tasty evening with good friends and a fun environment. Kudos to all the men and women who made this event possible; I hope Orchard Park benefits greatly from the event (I’m sure they will!) I’ll definitely be heading back next year, and maybe you can join me! If you were there, what did you like best?

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.

Patrick’s Kitchen

24 Feb

For Valentine’s Day, hubs gave me the opportunity to select our restaurant for the evening. Instead, I came back with a counter offer of a few restaurants for him to choose from, none that we had dined at previously. We ended up at Patrick’s, located in Zionsville, for a pre fixed menu that they were offering.

It took us a minute to find Patrick’s, but only because it is located on the first floor of a bed and breakfast. The main restaurant is a bar and grill type of atmosphere. A quick look around showed a casual setting, but with dark wood  and nice appeal. It was busy and I crossed my fingers we wouldn’t sit at the empty table by the door. Fortunately, we were quickly seated due to our reservations and escorted to a back room. Clearly, this back room is not part of their normal set up. It was hastily put together with small, intimate tables – some clothed in red others bare. I’m assuming we came in right after a rush due to some silverware not being on the table, candles being blown out, etc. It wasn’t bad at all, just not fully reset for the next wave. I found out that a portion of the income goes to the Inn for a room ‘rental’ of some sorts since it doesn’t belong to the restaurant. Private meetings can be done in that room, just a FYI.

Our service was spotty – a little slow here and there. Once we did place our order, we waited a little bit for our first course to arrive. Hubs chose the trio of stuffed mushrooms while I selected the baked goat cheese. The mushrooms were not large, standard size with their own toppings. The crab was basic, something I would expect from a stuffed mushroom with little flavor. Same thing with the spinach and cheese combo. Basic. But the bacon/cream cheese stuffing was very good. I liked the smoky bacon flavor and creamy texture of the cheese – it was a very rich flavor combination similar to a stuffed baked potato without the starch. My baked goat cheese was delicious, though I would have liked it to be broiled just a tad bit longer to make the flavor more intense. The bread crumbs were filled with fresh herbs, really adding to the Capriole goat cheese. I wish the pita chips that were served with the cheese were something different. They were a little too thick for my liking, a little too salty. But overall – I enjoyed the first course. I also ordered the wine pairing for the dinner, so the buttery chardonnay was a perfect combination.

For the soup/salad course, I was saddened to hear the shrimp chowder was out. I ended up with a house salad instead, as hubs had already ordered the lemon artichoke soup I was looking at. His soup was interesting, in the best way possible. It was extremely light, which you would anticipate from a vegetable broth base, but the flavors were all over the place. It was bright with the citrus lemon flavor, a perfect accompaniment to the artichokes which were largely chopped, increasing the flavor component with each bite. A slight onion taste was great for the seasoning, and a little bit of cream brought a small layer of creaminess to the light soup. My salad was standard – mixed greens with dried cranberries, Gorgonzola cheese and almonds. Nothing fancy, but a standard salad with a lemony, garlic flavored vinaigrette. For you wine lovers, a Caposaldo pinot grigio was served with the course.

For our entree, hubs ordered the trio of filet. Overall, the presentation was a disappointment as the medallions were small and all meshed together with the sauces served. Bernaise, bacon with Gorgonzola butter, and brandy-peppercorn cream sauce were the reason behind the trio. Honestly, the medallions weren’t cut very well, so these three sauces weren’t portioned well. The butter wasn’t melting, the Bernaise was congealing because it was getting cold, and there was barely any brandy sauce. None were extraordinary in flavor either – nothing stood out with a taste of each. Hubs was disappointed in the serving, and didn’t comment too much on his potatoes or asparagus. On the other hand, I had ordered the herbed trout. It was a large red trout filet, baked in herbs. But the herbs were overwhelming, hiding the taste of the fish and making it heavy in an earthy flavor. The rice had no flavor, and I found myself trying to stir some of the herbs into the mix. I too had the the asparagus, which had a nice crisp after being cooked well. But, I was disappointed in the dish, and had wished I had ordered the chicken cordon bleu with a twist – prosciutto and Gruyere. Presentation was also lacking on both. The delayed wine pairing (I had to remind our server to bring it) was a pinot blanc from Valley of the Moon.

After a decent starter/salad and a disappointing main course, I was anxious to see how their homemade red velvet cake would be. I love red velvet cake and noticed this was a tad bit dry for my tastes. The cream cheese frosting was good, but I still wanted more from the dessert. Hubs ordered the other option, bananas foster. A much better option, the bananas were caramelized perfectly, warm in the caramel and run sauce that was melting the French vanilla ice cream. It was a larger portion too, so I was happy when hub shared a few bites with me. With his IPA (Bell’s Hopslam) finished, we both finished the evening with a  glass of sparkling wine with dessert as our server brought a complimentary glass for him as well.

We closed down the back room as the last couple of the evening. Live music was a nice touch during the dinner for the couples enjoying dinner. The room was full of couples over 50, but the restaurant outside of this room in the main room was younger crowd. I liked how it appealed to all ages, and would be interested in trying out Patrick’s for the main, casual and upbeat restaurant. The service, though slow and slightly forgetful at times, was still very friendly and personable. Even Patrick was visiting tables throughout the night before surprising his wife with a private meal in the back of the building (we saw this due to being the last couple in the back room). I love how personable they all were as well as the feeling of a family who accomplished a goal. Though the food was okay/standard, I would try it again. Value was good, having our fixed menu cost at $40, and 4 glasses of wine added on for a mere $15.

Anyone else dine here for a casual dinner or bar experience? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Patrick’s Kitchen * 175 S. Main Street * Zionsville, 46077 * 317.733.8755

Patrick's Kitchen and Drinks on Urbanspoon

The Loft Restaurant

17 Oct

Hubs and I made our way to the farm to celebrate our four year anniversary.  Now, that may not sound romantic by any means, but when it is Traders Point Creamery, it definitely can be.

I love the atmosphere of this place.  It is casual but with a rustic elegance.  Mason jars for water, but fresh pressed linens and flowers for the table.  It is a good level of balance here at The Loft Restaurant.  We always enter from the small shop that sells local cheese and milk – and by local, I mean from the cows in the barn next to you.  You wouldn’t know from entering there that up those stairs is a dairy bar and organic food.  But once up the stairs, we were greeted with a smile and an option of any table that was available.

We had dined here before, but for brunch.  Hubs knew how much I loved the ambiance and food, so he made reservations for us to go back for our date.  We were seated quickly by a friendly staff member.  Before I even opened the menu, I knew I wanted a cheese plate.  Hubs agreed and ordered a cheese plate and bottle of wine (they are half off on Thursdays – every bottle I might add).  The cheese had quite a variety.  From their creamy (and award winning) Fromage Blanc to a smooth swiss, my palate loved it all.  The Fromage Blanc, which is a spreadable cheese similar to cream cheese, had three varieties: plain, herbed, and spicy.  I am not quite sure what the spicy blend was, but it definitely had a good kick to it that I wasn’t anticipating.  There was also a Monterey Jack type of cheese that I was pleasantly surprised with.  I normally don’t enjoy the peppery type cheese, but I owned up to my fair share of it.  Between cheese, I liked the variety of nuts, fruit, and toasted peppery bread to cleanse the palate.  Great first course knowing most of the cheese was from their cheese maker on site.

For dinner, hubs ordered the Carpet Bagger.  I knew he ordered some sort of tenderloin, but I was surprised when it was brought to the table.  For one thing, it was quite a large portion.  Secondly, there seemed to be a lot going on.  But as he worked his was through (and me taking a few bites), we both confirmed how delicious it was.  The tenderloin was done to his liking of medium, cooked well and still tender.  Caramelized Bermuda onions were sweet, a great compliment to the shrimp (that seemed just a tad overdone, but still delish.)  The mushrooms gave the dish an earthy edge, while the bacon wrapped everything up in one comfort dish.  For me, it was too much sauce, but for hubs, he soaked everything up in it.  We were both mesmerized by the mashed potatoes though.  At first, we thought they may be sweet potatoes, but as the chef walked by, he said it was basic russet, salt, pepper and butter.  It didn’t explain the color or taste though – there had to be something else to make them subtly sweet.  Our server let us know they use the Fromage Blanc in the potatoes.  Mystery solved on the sweetness, though I’m still curious to why they were absolutely fantastic.  No complaints, just curious.

I had ordered a special of the evening; a mixed grill of seafood. I know, I’m on a farm.  I should be eating meat.  But alas, I couldn’t help but order it when our server presented and recommended it.  I ended up with an extremely heavy dish.  I wasn’t anticipating that at all, which was my bad, because I clearly missed that all the seafood would be covered in a rich lobster cream sauce.  The sauce was fantastic, creamy and rich in lobster flavor with a whole lot of butter.  But, I was looking for something lighter.  It clearly didn’t ruin my dish as I easily ate my way through the shrimp (once again, a tad bit over done) and scallop.  Both had great grilled flavor, the scallop being just a bit better.  It was cooked perfectly, having a little pull as I cut into it and slightly caramelized from the grill.  In addition, there was swordfish and salmon.  Two healthy portions also strong in grilled flavors.  The swordfish was subtly sweet, while the salmon was mild in flavor.  All of this was served with the mashed potatoes, though I had ordered vegetables.  I pointed out the mistake and they quickly brought out my vegetables (and let me keep the potatoes, which I learned was a good thing.)  Stir fried vegetables complete with broccoli, zucchini, sprouts and squash.  It was a great item to be able to select.  I ate all the veggies, but had to leave some of the fish and potatoes due to the portion being so large. I could have easily split the dish with someone and still be full.

But alas, despite being full, I had to try dessert.  We ordered a blueberry pie a la mode.  The crust was flaky and buttery, everything a pie crust should be.  The blueberries were tart but sweet at the same time, warm and gooey in texture.  And the ice cream wasn’t heavy, a perfect accompaniment to the pie.  And of course, the perfect way to end a fantastic  (but slightly heavy) meal.

Our service throughout the meal was great too.  Attentive, but not overwhelming.  We did have runners for our food that were not our server, but he seemed to have a demanding table near us.  But it didn’t hurt our service by any means.  And once the chef caught me taking photos, he came over to see how we were enjoying our meal.  From the hostess (who could have been either the manager or maybe owner) to the chef, all were friendly.  I’d definitely head back again, for brunch or dinner.

The Loft Restaurant * 9101 Moore Road * Zionsville, 46077 * 317.713.1700

Loft Restaurant at Traders Point Creamery on Urbanspoon