Tag Archives: Family Friendly

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

Taste Cafe and Marketplace on Urbanspoon

Chef Mike’s Charcoal Grill

12 Mar

I’ve had this Living Social deal for quite a while, so prior to the Michael Jackson Cirque show, hubs and I made our way to Chef Mike’s for (what we anticipated to be) a quick bite. I’ve heard about the place, but not much besides where it was located and that they (obviously) use a charcoal grill for the menu.

When walking in, you walk into a small space with two hallways leading in the opposite direction. One door was labeled for a private party, so we went into the ‘bar’ side. As we walked down the hall, we were abruptly stopped by the hostess. She awkwardly informed us she would seat us and then walked back down the hall to grab menus, then disappeared. She ended up circling the restaurant (from the opposite side) and aggressively saying “I thought you were following me?” An awkward layout with an equally awkward greeting.

We ended up in a booth down the right hallway, which then in return had me sitting with my jacket on the whole meal due to the cold draft that came up from the front door. The atmosphere was extremely casual, a family friendly bar of booths and tables lining the wall to the medium sized bar. I didn’t make my way back there, but hubs informed after he had used the restroom that there was a large room on what I perceived to be the ‘other side’ of the restaurant (where the private party was). He said it was open and nicely laid out, though not really private for the group that was there.

After 10 minutes or so of waiting, our server approached in a slightly rushed manner. The private party was about to put in their order, so she encouraged us to order right away to beat that rush. I appreciated the gesture, and was lucky to have had those 10 minutes to decide what I wanted. We ordered a crock of the apple onion soup to share and each a burger. A few minutes later, she came by with our drinks and we began to wait for our meal. And then we waited some more. Confusion set in when a family of 6 were given there meal prior to us, though they came in after we did. At this point, time was ticking away. Time we didn’t have to be forgotten as we had to leave for downtown. At this point, I thought my soup was a lost cause, but she finally showed up with it, which is when we then asked to have our check delivered with our food to help save on time.

The soup was smokey. Not just the apples and onions, but the broth and cheese seemed almost like it was infused with charcoal smoke. Both hubs and I assumed it had been sitting in the smoke right at the end to finish it off with that flavor. But it was overwhelming – and I should have stirred it up because as we approached the end of the crock, it wasn’t smokey at all. The onions and apples were tender and slightly sweet, with a rich and subtly smokey beef broth. It was a good cup of soup, something different and unexpected.

During our soup eating, the time continued to tick down to 10 minutes until we had to go. She refilled my soda at one point, and we had to unfortunately ask for our food to go. It came out about 5 minutes after in to go containers. I was trying to finish the soup, so hubs started on his burger. He raved between bites, liking the taste and texture of the burger, while I worked on paying our bill. My burger looked great, but it was missing the tomato, lettuce and pickle. The bun looked and tasted fresh with a slight charcoal char. It was thick enough to uphold the juicy chive and bourbon burger with jalapeno havarti cheese. As I ate it (in the car), I really enjoyed the charcoal taste that I love with burgers. It wasn’t overwhelming like the soup, but definitely lingered after every bite. The chives provided a crunchy texture and subtle onion flavor with every bite, but I couldn’t get any bourbon taste out of the mix. I’m not quite sure why I ordered havariti – it is great for melted cheese, but so mild in taste and the anticipated spice was non-existent. The burger itself was very good – I didn’t need the cheese or the missing toppings to know that I liked the flavor. My side were potato skins – which were really deep fried potato slices. They were different and good despite being pretty greasy, I enjoyed seeing a side that I hadn’t seen before.

I clearly thought just over one hour would have been enough time for this meal. Maybe without a large group and busy server, we could have. But I think that our order may have been delayed or forgotten. The service wasn’t very apologetic, not that she was rude either, just slightly uncomfortable as she knew we weren’t very happy about it all. To add onto the annoyance, we didn’t even get the right amount off our bill from our Living Social deal. It was $20 worth of food and our server ended up only discounting us $15, but I didn’t have the time to argue the bill as we were grabbing our to-go boxes and running to the car. Despite all of the setbacks, the burgers were great. And overall, we did make it to our show on time due to inhaling our burgers in the car. I’d go back, but I would also ensure that I didn’t have a place I had to be afterwards.

Chef Mike’s Charcoal Grill * 7102 Woodland Dr. * Indianapolis, 46278 * 317.295.9490 * @chefmikesgrill

The Local Eatery & Pub (Return)

29 Feb

I normally don’t return to restaurants this quickly, but there is something about The Local that I adore. Is it the casual gastropub atmosphere? The local ingredient love? Maybe. But it could also be because their food is unique, home felt, and good. Hubs and I, despite not falling fast for the food from our first time, did in a weird kind of way anyway. I haven’t really felt that way about a restaurant in quite sometime – thus, our return so quickly. We were on our way to a movie, just going to grab something casual and quick. But then we drove by The Local and our heads nodded towards one another in silent agreement.

It wasn’t busy at all unlike the last time. But it was also a Monday after the Super Bowl. The one woman working the front of the house was fast and friendly – she was fantastic. Our order was taken, our drinks were delivered, and we got comfortable. This time, we were seated on the bar side. I still loved the atmosphere and feel of the restaurant from this angle.

From a few other Indy food bloggers, I threw down and said we had to order the goat cheese. I wasn’t messing around since I’m a lover of all things cheese. And I have to say, I am happy I threw down. The goat cheese was phenomenal. At first, we scoffed at the large amount of bread supplied with the cheese, but I have to say, there wasn’t any left when we were done. It was the perfect vehicle for warm, creamy cheese. I was wondering how a bath of warm olive oil would compliment this, and it did. It gave another level of creamy texture. And the roasted garlic spread like soft butter – robust and earthy in flavor as it complimented the lemony flavor of the thyme. I loved every bite and could have left happy after that.

For our entrees, I wasn’t feeling a sandwich so I ended up with fish and tots. Yes, I substituted the chips for tots and there were no complaints on my end. I barely ate any of them though due to the large portion of white fish I was consuming. The batter was light, the fish sturdy in texture and subtly flavorful. The fish is from Lake Michigan – I have to say it was interesting to have something different in this form. The dill in the tarter sauce was perfect for the fish, which I squeezed lemon all over to give it a bit of light flavor over what can usually be a heavier dish. I liked it – thumbs up.

Hubs ordered the lamb burger, which was exactly what I expected out of a lamb burger. The focus was on the meat, not anything else that could have been incorporated into the meat. It had good flavor, but I thought it was just a bit too heavy for what I wanted out of the burger. I was slightly disappointed with the rosemary tomato jam – only because I wanted to have more. Only a small dollop was served on the bun, and that flavor would have carried the sandwich very well if there was more (hindsight – I get that we could have asked for more, but alas.) The sandwich also came with sauteed peppers and onions, which hubs ordered on the side and didn’t really incorporate. A good, but slightly heavy, burger. Next time – I want to try the Elk.

We definitely shared our meals and had much happier results this go around. Not that they were bad by any means last time. Quite delicious for sure. But I want all of you to know that you definitely need to give it a go. I see us heading there more often now, maybe becoming a staple for our frequent goers club (we don’t really have one. But if we did, this would be on it for sure!)

The Local Eatery &  Pub * 14665 Gray Road * Westfield, 46062 * 317.218.3786

The Local Eatery and Pub on Urbanspoon

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