HOME > Chowhound > General Midwest Archive >

Where are all the Indianapolis 'Hounds?

r
Rex Gai Sep 18, 2003 01:19 PM

Wow, if I can ever get back to this sloooooow-loading 2 meg page (no broadband in my burg, yet).... I can't WAIT to read that major thread on "Subdividing This Board Into More Local Ones" But, to the vittles....

There seems to be a never-ending quest for "best places to eat in Naptown. K, here's one foodie's not-so-humble thots ;-):
=========================
In general, Indy is still choked by chains, as it is one of the nation's premier test markets for concepts. If it flies here.... S, by definition, cookie-cutter franchise food is often born right here.

But that doesn't necessarily mean that all chains are bad.

ALL of our tony, high-ticket steak palaces are top drawer (Sullivan's, Ruth's Chris & Morton's). (Even the locals are astonishingly good in this regard, generally - Peterson's much more than the erstwhile Chops and the inconsistent legend St. Elmo's)

The Cheesecake Factory has remade itself from the dreary insouciant, pedestrian restaurant that was first borne out of Beverly Hills, oddly enough, into a fabulous food destination. It is marred only by that current American peccadillo for Brobdingnagian portion sizes -- when a much more reasonably-sized item (with attendant equally slashed price) would be more practical for every diner.

P.F. Chang's can truly dazzle, if it wants to, depending on the day you go and the location. I find the Northside locale far more consistent than the downtown spot.

Yes, and there are truly stately restaurants out there that I'd give my left nut to lure into town.

- "Islands," a simply transcendental burger joint based in Lahaina, Hawaii and with locations throughout Southern California & Arizona. I have YET to find a burger more sublime

- "McCormick & Schmick's," the KING of chain seafooders with upscale locations all over the US., mostly in the larger cities, they do everything you can imagine to daily catches of THE freshest fish from everywhere, and I'm talking about 30 or 40 different "makes" of fish each day

- "Jamba Juice," the epitome of fresh, fresh, fresh smoothies of every fruit you can dream of with the smell of an orange grove wafting out of the doors to lure you into its bosom from a tired day of mall-walking

- "El Torito Grill," an upscale Southwestern twist on Mexican food that is to be experienced to be relished

- "Armadillo Willy's," the best BBQ that doesn't lay claim to Texas or Carolina

- And finally, "Fresh Choice," a Disneyland of salad bar plus other goodies like soups and desserts.

But I digress. I, like most of y'all DO prefer the local fixin's, not because of some misguided sense of loyalty...frankly, I couldn't give a damn...it ALL keeps the local economy afloat. But because I value originality and helping the small guy win. Pure & simple.

So that's why I love seeing the teeming hordes exulting out of Tony Hanslits' cafe/trattoria tandem in the heart of The Ripple. And my heart is singing to see the influx of REAL ethnically diverse cuisines, almost always in humble little accessible storefronts that won't break the bank. The only challenge is to work through the many, many new language barriers that present themselves before else. I mean before, you'd go into, say, the old Foon Ying in the Triangle Shopping Center behind Preston's and order take-out and pretty much have no problem. Even when Bangkok first alit on East Washington in the late 70s, ordering Padd Thai was a breeze. Now, you walk into a Japanese tatami room or a Mexican taqueria and you just might need a translator. Or lots of patience.

Anyway, these experiences are almost all worthwhile. We've added Turkish, Moroccan & Peruvian nosheries lately. Speaking of the latest info on the ethnic scene, no hype intended, but I was recently made aware of this website, which seems like it might be a complementary tool for us Circle City gastronomes: www.indyethnicfood.com. It lists tons of ethnic eateries, many of which I bet you've never even heard. I certainly never did. The dude musta drove the town all week writing down names and addresses and maybe eating a falafel or three.

I will be opining all over this site from thread to thread, without flinching. Why I think Peter George got what he deserved, what the most overlooked gems are, who are the most egregiously overrated, overpriced for what they serve, general dining trends, etc.

In short, a preview of thoughts you'll see from me here & there (see sig below), I will be, hopefully (knock on cedar plank) short on pretense, devoid of BS, long on immersion in the full dining experience. I am a White Castle meets Spago guy in an Applebee's world, and I'll rail against mediocrity! Or overblown pomposity. If a place sucks, I'll tell it like it is. No punches pulled. Little extras like how clean the premises are (especially the bathrooms, I'm a former restaurant manager and I know a consistently clean john means a tight ship sanitation-wise.

I shall leave y'all with a current overview of what *I* think are the best (& not so best) mess halls in eyeshot of 465.

See ya at the trough!

Slainte!
The Fud Gai
fudgai@earthlink.net
www.fudgai.com - Coming Soon to a mouse dropping near you!, an Indy food review site from a regular joe's POV
=========================
KEY
dirt cheap [$] nuff said, bon apetite on a White Castle budget.
okay [$$] good to great value, depending on time of meal (and sharing larger portions
)moderate [$$$] can go either way based on time of day and entree choice
expensive [$$$$] pricey, but often worth the money
overrated value [$$$$$$$$] a marketing disconnect, coastal metropolitan prices in half the per capita income.

CREAM OF THE CROP:

the ones that get a LOT of attention on this list:

Tavola di Tosa - $$$$ to $$$
Shapiro's - $$$ to $$
H2O - $$$$$$$$
Mikado - $$$$
Five Spice Cafe - $$$$$$$$

the ones that get attention elsewhere (Indianapolis Monthly, Nuvo, Dine Mag, IBJ, etc.):

Snax - $$$$ to $$$
Tosa Euro Cafe - $$$ ($$ - lunch)
Thai Cafe - $$$ ($$ - lunch)
The Bosphorus - $$$
Some Guy's Pizza - $$$
Santorini Greek Kitchen - $$$
The Classic Kitchen - $$$$ ($$$ - lunch)
R Bistro - $$$$ ($$$ - lunch)
Yummy - $$$ to $$
The Pidge - $$$$
Peterson's - $$$$$$$$
Amalfi - $$$$ ($$ - lunch)
Charly Dog's - $$
Loon Lake Lodge - $$$
Cheeseburger in Paradise - $$

the ones that get little to no attention anywhere:

Asaka - $$$$ ($$$ - lunch)
The Claddaugh Irish Pub - $$$
Russia House - $$$
Sichuan - $$
Saigon Majestic - $$$ ($$ - lunch)
Nancy's Pizzeria - $$
Shaffer's - $$$
Barton's - $
The V-Twin Cafe - $$$$ ($$$ - lunch)
King Chef Chinese - $$ ($ - lunch)
Cafe Europa - $$
Alexander's Southern Smokehouse - $
Java Junction - $$
Don Victor's North - $
Persimmon's at Conner Prairie - $$$$ ($$ - lunch)
La Margarita - $$$
Mediterrano Cafe - $$$ ($ - lunch buffet)
Asia 1 Cafe - $$
Handel's - $
La Cabana - $

REALLY GOOD PLACES:

the ones that get a LOT of attention on this list:

Oakley's Bistro - $$$$$$$$
Bazbeaux - $$
Ruth's Chris - $$$$$$$$
Palomino Euro Bistro - $$$$
The Rathskeller - $$$ ($$ - lunch)
Greek Islands
The Jazz Cooker
Agio
Sakura - $$$
Dunaway's Palazzo Ossigeno

the ones that get attention elsewhere (Indianapolis Monthly, Nuvo, Dine Mag, IBJ, etc.):

The Cheesecake Factory - $$$
P. F. Chang's - $$$
Bahama Breeze - $$$
Something Different - $$$$$$$$
Sullivan's - $$$$
The Melting Pot - $$$$$$$$
Oh Yumm Bistro - $$$$$$$$
The Kopper Kettle - $$$
Fletcher's of Atlanta - $$$$
The Midtown Grill - $$$$
The Ram - $$$
Yen Ching - $$
Carnegie's - $$$$ ($$$ - lunch)
Tony Roma's - $$$

the ones that get little to no attention anywhere:

Uki - $$$
Mark & Bill's American Grill - $$$
Patties of Jamaica - $
Corky's Place - $$$
Shalimar - $$ ($ - lunch buffet)
Hall's Castleton Grill - $$
Thai Taste - $$$ ($$ - lunch)
The Roost - $$
The Pub at Nordstrom - $$$
The House Cafe - $$
The Movable Feast - $$$
Shaffer's - $$$
Roly Poly - $

NOT BAD TO DECENT:

the ones that get a LOT of attention on this list:

Gray's - $$
Ichiban - $$$
Kabul - $$$
St. Elmo's - $$$$
Heidelberg Cafe - $$
Lulu's - $$$$

the ones that get attention elsewhere (Indianapolis Monthly, Nuvo, Dine Mag, IBJ, etc.):

BD’s Mongolian Barbecue - $$$ ($$ - lunch)
Ocean World - $$$
Chalkie's - $$$
Famous Betty's - $$
Dick's Bodacious BBQ - $$
Champp's - $$$
Brother Juniper's - $$
El Camino Real - $$
Chancellor's - $$$
Cracker Barrel - $$
Fazoli's Sub Oven - $
Noble Roman's - $
Three Sisters Cafe - $$$
Waffle House - $
Sinclair's Pizza - $

the ones that get little to no attention anywhere:

Jasmine - $$$ ($$ - lunch)
Guido's Pizza - $
Macchu Picchu - $$
Gumbo A Go-Go - $
Sweet Tomato - $
Cio's Pizzaria - $$
Greek's Pizzeria - $$
Longhorn Steakhouse - $$$
C.R. Heroes - $$
Old Mudsock Cafe - $
Barley Island - $$$
Cafe Santa Fe - $$$
Boulder Creek - $$$
Eddy's Bar & Restaurant - $$$
Harold's Steer-In - $
Joe Walsh's - $$
La Charreada - $$
Northwoods Cafe - $

AVERAGE TO OVERRATED:

the ones that get a LOT of attention on this list:

Holly Hock Hill - $$$
Dodd's Town House - $$$
Cafe Patachou - $$$
Bravo! - $$$
Kona Jack's - $$$$
Hella's - $$$
Mug 'n' Bun - $
Banura's - $$

the ones that get attention elsewhere (Indianapolis Monthly, Nuvo, Dine Mag, IBJ, etc.):

Buca di Beppo - $$$
Benihana of Tokyo - $$$
Keystone Grill - $$$$
Puccini's Smiling Teeth - $$
Gisela's Kaffekranzchen - $$$
The Original Pancake House - $$
The Icehouse - $
Schlotzky's Deli - $
Sahm's - $$
Outback - $$
Daddy Jack's - $$$
Deli Jack's - $$
Johnny Rockets - $
Sawasdee - $$$
Wasabi on 82nd - $$$$
McAlister's Deli - $$
Maharaja - $$$
Rock Bottom
The Cooker - $$
The Forbidden City - $$
Sangiovese - $$
The Happy Garden - $$
The Jazz Kitchen - $$$$
Abruzzi's - $$$
Alcapulco Joe's - $$
Alcatraz Brewing Company - $$$
Cancun - $$
Bob Evans - $$
Chi-Chi's - $$$
Chili's - $$
Cici's Pizza - $
Don Pablo's - $$$
Donato's Pizza - $$
El Rodeo - $$
Googie's - $$
Happy Dragon - $$
Jimmy John's - $
Joe's Crab Shack - $$$
Khoury's - $$$
La Jolla - $$$
Le Peep - $$$
Mancino's - $
Lord Ashley's Pub & Eatery - $$
Muldoon's - $$
O'Charley's - $$
Old World Country Buffet - $$
On the Border Mexican Grill - $$$
Panera Bread - $$$
Penn Station - $$
Perkin's - $$
Prime Time Americain Grill - $$$
Qdoba - $
Baja Fresh - $
T.G.I. Friday's - $$$

the ones that get little to no attention anywhere:

The Oriental Inn - $$
Maneki Neko - $$$$
Logan's Roadhouse - $$$
La Hacienda - $$
The Fox and the Hound - $$$
Ralph's Great Divide - $$
Romano's Macaroni Grill - $$$
Smokey Bones BBQ - $$$
Taj of India - $$$
Thai House - $$
3 Corners - $$
Mykynos - $$
Long Thanh - $$
Lin's Garden - $$
George's Place - $$$
Daruma - $$
Ruthellen's - $$$
Side Wok Cafe - $$
Red Habañero - $
El Jinete - $

SIMPLY DREADFUL:

the ones that get a LOT of attention on this list:

Grindstone's Charleys - $$
G.T. South's - $

the ones that get attention elsewhere (Indianapolis Monthly, Nuvo, Dine Mag, IBJ, etc.):

Hot Tuna - $$$$
Arturo's = $$$$
The Old Spaghetti Factory - $$
Sunrise Cafe - $$
Nickel Plate Bar & Grill - $$
The Olive Garden - $$$
Texas Roadhouse - $$$
Charleston's - $$$
Houlihan's - $$$
Applebee's - $$
Thai Garden - $$$
The Parthenon - $$$
Bennigan's - $$$
Mark Pi's China Gate - $$$
Charlie & Barney's - $$
MCL - $$

the ones that get little to no attention anywhere:

The Anchor Inn - $$$
Four Seasons - $$
China Palace - $$
Gibson's Grill - $$$
Turuyama - $$$
El Sombrero - $$
Mi Amigo's - $$

MODERN-DAY RIP:

the ones that get a LOT of attention on this list:

Peter's
Bistro 936

the ones that get attention elsewhere (Indianapolis Monthly, Nuvo, Dine Mag, IBJ, etc.):

Guayacan
Hambones Cafe
Deeter's & Gabe's
Ed & Marge's
Henry Grattan Pub
Dog 'N' Suds
Shell's
Island Cafe
Hops
California Cafe
Renee's
Krispy Kreme
Planet Hollywood
Zorro's
Flakey Jake's

the ones that get little to no attention anywhere:

Herb 'N' Things
Finale Bistro
Original Old West Chili
The Green Bean Cafe
Snow Lion
Chef Rolf's European Cafe
Oriental Health Cuisine
Himalaya Grill
California Pizza Kitchen
Bangkok
Mr. Clyde's Grille Amercain aka Zorro's

HALL OF FAME RIP:

Mon Reve
PoFolks
Fuddruckers
Al Green's
The Teepee
Jack 'n Jill's
Knobby's
Lum's
The Carbob
Autoburger
Burger Chef
Italian Village
Alexander's Wharf
Arthur Treacher's Fish & Chips
Pepe's
Jong Mea
The Red Barn
Thee Pizza Barn
The Magic Pan
Swenson's
Lindner's
King Cole
Key West Shrimp House
The Huddle
Orange Julius
The Brown Derby
Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor
Spats
Gringo’s aka Los Tinos Taco House
Shoney's
Satellite Hamburgers
Fisherman's Cove
Brody's
The Loft

Note:

If it is a decent restaurant and not on this list, I prolly haven't tried it (e.g., Restaurant at the Canterbury, Zydeco's 5, Scholar's Inn, Bonge's Tavern, Chez Jean, Yat's)

If a crappyassed restaurant is not on this list, I prolly didn't like it (e.g., Grindstone Charley's, Sunrise Cafe, The Old Spaghetti Factory, The Anchor Inn, Arturo's, Hot Tuna) or it was just okay (e.g., Maneki Neko, Kona Jack's, Puccini's Smiling Teeth, Gisela's Kaffekruncshen, Hollyhock Hill, Hella's)

Ciao, 'Hounds!

Fud
fudgai@earthlink.net
www.fudgai.com - Coming Soon to a mouse dropping near you!, an Indy food review site from a regular joe's POV

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. t
    T.Thomas RE: Rex Gai Sep 18, 2003 01:55 PM

    Wow, a list rating more than 200 Indy restaurants. How difficult it must be to keep current on all the latest developments. I guess if you omit the Canturbury, Chez Jean, Yats, Bonge's, Scholars, Bijou, etc., it makes it easier to keep the MCL Cafeteria rating current.

    Looking forward to your thoughts. Gotta love a guy who's not afraid to express an opinion.

    Cheers,

    T.

    5 Replies
    1. re: T.Thomas
      c
      Carmel Curly RE: T.Thomas Sep 18, 2003 09:39 PM

      You keep telling folks about that place in Lebanon and I'll have to hurt you :)
      BP

      1. re: Carmel Curly
        t
        T.Thomas RE: Carmel Curly Sep 18, 2003 11:03 PM

        Don't you ever sleep? Luckily you haven't found my posts on the curlysux.com board yet.

        T.

      2. re: T.Thomas
        r
        Rex Gai RE: T.Thomas Sep 19, 2003 01:52 AM

        T.

        Gee, I'm not sure if that was genuine or sarcastic, so since I'm new here & don't know you yet, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. 'Sides, you don't know ME either and getting on my dark side isn't the funnest. ;-)

        Even in this smaller market and in this dismal economy, keeping track of the restaurant openings & closings and chef movements is nigh on impossible. I tried it for a nonce in West Los Angeles, and I should have learned my lesson then. But, you see, I've a mission...to alert the fine visitors and ignorant denisens of Indy of lesser known gems that get glossed over by the ad-supported Indianapolis Monthly & Dine Magazine. I am sick & tired of seeing great establishments like Guayacan dry up and blow away, while dreck like, say, Mark Pi's China Gate thrives! Enough already!!!!

        Um, I didn't "omit" those restaurants for any other reason than I merely haven't gotten around to eating at them yet, k? I include the more pedestrian joints because I mean for the milieu of my reviews and, hopefully, dining guidance, to be an eclectic and egalitarian one. Neither haughty nor plebian but a healthy broad mix. I like cheap eats and fine dining on equal terms. I am comfortable in Osh Kosh B'Gosh's and Hart Marx or Saville Row suit. So mock MCL all ya want, I put it there for a purpose, believe it isn't a star in Indy's dining tiara!
         
        See ya at the trough,
        Fud

        1. re: Rex Gai
          t
          T.Thomas RE: Rex Gai Sep 19, 2003 10:31 AM

          Fud,

          OK, there was a bit of sarcasim in my post, but there were also some genuine words of welcome. I look forward to reading your views, and everyone loves hearing of new or overlooked places, particularly the eclectic and egalitarian ones. While I found the volume and tone of your pronouncements to be a bit over-the-top and a bit off-the-mark in some cases, I hope you continue to voice your opinions on this forum.

          As to the restaurants that you rated and those you didn't, I was a bit surprised that someone with your enthusiasm would have missed so many of the usual suspects, but it's true that you can't try everything. You've certainly been to a lot of places I haven't, so it was more a comment of surprise than anything else.

          Cheers,

          T.

          1. re: T.Thomas
            r
            Rex Gai RE: T.Thomas Sep 20, 2003 03:46 PM

            T -

            Thanks, I guess. heh, heh... Anyway, I wanted the volume to be, how you say?, over-the-top, in order to not get lost in the plethora of posts on this massive BBS. As for the tone, I AM at once, jazzed & jaded, steering my craft between the black eddies of Pollyanna & Cassandra. I WANT the dining scene to be a thing to be proud of overall, and sometimes get chagrined, to put it mildly, by watching, variously, herd mentality; the "beautiful people" & nouveau riche scene; the disproportionate menu value disconnect; the "dumbing down" of exotic and/or intense cuisines for bland Hoosier palates; the egregious super-sizing of portions; and, of course, everyone's pet bête noire, chain mania.

            I'll trek to a better food town, Chicago, e.g., and get re-centered, by a place that knows the value of great neighborhood haunts that won't break the bank and will warm your heart & still taste fine. And yet can still erect epicurean edifices as fiscally and culturally as disparate as, say, La Français, Frontera & Vong. Yet all blow you out of the prandial water. I EXPECT for a meal to be a bazillion dollars at Tru or to have to refi our mortgage for the cost of a room service breakfast at The Four Seasons.

            But I shouldn't be expected to pay through the nose for the honor of having a pittance of, albeit tremendously fresh, servings at Five Spice. To wit, we had a cup of soup with our meal. Granted it was LUNCH. But, it was a $45 lunch. Without drinks. In a strip center setting. Near (not on, mind you, nor not even in eyeshot of anything pastoral or upscale) Geist, not downtown. That cup turned out to be a demitasse. One could gulp it down in one swallow. That's not a lunch, that's a taste from the cook's spoon. Nouvelle cuisine wasn't ever THIS pretentious. Don't misunderstand me, I loathe big glops of food that exceed the volume of my stomach. But teeny, tiny is a snotty, greedy ripoff oft in the name of..."art". Dinner plate feng shui can still be achieved with moderate amounts of victuals. The pendulum swings too far in either direction. Irony is, that in most cases, you pay to much for either extreme. I think a fair price for a decent if not ostentatious display of food isn't too much to ask for.

            This is a smaller quibble I have at the much-lauded (on the list, anyway) Oakley's Bistro. I find the food much more intriguing yet still as preciously presented in Lilliputian quantities for premium prices (I guess it is just in vogue to expect we are ALL either on pharmaceutical business expense accounts or day traders who options in Microsoft stock). Steve Oakley is a genius (and despite rumor of an ego, a bit of a mensch) but his SD menu always was WAY too busy, like he was trying too hard or something. Dunno. But when you see a dish like "Poblano Rock Squid with Autumn Squab Nested in a Pomegranate Couscous Bundt with Caramelized Baby Bok Choi Garnish" TOO much imagination for this kid, thank you. In recent months it seems the SD menu sorta brought the creativity signal to noise ratio back down to Earth a skosh. Still imaginative, but showing some informed restraint. And it seems this philosophy has carried over to OB. I just wish the bisque bowls didn't have "false bottoms," where it looks like you are getting a full bowl of soup but you are in reality getting something a great deal less. Next, one will start seeing salad cones in the middle of plates, ostensibly to prop up the, "ahem" towers of mache and arugula, but, in fact, to displace the core of the salad as the bowl bottoms currently do. Ah the cynic in me, knows no bounds. ;-}

            Over-the-top? Guilty as charged, your honor! But off-the-mark? I beg to differ, I'll stack my opinion up against any other critic's any ole day. What? Did I give a poor grade to a favorite haunt of yours? Or hold too highly in regard a place you do not care for? Tough teats. ;-) Thems the risks of letting our freak flag waive out here in public big time, I reckon.

            By the by, places CAN change, when we first went to the erstwhile Malibu Grill (which so often made a BIG BIG name-dropping deal of their affiliation with Wolfgang Puck), it positively reeked. Rubbery old prawns, satay salad that tasted like something La Choy might have coughed up. But, for some reason I cannot come up with, perhaps a guiding star, we revisited the digs after a 4 year "sabbatical" and found it to be downright okay. Not stellar, but better than average, with some work they could be a top flight outfit. I STILL can't see why they got all them kudos for all those years, but...

            And then there's Peter's which for years set THE standard, but then I had not one but three poor meals in a row there (including one Oktoberfest, which wasn't really poor, but mediocre, and when you go to Peter's and pay those prices you expect "awesome", not "mediocre"). One meal, our last, I had a very lukewarm, dried-up veal dish and when I brought it to the server's attention, he did very little to correct the problem. All he did, in fact was bring us a complimentary black truffle with beluga roe hors d'oeuvre, a nice gesture, but I needed a redone entree, and, pardon my feeble aging brain, but I forget the details now, he should have been the consummate waitron and taken the dish back with apologies and zero fuss. I recall my Mother was there, and my wife didn't wish for me to make a scene, so I think I just ate the damned truffle (which was tasty indeed, though I hate caviar AND fungus).

            See, to me, THE top quality even above quality in restaurants is consistency (well you gotta have them both in equal measure, for being consistently mediocre or bad isn't so keen). And the number of houses we go to that we can count on reliably time and again number very few. You can always count on:

            - Wan Fischer's Thai Cafe to beat the pants of of every other Siamese cookery in town, slam dunk! The padd thai is the closest to authentic that we've found in town. And for a change of pace appetizer with a kick, order the splendid Yum Nuah beef sauteed in lime juice and Thai chiles served with this chopped veggie salad and raw cabbage (the better to cool you with, dear). And the green curry, when ordered with the rare nutty red rice is sublime. This summer they've been serving a great new lemongrass cooler as a refreshing drink that actually enhances each bite of food. Wow! Not cheap, but not killer either. Our favorite haunt overall!

            - The oft-overlooked, quaint, yet charming, breezy rustic Classic Kitchen is always good for the freshest of foods and a gourmand's tour, and if you are lucky, a pictorial tour by owner/chef Steve Keneipp, a flamboyant and gracious host, who, by the by, makes THE most exotic flavors of homemade ice creams, gelatos and granitas (Vietnamese Cinnamon gelato, blood orange sorbet, lemongrass-lime granita, gold leaf star anise champagne ice cream, just to name a few!), these are worth the trip to the 'hidden" Noblesville bungalow alone. Reservations for lunch AND dinner are an absolute must! Several days ahead of time, usually.

            - Tony & Rosa Hanslits' Italian kingdom at Ferguson & Coil in the Ripple. Toast of the town, and deservedly so. Tone has taken his Peter's and Something Different chops and made his bones in high style. The food can range from peasant and classic Italian to nouveau. but none disappoints and it is all just exquisite. And while it isn't inexpensive at the main "showroom" at dinner, it isn't exorbitant either.

            - Michael Vladimirov holds court over a sumptuous and exotic feast every day at the best-kept secret that's been here for over 10 year....Russia House. Not just spuds borscht, but a pleasant smorgasbord of tempting bites and pots of things that will dazzle. I've yet to have a dish or appetizer that disappoints.

            - in a rundown strip mall on north Shadeland tucked away from the hubbub of all that awful 56th street construction, down the pike just a hair north of 46th street lies the modest but cozy Cafe Europe (aka Cafe Europa) where Unita Kehrer prepares the most stunning German food in town. The spaetzle is to die for, the schnitzel is perfection. And if you call her ahead of time she will cook any favorite Teutonic offering that isn't on the menu. Period. Far exceeds the food at nearby Heidelberg Cafe in every way, except for desserts.

            - for Greek, you can't go wrong at George & Angie Stergiopoulos' long-standing Greek Islands, especially he downtown location. Besides consistently great Greek comfort food, you'll bask in the glow of the Stergiopoulos family atmosphere as they circulate through the dining room greeting you and making you an honorary family member. BUT! THE best Greek in town now reigns in the Fountain Square area. Courtesy of Taki and Jeanette Sawi (sounds Japanese, but they aren't, he's Greek, she's Hoosier), Santorini Greek Kitchen is just mind-blowing. The baba ganouj is so heavenly as it comes out on a small swimming pool-sized platter for your party. And Taki's pita is the best in town, I believe it is roasted in EVOO & butter. It's ALL good. The galatkabouriko is maybe the best dessert in all of Indy, and makes you wonder why folks waste their time on baklava. I'll miss their bohemian digs on Shelby, but look forward to more buzz at the expanded Prospect St. space.

            - Some Guy's, Shapiro's, Amalfi, Barton's, Asaka, Mediterrano, Don Victor's & the hidden Fishers Chinese treasure King Chef are all equally consistent, as well. It endears us as repeat customers. I'm sure other "usual suspects, including one's not mentioned such as The Glass Chimney, John's Famous Stews, Cobblestone Grill, Tchopstix, Zydeco's, Shelbi Street Cafe & The Workingman's Friend.

            Annnnd, I'm not above miscalculation, but any places that got demerits on my behalf did so not because of some caprice. But because the place either was inconsistent too much, or it served mediocre food in the name of excellence, or it gave bad attitude. Hygiene works into the marks of a few.

            In the long haul, I 'spose it's all chemistry. And MY favorite alchemists in this town can juggle ALL the components and create the desired product, (variables be damned, Mr. George)....but wait!, I know what I did wrong, this is a distillation column. And I ran a batch-process in it. ;-) I just KNEW my college education would come in handy somewhere down the road. LOL.

            Anywho, lesson learned, I'll try to be more succinct in the future.

            Guess that's it for chow,

            See ya at the trough,
            Fud

      3. p
        PamR RE: Rex Gai Sep 18, 2003 05:49 PM

        Wow! pretty comprehensive....I must agree with you about Asaka. We have never had anything less than fabulous food there, especially the appetizers. That's one restaurant that definitely deserves more attention. Also agree on the Spaghetti Factory -- why do people still eat there? What was that overly-sweet cheese glop on my pasta last time I mistakenly stumbled in?

        I highly recommend giving Yat's a try -- generous portions of delicious food at very reasonable prices. Ask for extra bread to soak up the sauce.

        I noticed Shaffer's on your list. Any truth to the rumour that they are gone for good?

        As a native Hoosier who spent some years on the West Coast, I second your desire for Jamba Juice and a Fresh Choice. As long as it doesn't deteriorate into a selection of brown veggies and macaroni salad with too much dressing, the playland of a salad bar that is a Fresh Choice would be a welcome addition. But hey, at least we now have a Smoothie King!

        OK, your next task is to start a "Best Of" list by cuisine. Looking forward to it!

        2 Replies
        1. re: PamR
          r
          Rex Gai RE: PamR Sep 19, 2003 01:21 AM

          Pam,

          I lived in Los Angeles for 5 years and developed a taste for both manifold ethnic varieties and the whole gourmet scene, which theretofore I had pretty much not explored except for a few trips to Peter's, when it used to be exceptional & on Virginia downtown.

          Asaka just is head and shoulders THE best Japanese restaurant in town, for sushi and for the cooked stuff (not talking Teppanyaki, or what is often "misnomered" as Hibachi - I'm talking sukiyaki, tempura, teriyaki, shabu shabu, don buri, that sort of thing). It is a clean minimalist room attended to by the sweetest humblest folks (just like it would be back in Japan) and the sushi chef is Japanese! Not Chinese (as you get, I believe, at Wasabi) nor Korean (Sapporo, Maneki Neko). There used to be a time when that really meant something, but I've been since educated that there is parity now because many different peoples spend time under master sushi chefs. I don't know how true it is. I've had some excelleny sushi from Uki in Fishers and the short-lived Hana that was housed where the grand Thai house Bangkok once stood (in Fishers also). But I'm fairly certain both of those chefs aren't (weren't) Japanese. At any rate, if you look at the clientele, while dining at Sakura, Ocean World, Ichiban (THE place to go if you are in the mood for Udon or Soba noodles), by the by), Mikado (which I really like, but don't enjoy paying the downtown premium), Sansui or the ubertrendy H2O (more fun than authentic), you'll see that Asaka is THE choice of Japanese foreign nationals more often than not. I also love the fact that your plates and bento boxes come with little extra morsels that you never see at the other Nipponerias.

          All I've got to say about the OSF is the single time I went years ago was a regrettable experience. The sauce resembled dishwater with red food coloring added. And they had NO clue what perfectly cooked pasta was all about. The one place that could make The Olive Garden look sumptuous.

          I've been meaning to do Yat's but you know how it is, life seems to always get in the frigging way. We HAVE stumbled across Gumbo-A-Go-Go, which has some loose pedigree with Yat's according to the owners, IIRC. Something about shared recipes, but I frequently see Yatesque items I've never seen at GAGG, so... he may have been tugging at my crawdad. ;-}

          My God, you just broke my heart, kiddo...I just checked their phone and, indeed, the Shaffer's number is disconnected. An Indy institution that was around for tons of years in a not so hot location just west of Glendale, but they had this fabulous wine list, better fondue than The Melting Pot and really great food otherwise additionally (Copper River Salmon on special was not unusual, in season, e.g.). They had a hard time of it after owner Greg Shaffer died 5 years ago, but loyal employees and family made a valiant stab at keeping the local favorite going.. I did a web search and found an IBJ article that confirmed its mid-July demise, due to YET another death in the family. Ironically Greg's brother Glen Shaffer had a wildly successful operation in Carmel called Hambones, that we loved, but he overextended himself by attempting a downtown Slop Shop at the old Kona Jack's slot and ended up folding altogether. So now we are Shafferless. A damn shame...this town definitely was touched by hometown class & charm by this family. First Atlas, now Shaffer's. What next? I pray not Kincaid's Meats. but the Ripple isn't fairing too well.

          I've tried smoothies from every corner of the planet trying to find ANY that'd come close to the magic that IS the Jamba, which DOES franchise around the country, dammit. They got one in decidedly un-hip Oklahoma City, fer cryin' out loud, and the closest one is in downtown Chicago. Here, I tried, lessee, Robek, but they are mercifully gone and a number of forgettable others and the closest I've found is out at the Fort at this quaint but fab coffee depot called Java Junction. The owner is Scott Vail, tell him Rex sent 'ya!They also have THE world's most killer BLTs as well and his chili is to die for.

          As for another mega-list, perhaps I'll wait until the dust settles, k? ;-) And I'll answer a few posts in normal conversational manner like thus, is that groovy?

          See ya at the trough,
          Fud

          Link: http://indymall.com/business/shaffers/

          1. re: Rex Gai
            a
            aea6574 RE: Rex Gai Sep 13, 2008 05:46 PM

            Howdy All:

            I hope you are well.

            We tried Asaka tonight and it seems like it may have gone down hill since this review. We had poor service and the sushi was not that great.

            Best regards, tony

        2. s
          Stacey RE: Rex Gai Feb 6, 2004 08:21 PM

          Need more info on Keystone Cafe!

          1. j
            jostoli RE: Rex Gai Dec 7, 2006 04:06 PM

            Hi! Does anyone know the status of Cio's Pizza? I know they closed the one on 96th after opening one in Fishers.. Loved the pizza there and the fact it was right by the Hop Shop. It was (is?) the best in the city for my east coast taste. However, last Friday I stopped by Cios at 6:30-7ish and found a dark shop. No answer on the phone at the times I've called. Anyone know if they overshot their clients and closed up??

            Thanks,
            J.

            1. s
              sammyjr RE: Rex Gai Sep 15, 2008 12:10 PM

              oops

              1. n
                NJP RE: Rex Gai Sep 16, 2008 07:57 PM

                Your Hall of Fame (RIP) should also include Sam's Subway, Hawthorne Room and a really good Chinese place,...the name I can't recall. Think it was at the corner of 38th & Ilinois. It was there in mid-50s. Maybe another ancient hound will remember!!

                Show Hidden Posts