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Jun 22, 2006 05:12 PM

Save me from B'day Dinner at Outback in Indy July 1

  • j

Hubby and I are coming to town for the US Grand Prix. Can't wait!! Lucky me, my birthday is the Saturday of race weekend. Last year, we had dinner at Outback while we were in town. Granted, it was the best experience we have ever had at an Outback Steakhouse. The service, food, ambience, everything was outstanding. Hubby thought, why not just go back? I'm thinking, you can't go home again. I want to have a great dining experience on my birthday. Last year my b'day dinner was a grilled cheese sandwich. Don't ask.
Three things:
One - We're going to Hollyhock for our annual pilgrammage Thursday night.
Two - The restaurant HAS to be non smoking
Three - Since this is my birthday, the restaurant has to have a full bar, and a decent wine list.
I want to feel the effects of the party Sunday morning as I watch the sunrise over the Pagoda.

Thank you! PS I just want to say that every time we visit Indiana, we are always greeted and treated so warmly. I always hate to leave.

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  1. If you want a spectacular birthday dinner come on down to Bloomington, maybe you would want to stay here too? The commute on 37 is not bad, actually easy, and do get a reservation at Restaurant Tallent on Kirkwood just west of the square. Check out .There is brand new menu and they change frequently, and if you e-mail Krissy or Dave they can give you an idea of what will be on the menu at the time. Believe me, coming to Bloomngton for that birthday dinner is worth the 45 minute drive.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Candy

      Thanks Candy: I know we could make the 45 minute drive down there just fine, even after spending the entire day at the track. I'm just very concerned about making the 45 minute drive back after an evening of "celebrating". We're familiar with the highway system there, but leave it to us to get lost on the way home.....

      Even with all of your warm welcomes, I doubt that the highway patrol would be as warm and fuzzy! We can't stay down there as we need to be at the track for the race at dawn. That's just us!

      Thank you Candy. I will check the website. You are too kind!

      1. re: Jayne Doe

        Ditto the advice from Candy, re: Tallent. They are the best. We've got some lovely B&Bs down here to save you the drive back.

        But if you want to stay in Indy, try Elements or Oakleys. If you are after steak, Ruth's Chris. And I hear good things about(but have not yet tried) L'Explorateur in Broad Ripple.

        Happy Birthday!


        1. re: Christine

          Thank you for the lovely birthday wish!
          Okay -the race is Sunday 7/2- the b'day is Saturday 7/1
          so I'm looking for a place closer to Indy proper. We spend ALL of our time at the SPPEDWAY track!!! Can't make it down and back anywhere other than a few miles from the city of Indianapolis. Can't stay overnight and drive back sunday morning. We're AT the TRACK by 5:45 AM.
          Thanks for all of your lovely suggestions! I should have been more specific in the original post, but I need to find a place in Indy proper, or better yet, East or north of the city and suburbs.
          Thanks again!

          1. re: Jayne Doe

            Okay, save Bloomington for another time. All the other places I mentioned are in Indy. The other posters' advice is good too (Elements, R bistro and Oakleys are all about the same distance from Speedway, I think), but I'd avoid du Soliel just now. They've lost their big name chef and are still finding their feet in the kitchen and in the front of the house. We have had some great meals there, but also (more recently) some serious and expensive disappointments. NOT what you want on your birthday!!! Have a good one, wherever you end up! Cheers!


        2. re: Jayne Doe

          While a trip to Bloomington could be lovely, Indy has dozens and dozens of restaurants above the level of Outback that will keep you from having to drive the hour and 15 minute drive (I don't care what Bloomingtonians say--it's not a 45-minute drive) in a festive condition.

          L'Explorateur would be a good option (, as it's one of the most playful menus in the city--and Neal Brown is the real deal as a chef here. But they've lost their liquor license until August, so plan to toast your birthday elsewhere.

          The service is still all over the map, but Restaurant du Soleil would be like no other experience you can have in town. And you can get foie gras here, not like in Chicago!

          I still think that Shanghai Lil is one of the best unsung restaurants in the city with two menus, one Japanese and one Chinese with Taiwanese elements. The ginger-basil chicken, the lamb, and the tea-smoked duck are all great, and the Sun Roll here (the same as at Mikado downtown) is Indy's best contribution to the pantheon of sushi rolls.

          Other great bets: The Bosphorus (Turkish), Santorini (Greek), The Oceanaire (great seafood), Elements, and R Bistro.

          Whatever you do, please don't break this restaurant critic's heart by eating at a chain!


          1. re: Terry Kirts

            A question regarding L'Explorateur: when exactly do they expect to regain their license, and can you bring your own in the meantime? Thanks.
            And regarding Tallent-I've said it before, but I'm coming in from New York and making a special detour just to eat there--I would get up at 4:00 AM to do so (really.)

            1. re: David W

              Our liquor license issues have been resolved. Thanks for all of the mentions.

            2. re: Terry Kirts

              Hi Terry! Just wanted to say that I enjoy reading your column in Nuvo. Keep up the good work!

          2. re: Candy

            Roadgeekery comment: Indiana 37 is under construction between I-465 and Martinsville, so if you want to go to Bloomington from Indy, take the marked detour on Indiana 67. Was in Indy a week ago.

            Incidentally (probably not for your birthday), Shapiro's on South Meridian and McCarthy is still excellent--try the pastrami or corned beef sandwiches and potato latkes and cheesecake. Or anything else for that matter.

          3. FYI...all indy dining establishments went non smoking a few months ago

            1 Reply
            1. re: dgr

              dgr...actually ( and unfortunately), that isn't the case, jsut had a conversatioin with a table just a few nights ago that said that they would not return to a certain downtown restaurant because the first thing you get when you walk in the door is cigar smoke..and this is a fine dining restaurant. Here is a list of restaurants that allow and do not allow smoking

            2. Elements is the best place in Indy that fits your description. Good wine list and food that is far from chain quality.

              1 Reply
              1. re: FoodieJim

                I'll second (and third!) Elements. Be sure to call them well in advance because it's a small space and will surely be packed F1 weekend. R Bistro, right down Mass Ave from Elements, is another good option in downtown.

              2. lenny's or malibu grill in bloomington

                1. I'm an out-of-towner who'll be celebrating my b-day in Indy next month at Oceanaire. My major foodie spouse has been several times & declares it one of 2 best spots in town; the other is St. Elmo's. But we live in NYC, so can't claim deep knowledge of Indy chow.