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Feb 20, 2008 02:08 PM

Impress me Indy!*~

Hello there,

I am a Chicago native who has lived in Scottsdale, AZ for the past 8 years. I am most likely moving to Indy for grad school, and I am venturing out there the first week of March. I need to be convinced to stay, so please WOW me!

I will be staying in the carmel/keystone area, but I am renting a car and willing to drive~


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  1. What kinds of food are you interested in? Fine dining, cheap eats, ethnic (which kinds), steakhouses, etc?

    My favorite places for casual fine dining are Oakley's Bistro and two places downtown, 14 West, and the Oceanaire, all of which are consistently excellent (and far better than the oft-hyped and overbland Tallent in Bloomington, in my experience). You can read detailed reports of my visits to those places in the topic at

    The Carmel/Keystone area seems like most of the eateries are chains, which is about what you'd expect around a big shopping mall. But there are other good places elsewhere around town, notably in downtown Indy and in Broad Ripple (a neighborhood between Carmel/Keystone and downtown). Oakley's Bistro is sort of out there on its own, in a strip mall just a few miles west on 86th from Carmel/Keystone.

    As a Chicagoan who has frequently visited Indianapolis for a long time, I've observed that its culinary scene has improved dramatically in recent years. There are lots of topics in this forum for specific kinds of food in Indy, so tell us what you're looking for (or do a search) and I'm sure there are places that will make you happy.

    8 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      I was at Tallent Tuesday night with my husband. We had a wonderful experience. Cookiefiend was there with a party of 4 the same night, and they enjoyed the food greatly. We were there 2 weeks ago, ditto, and 2 weeks before that. Business is very good, despite lively competition. Could so many people be wrong?

      1. re: pikawicca

        I have never been to Tallent, though I look forward to a visit one of these days.

        That said, the "could so many people be wrong?" argument isn't convincing. Just because a place is popular doesn't mean it's good. Case in point: the Cheesecake Factory.

        1. re: Kate_N

          I think you're comparing apples to oranges. People who regularly patronize fine dining establishments are a different breed than the folks who like dining at CCF. Almost without exception, hounds who post about Restaurant Tallent are extremely positive. Perhaps I should have said, "Could so many HOUNDS be wrong."

          1. re: Kate_N

            I don't think the reference to the number of people in the place as opposed to numerous overly positive reviews of Restaurant Tallent vs. the one naysayer who was disappointed with their experience because the seasonal items being proferred were not to their liking. If there is a downside to the farm-to-fork movement, that would be it. Of course anyone reputable reviewer would at least sample a couple of other seasons' offerings before summarily passing judgment year-in and year-out, but to each their own. Heck... I don't want EVERYONE to love the places I love, or I wouldn't be able to get in. That being said, do yourself a favor and enjoy a meal at Tallent whenever you are within driving range.

            1. re: GroovinGourmet

              On the other hand, you don't want too few to love your place or it may's especially painful when other, lesser places are packed night after night. But of course, even here in NY I walk past the Applebee's in Times Square and it's full every accounting for taste.
              I'll be raising a glass to you again, Mr GG, when I make my semi-annual visit to Tallent at the end of the month...

              1. re: David W

                And they're introducing their new menu tomorrow, so we'll be sure to pop in. GG, I DO want everyone to love Tallent, simply because it's great, and I want the most hounds to find the best food out there.

          2. re: pikawicca

            And Tallent and Oakley's have both made it on to the long list of James Beard's Best Restaurants for this year. Don't let one extremely biased opinion stop you from a trip down here for a great dinner. Sit at the bar and have some fantastic moules frites.

          3. re: nsxtasy

            My husband and I ate dinner at Tallent last week. We sat at the bar, where you can select from the bar menu or the regular dinner menu. We had a little of both! Everything was spot on. Delicious. Perfectly cooked and seasoned. Have you only been there the one time? I've eaten there several times, and I have always had a really positive experience. I believe Dave Tallent is very deserving of his James Beard nod.

          4. Two sites to check out:

            1) -- a site I created for all the independent coffee shops in the Indianapolis area.
            2) -- a site for all the different ethnic restaurants around town.

            Two areas to check out are Broad Ripple, which is at College & 62nd (Google Maps can show you how to get around), and Mass Ave (Massachusetts Avenue), which is near downtown (again, Google Map it).

            A few places I like -- Brugge, a Belgian restaurant that makes its own beers, and makes fries the European way; Sawasdee, a Thai restaurant on the NW side of town; Island Delight, a Carribbean restaurant on the east side; Macchu Piccu, a Peruvian restaurant on the west side (surprisingly, almost directly down the road from Island Delight, but both on the opposite sides of town); and, Hubbard & Cravens for local coffee (in Broad Ripple, about half a mile from Brugge).

            Check out as a way to make connections in Indy, and to find out more about your (hopefully) new home.

            Contact me at edeckers at vdirect dot us if you want some additional advice or directions.

            1. Thank you both so much! I figured that the dining around the hotel would consist of chains, so I truly appreciate all of your help! I will look over the links you both provided!

              thanks again, hopefully the rest of the hoosiers are as kind as you are!

              9 Replies
              1. re: Kam7185

                Hoosiers are great -- you will enjoy your time here. There is great eating in Indy,as the two posters above indicate (though I believe there is a new chef at 14 West.) Do need to take issue with the comment about the "oft-hyped and overbland Tallent in Bloomington." That poster has a bee in her bonnet about that place but truly,most of us love it (and it is one of the two Indiana restaurants on the list of preliminary James Beard nominations that New York Magazine recently posted.) If you find yourself with the time to make a roadtrip to Bloomington, Tallent should be at the top of your list. In my opinion, it's the best in the state, bar none.

                1. re: myplateoryours

                  Again, I was extremely disappointed and unimpressed with Tallent; the food was entirely overbland and uninspired. You can read my detailed report at the link above. Don't waste your time with a trip to Bloomington just to go to Tallent; there are much, much better restaurants in Indy itself.

                  As for those James Beard restaurants, the recent list was not for the nominations themselves, but rather, the semi-finalists which will be voted upon to produce the nominations. As usual, some restaurants seem to make such lists based on hype (elsewhere as well as here) rather than food, so you can always take such nominations with a grain of your favorite gourmet salt. Still, while I would not have included Tallent (or Revolver in Findlay, or Arun's in Chicago, either), it was nice to see some truly spectacular restaurants on the list, including the previously-mentioned Oakley's Bistro from Indy as well as Sanford in Milwaukee, Lola in Cleveland, and one sixtyblue, Everest, Avenues, Vie, and North Pond in Chicago. These are some of the very best restaurants in the entire Midwest, and it's nice to see them gain such recognition. If you're interested, you can find the complete list at

                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    Good heavens -- now you are trashing an entire town on the basis of a single visit to Tallent? Protesting a bit much, don't you think?

                    Bloomington is an amazing food city -- we have a number of extraordinary restaurants, from fine dining to ethnic. I have recently finished a book (my second) on the food in the state and the food energy I found in Bloomington is really impressive. Indianapolis is delightful, too, don't get me wrong. There is plenty to tempt you if you decide to come here to school. But if you feel like a road trip, we are an hour or less away, and well worth your time!

                    And for the record, no, restaurants do not make it on to the preliminary list of JB award nominees because of hype.

                    1. re: myplateoryours

                      My comment about Bloomington was intended only to refer to Tallent, not to other restaurants in that town. Unfortunately and regrettably, the original wording was ambiguous in that regard. I have edited my previous post to remove that ambiguity.

                      1. re: nsxtasy

                        Okay, my husband and I just reviewed all of our dining experiences in Chicago over the past 30 years. Most of them were exceedingly mediocre. A few were excellent. None were better than Tallent at its current best.
                        Come to Bloomington and be my guest at Tallent. I('ll pay, and I won't let them know we're coming. If you're still not a fan, I'll give up.

                    2. re: nsxtasy

                      OK. You had one bad experience at Tallent. Trust me, hype plays a major role in many restaurants, however, I can easily admit Tallent serves the best food consistently than any restaurant in Indiana. I would probably rate Tallent #1 in Indiana, but I've only been once. I will definitely go back a few more times to confirm the initial feeling of my first experience there. Would you be willing to try it again? It's seems you should if you're willing to trek up to Granger, Indiana to eat!! I will check your post and see what type of bland food you experienced. Only been once but my food was quite memorable: salted chocolate (2 of my all time favorite combinations)tart with malted ice cream, moules frites, nancy's camembert from NY state, swordfish cooked PERFECTLY (finally!) and duck breast with a nice squash/ homemade ricotta combination and homemade rabbit bacon just to name a few. Plus, it always helps to have nice, competent servers. Experience was anything but bland. Let me know if you give it a second chance. I definitely want to check out Avenues in Chicago.

                      1. re: napolean

                        >> It's seems you should if you're willing to trek up to Granger, Indiana to eat!!

                        I drive through the South Bend area on the toll road on a regular basis, so it's easy to try restaurants there.

                        >> I definitely want to check out Avenues in Chicago.

                        If you want to enjoy it as it is now, go soon. Graham Elliot Bowles, the young chef responsible for the prominence of Avenues since 2004, will be leaving there in late March or early April to open a more casual, less expensive standalone restaurant later this year. A new chef has been named. Since it's in one of the top luxury hotels in Chicago (the Peninsula), I'm sure the intent is to maintain it as a top destination restaurant, but change is to be expected. Time will tell.

                        1. re: napolean

                          GAHAHHAHAH freak out about a restaurant. I haven't been to tallent but i'll skip it because its in bloomington. Quite a pretentious city in southern indiana.

                          Anyways, i ate at oakleys a while back and it was top notch food, wine, and service. shrimp corn dog, lobster waffle, lamb two ways, and some AMAZING south american wine though i can't remember what it was. my gf had the salmon, she liked it, but it wasn't my thing. good, but not like the rest of the meal. we had dessert at L'ex and were greeted with some great scallop ceviche, but the banana custard tasted like unripe bananas. I'd go back based on that ceviche though.

                          1. re: napolean

                            Well said napolean ~

                            nsxtasy, I respect your well written and through postings (especially the links!) regarding the many restaurants you've been to. I understand you had an unsatisfactory experience at Tallent and I am truly sorry, I bet Dave and Krissy are too.

                            I also wish you would give them a second chance. :-)

                            OP: I know I'm joining this late (been outta town) but in the Carmel/Keystone area try: Shanghai Lil for dim sum, The Music Mill for casual dining and live music some nights, Adobo Grill - great Mexican, GT Souths - BBQ ribs, and in Broad Ripple try: L'Explorateur - one of my favorites, The Jazz Kitchen, H2 O - sushi, Taste Cafe and 3 Sisters.
                            If you make it downtown, Mass Ave has several great places, especially Elements and R Bistro.

                            Have fun and let us know what you think!

                    3. The original comment has been removed
                      1. In Indy where the scene is getting better...there are still some obstacles with Indy not being a 24 hour city. Anyway, here is a short list: Taste cafe, Yats, Broad Ripple Brewpub, Elements, R Bistro, Shalimar Indian, The Bosphorous, Luxor, Saswadee, Red Key Tavern, Bub's Burgers, Bongie's Tavern (Perkinsville), Peppy Grill, Oceanaire, Explorateur, H2O Sushi, Sakura, Oakley's Bistro, La Parada, Saigon.
                        Definitely hit Bloomington: Tallent, Bloomington Farm, Nick's Pub among others.
                        Enjoy your stay