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Indiana's Best Kept Secret

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A While back a poster named CurlyGirl asked about a restaurant north of Noblesville. I tried to post a reply but couldn't. So here ya go. BONGE"S Tavern is Fabulous. It's in Perkinsville and if you Google it you get the website. The cook is gourmet but wanted to do something local, so he did. Very down to earth. No dress code. Best food I've had in ages. Unusual things too. Get there early because otherwise there's a 2 hour wait, but they let you tailgate. Pretty area, next to the river. Enjoy...better than any 4 star I've eaten at downtown!!!!

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  1. I didn't think Bonge's Tavern was so much a secret as just a wee bit out of the way. :)


    Bonge's Tavern
    9830 W 280 N, Anderson, IN 46011

    1 Reply
    1. re: Davydd

      Soo please recommend something great, unusual and not so expensive that I have to mortgage my first born in Chicago. Plan to head that way soon.

    2. Jaci, when you say 4 star downtown, are you talking about Indianapolis? I don't think the food is anything unusual at Bonge's Tavern. Food is OK (very filling) but it's just simply prepared comfort food. They have the best Applewood Smoked prime rib on Fridays and Saturdays. The Perkinsville pork is also outstanding! I always get just the pork with fresh lemon for an appetizer for the whole table to share. The thing that is great and unusual about this place is the atmosphere. Off the beaten path, serene country environs in an unassuming river town with an old restored tavern. What couldn't one like about that! The tailgating culture is what makes this place.

      So what's your favorite eats there? They cook the steak & eat pretty well. At times the sauces seem pretty laden with beef base--meaning a bit too unnaturally salty---but that's just an opinion. The wedge is a classic and it's one of those things I get a craving for once a month!! But, just so you know there are 4 star rankings from NUVO or Indy Monthly but these rankings do not mean anything. You'll have to go to Chicago for a true 4 star.

      Bonge's Tavern
      9830 W 280 N, Anderson, IN 46011

      6 Replies
      1. re: napolean

        >> But, just so you know there are 4 star rankings from NUVO or Indy Monthly but these rankings do not mean anything. You'll have to go to Chicago for a true 4 star.

        I was thinking the same thing, and wondering about the reference 4-star restaurants in downtown Indianapolis. Not that I'm hung up on any particular publication's star rankings. But when I think of a big-city 4 star restaurant, I think of a number of characteristics - dressy attire (jackets for gentlemen), a big-name chef with a national reputation, elaborate tasting menus of typically anywhere from 8 to 25 courses, veritable armies of waitstaff, and high prices (dinners costing $150-300 or more per person, including wine/tax/tip). Most of those characteristics don't apply to any restaurants in Indianapolis. However, I'm a big fan of the dining scene in Indy! I'm just as impressed with restaurants that are more along the lines of "casual fine dining", without the elaborate attire or prices etc., and Indy has a bunch of those, including Oakley's Bistro, R Bistro, and Euphoria, just to name a few I've been to and enjoyed. Heck, I'm not even sure whether the Mass Ave location of R Bistro or the medical campus location of Euphoria is considered "downtown" (I know Oakley's isn't!), or if a place must be within a few blocks of Monument Circle and the Circle Center to be considered downtown.

        1. re: nsxtasy

          I think of 4 star as pleasing to the palet, not upscale scene. I couldn't care less about the attire..that's for clubbing. My taste buds wear nothing at all! *L* :)

          1. re: JaciJohnson

            There is a lot more than attire (or prices) that distinguish 4-star restaurants. They are also characterized by much more creative and diverse food offerings, and more elaborate food preparation techniques, than you typically find elsewhere. Many of them offer extensive tasting menus so you get to try a huge number of dishes (in somewhat smaller portion sizes so you're not overstuffed); for example, Alinea in Chicago has been offering a choice between a smaller tasting menu of 12-14 courses, and a larger tasting menu of 22-24 courses. 4-star restaurants also offer a level of service that you don't experience elsewhere. Alinea is considered by many to be the best restaurant in the United States. I agree - not because the food and presentation are unusual/unique, but because everything there is so amazingly delicious. Don't knock what you haven't tried!

        2. re: napolean

          I think Jaci said it right. If you have to seek out 4 star restaurants to enjoy a meal then maybe you have a problem. I don't know if Chicago is really that much better than Indianapolis. All I know is I enjoy a more relaxed meal well prepared in a neighborhood place than any downtown high pretense white table cloth place. Chicago, Indianapolis and Minneapolis (where I live) all have very enjoyable restaurants with excellent food that fit the Bonge's Tavern mode of enjoyment. My most enjoyable dinners in Chicago, San Francisco and London, England were just walking in the residential neighborhoods and finding tiny hole in the wall places seating less than 30 that specialized in ethnic fare. Places that don't make it in the travel guides or advertise.

          Bonge's Tavern
          9830 W 280 N, Anderson, IN 46011

          1. re: Davydd

            First of all, my statement about star rankings basically is stating that stars imply politics OPPOSED to the quality of food. I wouldn't know much about 4 star restaurants because I don't really believe in fine dining--because I equate that to spending way too much on service and other unnecessary items (linen tablecloths for example). Much of the time the food at these overly hyped places falter because the focus seem to be else where. Of course the 'casual fine dining' approach has been the big thing now, catering to a whole different demographic (people who are more interested in great food much more than overdone atmosphere or service. I think we've all finally learned from our past mistakes!! The down economy is actually doing wonders to our restaurants these days-----they are just less pretentious!

            So, I would actually spend 350 for dinner at Alinea but that would maybe be a once in lifetime thing. I would much prefer Indianapolis to continue offering good, simply prepared food at a very reasonable price without trying to be NYC or Chicago or a highly themed chain restaurant, for that matter. I think the best fact that will influence Indy's food scene in the near future is the continued growth of our ethnic population. Couple that with the Farmer's Markets and things should keep getting better.

            So Davydd, just to clear things up. Where are 5-10 of just some of your favorite joints in Chicago and Indy? My list would look something like this:
            INDY: Guanajuato, Goose the Market, Saigon, Bonge's Tavern, Papa Roux, Working Man's Friend, Recess, Thai Taste, John's Famous Stew
            CHICAGO: Smoque, The Publican, Nuevo Leon, (some Vietnamese $3.50 sub shop which I can't remember), Kuman's Korner, Al's Beef, Xoco and Tompolabomo

            Working Man's Friend
            234 N Belmont Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46222

            John's Famous Stew
            1146 Kentucky Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46221

            Bonge's Tavern
            9830 W 280 N, Anderson, IN 46011

            1. re: napolean

              Thanks ..You listed a few I haven't tried yet. I will check those out.

        3. Although not four star by any stretch, I would nominate My Thai in Bloomington and the Deerhead in Evansville.

          Although reaosnable people could certainly disagree, My Thai is my favorite Thai in B-town. The food (to me) is fresher tasting and better prepared than what you get at Esan Thai, and the service is much, much better than its competition.

          The Deerhead is someplace I usually try to go at least once while I'm back in E-ville. The hot subs / stroms are some of the best in town, and the pizza is pretty solid if not anything particularly innovative.

          My Thai Cafe
          3316 W 3rd St, Bloomington, IN 47404