Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Because WE didn't ban it.

The esteemed colleague and I pop into Broad Ripple Steakhouse often enough that friends and sort of friends make fun of us for it. The specials are typically yummy, but last night we forewent the specials for other things.

Our mistake.

Chef brought out a little amuse composed of the ravioli accompanying the filet mignon special and WOW. Foie gras in pasta rags with a veal reduction sauce drizzled with crème fraiche. On top was a yummy surprise. Asparagus tips that looked grilled but a taste proved them to be caramelized. Caramelized with sugar. A little sweet crunch against the salty sauce and delicate pasta and creamy foie, it was magical. I admit I can't vouch for the rest of the special, but it's filet, what could go wrong? And even if it's bad filet (which, as they say about sex and pizza, is still pretty good), you got the magical foie gras ravioli, right?

And why can we have magical foie gras ravioli without passwords and fines? Because we didn't ban it like SOME cities I could name. Yeah, I'm lookin' at you, Chicago.

Oh, and Broad Ripple Steakhouse changes the specials weekly. And today is Wednesday. Off you go.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Brussels Sprouts

I have an increasingly long list of things I thought I hated for various reasons. At the top of the list has always been those tiny, squishy, sulphury balls of mush that loll limply around the plate, making everything smell like cabbage and not in a good beer-hall-sausage-on-the-way way. Ersatz vegetables foisted on defenseless elementary school students by a system that also defines ketchup as a vegetable.

But maybe not.

I'm taking Alice Waters' words to heart and trying to eat locally. Or, if not locally, at least seasonally. And what's in season now? Brussel sprouts. I happened upon some at Sunflower Market that didn't look demonic at all. They were actually cute. So, like I do with cute things (shoes, cats, etc.), I took them home.

Trimmed and cut lengthwise, braised in French butter and water, then sautéed golden after the water boiled away. A dab of cream, a crumble of chestnuts and they became…good. Really good. "Hey, I'd make this again" good. Snuggled (cutely) next to a roasted chicken and mashed potatoes, it was a lovely comfy dinner for the first brisk night of fall.

Here's the recipe from Epicurious I didn't follow so much as sidle.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It's not meat. And it's not paper.

It's meatpaper. Whilst trolling for progress on The Fresh Market on College, my esteemed colleague and I popped into Northside News, where we discovered the premier issue of meatpaper. It's not recipes, it's not a trade pub for ranchers or butchers, it's about what the editors (both women, forgive me for letting that surprise me) call the fleishgeist - the spirit of the meat. (Have you noticed that "meat" is one of those words that gets more vulgar the more times you say it? Meat, meat, meat, meat, meat.) I'm not sure how long anyone can sustain a magazine strictly about the art, culture, and meaning of meat, meat, meat, meat, meat in all of its forms, but kudos to a bizarrely beautiful magazine.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

They ARE called gastropods, after all

Does that mean "delicious feet"? Hmm. Probably best not to think too hard on that one.

On Saturday, my esteemed colleague made the crucial observation that The Fresh Market carries snails – giant snails – pre-stuffed with butter and garlic and parsley.

We popped 10 of them in the oven (425° for 14 minutes seemed to work) as an appetizer for the coq au vin I made Sunday. They were fabulous. As good or better than escargot (funny how adding butter and a French name makes yanking a mucusey slug out of a shell with a toothpick palatable) that we've had at French restaurants in big cities.

You must try them. If only to ensure that they keep stocking them for us.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Elements - No Periodic Table Jokes

Every once in while, you have a dinner that's just…right. Elegant dining room, dithering over the exquisite menu in low, excited voices, perfect lighting, your esteemed colleague has two Tiffany boxes sitting on the table, Champagne has been poured. The appetizer arrives and there's only one thing to say:

"Holy shit, this is good!"

Yes, dear reader, that's what I said upon the first bite of the pork belly starter at Elements on a recent Wednesday. And it's true. Not a combination I would have thought of (which is why he's Greg Hardesty and I'm not) as it was pork belly - perfectly both meaty and fatty - with mussels and fingerling potatoes in a saffron mussel broth. Stellar. It was so good, I'm going to skip right over the endive salad that preceded it. I just have a dressing issue and restaurants around here use entirely too much of it. Plus, skipping salad gives me more time on the entrée.

Wow. Again with the ingredients that raise an eyebrow. I'm following along well with Halibut and braised escarole. Applewood smoked bacon, yes. Sweet corn, oh yes, yes. Raisins…excuse me? All bundled in a "spicy sour veal reduction." My philosophy is that if you trust the chef, let him take you wherever, maybe it will be a revelation. And this was. The sauce was unlike anything I've ever had before. Sweet nose, sweet at first blush, then this deep burn that lingered. The next bite it would start all over again. It was fantastic against the corn, the creamy fish and yes, the raisins. The secret, our server revealed, was red chili flakes that you couldn't actually see in the sauce. Dynamite.

The dessert was a lovely blueberry ice cream alongside something called a friandise (like a tiny flourless chocolate cake). So, full of yumminess (and more than a little Chateauneuf-de-Pape) we headed back to the car. Which was parked in front of the toy store on Mass Ave. Where they sell robots and dragons. To people full of yumminess. Like I said, every once in a while, you have a dinner that's just…right.

Visit Elements for menus and pictures.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A little like being at Schwab's at the right time

The writer of one my longtime favorite reads, FeedMe/DrinkMe, has discovered fork. Thanks muchly for the mention!

Stinky Cheese. Market didn't have it, Web does

Indy has a few good sources of cheese. The Cheese Shop in the Mall is okay, if unexciting, and The Fresh Market is getting better but it's no Dean and Deluca.

For really great cheese you pretty much have to travel. Good thing that's one of my favorite things to do. A few weekends ago, my esteemed colleague and I visited Chicago and ended up at TRU, Rick Tramonto's experimental house of food worship on North St. Claire. I'll save the rundown of the courses for another day; this is just about the cheese. One of the most varied and creative and daring cheese trays I've seen in the U.S. I HAD to know where they get it and the answer for many of them was Murray's, a shop I know but have yet to visit in NY.

So I visited the web site instead. My order arrived yesterday. I ripped open the box and the unmistakable smell of raw milk cheese swept through the room like the unmistakable smell of raw milk cheese. "Did you order something dead?" quipped a nearby coworker. I popped the box in the refrigerator and later heard another one yell, "Something in the fridge is rotten!" Heh. Perfect. And that's in its packaging, ice cold, and in a closed cardboard box, so just imagine when it's out at room temp, next to a little bit of compote and maybe some honey for the blue….

Ahem. So, the point is, dear reader, stinky cheese IS available in Indy. You just have to be patient. And have understanding coworkers.

Visit Murray's Cheese and TRU for more yummy foodstuffs.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Oh! Oh! Oh!

Actual workmen and actual equipment actually moving actual dirt at The Fresh Market site. Saw them with my own eyes! Soon, my little lamb shank, you will be all mine....(without the 30-minute drive).

The French Market. They got the Market part right. Kinda.

We look forward to the French Market at St. Joan of Arc every year and we know it's not going to be the magical land of Lourmarin, a tiny Provencal town with the greatest market ever in the history of markets (and, dear reader, one that happens once a week, not just once a year), but is it too much to ask that it be a little magical, a little daring, a little challenging? Just un petit peu?

Where's the stinky cheese? The pate? Where's the real bread? Where's the fish stew that watches while you eat it? No wild game? No bunnies in sauce? So what if the people on the extreme ends of the age brackets wrinkle their noses. Surely St. Joan of Arc realizes that many, many people who attend this fair are Francophiles. And any of those things would be just as easy (or, in the case of cheese, easier) to prepare and serve as what they have anyway. Hell, bouillabaisse is essentially fish parts in broth. Who can't do that?

Yes, yes, furthering the palates of Hoosiers is not the goal of the fair. It's not supposed to be intimidating, it's supposed to be fun. I know, I know. But couldn't there be ONE booth, one tiny, modest little booth serving something that could be construed as authentic? Preferably the one next to the Roast Beef Po' Boy.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Sorry it's been so long, dear reader (someday maybe I'll be able to add an 's'). There was this beach in Jamaica that needed me to hold it down with the help of a few Appleton and Cokes. I'm back now and, as promised, I headed back to Brix to check on the new chef, as always with my esteemed colleague.

He started with the duck salad again, which just has way too much dressing on it for my taste. Good dressing, yes, but I like duck and I like to be able to taste it. I started with the scallops, which were FAN-TAS-TIC. Having rubberized scallops on my own a time or two, I know having them come out perfectly tender without being raw is a trick. Chef made this trick a bit harder by butterflying the scallops, then sandwiching paper-thin slices of potato in the middle (where DOES one find potatoes of exactly the right circumference as the scallops? Do you buy the scallops first, then hunt down the potatoes? Is there some poor prep chef in the back with a ruler and a scallop? Hmmmm....), the whole thing is covered in a sauce that I can best describe as a heavy-on-the-vinegar hollandaise and a fine dice of braised pancetta. Yumm-ee.

I had the New York strip and bordelaise that my esteemed colleague had the first time (scroll down to read) while he stepped up to the ribs. The NY Strip was as good as it was last time but the ribs (which is what I really wanted but my esteemed colleague is occasionally a stubborn ass) were astronomically good. Falling off the bone with a sauce that wasn't too sweet but could be a touch spicier. I, however, would eat fire if they could figure out a way to make it pourable, so consider that whenever I say something could be spicier. The ribs were served with a sweet carroty slaw and a yummy potato "salad" that was cool and creamy. My esteemed colleague will choosing something else next time, as I too can be a stubborn ass when it comes to tasty ribs.

As an aside, we met up with friends DK and R at the bar, then headed down the street to Friendly Tavern. On the way, I said "what is that fried chicken smell? That smells fabulous!" Keep in mind, I just had scallops, duck, most of a steak and as many ribs as I could steal with my famous "hey, is that the BeeGees limo?" ploy, so this chicken smelled pretty damn great. Turns out, it was coming from Friendly. We settled into a place that looked like what my dad's den in the 80's would have looked like if my dad's den had been a restaurant - all burgundy paisley wallpaper and "wood." And, as luck would have it, the nice people next to us were just being served that very chicken. It arrives as a platter heaped, and I mean heaped, with wings and served with a variety of hot sauces and other extras. The nice man next to me said they "were the best wings on the planet." Next time I'll make sure I haven't eaten my way through the food chain so I can let my reader (hi there!) know if they're as yummy as they smell.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Brazilian Grill

I'm a churrascaria virgin. If you don't know what a churrascaria is, so are you. A churrascaria is (c'mere, Wiki) a Portuguese or Brazilian steakhouse, specifically barbeque as that word is used to describe items cooked on or over a fire (versus American barbeque that usually describes food seasoned in a particular way that will cause generations-long feuding in some parts of the country). Several servers, each bearing skewer of different grilled meat, circulate among the diners and portions are sliced or slid off the skewer right at the table. A card at your side lets the servers know if you're ready for more (green) or can't take any more (red).

Oh, and there's a salad bar with the standard stuff, plus slightly more exotic things like marinated mushrooms and grilled eggplant. A steamer table nearby contains the extras – roasted potatoes, truly spicy shrimp, rice, black beans, garlicky chicken, braised collard greens.

Sounds good, right? Well, like so many other deflowerings that make you wonder what the big deal is, this wasn't. Oh, parts were good, even great. The star by far were the caipiranhas – the cachaca and lime cocktails were perfectly sweet (which means not too), perfectly strong (which means very), and none of that club soda stuff mucking up the works. The bacon-wrapped tilapia was tender and rich. The skirt steak was excellent. The sausages were short, plumb revelations of fennel-enhanced porkiness. The winner by far was a prime-ribesque stack of three steaks that was sliced into thin, buttery ribbons of rareness, juice and fat.

But the pork ribs were, how do I put this?, inedible. They looked edible, they smelled edible, but the eatable part of being edible was missing. And anything that was wrapped in bacon (with the exception of the tilapia) was extremely greasy because the bacon had somehow steamed instead of actually cooking, let alone crisping. I left a pile of pallid strips on my plate and I have been known to fix bacon in the middle of the night out of sheer need.

The space is quite nice. Nothing exists of the former (beloved) La Margarita, not even the walls, of which the remaining ones are now painted a warm mustard. The bar and tables are sleek-on-a-budget, but the entire feel would have a kind of funky, homemade elegance. If it weren't for the lighting. Wow. The steam table, salad bar and wide-open space already makes it feel like a cafeteria. Installing a gazillion 80-watt heat lamps in the ceiling completes the illusion.

So, okay, I'm not here just to complain. I'm here to help. Here's my advice. Turn down the megawattage, tell your servers to stop standing around looking bored (so what if the restaurant is empty? It's a restaurant, I guarantee there's something to do somewhere), ease up on the bacon, lose the pork rib vendor, and reconsider the $27.50 per person price tag until the whole thing improves drastically or you'll never get anyone back. Just don't mess with the caipiranhas.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

BARcelona Tapas

Attention, Indianapolis. You now have a tapas restaurant. And it's a good one. Don't complain, don't mope, don't look all concerned and think that it's populated by shirtless girls. Tapas is easy. Easier, even, then deciding on a single entrée at a normal restaurant. Why just have the steak when you can have the steak (with Cabrales, a stout Spanish blue cheese), the shrimp (with chili oil and butter), the gazpacho, the calamari, the albondigas (meatballs in red sauce), the patatas bravas (spicy potatoes), lamb chops, AND the bread pudding. All in bite sized morsels (each dish yields roughly 6 to 10 bites, depending on what you call a bite). And every bite was genuinely delicious. I've been plotting for another chance at the meatballs. Two orders next time, as my esteemed colleague and I wrestled for the last one. I won by heaving one of the rock-hard patatas bravas at his forehead, slightly stunning him long enough for me to make off with the meatball. In an otherwise lovely and well-prepared series of dishes, only the spicy potatoes were a pretty serious disappointment. I think I chipped a tooth. It was so weird given the yummy perfection of everything else. The Cabrales tenderloin was an unctuous rare med-rare, meatballs juicy (have I mentioned how much I like the meatballs?), red sangria neither too sweet nor too reminiscent of fruit salad with wine dribbled on it, perfectly grilled tiny lamb lollypops, tender calamari in a lightly crunchy breading, buttery shrimp, spicy gazpacho, gooey and creamy and caramelized bread pudding. But the potatoes. Huh. It's a mystery.

If you're looking for a quiet place to whisper sweet nothings, stay home. Any sweet nothings will need to be conveyed with a megaphone to be heard over the 50-decibel roar. It seems to be a tapas thing. I've been to tapas places in Chicago, New York, and San Fran and they've all been absolute landing strips. Maybe it's the cumulative ordering. Instead of once, each table can, should, and does order as many as four or five times during the course of the meal. The cries for Cabrales then echo up the brick red walls, ricochet around the exposed ducts near the 20-30 foot ceiling, then descend on the unsuspecting diners at the barstool-height tables. All tapas restaurants are required to be high-ceilinged brick buildings. I think it's in the Constitution.

Now that I've done the tapas classics, I want to check out the pepper encrusted tuna, which looked fabulous, and one of the several sausage dishes. I'll give the potatoes another whirl. But if you have a leftover meatball, get ready to duck.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Fresh Market and Morels

Is anyone with me in starting a petition to get The Fresh Market on College Avenue to open the hell up already? Or at least start building. Something. Anything to let me know that it's really going to happen. I am completely in love with TFM but Bloomington is more on my way to work than 146th Street. And I miss Atlas so. When I make the gyro-and-$60-in-magazines buy across the street from the empty lot, I hate the vacuum that was once filled with beef tenderloin (cheap!), tiny turquoise shopping carts, Café du Monde coffee, and the occasional brown paper sack of morels… Morels that are now available in a galaxy far, far away at The Fresh Market. Thank God for small favors. Especially if those favors are earthy little sponges perfect for soaking up butter in my skillet as I tickle them with garlic. Then you move the morels into a dish, put 2 healthy dollops of crème fraiche in the skillet, melt in about an ounce of bleu cheese (I like Point Reyes Blue) and put it – along with the morels – on Cipriani extra thin papardelle. All of which are delightfully available right there in the aisles of TFM. On 146th Street. How is that petition coming along?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Brix and Beasts

My esteemed colleague and I usually become somebody else's tourists the last weekend in May rather than staying here and dealing with our own. The siren song of steak frites at any one of several French bistros in Chicago sounds better to us than the whine of 200 laps at 200+ miles an hour and out-of-staters who didn't know you can't buy alcohol on Sundays in Indiana. This year, though, the race caught us without a getaway plan.

We did what we usually do. Sit around reminiscing about meals in other places, dishes most restaurants here would never serve. Until I suddenly remembered Brix in Zionsville. The menu is funky, the wine list interesting, and it's technically out of town. Off we went.

It's Zionsville, so do I need to bother mentioning that Brix is hiply adorable? We even had a Provencal moment when we witnessed the owner's fluffy dog being led back home because he was getting friendly with the sidewalk diners (someday I will tell the story of Jean Paul the bulldog begging at our table in Les Baux de Provence). We perused the menu holding a couple of glasses of something called Love Juice (a wine glass of Prosecco and pureed strawberry. Not exactly an ideal dinner aperitif, but it would have been fabulous before breakfast). We started with the flatbread pizza special – Traders Point Creamery's fromage blanc, smoked tomatoes, and a balsamic reduction on crisp flatbread. I also had the roasted corn chowder. Chowder was good, but seriously overpowered by the flavors of the scrumptious pizza. Even though they tried to jazz the soup up with what looked like chili oil, the overall taste was delicate to bordering on bland, more cream than corn. I think we had a salad, but honestly all was forgotten when the entrees arrived. I had the lamb shank with a mole sauce and poblano corn polenta. I love mole and I really loved this. I'm not a huge fan of polenta and I really loved this. Spicy but not to the extent that you couldn't taste the lamb, the corn, or the polenta. My esteemed colleague satisfied his lack of steak frites with a NY strip and fries. The "fries" were done in the style of most tapas restaurants – sliced thin on a mandoline to form flat strips versus fat rectangles, then served in a salty tangle next to the beef. It was so good that we kept feeding each other bites and exclaiming, "this is really good!" in a surprised way that I'm sure really annoys the chef. A chef that, we heard later that night, has only been the chef since the abrupt departure of the previous chef a few short weeks ago. So our hats were even further off. Sure there were some rough spots (a server who can't open wine, for a minor one), but we'll be more than happy to go back in a few weeks and see if they've been smoothed out. More than happy.

Farmer's Market and Ceviche

Well, I was right about it being a strange spring for things farmery. The market, overall, was mostly full of ready-made things like sauces and soaps and whatnot. But there were, even on that rainy opening day, more than a few edible bright spots. First, pain au chocolat from Scholar's Inn made for a yummy portable breakfast and several dogs who wanted to be my close personal friend. Second, garlic bulbs (like a large scallion with a bigger bulb and garlicy scent) from NuJac that were turned into a super-tasty quasi-ceviche yesterday (recipe below). Third, according to the owner of Hickoryworks, the proprietor of NuJac is a microbiologist who grows cool stuff for fun. That's just neato. Fourth, oyster mushrooms. Fifth, plenty of good bread things from pastries to baguettes to tarts. Sixth, it turns out that Nicole Anderson's market niche is gluten-free baked goods. They looked and smelled yummy, but I'd just finished afore-mentioned p.a.c. Asparagus was abundant and it looked like several varieties of squash were doing well, as were the flowers and herbs. Not bad for the not high season. Especially when you can turn it into tastiness like this:

This recipe is partially stolen from, sorry, inspired by this month's Gourmet, but mostly based on what I had lying around and what I picked up at the market. This is for roughly two people as an appetizer (with leftover salsa).

2 ears of corn
8 large scallops

2 medium tomatoes (medium to me is tennis-ball sized), seeded and diced
Garlic bulb, plus about two inches of the pale green stalk, chopped finely
1 serrano chile, seeded and minced
Juice of one lemon
Juice of one lime

1 avocado, pitted, peeled and sliced thinly (1/4 to 1/2 inch thick)

First, grill the corn. While the corn is grilling, then cooling, mix together all of the vegetables and the juices except the avocado. When the corn is cool enough to handle, slice the kernels off of the ears and add it to your vegetables. You can refrigerate at this point or not. I prefer the taste of room-temp tomatoes, so I didn't. Then, grill the scallops. You aren't going to be doing the classic ceviche "cooking" of the scallops in citric juices, so grill it to your desired taste. To serve, arrange your avocado slices on two plates (half on each). Place the scallops around, spoon the "salsa" over. You could also add greens under the avocado and turn it into an actual salad. Enjoy.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Broad Ripple Farmer's Market Tomorrow

Hooray! It's time to pretend we live in Provence even more than we do on any other day. May 26 (yup, tomorrow) kicks off the 2007 "Faux French" summer season (stay tuned for the fall, winter, and spring kick offs). It's been such an odd spring weather-wise that I'm not sure what to expect, but their web site ( lists old favorites like Capriole and Harvest Moon Flower Farm in addition to newcomer H2O Sushi. At first that puzzled me, but the rumor is that H2O will feature pastry chef Nicole Anderson's ethereal desserts. I'm a little bummed that it's not back at the Art Center, but the parking lot of Broad Ripple High School isn't all bad. If you close your eyes, it's kind of like the Luberon. Okay. No it isn't, but it's still fabulous and I will so be there at 8AM. Now where did I leave my market basket and chapeau....

Cafe Petite Chou

"Go outside?" has an electric effect on a dog. Barking, squeaking, jumping at the door, prancing, whimpering, begging, straining at the leash. I have pretty much the same reaction to "French bistro?" So imagine my unbridled delight when I discovered that the menu at Café Petite Chou was not going to be another version of the Patachou menu, only in Broad Ripple. Mais non! This menu has French words! Les mots francais! Words like Croque Monsieur and Salade de Lardons. Words I know. Words I've never seen on a menu in Indianapolis.

But let's start with the setting. I have a fondness for outdoor cafes, even if they are technically in a parking lot. And this one is quaint, with some thought (and cash) put into the tables, chairs, and umbrellas. My esteemed colleague and I started with a Potage Saint Germain (a classic pea soup, this one has basil) and the soup of the day, a tomato artichoke bisque. The bisque was heavenly, light and filling at the same time. The crouton floating on top was a little tough to eat, though. Bread meant to be eaten with a spoon either needs to be smaller or softer.

Our entrees arrived and the swooning got started in earnest. My Salade de Lardons was not so much about lardons (which is pork belly that's been diced, blanched and fried) as "salad with bacon and a sort-of-poached egg on top," but what's not to like about that? The Croque Monsieur, though, was superbe, if a bit thick by actual French standards. Creamy ¬ and not too heavy – sauce, proper ham (not "ham product"), good bread. If you can take it, they'll put a fried egg on top and call it Croque Madame. And none of the greens, either on the side of the sandwich or those in the salad, needed to be wrung of their dressing before eating.

I couldn't leave without trying a crepe. I've had crepes in Brittany, I've had crepes in New Orleans, I've had crepes in my kitchen, I've had crepes made by a French woman in a closet in Key West. I'm a big fan. And I prefer the classics. Like many bread things, if it requires a lot of stuff to make it good, it probably isn't a good bread thing. So I ordered a plain crepe with a sprinkling of vanilla sugar to finish off the last of my jasmine tea. It was light, yet firm, not too sweet, not too brown, not too raw. Someone in the kitchen knows how to make a damn crepe.

Then brunch was all over. I tried dragging my feet, I tried going to the bathroom really slowly several times, I tried starting conversations with fellow diners, I even tried the soulful eyes.....

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Tangential Menu Rant

As wonderful as brunch at Café Petite Chou was, there was one big problem. She was sitting behind me. At a French bistro, with a menu full of yummy (and nationally-renown) omelets, thoughtfully put-together sandwiches, and elegant salads, she ordered….turkey on whole wheat. Turkey. On whole wheat. "With no mayo." When it arrived, it had "some creamy stuff on it." She complained to the server, "I said no mayo." The manager came over and explained gently and patiently that it wasn't mayo, it was Alouette and it came on most sandwiches. She huffed again that she requested no mayo, he offered to remake the sandwich, she refused and said she'd eat it. (So why complain in the first place? Do the calories not count if you asked not to be served them? But that's another rant.)

Now. I've worked in the restaurant industry, both front and back of the house, so I'm all for the customer having a pleasant experience and getting what they want. Within reason. The world is full of places to get a dry turkey sandwich. The world is not, however, full of places to get something a little more sublime, a little more interesting, a little more covered in Alouette. Okay, the world is, Indiana is not. And it's customers like this woman who make Hoosier restaurateurs believe that a market for their concept doesn't exist here. Because, unfortunately, it's customers like this woman who are more likely to make their feelings known to management.

So my solution to this is pretty simple. If you're the sort of person who is likely to order a dry turkey sandwich, go to a place with dry turkey sandwiches on the menu. If you're the sort of person who would love to keep ordering Alouette and béchamel-covered grilled cheese and something new and different and a little bit horizon-expanding, wave the manager over and tell him or her how much you enjoyed everything and how truly delighted you are that that restaurant exists.

Canal Bistro Mediterranean Grille

We took a chance. We acted on a whim. We threw caution to the wind. Saturday we happened by the spot that was once, we seem to recall, a perfumery to find it transformed into a chic little outdoor café, done up like a Mediterranean piazza with terrazzo topped tables and deep red umbrellas. Now, I must admit to a certain prejudice against what Indianapolis calls "Mediterranean." Ten times out of nine, it's just another gyros stand with the same progression of hummus, greek salad, gyros, falafel, etc.

And so was this.

But we were already sitting down. Just as I was about to sigh and give myself over to yet another version of sliced "meat" on "pita" with "tzatziki," on the table next to me (containing whom I assume is the owner) was delivered scrumptious-smelling platters of kebabs. I inhaled my sigh and headed for the kebab section of the menu. (Lucky for us, since it turns out they were out of gyro meat anyway.) My esteemed colleague ordered the lamb, I ordered the "mixed grill" (lamb and chicken).

The hummus arrived first. It was good, drizzled with olive oil and what I'm guessing is paprika. Our salads were pretty basic, fresher than most and composed of greens that were actually green. But the kebabs. Oh, the kebabs. We could smell them before we could see them, redolent of some mysterious spice and that new grill smell that you can only get with grilling (unless you're Bubb's Burgers in Carmel, but that's a puzzle for another day). Our server slid them off of skewers that were easily over a foot long, more like long thin swords than those spindly things that come with your GrillNEat Tool Party Pack.

Be warned. "Mixed Grill" does not mean half of one meat and half of another. Oh no. It means easily over a foot each of two meats plus grilled veggies (onions, peppers, tomatoes). The chicken is divine. Nicely spiced without heading into the heavily-coated "this is the chicken, right?" place like some "Mediterranean" restaurants. The lamb was in chunks tender enough that the butter knife sufficed. The rice alongside was pretty much rice, but that didn't really matter. We are not people to take home leftovers, these leftovers we took home.

If you're looking for an extensive wine/beer list or a server who knows what Perrier is, this isn't your place. But if you are looking for yummy grilled meats on a fabulous deck overlooking the Broad Ripple canal wildlife, this is it. And, for a restaurant that had only been open six days when we were there, we definitely don't regret taking the chance.