Thursday, April 10, 2008

Noah Grant's

I liked Brix. Brix was good. We forgot about Brix a lot, being all the way north in Zionsville, and then Brix became Noah Grant's. Now it's really good. And I'm sure we'll forget about it less.

Okay, let's get the bad stuff out of the way first. Their Signature Oyster Raw Bar was out of…all together now…oysters. But I've heard from enough chefs with oyster-having menus that oysters are tough. When you have them, no one orders them. When you don't have them, everyone wants them. And the little guys aren't exactly known for their keeping power. So we decided to forgive.

And I would have forgiven some really heinous things when we met the BBQ ribs. Oh heavens the ribs are so good. They're from local purveyor Mark Turner Farms, which is apparently so local that I could have winged a picked-clean bone and hit it from my table. The sauce (here is not the time to quibble over whether REAL barbeque has sauce or not) is both sweet and spicy, thick but not tomatoey. There was maybe a touch too much, especially when the ribs are this meaty and flavorful on their own, but that's a nit I'm picking.

My esteemed colleague went for the lamb chops, which were very good. The surprising revelation had to be the asparagus, though. Simple – grilled and yummy. Hopefully this is a sign that restaurants in Indy are finally learning that not everything has to come drenched in butter and sauce and blue cheese dressing and bacon bits. Not that there's anything wrong with those things, just not covering every available food surface until you're not sure if you ordered the grilled fish or the roasted chicken. On that note, to Noah Grant's, please don't put cheddar in the French onion soup. The flavor's fine, but the texture is off. Try the classic Gruyere or something that melts better, like Asiago or Fontina. The soup itself is quite good, or so said my esteemed colleague, who was on his third bowl in as many places that week.

And I can't end this without mentioning the people. I know some people don't like it when they become a part of your evening, but we love it when our server is enthusiastic about the food, when the chef comes out and talks about it, when the excitement about what's going on is palpable. We left very much looking forward to not forgetting Noah Grant's.

Visit Noah Grant's to see more.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What's that, there, in your stew?

I have a friend, we'll call her K, who HATES the stew. Hates it. If you want to make her cringe and scream and practically gag, say Stew two or three times. Hell, even if you aren't around her, say it anyway. It's fun.

I, however, love stew in all of its forms from canned Chunky to grandma's own to the very chichi Daube that I make as soon as the weather even thinks about getting slightly chilly. So I was delighted when my fellow lunch boys declared one recent snowy afternoon that we were going to John's Famous Stew on Kentucky Avenue.

You pull up into a parking lot that you just can't imagine isn't currently hosting a "let's take this outside" fight. Open the single, windowless door and you are in an honest-to-God roadhouse. Grab a numbered table before someone yells at you. The paneled walls are all beer signs and dartboards (a scary thought in a room this small) and the remnants of what I can only guess was an OTB establishment (horse murals and a tiny window now stuffed with supplies). The bar is stocked with the kind of stuff college students bet each other to drink.

And on the menu. Stew. Mild, medium, or hot. Served with "Thank God I'm an American" white bread. Butter's on the table, so don't ask. On this fine day, one of the lunch boys decided on a hamburger with stew. We all pictured a sandwich with stew ladled over, like a Beef Manhattan, only with stew. Our lunches arrived, and the bowls of stew (giant bowls, by the way, for those of you who care about heaping portions) all looked the same. Dig in, though, and there, like the prize at the bottom of a box of Cracker Jack, was a hamburger. A whole hamburger, bun and all. Under the stew.

There are pictures. Coming soon.

Et Tu, Ratings?

Maybe if the weathermen had to pay restaurateurs for lost business, they'd quit hyping the "bad" weather. Do these guys realize that if people are afraid that we're actually going to get that 4 to 7 inches they keep promising, they stay home? The esteemed colleague and I have discovered that the best time to hit a normally crowded spot is when bad weather is predicted. We can slide right in and nab our favorite table in the vast, echoing expanse of empty tables. Great for us, not so great for the owners.

I realize that people become glued to their sets during weather "events" and there's an entire section of a TV station's org chart devoted to ensuring that people are glued to their sets, but I wish they'd give a touch more thought to the negative impact. Not only on local businesses, but on their own credibility. But mostly on local businesses.