Friday, May 28, 2010
Thursday, May 27, 2010
King's Ribs only shows it west side location on their web site, but we are closest to the one at 41st and Keystone. And, I also know of at least one other location at Pendleton Pike and 465 on the East side. I can't speak to variation in quality between locations, but based on our most recent visits, I do think there is a little variation within a location.
When it comes to bar-b-q, I mostly think of pulled pork and rib tips. I like ribs, too, but somehow the other items are my favorite. I am slowly coming around on brisket though, despite personal failures in cooking a brisket slow enough at home (yes, I need to break down and get a good smoker). The Indy Grub Review's roommate (The Chemist) for the first two years at Purdue went on to Northwestern to do his grad work. This move was fortuitous in many ways. It helped open a whole new world of food to me based on numerous visits to Chicago/Evanston. And, since The Chemist went for his PhD, it spanned over 4 years. Cubs games, Wildcat football (GO U, N-U) under Gary Barnett, and the food.... so, the bar was set early with bbq from many visits to the fantastic take out stand at Hecky's (its the sauce!). Other local favorites included Buffalo Joe's, Mustard's Last Stand, and Herm's Palace.
That brings us years later back to Indianapolis and King's Ribs. A takeout-only location in what looks like it used to be a car wash? Man, that's 2 belly rubs already! I love the smokey flavor that comes through in the rib tips at King's Ribs. I really like the sauce, and find it really flavorful and not too sweet, not too overpowering. It's great for dipping, and that is precisely why you get that wonderful plain white bread - sop up all the sauce.... I highly recommend that mac-n-cheese, though the cole slaw is pretty pedestrian. I also really tend to rate a barbecue place on its beans - in this case, I'd not say the beans are really all that great at King's Ribs. They seem to mostly be from can, it seems, and they add some sauce and what I believe is, maybe, some salsa. I think the pulled pork at King's is good... not great. It seemed on our last visit to be a bit too wet, but maybe that was from the travel time in the styrofoam and condensation picked up? Still, the pork is good, but nothing exceptional really.
When you look at other reviews for King's Ribs, they mostly seem pretty favorable, but some complaints about quality. I have noticed that in the rib tips, but I tend to think that is a product of the cut of meat more than the restaurant...
Overall - I highly recommend the rib tips and the mac-n-cheese, they're things that you'll crave and want to have at least a handful of times a year.
The verdict: 4 belly rubs (out of 5). Small penalty for lack of quality across the full menu.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
The verdict: 5 hearty belly rubs (out of 5).
The two meals and one soda came to $34.50 before tip. What a bargain. And, what it did was kind of annoy me retroactively about the meal we had at Tulip Noir. This was a ton of food, great spice, variety, cooking skill, etc. We left stuffed. This was not just a quesadilla, some veggie hash and pretense. We spent $34 (including tip) at Tulip Noir for the two meals and one tea, and I needed to go home and get a snack.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Sunday, May 23, 2010
I also really love hot stuff. So, when I first saw a bottle of Wickles in the store area of a Cracker Barrel, I figured I should give it a try.
[I'm kind of picture-challenged as I just use my iPhone]
Anyhow, we've had several jars full now, and I love 'em. They're pickley heat is a great compliment and nice way to keep your taste buds awake. I've picked them up at Cost Plus World Market, too.
The verdict: 4.5 belly rubs (out of 5). Only draw back is that some aren't really crisp, and I prefer more consistent crunch.
Tip: Good Eats' Alton Brown has some cool recipes for DIY pickles.
Friday, May 21, 2010
The Eiteljorg is a neat local attraction. It is a private museum focusing on Native American art and art of the American West. I've really enjoyed some travelling exhibits there in the last several years, including a show of Ansel Adam's photography and some Dale Chihuly glass work. The restaurant at the Eiteljorg is Sky City Cafe. It's not quite a Wolfgang Puck joint, but it isn't an Aramark institution either.
I had the "pick two" special, with half of a San Antonio Smoke Turkey sandwich and a cup of the Anasazi pork and bean soup. Better half had a grilled chicken sandwich, Mom had a quesadilla with a cup of buffalo chili. Nothing was really remarkable, but it was all pretty tasty. The soups come with an enormous block of cornbread that was moist and had what I believe was green chilis in it. The biggest flaw was that for both of the sandwiches, the bread was just too dense and overwhelming. I had to go open-faced with the sandwich cause it was too much chewing, and the Better Half ditched the bread entirely for the second half of her sandwich. The high note was the pork and bean soup. It was maybe a bit too salty, but it was a great soup, with some really nice flavoring and big chunks of pork, which were lean and not fatty at all. If I was on a wagon train out west, this soup would be a very welcome treat of a meal.
The prices are not bad, maybe a dollar more than what you'd pay for a similar portion of food at Panera.
The verdict: 2.5 belly rubs (out of 5). Nothing spectacular, but tasty nonetheless. I would recommend some new bread selections, though.
Tip: if you eat at the Sky City Cafe, you can take your receipt to the ticket desk and get your parking for free if you park in the White River Park parking garage.
I do love a boston cream donut, but am not as enthusiastic about the pie. I wondered how they'd pull off the pudding in an ice cream. And, I had more than a feeling I'd not be in love with this one....
I have only tried this ice cream once... tho a lover of ice cream, the rest of the pint sits in the freezer, with no real threat of being consumed any time soon. Is it bad? No. It's just not that good. First off, the ice cream is really yellowy. And, I don't find it a very appetizing color. But, like playing through the pain, you have to be willing to eat through something as insignificant as color. Nevertheless, this ice cream just never hit a high note. The pudding is obvious in the ice cream, and I'm not sure what type of food chemistry magic pulls that off... the cakey bits are there for some texture variety. It wasn't truly mealy, but.... it wasn't smooth either. One big flaw was that there was not a lot of chocolate in this ice cream. Ultimately, it was just flawed. I want ice cream to feel like a real treat, a real indulgence. This was neither.
The verdict: 1.5 belly rubs (out of 5)
First off, it is a really cheap snack. It is just $1 for the baja fish taco. But, as you can see, it is pretty much just one of the LJS fish fillets cut in half and put on a tortilla. So, if you really like the LJS batter, you'll like this well enough. The batter is just too thick, and doesn't seem to jive with my idea of a fish taco. The sauce, though, had a decent kick for a fast food sauce, so there is that. It had iceberg lettuce instead of cabbage. And, no tomatoes, no lime juice. So, it was really a poor facsimile of a baja fish taco. Ultimately, if you want a cheap meal, you could do a lot worse. It doesn't measure up to my idea of a baja fish taco at all though.
Bottom line: 1 belly rub (out of 5)
Thursday, May 20, 2010
But, I've not paid much attention to the brand, besides some of the commercials come Super Bowl time.... Besides, the Cool Ranch flavor hit such a high note, how could you improve it?
Well, obviously, the flavor labs at Doritos are trying... i noticed a grab bag size of these Late Night Cheeseburger flavored Doritos, and felt I had to try it. Brought them home and shared them with the Better Half... the first thing that I noticed was a bit of pickle flavor hitting the tongue, quickly followed by some sharp yellow mustard.... the flavors then kind of get a bit smokey, and you get the cheese and what must be the burger flavor.... a Dorito is a Dorito, so it is pretty good... you definitely get a feel for it being like a cheeseburger, so I suppose it is a success.... we had a friend stop by, and had him do a blind taste test... he couldn't pick it out, but once we told him the flavor, it all did click.....
The verdict: 3.5 belly rubs (out of 5). Pretty tasty, very inventive, successful execution. I'd still stick with Nacho Cheese or Cool Ranch....
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
We live downtown, and we're excited there is now one on Mass Ave. But, the original location on Illinois Street (in Butler-Tarkington) is a much larger place, and is where the actual baking takes place. I've enjoyed all of the cupcakes I've had, and especially like the Koo Koo for Coconuts, the Blueberry Cream Cheese Blues and the Salted Chocolate Caramel.... But, the best of the lot, in name and taste is... the Red Velvet Elvis (awww man, I cannot believe it....).
I typically have not really "got" some people's fascination with red velvet cake. Sure, I love the cream cheese frosting, but typically it seemed like red velvet cake just had food coloring in it.... I'm not sure how The Flying Cupcake makes this one, but it is sweet, moist and fantastic. It is a huge cupcake, not some dainty little thing, so it is worth it's $2.95 (or whatever the exact price is). Best of all, it includes chocolate chips. It is almost too much icing.... wait, never mind, there's never too much icing. It's my favorite baked good in the city (well, I mean, after the Better Half's chocolate chip banana bread).
The verdict: 5 big belly rubs (out of 5)
Idea: If sitcom's spur spinoffs, this is a baked good that deserves one. With the Flying Elvi skydive team out there, maybe there is a potential to make a Flying Elvis cupcake... I'm not a big Elvis guy, but maybe they could throw in some peanut butter and banana but... let's avoid the fried bologna..... much less the tater tots.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
This was our 2nd attempt at visiting Tulip Noir. The first time, the Better Half and I had arrived at 12:55 on a Saturday. Now, see, the problem is that they close at 1:00 p.m. Obviously, there was no interest in winning over a new customer, because we were told that it was too late to serve anyone, even though there were clearly still several people eating their meals. Since we had such slow service this past Sunday, maybe the staff knew that even though we'd be seated before 1:00, there was no chance they'd actually take our order in a timely fashion so they sent us away. Maybe, too, Tulip Noir has so taken to heart the proclamation that they are the "best brunch in Indy" (on the banner above their signage) that they felt no need to win us over.
Nevertheless, we had some friends visiting, and we decided to go for brunch somewhere new. Now, this restaurant is loud. And, that is fine. Loud can be inviting in many ways. The seating in the restaurant is kind of difficult, because there is a partition between the main dining area and the entrance. In that front area they do have up to 5 small two person tables that they can arrange for customers. We asked for a table for 4, and the group of 11 that had been in the front area weas leaving, so we were to have a table in just a few minutes. I asked if we could be separated and placed at the far part of the front area, away from the door and those waiting. But, the young lady said no, that would be difficult because they also had a group of 7 coming. Now, I'm still not sure what the issue was, because you can separate tables any way you like, and whether the 4 are at one end or the 7, you still ultimately just divide it about the same. So, we were place right next to the door, with the crowds who were waiting for a table. The Better Half is quite petite, and we mostly wanted away from the door so she wouldn't be cold from the door opening and closing, but our request did not matter. We 4 had been there waiting, but this was a situation where the first shall be last, and as they were arranging the tables, one person form the party of 7 arrived (they called in) and that group was seated as we waited and watched. Finally, we seated ourselves because the wait staff continued it's focus on these seven and left the table for 4 cleaned but not set for guests.
After being seated and provided menus, it took almost 5 full minutes for a wait staff member to come to us and ask for drinks. This trend of infrequent notice from the wait staff remained true for our whole visit. The water at Tulip Noir comes with cucumber slices, not with lemon. That is fine, though I do not like cucumber. But, since we did not have much attention from the wait staff, for some reason our table was never provided with a decanter of water, so my 8 ounce tumbler was left without refilling till late in our meal.
So, maybe these are all trifling matters, but they add up in your first experience, and it led to a poor feeling about our visit.
What about the food? It was well prepared and tasty. Was it good grub? No, it failed miserably at that. They offer very small portions at Tulip Noir. I have a big appetite, so I typically finish my plate. But, again, the Better Half is petite, and she completely finished her meal. Of the 4 of us, no one had anything remaining except for a little salad on my plate. But, even the salad was, for me, a point of annoyance. I ordered the special, which was curried vegetables and 2 eggs with whole wheat naan. But, instead of naan I received salad. Maybe I looked constipated? But, there was no explanation upon ordering or receiving our food why I received something that was not part of the menu description.
Better half had the veggie quesadilla, and it seemed tasty, but something that you could have gotten at the Abbey coffeehouse for a lot less money back when it was open. The curried vegetables were tasty, but it was about a cup full of potatoes, onions, broccoli and what I believe was green lentils. Yes, tasty. Not particularly filling. And, for $12, I thought it was a terrible value. I mean, lentils are not expensive. Be a little more generous, folks. At least at any of the Patachou's you get their toast, so you can always fill up on that.
And, not enough pig on the menu for my liking! Sure a few items included prosciutto, but I think I only saw bacon with one item. Brunch NEEDS bacon.
Anyhow, again, it was tasty, but not filling and I felt a very poor value. The Better Half really enjoyed it, though, and I'm sure she'll want to go back. Can I take the fellas here for some good grub before a Colts game, after golf,... um.. anytime? No. Wouldn't even consider it.
But, the day was not a total loss. Upon leaving, we stopped a few doors down and popped in to Babushka's Deli. It's a great stop. I've mostly only picked up some chocolates there, but is a fun little shop that you should visit sometime. We need to go back when we're headed home afterwards and try some of their frozen pierogies.
The verdict: 2 belly rubs (out of 5). Tasty, but not filling, and not a good value.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Indy Grub Review has some tiny spot on the fringe of the local art scene, so I picked up some donuts before heading over to the Broad Ripple Art Fair for the day. And, yes, by the picture, I'm ready to go with that boston cream in the car.... anyhow, what I love most about the donuts from The Donut Shop is the frosting. It isn't the soft frosting like on a cake, but it must be the sugar content that is at one crystallized, but once it hits your tongue it melts and is so sweet. I assume the pudding in the boston cream is just from a can, but it is a great mix with the donut. Big ups for the chocolate dip and the maple dip as well. It's just $5.49 for a dozen, and it is far faster of a line than over at Long's.
Bottom line, the boston cream is 5 belly rubs (out of 5). Overall, 4.5 belly rubs (out of 5).
Friday, May 14, 2010
Anyhow, I noticed a new M&M flavor that I hadn't tried before. Pretzel. So, a bag jumped into my hand and was added to our purchases.
First off, let's set the table. If there is any candy I purchase from a vending machine, it is most commonly peanut M&M's (followed closely by a good old Snicker's bar). Also, previous to this product test, I'd have rated my M&M preference as follows:
- Plain (milk chocolate)
- Plain (dark chocolate)
- Peanut butter
So, back to the new pretzel m&m's.
They're perfectly round, kind of like a whopper, but with a colorful protective coating, of course. The first bite is.... jarring.... I mean, the first bite felt like a mistake. You get the explosion through the pretzel, and it feels dry and powdery. It is one of the reason's why I don't care for the crispy m&m's. Anyhow, you keep chewing and the salt and the taste of the pretzel soon hits your tongue, and it is enjoyable, but you're still kind of confused by the dry explosion that happened between your molars. But, you persevere and you have a few more. And, immediately, my feeling was... "meh". Okay, not so great. Off I went to the YMCA, and figured I'd do more testing later. When I returned, I returned to the arduous task of taste testing.
Now, on the second try, once you know what to expect, a strange transformation happened. I was ready for the dryness and was now able to really enjoy the salt with the chocolate. In fact, it is very pleasing. Does it jump way up on my list? No, but it likely would come before the plain dark chocolate.
The verdict: 3.5 belly rugs (out of 5)
Now, if i had one suggestion for the people at Mars, Inc., I'd say they might go whole hog and kind of make an m&m out of the peanut butter filled pretzels you can find in various places. Or, you know, cross promote with Ben & Jerry's and have a Chubby Hubby M&M - have a jawbreaker sized m&m with one of those peanut butter filled pretzels within the chocolate and candy coatings.
And, while we're daring to dream - with the bacon rage, how about a limited edition set of bacon m&m's????
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Sure, it is a total copy of Graeter's famous flavor. And, if you've never made it down to the greater Cincinnati area for some of Graeter's ice cream - what are you waiting for??? Anyhow, Homemade Brand is a United Dairy Farmer's product, and it is good ice cream. This is a fantastic flavor. I didn't do a side-by-side comparison with the Graeter's store product (also available at fine local grocery stores, such as the downtown Marsh). But, it is a great flavor, lots of chips, just something you want more of, and want often.
The verdict: 5 belly rubs (out of 5)
Next, we also tried another Homemade Brand flavor that was new to us - Chocolate Caramel Fusion.
If you really like caramel, this is the flavor for you. I'm not sure what type of chemical magic they mustered, but they have a TON of nice gooey caramel woven through this fine, creamy chocolate ice cream. Again, if you LOVE caramel, it is for you. I liked it, but just a bit too MUCH caramel for me.
The verdict: 4 belly rubs (out of 5)
Finally, we tried one of Ben & Jerry's latest flavors - Milk and Cookies.
I'd read on Serious Eats that Ben & Jerry's had released their new spring flavors, so I was on the lookout. From the review and descriptions, Milk and Cookies was the one I was most looking to dip a spoon into. So, known only to the Better Half, I hid the pint of Milk and Cookies deep in the recesses of the freezer, lest some snooping guest find it in a search for sugar. Luckily it went untouched before the guests left. So, Sunday night, the treat was mine alone.
First off, let's say that it is this reviewer's humble opinion that there has likely never been a more dramatic ice cream innovation since the launch of the original cookies and cream flavor. And, as ice cream geniuses have built on that foundation, it is again my humble opinion that Ben & Jerry's Oatmeal Cookie Chunk is nearly the nirvana of churned, frozen cream.... So, let's just leave it that the bar is set pretty high. On first taste... good.... a bit better than good most likely... it is primarily a chocolate chip cookie that is in the ice cream, but with kind of a slurry or gobs of an oreo-ish mixture as well. On subsequent visits to the pint, it got better, but doesn't quite match the high of a very good cookies and cream (and, hey, even the generic brands are good) nor the symphony of flavors that make up Oatmeal Cookie Chunk. But, it's a solid flavor, though I'm not sure it clears any new territory to truly be made a permanent flavor.
The verdict - 3.5 belly rubs (out of 5).
Thought - you know what I've long thought would be a great flavor? Nutter Butter Swirl. I mean, since we all know that peanut butter and chocolate are two great tastes that taste great together, shouldn't Nabisco cross-promote Nutter Butters into an ice cream? But, you just have to get some chocolate in their somehow... maybe they've done this long ago and I just missed it, but... come on, that's a grub-tastic item right there!
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
I'll start posting soon and mix in some old favorites with some new experiences.