Whiskey Business, Indianapolis (Oaklandon)

Whiskey Outside

 

Whiskey Business is a sports bar on the East side of Indianapolis, in the community of Oaklandon.  We’ve driven by this place a number of times, on our way to shows at Ten West Center for the Arts in Fortville, but had never stopped in.  A friend said he had had a particularly good tenderloin here, so we decided to give it a try this Wednesday evening.

Whiskey Business certainly IS a sports bar!  There seem to be televisions EVERYWHERE!  For a person with ADD (like me) it’s either heaven or a nightmare.🙂  There’s a LOT to see.

They have a number of local beers available, and in a nice twist, many of their beer battered items are made with Sun King beer, made right here in Indianapolis.  I love a place that strives to use local products, that’s a big point in their favor.

They have quite an extensive appetizer and entrée menu, and there are some surprises, too.  The term gastropub is overused today, and I’m thankful that they don’t’ use it in their advertising (that I’ve seen), but they certainly fit that description.

Whiskey Loin

Of course, I wanted the hand breaded tenderloin.  I’m never quite sure what to expect when a tenderloin is advertised as hand breaded, as I’ve got a few that certainly were a perfectly round, processed fritter, but this was not the case with this one.  The breading was crisp and absolutely perfectly seasoned.  The meat was moist, tender, and flavorful.  Add to that a perfectly toasted, buttered bun, and condiments just as I requested, this was one of the best tenderloins I’ve had in quite some time.    As a matter of fact, I’m going to say it’s one of the best in Indy.  It’s a 5 out of 5 bites, no doubt in my mind.

For my side, I ordered fries for an upcharge, and was given the choice of hand cut fries or waffle fries.  I chose the hand cut fries, and they didn’t not disappoint.  Outstanding.

There were some service issues with our meal.  There was an extensive wait for our food.  Some folks ordered the same time we did, and had received their meals and finished them before we got ours.  In addition, for her dinner, Holly ordered grilled fish tacos, and got breaded fish tacos instead.  We were on a pretty tight schedule that night, so we didn’t really have time for her to return the meal for a redo, so she ate what she was given…and she reports them to be fantastic!  They are made with grouper, and served in flour tortillas with lettuce, tomato, and sour cream. In addition, you get spicy refried beans, seasoned rice, and an avocado salad.  A whole lot of food for the $9.95 that you pay – and easily enough to make two, or even three meals out of it!

The mark of a good restaurant is when they realize they made a mistake and correct it.  Our waitress (whose name I neglected to get) without us even asking told us she was so sorry for the delay in getting our meals, and made sure to set it right with us.  I’d say she went WAY above and beyond in customer service.  THAT, my friends, is the mark of a business that cares about their customers and wants them to come back.  That act earned our repeat business.


Whiskey Business is located at 11915 Pendleton Pike in Indianapolis.  You can find them online at:  http://www.whiskeybiz.com/  and they also have a Facebook page.

33 Brick Street, French Lick, Indiana

We were down in Southern Indiana, where I was speaking to an Optimist Club gathering, and took advantage of being down there to visit our dear friends in the area, Matt and Wendi.

I was looking for a tenderloin in the area, and Matt is also a fan of tenderloins, so off we went to the town of French Lick.

I’d not been to French Lick in 25 years, possibly more. My memories of French Lick were that it was a dying town. I remember it being rather run down, and there just wasn’t much going on down there.

All that has changed now. A new casino/resort has brought lots of tourists to town, and the West Baden Resort has been remodeled and re­opened, and it is spectacular! Add to that The French Lick Railway, it’s become quite the southern Indiana destination.

Downtown French Lick was hopping on this Saturday night! A mix of bars, restaurants, and small shops, it’s retained its historical feel and is a very fun place to wander around. I certainly see us visiting again soon and spending more time there.

outside-of-restaurant

For our dinner, we visited 33 Brick Street in downtown French Lick. 33 Brick Street is part pub, part family friendly restaurant. It’s nicely decorated with local photos, some Larry Bird items, and more. The decor is pleasantly busy without being overwhelming.

Brick Street Loin

Of course, I was there to try the tenderloin. This was an interesting sandwich. As is my custom, I cut a little corner off to try it without the bun or dressings, and my wife and I both agreed that the breading was quite tasty, but the meat was also very dry. Interestingly enough, this only affected part of the sandwich. The rest of it was nice and moist. The breading was REALLY tasty, nicely seasoned and crispy throughout the life of the sandwich. The sandwich was dressed as I requested. In an interesting twist, it’s served on a Kaiser bun. I wasn’t sure how I’d like that, but it really added a lot to the overall texture and taste of the sandwich.

I’m a little torn on how to rate this sandwich, because the section that was dry certainly detracts from the score. I’m going to give it a 3.5 out of 5 bites. It’s above average, and I’d try it again.

For her dinner, Holly chose the grilled fish tacos with a side of coleslaw. Holly reports the coleslaw to be outstanding – finely chopped cabbage and a wonderful dressing – not too creamy…just right! The tacos were okay, but not a lot of flavor to them. They were served with chopped lettuce and tomato – typical taco toppings, but with a little thought and creativity, and maybe a special sauce or Pico de Gallo of some kind, these tacos could easily be transported from the mundane to the magnificent.

33 Brick Street is located at 33 Brick Street in French Lick, Indiana. You can find them online at www.33brickstreet.com and they’re also on twitter and Facebook.

Guest Review: Hop Cat, Indianapolis (Broad Ripple)

We’ve got a guest review today by my pal and fellow comedian Lyndsay Curran.  You can read more about Lyndsay at the bottom of the review.

HopCat

Hop Cat is a restaurant chain that started in Grand Rapids, MI in 2008 and Their fun, lively atmosphere, and interesting food, and great selection of beer,  has enticed locals and  tourists   alike.

There are 12 Hop Cat’s in the MidWest area and Indianapolis is lucky to have one.

Hop Cat Broad Ripple was the first of its kind outside of Michigan and  has been in Indianapolis since  August of 2014; and  brought with it 131 of the best local, national, and international beers to the burgeoning Indy Craft Beer scene.  Broad Ripple has no lack of diverse bars and eateries, but it’s safe to say that Hop Cat has been a staple on the corner of Broad Ripple Avenue and College Avenue since opening.

 

I have lived in the Broad Ripple area for several years and have frequented Hop Cat on a number of occasions for beer and their famous “Crack Fries”­  and let me tell you they have never disappointed. However, I have never taken the time to delve into their menu beyond those fries..I mean really, what is better than fries?!?  Another bonus, they do allow children with a parent until 10pm but no kiddos after that.  Since I have a two year old, I appreciate the semi-family friendly vibe, and anytime I take Wyatt with me, he is treated with the same respect as the adult patrons.

Once you enter Hop Cat you quickly recognize that you are not in a typical bar.  The place is enormous with a hipster vibe and velvet paintings of Rock idols on the walls.  On a Tuesday night it was packed, loud, and full of young patrons waiting for the Vogue to open.  In other words, just my kind of place.  You have to understand that I LOVE bars of all types do to the intense amount of people watching.  Hop Cat does not disappoint.

 

 

 

Now onto the good stuff!  Our waiter was kind, attentive, and had an extensive knowledge of the beer list. After choosing our drinks, we settled on Vladimir Poutine “Crack Fries”.

 These are not your typical fries. Not only are they well seasoned and cooked to perfection,  They were covered in Wisconsin Cheese Curds, stout carmelized onions, bacon, spicy sausage grave, and, wait for it…..potato and cheese pierogies.  Yes, that just happened!  If you are drinking or hungover, these fries are your cure.  There is no need for ketchup with these beauties, but it’s an option if you must.

Since my fabulous date and I indulged in beer and fries we decided to share the “I Am the Pork Sandwich Who Knocks.”  The menu identifies the sandwich as a beer battered and pretzel encrusted pork tenderloin topped with topped with Swiss cheese, sesame citrus slaw,  lettuce, tomato, and haystack onions.  Served on a jumbo toasted English muffin and topped with a pickle spear.  It comes with…you guessed it, more crack fries.  (I could NOT have been happier.

HopCat Loin

The waiter asked for our tenderloin to be split in half and we each were given our own basket. This is customer service at it’s finest­ no awkward cutting of the sandwich at the table or discrepancy on portion size of those fabulous fries.  The sandwich was visually appealing;  the colors of the condiments really added appeal and freshness to the plate. The bun was a perfectly toasted English muffin,  the softness of the muffin with it’s  crispy edges really added a nice twist to the typical bun.  The breading had a nice crunch, was well seasoned with the beer pretzels, and the perfect amount of salt.  The pretzel breading was an enjoyable break from the traditional.

 The meat was thick and had a nice flavor, but was, unfortunately, slightly dry.

The description of the included toppings made my mouth water, but did not deliver in   reality. The swiss cheese was barely noticeable­–who wants to waste calories on something they can’t even taste?  The slaw was uneventful.  I was hoping for a great vinegar/citrus punch, but that never happened.  The haystack onions were unnecessary.  There was no need for the crunch of the crispy onions, as the tenderloin itself was cripsy and they didn’t add much flavor.

I give this a 2.5 yums on a scale of 5.  I liked it, but would pass it up for their mac and cheese and a side of crack fries.

The service was fantastic! I would like to give a WOO HOO to our waiter, he was quick, knowledgeable, and ensured our needs were met.  While I may not indulge in another  “I An the Pork Sandwich Who Knocks”, Hop Cat is clearly here to stay and I look forward to trying other menu items while getting my fill of fantastic beers and their WONDERFUL crack fries.

 

About Lyndsay:  

Lyndsay Curran is a single mother of one beautiful 2 year old living and eating her way through Indianapolis.  She spends her days educating future nurses at Marian University and her nights trying to wrangle a wild toddler.  Some nights you can find her roaming the Indy comedy scene as an amateur comedienne.  Being a lifelong Hoosier her love of tenderloins is deep and real. Please check out Lyndsay’s blog at http://www.wyattpatricksmom.wordpress.com  or you can follow her on twitter, @LyndsayH1

 

 

 

Merk’s Restaurant, Muncie, Indiana

Merk’s family dining is located at the Muncie airport, and is a relatively new addition to the area.

The Muncie airport has been home to a number of restaurants. Many years ago, there was one called the Kitty Hawk, and later, Vince’s Gallery. Both of these restaurants were fairly upscale dining, and seemed to have long, full runs at the airport.

The changing economic climate in Muncie has made the restaurant business tough. If you drive up and down McGalliard Road, the main East/West thoroughfare on the north side, you’ll find chain restaurant after chain restaurant, from fast food joints to places like Red Lobster, Chili’s, and more. These always seem to thrive for some reason, while smaller Mom and Pop places struggle to survive. That’s a subject better left for a separate blog post.

We’d heard about Merk’s, and because we were in town to play some music at Minnetrista,  decided to make this our lunch stop.

Merks

The decor is an interesting mix of 70’s and 80’s colors, and there seems to be a lot of neon. I wouldn’t call it “gaudy”, but they’ve certainly done well to establish their own identity in a building that was occupied by other restaurants, which is no easy task.

In reading previous reviews of the restaurant, it seems there have been some ongoing service issues here, and our visit was no different. We arrived a bit before noon, and two other couples were in line waiting to be seated ahead of us. We were all gathered in a somewhat cramped waiting area, and we waited…and waited, and waited some more. I was just about to suggest to Holly we go try somewhere else, when a young lady stuck her head around the corner and said “I’ll be right with you” and in a few minutes came and started seating us.

Honestly, I had expected the restaurant to be packed, because of the extended wait for a seat, but it wasn’t……there were only a few tables dining. It was an interesting moment in our visit.

Our first server (I’m not really sure who our server was, we had 3 different folks come and deliver food, take order, etc.) brought our menus and a drink. We perused the menu, and it appears that breakfast is king here. There are also a lot of sandwich options on the menu, a couple of steaks, and reviews I have read absolutely rave about their pizza.

I, of course, wanted to try the tenderloin. I asked the server if they hand bread their tenderloins, and she replied that they don’t do it in house ­ someone else does it. I asked it if it was a real tenderloin or a fritter, and she didn’t know, but to her credit, she asked, and I was told it was a real tenderloin, so I decided to give it a try.

Merks Loin

On the menu, it’s advertised as a “giant” tenderloin. I’m always suspect of that, because sometimes bigger isn’t always better. But, this isn’t really a giant tenderloin, it appears average sized, or maybe even a little smaller. It hangs off the bun, but not too much.

So, how was the taste?

It actually was better than I expected for a pre­made tenderloin. The breading was nice and crunchy and stayed that way throughout the life of the sandwich. It was indeed a real piece of meat, not a fritter, and the meat was tasty and moist. The breading was nicely seasoned, but just a touch salty. If a sandwich is too salt for me, its likely WAY too salty for everyone else, because I REALLY like salt.

I’m a little torn on how to rate this sandwich, but in the end I’m going to give it 3 out of 5 bites, it’s not bad. An added bonus is that the sandwich was served dressed as I requested, and the bun wan nicely toasted.

Unfortunately, the service issues continued throughout our meal. I ordered the fries with the sandwich for an upcharge, but got chips instead. In their defense, they didn’t charge me for the fries.

For her lunch, Holly chose the pulled pork platter – which included a sandwich, coleslaw and fries. She ordered this particular sandwich assuming that it would be meat and sauce mixed together. The menu didn’t really specify either way. It came out as a plain meat sandwich with a generous spoonful of sauce on top. Holly’s personal preference is that if the meat and sauce are presented separately, they should be served that way. It gives the diner the opportunity to taste the meat first and decide how much sauce, if any, is desired. That being said, enough of the meat didn’t have sauce so that she could taste it. The meat was moist, but not very flavorful. The sauce was a bit on the sweet side, and pretty bland. Offering an optional hot or mustard based sauce would be a welcomed addition. The platter of coleslaw and fries were very good.

The end of our meal was an interesting experience. A server brought our check, and we told her we’d like to have some dessert. I’m not sure she was expecting that, because it seemed she wanted to clear the table…maybe it was time for her to leave, or something, but it didn’t quite set well with me. I ordered sugar cream pie, Holly, ordered peach pie. Both were average.

After finishing our pie, there was an extended wait to try to get our check, and we finally had to flag another server down to get it.

That all said, I hope Merk’s will pay attention to the multiple reviews from customers pointing out service issues. With decent service, and good, solid, Midwestern food, I can see them doing quite well in Muncie.

Merk’s is located at the Muncie airport, North Walnut Street and Riggin Road in Muncie. Their website is http://www.merksfamilydining.com/

Lord Ashley’s Pub and Eatery, Indianapolis

lord-ashley-s

Lord Ashley’s Pub and Eatery, located on the East side of Indianapolis at Pendleton Pike and Oaklandon Road, is a family friendly, non­ smoking pub. This is my favorite type of pub, and it’s always a treat for me to see families eating and laughing together in an atmosphere like this.

Located in an unassuming strip mall, it’s nicely appointed with a lot of dark wood on the inside. There are a LOT of TV’s playing mostly sports and news stations, but the sound is turned down low so one doesn’t have an issue carrying on a conversation in a normal speaking voice, another big plus.

We arrived shortly before 5PM on a Friday night, on our way to a show in nearby Fortville, Indiana. Although it was the dinner hour, and they were pretty busy, service was prompt and friendly.

The menu has a LOT of choices on it, from salads to steak to sandwiches and more. I’d been told my buddy Dick Davis that they had a pretty good tenderloin here, so I already had my mind made up.

I had a rather interesting interaction with our waitress. I asked “How is your breaded tenderloin” and she responded “It’s big!!!”. We had a nice conversation about how I really didn’t care if it was big or not, I was more concerned with whether it was good or not. That’s one of my pet peeves…restaurants bragging about portion size, rather than the quality of their food.

Ashleys Loin

That said, when she brought it out my first thought was “This looks good!” Even though it’s pounded out thinner than I normally prefer, for this particular sandwich, it works well. The breading is really good….nice and crispy with just the right amount of seasoning. The meat itself, not QUITE as moist as some I’ve had recently….maybe because of the thinness it was pounded to, but, still, it was VERY tasty.

The sandwich was served dressed as I requested, and the bun was nicely toasted. I’m going to give Lord Ashley’s breaded tenderloin a 4 out of 5 bites…well above average and certainly worth getting. It is served with a side of homemade chips, and, let me tell you, they were FANTASTIC. Although you can get fries or rings for an upcharge, I highly recommend these chips.

For her dinner, Holly chose the tempura batter breaded fish sandwich. The portion size was enormous, and could easily have been divided into two small sandwiches. The fish was light and flaky. She chose the homemade chips for her side as well, and really enjoyed them.

Lord Ashley’s is located at Pendleton Pike and Oaklandon Road in Indy. You can find them online at: http://www.lordashleyseatery.com/

The Lemon Drop, Anderson, Indiana

Lemon Drop Outside

 

There are places that try to be retro and take you back to the 50’s, and you end up getting overpriced frozen burgers and fries, and leave feeling empty and hollow inside.

Then there are places that really DO take you back to the 50’s, you get a good meal for a good price, and you leave feeling satisfied and happy.  The Lemon Drop is one of those places.

It’s been a gathering place in Anderson, Indiana since 1954, and who knows how many thousands of regular people, and more than a few celebrities have passed through the doors since then, even though it only seats 27 people.  That’s right, folks, the seating capacity is 27.

You’ll not find any gourmet food here, and the menu is pretty limited.  Burgers, fries, onion rings, tenderloins, chili, and that’s about it.  But it’s good, and, at least to me, the atmosphere is amazing.

Their flagship burger is the Onionburger, and, until this day, that is all I’d ever had there.  If you like burgers, you can’t go wrong with an Onionburger.

But, I had it on a good authority that The Lemon Drop serves a pretty darn good tenderloin, so I decided to give it a try.

Lemon Drop Loin

This is no “hang over the bun” sandwich.  Instead, it fits neatly into the bun. It’s thinner than I prefer, but it works for me.  The breading is nice and crunchy and the meat is tender, moist, and tasty.  The bun is nicely toasted, and the condiments were plentiful.  And, the price is right…this sandwich was roughly $4.39.  A bargain in my book!  While it’s not the best tenderloin I’ve ever had, it’s certainly above average.  I’m going to give it 4 out of 5 bites.

For her lunch, Holly ordered a toasted cheeseburger, which is one of their signature patties with cheese, served on toasted bread, dressed as you like – which for Holly, included lettuce and tomato.  Before serving it, they cut it in half first…just like Mom used to do.  And the taste reminded her of home, too – which is a good thing.  It was a simple, juicy burger that was just the right size for lunch.

I want to make a couple of special notes.  First – the service.  Being inexpensive is no bargain if the service is shoddy.  Service here is top notch.  We were greeted promptly, our order was taken in just a minute or two, and our food was prepared and served very shortly after that.

Secondly – the price.  My wife and I had two sandwiches, two sides (fries for her, onion rings for me which were fantastic) and 2 drinks all for just a hair over 15 bucks.  Combined with the service and the quality of the food, there’s no question in my mind why The Lemon Drop stays so busy.  I HIGHLY recommend a visit here, if you’ve not been already.

The Lemon Drop is located at 1701 Mounds Road in Anderson, Indiana.  I was unable to find a web site for them, but they do have a Facebook page.

Syd’s, Noblesville, Indiana

SYd's Sign

Although most locals just call it “Syd’s”, the true name is “Syd’s Fine Food and Spirits”.

Sitting on the courthouse square in Noblesville, Indiana, Syd’s is part bar, part restaurant, and full of history.  The front is a typical small town/neighborhood bar, complete with shuffleboard, lots of neon, and televisions turned to sports, and the back room is a family dining area.

I’d been to Syd’s (and reviewed it) a number of years ago, but I’d heard the ownership is different now, so we decided to give them a try on one of the rare occasions we actually go out for lunch.

The menu is pretty typical pub fare…burgers, pizza, a steak or two, nachos, and a surprise or two thrown in.  They also have a “light” menu section, which seems to be half sandwich and soup or salad combinations.

Of course, I was there to try their hand breaded tenderloin.  As you can tell, this tenderloin is pounded out quite large, which means very thin.  Those of you who are regular readers know that this isn’t my preference of tenderloin.  I prefer a thicker, less pounded out piece of meat.

Syd's loin

In addition to being pounded out very thin, I could hardly detect any seasoning at all. The meat (and seasoning) wasn’t BAD, mind you, it was just bland.  The texture was fine (or, as fine as could be with it so thin), but the taste just wasn’t there.

There were hits and misses with this sandwich.  Hits:  Hand breaded, fresh, toasted bun, dressed as requested.  Misses:  Bland and far too thin.  Overall, I’m going to give it a 3.  Again, it’s not had….it just doesn’t rise above average in score…especially at 9 bucks and a little change for the sandwich and a side.

For her lunch, Holly had one of the light options – a half turkey sandwich and side salad.  She said the turkey was moist and tender, as well as smoked, which was a nice surprise.  The side salad was very basic.  They have several light dressing options.

Syd’s is located on the Courthouse Square in Noblesville, Indiana.  You can find them online at www.sydsfinefood.com