Smee’s Place, Indianapolis

 

Smees

Smee’s Place is a pub/restaurant at 86th and Ditch in Indy that I’d heard about, but not visited.  

It’s located in a strip mall that isn’t real visible from 86th street, so it’s not a place one is likely to stumble upon…I suspect the vast majority of their business comes from word of mouth, as opposed to folks seeing it and dropping in.

We were meeting our friend Richard for supper to talk about an upcoming project, and he was actually the one who suggested it, otherwise, I’m not sure we would’ve stopped there.  It’s in a part of town we don’t frequent much (even though it’s pretty close to home).

I really liked the vibe from the minute I stepped in the door.  Lots and lots of woodwork, nice lighting level, and even though it got crowded as the evening went on, the noise level was perfect for carrying on a conversation without feeling like I was straining to hear.

The menu is what I would call “upscale pub”…many of their sandwiches and dishes have a bit of a twist to them.   On their website, they proclaim “Fresh food and a friendly atmosphere” and that is spot on.  From the hostess to the server, everyone was friendly and professional.

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I chose the hand breaded tenderloin.  It’s served on a brioche bun, and although I’m not a huge fan of “fancy” buns, I’ll say this one was really good and complimented the sandwich perfectly.

From the first bite, I was impressed with this sandwich.  The meat was nice and tender, and the breading was, again, the perfect complement to the meat.  Nice and crisp, it was appropriately seasoned, and didn’t overwhelm the taste of the meat.

In addition, I really liked the size of this sandwich.  It was enough for a hearty meal, but not so huge as to be overwhelming.  I’m giving this sandwich a 5 out of 5 bites, no question about it.  The price is right, also – $8.95 with a side of fries.

For her dinner, Holly chose the fish tacos.  They are served with a generous serving of Basa, shredded lettuce, and diced tomato.  The fish is grilled, not fried – which is exactly what she wanted.  Fish tacos are often Holly’s “go-to” dish on any menu and for the price of $14.95, she was anticipating the best fish tacos she’d ever tasted.  She reports them to be good, and filling – but not stellar.  When we go back to Smee’s, she will definitely try something else on the menu.  That being said, she HIGHLY RECOMMENDS the lemon rum cake!

Smee’s Place is located at 86th and Ditch.  You can find them online at www.smeesplace.com

Montana Mike’s, Greenfield Indiana

Mike's

Montana Mike’s is a “Montana inspired steakhouse born in Oklahoma”.  I’ve actually been to Montana a couple of times, and the decor certainly fits that bill!  Lots of taxidermy on the walls, hunting and fishing art, dark wood, it certainly does remind me of a remote, mountain lodge.

Montana Mike’s is part of the Stockade chain of restaurants, which included Sirloin Stockade  (Muncie folks might remember that place), Coyote Canyon, and a number of other steak type restaurants.

We were meeting some geocaching friends….Jay, Judie, Janie, and Maria for dinner, and they all live on the East side, and I’d heard that Montana MIke’s has a good tenderloin, so I decided to give it a try.

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The menu advertises it as homemade, and it certainly appears to be.  It’s  a large sandwich, seemingly hand pounded and breaded.  It’s pounded out a little thinner than I prefer, but not paper thin, there’s still some “heft” left to the meat.  The breading is nicely seasoned, and has a bit of a pepper kick to it.  I like that peppery taste, but it might be a little strong to some folks who prefer a bit of a milder breading.

The meat itself was tender and flavorful, although I thought just a tad on the dry side.  The breading, as mentioned, had a nice kick to it, but for some reason it tended to get just a bit soggy towards the end of the sandwich.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a BAD sandwich, there just was nothing to really set it apart from the rest of the pack.  I’m going to give it a 3 out of 5 bites…it really IS a tenderloin, not a fritter, but I’m going to call it just average.  While I would go back to Montana Mike’s without question, I’d get a steak next time.  I do want to give a shout out to our server, she did a great job serving our group in a timely, friendly manner, while allowing us to linger and visit.  She was much appreciated!

For her dinner, Holly had the pork brisket tacos.  She says they were flavorful, but the cut of meat did not seem to be like any brisket she had seen.  It wasn’t sliced or chopped, as a typical brisket might be, but the meat was cut into large cubes, and it was awkward to eat in the smallish corn tortillas.

You can find Montana Mike’s online at www.montanamikes.com

Artists Colony Inn and Restaurant, Nashville, Indiana

Nashville, Indiana, bills itself as an artist colony, and that’s pretty darn accurate.  The town is filled with unique and interesting shops with artists such as glassblowers, painters, luthiers, and more.  It’s a fun place to spend a day, and its proximity to Brown County State Park add to the reasons to get down there, especially for folks who enjoy hiking, camping, and mountain biking.

In addition to the artists’ shops, there are a number of souvenir type shops, as well as a number of eateries in town, as well as a winery or two and a microbrewery.  It does seem there’s something for everyone one.

We were in town for an Optimist Club conference, and to do a concert that night, and we chose the Artists Colony Inn & Restaurant for our dinner before the show, with our dear friends Dean and Debbie Phelps and Cheri Herron.

Artist Colony

The Artists Colony Inn & Restaurant is a restaurant, inn for overnight stays, and apparently a conference/meeting space, which I was unaware of.  It’s got a very large dining room, that’s got a nice, homey feel to it.  Lots of wood work, and with a lot of windows looking out over the streets of Nashville, it’s a comfortable place to have a good meal.

The menu is pretty varied…sandwiches, a steak or two, salads, and more.  I’m not sure I’d call it an upscale menu, but it’s certainly not fast food, either.  

Of course, when I saw they had a hand breaded, Indiana tenderloin, breaded on site, I knew that was what I wanted.

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The sandwich is served on a Kaiser roll, which makes for a great texture in the sandwich.  The breading is crisp and flavorful, although I thought it could have stood a little more seasoning.  The meat itself was tender and moist and had a great flavor.  With a little more seasoning, I’d certainly give it a 5/5 bites, but as it stands, I’ll give it a 4/5.  A very good sandwich, and I’d certainly not hesitate to order it again.  For my side, I chose fries, which were good, but fell short of outstanding.

For her dinner, Holly chose the classic grilled cheese and tomato soup combo…and she is glad she did!  The tomato soup is home-style, with bits of tomato – and a wonderful tangy flavor.  The grilled cheese sandwich was made with grilled bread and American cheese slices – just like Mom used to make.


The Artists Colony Inn & Restaurant is located at 105 South Van Buren Street in Nashville, Indiana.  You can find them online at www.artistscolonyinn.com

Ray’s Drive In, Kokomo, Indiana

Rays outside

 

Ray’s Drive In, in Kokomo, is one of those places I’ve heard about for quite some time, but when we were in Kokomo it wasn’t mealtime, so we’d not had the chance to visit.

Friday we had the opportunity to go up to Kokomo for lunch, so we called our friend Doug Arnold up there, and asked him if he’d like to meet us, and luckily, his schedule allowed it!

Ray’s is located in a mixed industrial/commercial area of Kokomo, off of the beaten path.  It’s one of those places that you likely won’t just stumble upon (unless you’re lost!).  You will have to seek it out.

It’s an old, 50’s style drive in, but it also has an inside dining room which has obviously been added on much later.  They have curb service, but I’m not much of a fan of eating in the car…I spend enough time in the car as it is.  So when I have a chance I want to get out and stretch my legs, I like to take advantage of it!  We chose do dine inside.  The dining room is small, but comfortable with some pictures of the history of Ray’s on the walls.

They menu is a mix of traditional diner food (sandwiches, fries, etc.) and comfort food.  On the menu, there are 3 tenderloins listed…the king tenderloin, a tenderloin, and a mini tenderloin.  I asked our friendly waitress what the difference was, and she explained that the tenderloin and the mini tenderloin are fritters, but the King Tenderloin is hand made in house.  So, of course, I chose the King Tenderloin.

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The sign outside proclaims Ray’s as “Home of Indiana’s Largest Tenderloin” and if it’s not, I’ll be surprised.  This is one big sandwich.  It’s appears to be hand pounded and breaded, given the uneven shape, and the meat itself was a bit thicker in some places than in others.  The meat itself was tasty and moist, and I LOVED the texture of the breading.  The flavor of the breading was good, but in my opinion fell a bit short of outstanding.  For my personal taste, I think a bit more seasoning is in order.

And, although this sandwich is thinner than I prefer, I still like it a lot and I wouldn’t hesitate to order it again…although I’ll share it with someone the next time I order it.   I’ll give it a 4 out of 5.  Had it been a little thicker and seasoned a bit more, I’d give it a 5 out of 5, no doubt.

For her lunch, Holly had a half order of chicken and noodles.  The lunch platter comes with mashed potatoes and gravy, an additional side, and a choice of bread.  This classic comfort food lunch was very basic and filling.

Ray’s Drive In is located at 1900 N Courtland Avenue, Kokomo, Indiana.  I was unable to locate a website or Facebook page for them.

Slippery Noodle, Indianapolis

slipnoodle

The Slippery Noodle Inn (usually called just “The Noodle” by locals) proclaims itself Indiana’s Oldest Bar, established in 1850, and has live blues 7 nights a week. Friday and Saturday nights they feature two bands on two separate stages, so it’s all about the blues here!
We’d been here a few times to hear (or play) music, but it’s usually been late at night so we usually only got drinks or appetizers instead of a meal. This particular night, though, the Cosmic Preachers were playing a set, and Holly and I opted to come early and have dinner.
A good way (for me, anyway) to judge whether a place has a decent tenderloin is to check the menu and see if they order it grilled AND breaded, as opposed to just breaded. I’ve found places that do both typically serve a real breaded tenderloin, as opposed to a fritter passed off as a tenderloin.
The menu offers both, so I took a shot.

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This is a big sandwich! And, it’s not a fritter, it’s a real piece of meat. The meat was nice and tender, and the breading was crispy and I liked the texture of the breading quite a lot. The meat was flavorful and seemed fresh, and the breading was tasty, but I do think it could have stood just a bit more seasoning, at least to my taste. The bun was nicely toasted, and the sandwich was served dressed as I requested. All in all, though, it’s a very good sandwich and I’ll give it a 4 out of 5 bites, well above average and I wouldn’t hesitate to order it again. It sells for 9.95, with homemade chips, or you can get fries or another side for a slight upcharge.
For her dinner, Holly chose the black and bleu salad. The menu describes it as a very basic, plain salad, but it comes out with several extras (like a sliced hard-boiled egg and onions) that she didn’t actually want. In addition, the steak has some kind of sweet, barbecue type sauce on it. This was definitely not anticipated, and she did not read anything about this on the menu. Had it been stated in the item description, she would have ordered something else entirely.

The Slippery Noodle Inn is located at 327 S Meridian in Indianapolis. You can find them online at http://www.slippernoodle.com

Manley’s Irish Mutt,  Indianapolis 


Manley’s Irish Mutt is an institution on the East side of Indianapolis.  Located near 10th and Shadeland, in what appears to be a largely mixed industrial/retail area, they do a thriving blue collar business.

I have a special affinity for neighborhood bars, and it’s an added bonus if they are a little bit on the divey side.  Manley’s certainly fits this bill, so I felt right at home the minute I walked through the door.

We were meeting a group of Geocaching friends for dinner (Hi, Judie, Janie, and Jay!!) and this was a convenient place for us to meet, plus I’d been told they have a very good tenderloin.

This is a pretty large bar, essentially one huge room.  There’s a stage, and some TV sets but not enough to be distracting.  We were dining early (4:30PM) so we had no problem getting a table for 5, but by the time we left, the place was hopping!

It’s pretty standard bar fare on the menu.  Pizza, burgers, tenderloin, a Rueben, and such.  Of course, I was there to try the breaded tenderloin (as did 2 others in our party.)

Served on a nicely toasted bun, the sandwich was served dressed as I requested.  The breading is nicely seasoned, with nothing overwhelming the flavor of the meat.  They’re hand breaded in house, and the meat is, for me, the perfect thickness…not too thick, not to thin.  Both texture and taste were spot on.  This is a 5 out of 5 bites for me, really, really good.  Both Jay and I agreed that we liked the fact that while it’s a hearty sandwich, it’s not hubcap sized.  Bigger is not always better.  Well done, Manley’s.

For my side, I chose tater tots, and they were quite good indeed.  I believe they’ll be my side of choice when I return.

For her dinner, Holly chose a classic cheeseburger and tater tots.  She requested her burger medium, and it came out a little more on the well done side, but it was still fresh and juicy – dressed as requested.

Manley’s Irish Mutt is located at 7041 E 10th street in Indianapolis.  I was unable to locate a working website for them, but they do have a Facebook page.

Stookey’s Restaurant, Thorntown, Indiana

stookeys1Stookey’s Restaurant, in Thorntown, Indiana, was founded in 1975 by George “Aaron” Stookey.  According to their website, his two goals were to offer the best meal possible with the best service possible.

Based on our recent visit, they’re certainly hit the mark…and then some!

We were meeting some friends who live just outside of Thorntown for dinner, and Stookey’s had been recommended to me by several folks, so it was only natural that I take advantage of the opportunity.

Located in downtown Thorntown, Stookey’s is huge, and it was hopping on this Saturday night!  Consisting of several large rooms, and some banquet rooms, this is a huge building.  It’s nicely decorated and has a nice, homey feel to it.  Our friends had a table waiting for us, and as soon as we sat down, our waitress was there with menus and to take our drink order.  Although I neglected to get our server’s name, I must say she was a joy.  Friendly and personable, it appeared she enjoyed her job and it shown through in the way she made everyone feel welcome.  True small town hospitality.

The menu is pretty large, with just steaks, sandwiches, and more.  It appears their most popular item might be Catfish, but I saw several folks order steaks, also.

Of course, I wanted to try their tenderloin.  The waitress informed me they hand cut, pound, and bread them on site, and I was sold.

Stookeys loin

I’ll cut right to the chase.  This is an OUTSTANDING sandwich.  The meat is nice and tender, the breading is well seasoned with complimenting, rather than overwhelming the flavor of the meat.  Fried perfectly, it was the perfect combination of textures and flavors.  The sandwich was served as I requested.  5 out of 5 bites, no question at all.  Stookey’s breaded tenderloin sells for 8.95 with chips, fries will set you back an extra buck.  They were very good, but fell short of what I would call stellar.

For her dinner, Holly chose fried clam strips, and vinegar slaw for her side.  She enjoyed the clam strips very much, and describes the vinegar slaw as fantastic!

Our friends had ordered a basket of onion rings as an appetizer, and I gotta say those were some of the best onion rings I’ve EVER had.  Light, crispy, and flavorful, I highly recommend them.  Stookey’s is located at 125 E Main Street in Thorntown, Indiana.  You can find them online at www.stookeys.com  and they also have a Facebook page.