Drake’s, Indianapolis

drakes

Drakes is a bar/lounge/restaurant on the north side of Indianapolis, in the Keystone at the Crossing area.

It’s a fairly upscale place, located in a strip mall that’s a mix of other restaurants and retail stores.  They actually have a dress code after a certain time. (9PM if I recall correctly)

We’d been on the road pretty much all day, playing 2 gigs in 2 separate towns, and were tired and hungry, and were looking for a place to relax and have dinner before heading home.

Perusing their menu, the have quite a few sushi choices on their menu (Which we didn’t recall from our first visit there), traditional pub fare, and a few surprises.

I mentioned to our waitress that I was disappointed there wasn’t a breaded tenderloin on the menu, and she told me it was on their special Oktoberfest menu and got that menu for me.

Being Oktoberfest, this is a German influenced tenderloin…and not quite traditional.  The menu description says “Fresh, never frozen pork, hand breaded and golden fried, on a toasted pretzel roll with caramelized onions, iceberg slaw, parmesan-garlic mayo and pickle chips”.

Regular readers will know that I’m a traditionalist…I like traditional, Indiana tenderloins without a lot of fancy fixings, but…this looked intriguing, so I decided to give it a try.

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The breading is quite good…and quite peppery.  Personally, I liked that a lot.  I believe the abundance of pepper is part of the German influence.  In SE Indiana, every tenderloin I’ve had in a German restaurant has been very peppery.  If you’re a fan of pepper, you’ll likely like It, too.  If pepper is not your thing…you might want to pass on this one.  The caramelized onions were a nice twist on traditional onion slices.  The iceberg slaw and parmesan-garlic mayo gave yet another layer of texture and flavor.

Since this is a non-traditional sandwich, I’m not going to rate it on my standard 1-5 scale.  Instead, I’m going to say it was very good.  Would I order it again?  If I were looking for something a little different, absolutely, I would.  I wouldn’t want one every day, still…it was a really nice change of pace.  If you’re a bit more adventurous about your tenderloins, I believe you’ll be quite happy, indeed, with this sandwich.

This sandwich is priced at 13.00 and that includes your choice of sides.  I chose the house made, crinkle cut fries and they were simply outstanding.

For her dinner, Holly chose the Sushi of the Month special, which was a Spicy Tuna Poke Bowl.  Having never tried this before, neither one of us knew much about it.  But after a little bit of research and information from our waitress, Holly thought she would give it a try…and boy, was she glad she did!  A poke (pronounced PO-kay) bowl can be accurately described as deconstructed sushi.  Take all the components of your favorite sushi roll, unwrap it, put it in a bowl, and you’ve got poke.  This particular offering had fresh (flown in the same day) yellowfin tuna tossed with citrus ponzu sauce, sushi rice, pickled radish and carrot, avocado, wasabi mayo, Sriracha, fresh jalapeno, wakame and toasted macadamia nuts. It was incredibly fresh and flavorful, and Holly reports that she would not hesitate to order it again!


Drakes is located at 3740 E 82nd Street in Indianapolis.  You can find them online at http://drakescomeplay.com/category/drakes-indianapolis/

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Big Daddy’s Bar and Grill, Indianapolis

Big Daddy's

I’ve heard of Big Daddy’s a few times, but had never had a chance to visit.  It’s not close t home  (I’m on the far north side, and it’s on the south side), but on this particular day, I was meeting my good friend  (and fellow musician) Larry Wayt to visit Ping’s Music on the south side of Indy  (BTW…if you’re looking for a music store, I HIGHLY recommend Ping’s Music) so it was the perfect place for us to meet for lunch.

Big Daddy’s is HUGE.  I was kind of amazed just how big it was on the inside.  And it was PACKED.  Even though it was hopping…there was hardly an empty seat in the house…our service was prompt and friendly.

Big Daddy’s has a very full menu, of pretty typical bar food…sandwiches, burgers, pizza, a steak or two, and a few salads.  Pretty much everything is made fresh in house, and it shows.

I chose, of course, the breaded tenderloin.

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I’m not really sure you can tell by the picture, but this sandwich is HUGE.  Honestly, I was suspect, because I’m from the school of thought that bigger isn’t always better.  I’m always suspect when I ask a server how their tenderloin is, and they reply with “It’s big!!”.  I didn’t ask how big it was…I asked how was it.

But I digress.  This is one fantastic tenderloin.  Hand cut and breaded, the meat is tender and moist, and it had the perfect amount of breading.  Just enough to compliment the flavor of the meat without overwhelming it.  In addition, the breading had a nice seasoning to it, which only added to an already outstanding sandwich.

So, how big was it?  I couldn’t finish it…and that, my friends, is a REAL rarity.  How do I rate it?  It’s a 5 out of 5, no doubt about it.

I was unable to find a website for Big Daddy’s, but they do have a Facebook page.  They’re located at 2536 S Meridian Street in Indianapolis.

 

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

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

Metro Diner, Indianapolis

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I’ve been excited to try the Metro Diner on the north side of Indy ever since they opened a few months ago.  We actually tried to go this past Sunday, but the line was stretched out the door to get in, and we were on a bit of a schedule, so we decided to drop in last night for an early dinner.

The Metro Diner is a throwback to the diners of the 50s, with a bit of an upscale twist.  There’s a small counter with a half dozen or so stools in front of the grill, and a large dining area with tables and booths.  It’s a small chain, and their emphasis is on comfort food, as evidenced by some of their menu items…meatloaf, pot roast, and the like.

We arrived about 415 PM and again, I realized how very important a first impression is when trying a new restaurant.  There was a host at the host station, and we stopped and there was a moment of awkwardness…he wasn’t especially welcoming.  And, honestly, we both found him a little aloof and off putting, which wasn’t a good sign for a place that stakes its reputation on comfort food and being comfortable.  However, we were seated and our server, LaChelle, proved herself to be capable, personable, and helpful in explaining the menu.

I already knew what I wanted…the Big Bern Fried Pork sandwich, which is their version of a Breaded Pork Tenderloin.

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I knew going in that this wasn’t a traditional Hoosier Pork Tenderloin.  For starters, it’s served on grilled Italian bread.  And it’s topped with provel cheese, wilted spinach, caramelized red onions, bacon, fried jalapenos, tomatoes, and garlic aioli.  I decided to be adventurous and get it exactly as it’s served.  Being a traditionalist when it comes to food (and most other areas of my life) this is a bit of a stretch for me, but, what’s life without a little adventure thrown in?

As is my tradition, I cut a corner of the meat off and sampled it, and my first thought was that it was just a little bland.  However, once I tried it all together, it was absolutely stellar.  All those flavors and textures meld together to make it a VERY good sandwich.  They’ve obviously done their homework on this one, every flavor and texture complimented the other one, without one overwhelming another on the sandwich.

Since it’s not a traditional sandwich, I’m not going to rate it on my traditional 1-5 scale…I’m going to rate it on the “would I order it again” scale, and the answer is, yes, absolutely.  I REALLY liked it and would not hesitate to order it again.

This is an added bonus….it’s so big, I couldn’t finish it all, which is a rarity for me.  I’ve got half left over for lunch today!

For my side order, I chose onion rings, and they were very good also.  I won’t go so far as to say they’re the best in town, but they’re well above average and I wouldn’t hesitate to order those again, either.

For her dinner, Holly chose the grilled fish wrap with homemade potato chips, and she reports them to be outstanding. The chips are extra crispy – like a kettle cooked chip – and simply seasoned.

We splurged for dessert this night.  I had the strawberry shortcake and it was awesome, and Holly chose the Key Lime Pie.  Being that the original Metro Diner is in Jacksonville, rest assured that their homemade Key Lime pie is the real deal – and it is delicious!
The Metro Diner is located at 3954 E 82nd street in Indianapolis.  Their website is www.metrodiner.com and you can also find them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

North End BBQ and Moonshine, Indianapolis (Nora)

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North End BBQ is a relatively new restaurant on the north side of Indy, known as Nora.

Situated in a small strip mall, it’s divided into 3 areas, a bar, a family dining area, and a VERY nice outside patio.

As a BBQ restaurant, BBQ is their main emphasis.  However, there are a few other things on the menu…a burger two, quite a few appetizers, and a few salads.

We were planning to meet some friends for dinner, so I brought up their online menu and saw a breaded tenderloin, and knew I had to try it.

We arrived about 5PM and our capable server, Ellen, told us it was a lunch menu item only.  I expressed my disappointment, because I had come to try it, and she went back to the kitchen and they were glad to make it for me.

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This is a VERY good tenderloin.  It’s just a tad thinner than I normally prefer, but in this case it worked, and it worked well.  The breading was nice and light, and there was a nice texture difference between the crispness of the breading and the tenderness of the meat.  That’s one reason I’m a fan of thicker tenderloins, the differences in texture, but that wasn’t an issue with this one.

The breading was seasoned nicely, just enough to add a little flavor without overwhelming the flavor.  Personally, I would have preferred a little more seasoning, but that’s just a matter of personal preference.

The meat was not quite as tender as some I’ve had, still it was well above average and nice and moist.

It was served dressed as I requested.  It’s a VERY good sandwich.  I don’t think it is quite one of the very best in Indy, so I’m going to give it a 4.5 out of 5.  Very, very good indeed and I highly recommend it.

For my side, I got their fries, which are paired with smoked bone marrow butter and jalapenos, and these are simply outstanding. I do believe they’re my favorite fries in town, but they’re not quite traditional.  Still, I HIGHLY recommend trying these.

For her dinner, Holly had the Carolina pulled pork.  It comes with two sides – and she chose the collard greens and cornbread, which is served with maple bourbon butter.  She reported the pulled pork to be tender and flavorful.  She said It was fun to try the variety of sauces that North End provides!

North End BBQ is located on 86th street, in the Nora Plaza.  You can find them online at www.thenorthendbbq.com  and they also have a Facebook page.

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.