Sunday, March 17, 2013

King Chef

8664 E 96th St.
Fishers, IN 46038
(317) 842-8989

We were furniture shopping in the 96th and I-69 corridor and decided to grab lunch. I was running out of places to blog, so instead of going to Noodles & Co., I suggested we try King Chef which is next door. It was a while back, but my brother had mentioned that the food was pretty decent there. I should have called him before we actually went in because the restaurant had since changed owners and the food isn't as great as it used to be. Although I can't fault him for this suggestion, he did steer us in the wrong direction in what is to this day the WORST dining experience I have ever had. This was well before my blogging days, and I had always wanted to work in a reference to said experience into a post. The place was El Sol del Tala on East Washington St. We must have either gone on a bad night, because this place is historically rated as one of the better Mexican restaurants in the city. The service was atrocious and the food was even worse. The chicken was still pink. The food came out cold. It was just very bad. So the tie that binds El Sol de Tala and King Chef is my brother.

King Chef was very clean. The staff was friendly and welcoming, Where it lacked was the most important piece of a restaurant, the food. They are very generous with their portions for the price. You get soup, an egg roll, fried rice, and an entree for under $6. Where I used to base Chinese restaurants on how good their General's Chicken is, I have had too many bad experiences with General's Chicken and now I go with the Kung Pao Chicken. It is simply chicken, peanuts, and veggies in a spicy sauce. When my plate arrived, I was able to pinpoint how they can have their price point so low. They load up the veggies. I have never had a Kung Pao chicken with diced celery and carrots before, but this had ample amounts of both. I really don't like cooked celery in anything but soups and stews. I think it overpowers the dish. This was the case here. Each bite was mostly carrots and celery I found myself digging around and just eating the chicken. The egg roll was huge. I probably should have eaten that first, because it was the more enjoyable part of my meal. Like the entree, it was full of veggies.


The restaurant was very clean. The service was quick. Our server was friendly. I was watching an old episode of Top Chef this week, and they mentioned you go to a restaurant for the food, and come back again because of the service. If only the food was better, I would make a return trip.

"I was EAting at a Chinese restaurant downtown. There was a dish called Mother and Child Reunion. It was chicken and eggs. And I said, I gotta use that one." - Paul Simon

King Chef Chinese on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 28, 2013

Road Trip: Bonge's Tavern - Perkinsville, IN

9830 W 280 North
Perkinsville, IN 46011
Bonge's Tavern

I think I will quantify any place outside the 317 area code as a Road Trip. It took an hour door to door from my parents' house. Let me preface this review with a little backstory. We did not have the traditional Bonge's experience. Typically one would plan to wait outside and tailgate before eating. You see Bonge's only has a limited amount of seating. You can only reserve a table if you have a party of 10 or more. They only can accommodate a certain number of people a night and it can fill up pretty quickly on the weekends. The website recommends you call ahead to see if they can seat you that evening. They are closed on Sundays and Mondays, and open at 4:30. You must be 21 to enter, so find a babysitter. My family went on Black Friday as it was one of the few times we were all home together. We got there right at 4:30 and were seated right away. This was strictly a dining experience. My mother isn't exactly the tailgating type, so getting in early was the only way to get her eat at Bonge's. As you can see by the pictures, the restaurant isn't very big. What you see is pretty much all the seating. There is a small room in the back. I don't think the decor has changed much over the years. There are mounted animals and typical bar hangings that cover the walls for decoration. The service was flawless. Our waitress had a very good knowledge of the menu and explained each entree with vivid detail. I know in my last post I mentioned that I would not have any pictures, but luckily my brother was able to capture some for me. Unfortunately, the only picture of the food was my least favorite dish.

Each entree comes with soup or salad, potatoes, veggies, and jalepeno cornbread. Our waitress said the most popular items are the Perkinsville Pork and the Harger Duck. Since it was the day after Thanksgiving, I went with the Beef Brisket as I wanted to stay away from poultry. I should have ordered the Pork. It was easily the best thing on the table. Between the 6 of us, the ladies in my family ordered the Pork; my brothers had the Duck and NY Strip; my father ordered the Applewood Smoked Prime Rib. Now the Brisket wasn't bad by any means. It was very tender and fell apart easily. I think it was braised in a red wine sauce. There was a generous amount of brisket as well. I definitely did not leave the restaurant hungry. I think the cheapest menu item was $19, but they make sure you get your money's worth. The potatoes were julienne cut in a creamy cheesy sauce. The veggie was sautéed broccolini. I actually brought some broccolini to Thanksgiving this past year. My family thought mine was better, but you aren't going to Bonge's for the sides. They know what they are doing with the menu. They do a handful of items with excellence, instead of having a phonebook full of average entrees (I'm looking at you Cheesecake Factory). Each dish was cooked to perfection and I was able to take a sample bit of them all. I'll admit I am not the biggest fan of duck. I had a bad experience once and it has ruined it for me. The pork was pounded thin with a breading of parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. It was fried to a beautiful golden brown while maintaining the juiciness of the meat. I think our waitress said it was cooked in lemon butter, which gave it a fresh citrus flavor. It complimented the saltiness of the parmesan cheese. It was just heavenly. My father had a complaint about his Prime Rib being too tough. I tried to tell him not to order it well done, so I rest that on him. My brother's NY strip was very good as well. I think I am always going to go with the pork every time. I know that variety is the spice of life, but when something is that good, it's hard to stray away from it.
"EAting crappy food isn't a reward, it's a punishment." - Drew Carey


Bonge's Tavern Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Chef Dan's Southern Comfort

Food Truck
Chef Dan's Southern Comfort

My sincerest apologies for the hiatus. Where I thought I would have time to blog more during the holidays, they were much busier than I had planned. You can't put a price on spending time with the family. I would rather be doing that, than blogging. Also, I got a new phone and I lost all my pics, so the next couple posts will be picture-less. Luckily I enjoyed both places, and will return.

We had Chef Dan's Indy come to the office one day. Since this occurrence doesn't happen very often, I decided to keep my soup and sandwich in the fridge for Chef Dan's. Since it is a food truck, I can't really go in depth on atmosphere. The truck is Southern Comfort themed. There is a painting of some New Orleans streets on the side of this bright orange trailer. The service was great and the lady taking the orders was really friendly. Our food came out in less than ten minutes. There was only one other customer in front of us.

They had a special going. For $10, you got your choice of Southern Fried Chicken Sandwich or Pulled Pork, choice of side (slaw or Cajun fries), a drink, and banana pudding. I asked which was better, and I was told there was only one chicken left, so I went with it. Also, I figured you can get pulled pork pretty much anywhere and it wouldn't be a good gauge of true southern cooking. I think I made a pretty wise decision. The chicken was pounded to about 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick and it was bigger than the bun. The chicken was juicy and had big Cajun flavor. It had a pretty mild heat to it. The breading was pretty light and had a good crunch. I had it topped with lettuce, tomato, and onion. There was a Cajun aioli as well. There sauce was was a nice creamy compliment to the crispy fried chicken. The Cajun fries were also nice and crispy. The seasoning had a pretty mild heat. I forgot to grab ketchup packets when I went back upstairs, but ketchup is unnecessary. There is enough flavor in these fries, you really don't want to dip them in anything. They stand well on their own. They ran out of banana pudding, so my meal was dropped to $9. For my drink, I ordered the swamp water which is 1/2 sweet tea and 1/2 lemonade. I think the past 10 years of only drinking diet drinks has ruined sugary drinks for me. I always get a headache now when I drink anything with real sugar. My coworker ordered the andouille sausage Po' Boy. I had a couple bites of the sausage and it was delicious. I think I would opt for the Po' Boy next time. There was an ample amount of sausage, tomatoes, lettuce, and the perfect amount of aioli where you wouldn't feel guilty eating this sandwich, unlike the one at Papa Roux.

"When engaged in EAting, the brain should be the servant of the stomach." - Agatha Christie


Chef Dan's Southern Comfort on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Chicago Hot Dog Co.

8320 N. Michigan Rd.
Indianapolis, IN 46268
(317) 808 - 5980
Chicago Hot Dog Co.

As you must know by now, I lived in Chicago for 2 years after college before moving back here. I always get pretty excited when a new Chicago style restaurant opens in Indy. Recently I had heard a rumor that Fat Dan's in Broad Ripple is moving to SoBro and becoming more of a restaurant/pub with multiple beer taps. When I heard that Chicago Hot Dog Co. was opening near work, it took no less than a few weeks for me to stop by and try it. The restaurant is located just south of 86th St on Michigan Rd. in front of the License Branch. I really hope that this place is successful as this area has become a black hole for restaurants. Just within the past year or so another hot dog place has opened and closed across the street from Chicago Hot Dog Co. The restaurant was pretty busy at lunch time. They have an order window and a pick up window. The staff was very friendly and patient. The menu consists of hot dogs, burgers, chicken sandwiches, Italian Beef, and salads. I think all the main menu items can be prepared Gluten Free. The decor in the restaurant brings back memories of my days in Chicago. It has pictures of the skyline, the El, and just has this feel that you are getting working class food in a working class restaurant. They have a good price point on their menu items. I got a Chicago Dog, Italian beef, and a soda for around $10.

I compare all my Chicago dogs and Italian Beef sandwiches to my favorite Chicago Style restaurant, Portillo's. I have found places around here that do a comparable Chicago Dog, but nobody comes close to the Portillo's Italian Beef. The Chicago Hot Dog Co. ranks up there with the Chicago Dog. So the restaurant does a justice to the Chicago Dog. What's in a Chicago Dog you ask? Well it starts with a poppy seed bun, then a Vienna Beef hot dog, covered in onion, relish, sport peppers, tomato, celery salt, mustard and a dill pickle. People think that it is overkill, but I think all these flavors work well together. A Chicago dog plays with all your tastebuds, with its mix of sweet, salty, bitter, and sour flavors. Personally I eat the dill pickle first because it just gets too messy. The only place I could find error in this hot dog was that someone was a little heavy handed in the celery salt. You just want to taste a hint of celery salt as it can be overpowering. The Vienna beef hot dog had a nice snap to it. I will come back for the hot dogs. Back in my heyday I could put down a Chicago dog, an Italian Beef, and some krinkle fries. This time around I had to try both a dog and the Italian Beef, not enough room for the fries. The Italian beef was pretty good. I always order mine with hot giardiniera (blend of hot peppers and veggies). You can get the sandwich prepared dry, wet, or dipped. I went with dipped this time. This was probably another mistake I made. They use a crusty French bread as the base of this sandwich. The au jus helps break down the bread a little bit so it isn't as tough to eat. I should have gone with wet instead. The dipped style left the sandwich a bit too dry for me. Trust me, this is not a dainty sandwich. You will get a little messy. The key to eating an Italian beef sandwich is to lean over your plate a little bit so you don't drip that wonderful au jus on yourself. The last thing you want to do is head back to the office with a nice au jus stain on your shirt. The beef was pretty tasty. It was tender, sliced thin, and had great flavor. They use a good blend of spices. I could taste salt, pepper, oregano and some other flavors I could not pinpoint. The hot peppers add a little heat and some crunch to the sandwich. If you recall my Detour post, they did not give me enough giardineira. I will give the beef another go round one day, but the hot dog was the best part of my meal.


"The only time to EAt diet food, is when you are waiting for the steak to cook." - Julia Child

Chicago Hot Dog Company on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 29, 2012

Punch Burger

127 E. Ohio Street
Indianapolis, IN
Punch Burger
I usually wait a few weeks or months for a new restaurant to find its identity and work out the kinks. After reading the feature in the Indy Star, I decided to break my rule and try Punch Burger. What sold me was the idea of fresh and local ingredients from here in Indiana. The first thing I noticed was the was the bright menu board. It was very easy to navigate. First they list the specialty burgers for those people that like decisions to be made for them. Next are the options to build your own burger. There are three bun options, three meat options, toppings, cheeses, sauce, and extras. You also have your choice to get a grilled cheese, if a burger isn't up your alley. I really enjoyed how this restaurant knows its identity. They want to do burgers and do burgers well. They aren't gimmicky. The menu is very reasonably priced. For around $18, we got 2 burgers, 2 sodas, sweet potato tater tots, and waffle fries. We went on a Monday night and the staff was very inviting. They were patient as we went through the menu, deciding what to order. It wasn't very busy, but you will have that a new restaurant especially downtown. I picture Punch Burger gaining steam through the winter with the Pacers season starting soon. Punch Burger is located at Delaware and Ohio, so 3 or so blocks North of Bankers Life. The restaurant is very bright and clean. It has the feel of a classic diner, with modern accents. There seems to be a fair amount of seating. It wasn't crowded and our food came out quickly, so they can turn tables pretty fast. They also have wine and beer on tap, mostly local breweries, and PBR for you hipsters.
I decided to build my own burger. I started with the pretzel roll (extra $.40), Angus beef patty, lettuce, tomato, grilled red onion (you can opt for raw), house made pickles, pepper jack cheese, and spicy aioli. I like the pretzel roll as it has the strength to hold up to a loaded burger. As juicy as this burger was, it did not make the roll soggy. They butter both sides and grill the bun to a golden brown to give that extra defense against any sauce or juice that can break up the bun. Grilling the bun also gives a nice crispy texture. The burger is 1/3 lb of Angus beef from Fischer Farms in Jasper, IN. At first, I thought that I might want to double the burger, but it was actually just the right size. We both left dinner feeling comfortably full. You do have the option to adding a patty for $2. This was one of the juiciest burgers I have had in a while. It had the perfect amount of fat. It was juicy not greasy. I did not feel disgustingly full after eating this burger. You can tell the patty is formed by hand as it is pretty rough looking. The toppings worked well together. I ate a few of the house pickles by themselves. They were crunchy and had a kind of sweet, kind of sour flavor. The spicy aioli was great. It had a creamy flavor, but added just enough heat. It was a perfect mild heat. They do have Sriracha if you are looking for hotter. The sweet potato tater tots ($2) were awesome. They were cooked just the way I like them, a crunchy outside and soft inside. You could see the tiny diced sweet potatoes. Next time, I would ask for a few sauces for dipping. The waffle fries ($1.50) were average, but I feel like we didn't get that many in a serving. You get more bang for your buck with the tots.

I will definitely go back to Punch Burger. I overheard a patron say, "This place is much better than Boogie Burger." I would rank Punch Burger up with Twenty Tap, and ahead of BRU, Bub's, and Boogie Burger.

"I'm in 'an open relationship' with EAting healthy" -Unknown

Punch Burger on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Brockway Public House

12525 Old Meridian St.
Carmel, IN 46032
The Brockway Public House

This past weekend we decided to switch up our regular Broad Ripple bar scene and drive up to Carmel to watch the Notre Dame game at Brockway. This was out of the norm for me in particular as I would prefer to watch my teams from the comfort of my own couch. This can be attributed to outbursts of not so family friendly language, especially with Tommy Rees under center for the Irish. Case in point, there was a family sitting behind us and I may or may not have dropped an F bomb during a surefire Miami touchdown (I didn't think kids were allowed in the place, but I guess they have to sit away from the bar area). Within a few minutes I wasn't overly impressed with TV setup. The larger TV's were kind of high on the wall and it was not a very comfortable eye level. Luckily, the bar was not crowded and we were able to get a couple high top tables next to a lower TV. When we asked if the channel could be changed to NBC before game time, it was a 10 minute fiasco that took 2 different waiters to figure out how to operate the remote. If I ran a sports bar, channel changing would be one of my first areas of training. After that our service was pretty fair. Our waiter checked on us regularly and we rarely had to wait for drinks or food. In a throwback to my Chicago days, I ordered an Old Style. Our waiter said that is something that is reserved for the regulars and nobody else really orders it. He was shocked that this was my first visit. The bar has a nice patio, but it was too cool to be out there. Another throwback to my Chicao days was the tableside beer taps that charge per ounce poured. I would definitely go back, the issue is transportation back and forth to Broad Ripple. Drink Responsibly my friends.

We got an appetizer sampler to start that had fried cheese, fried mushrooms, and homemade potato chips with marinara and ranch for dipping. The mushrooms had a beer batter and were too big to eat in one bite, but impossible to cut into bite size pieces without losing the breading on the mushroom. I did not really care for these. The chips were average. They had more substance than a regular potato chip and lacked seasoning. The fried mozzarella were my favorite of the three. These were hand breaded in a bread crumb mixture and had a great crunchy texture to accompany the gooey, melted cheese. I apologize for not having a picture of me Reuben. I thought I took a picture of it, but didn't. Luckily this Reuben did not crack the Top Ten Reuben list, so I don't feel as bad. The Reuben was pretty average. The only flavor that shone through was the sauerkraut. I really wanted it to have more 1000 island dressing. The meat was juicy and there was a good amount of corned beef, but it left something to be desired. I feel like all Irish food is pretty heavy. I guess you need a heavy meal to give you a nice base for the Guinness and Jameson. FYI, Irish Car Bombs are on sale there on Saturdays. Again, drink responsibly. I would like to go back when it is nicer and sit on the patio and try something different for dinner. I was told that the fish and chips are delicious.

"May the enemies of Ireland never EAt bread nor drink whiskey, but be afflicted with itching without the benefit of scratching."

Brockway Public House on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 24, 2012

Bub's Burgers & Ice Cream

201 W. Main St.
Carmel, IN 46032
(317) 706- BUBS (2827)
Bub's Burgers & Ice Cream

The first time I ever ate at Bub's was 2 summers ago during an ambitious ride north on the Monon from Broad Ripple. I had just purchased a new bicycle, and we wanted to go on a ride. We thought it would be a good idea to go to Bub's for lunch, as it was getting much press from its feature on Man VS Food. It is a little over an 8 mile ride down the Monon. We decided it would be a good idea to make it a tradition after this trip. I'm sad to say that the tradition came to an end this year, as the other 3 of my friends that partook on this inaugural trip have since moved away from the Circle City. Nothing will compare to the first time riding down there as it was around 100 degrees outside and humid. 3 out of the 4 of us ate the "Big Ugly" 1lb burger. The other ordered the 1/4 lb hot dog. We were all successful in finishing the Big Ugly so we got our picture on the wall. Shockingly, the ride home took less time than the ride there.

My most recent trip was on this past Labor Day. The restaurant was as busy as always, it seems to have a pretty steady flow of patrons no matter what time or day it is. It doesn't hurt to be located right off the Monon and in Downtown Carmel which has hundreds of visitors a day. We even got there at 11:30. Luckily it was a nice day out and we could sit on the patio. Actually, I have never eaten inside, it has always been on the patio. There are a good amount of picnic tables out there to accomodate large groups. Our service was great. The food came out quickly and our waitress was very friendly. I have never had any issues with the restaurant. My only caveat is be prepared to wait to be seated. They do not take reservations unless you book the party room. Luckily during the summer time there are games outside to keep the kids occupied. They also line up patio chairs so you have a place to sit. It is a great place to people watch.

This time around I ordered the 1/2 lb Elk burger. Elk is healthier for you as it has less fat, cholesterol, and calories than beef. All the burgers come with your choice of cheese, lettuce, pickles, tomato, and onion. I went with the pepper jack cheese. I also ordered a side of sweet potato waffle fries with marshmallow sauce for dipping. The burger was cooked to a perfect medium, which as far as you want to go with game meats. If I have learned anything watching cooking shows, it is to cook game meats to medium rare. Each bite was juicy and flavorful. I have always felt that a good burger can stand up on its own without any condiments. This holds true with the Bub's burger. This was also the first time I have had elk. I really couldn't tell too much of a difference between my elk burger and JBH's beef burger besides the elk tasting a bit sweeter than the beef. The buns are baked locally, specifically for the 3 different sizes of burgers. The bun was toasted and had a wonderful buttery flavor. The sweet potato waffle fries reminded me of Thanksgiving. These were a perfect blend of sweet and salty. The fries were crispy thoughout. I find that sometimes sweet potato fries are usually on the soggy side, but not these. I was full after my meal, but not uncomfortable. It helped cure any lingering hang over effects I was feeling from the wedding I went to that weekend.

Of all the burger places I have written about Bub's falls somewhere near the middle of my favorites. It is a good burger with a fun atmosphere, perfect for families. I just think there are better burger joints that offer a more grown up taste.

"EAting is really one of your indoor sports. you play three times a day, and it's well worth while to make the game as pleasant as possible." - Dorothy Draper

Bub's Burgers & Ice Cream on Urbanspoon