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Devour Downtown Starts Today!

8 Aug

Last time Devour Downtown came around, I posted that while I appreciate the prices, it isn’t my favorite way to enjoy a restaurant.  That being said, there are some restaurants who really do Devour well, with great menus and great service that is too good to pass up.  In general, I think the steakhouses do a great job.  Fogo de Chao offers the full experience (including dessert!) for $30 which is a steal.  And I have had great experiences at both St. Elmo and The Capital Grille during Devour Downtown.

This time I’m looking forward to trying Sensu and Turner’s.  How about you?  What do you think about Devour Downtown–love it or leave it?  What restaurants do it well?

Appetizers at Harry & Izzy’s

9 Jun

I met some friends recently for a late dinner at Harry & Izzy’s.  We decided to do appetizers and salads as no one was in the mood for a big meal.  So I guess I’ll have to go back sometime for a more complete review!

Harry & Izzy's Shrimp Cocktail

Although I had never been to Harry & Izzy’s, I had an idea I would like it.  It’s owned by the same people who own St. Elmo Steakhouse and I’ve always been a big St. Elmo fan.  Harry & Izzy’s has the same classy feel as St. Elmo, yet is more comfortable and relaxed.  They also feature the famous St. Elmo shrimp cocktail: jumbo shrimp with a blow-your-head-off, painfully delicious sauce.  This really brings meaning to “hurts so good”. Continue reading

Fine Dining at 14 West

14 Mar

14 West Lobster Rabini

They say good things come in small packages, and at 14 West fine dining comes in a small, intimate setting.  Chef Tracy Lemmonds presents beautiful, well-crafted dishes, while the elegant atmosphere and service round out the dining experience.

Sesame Crusted Ahi

From the appetizer menu, my table enjoyed Sesame Crusted Ahi, Tempura Battered Calamari, and Lobster Mac-n-Cheese–three distinctly different dishes that represent the somewhat eclectic menu.  The rare Ahi was complemented by a wonderful combination of flavors and textures–spicy, sweet and salty flavors of mango, wasabi and soy glaze with the crunch of sesame seeds and tender, toothsome soba noodles.  Yet despite all the flavors and textures, the steak-like rare Ahi was still the star.

Without question, the calamari was the best I’ve had in recent memory.  Too often, calamari is overcooked, giving it a rubbery texture.  But this was tender, and I liked the combination of the asian-style tempura batter with the tangy apricot chipotle sauce.

Tempura Battered Calamari

The Lobster Mac was everything macaroni and cheese should be.  Think rich, creamy and decadent, then add perfectly cooked lobster claws.  And just try to save room for the rest of your meal!

From the second course offerings we chose the Iceberg Wedge Salad and New England Clam Chowder.  The wedge salad was more flavorful than most, with a Maytag bleu cheese dressing that had an assertive dill flavor and a garnish of chopped red onions.  Personally, I loved the combination, but some at my table thought it was a bit much.  We could all agree, however, that the chowder was excellent.  The texture was just slightly less thick than traditional clam chowder, but no less creamy, and it had a wonderful smokey bacon flavor that while noticeable, did not overpower the sweetness of the crab.

Lobster Rabini

When the Lobster Rabini entree arrived at the table, I was worried that the flavor would not stand up to the magnificent (although phallic) presentation.  I had nothing to worry about.  Tender lobster tail, jumbo shrimp, sherry caper sauce.  What’s not to like?  Nothing.  It was perfection.

And although the presentation of the Lamb Shank (locally grown at Viking Farms) was less elegant, it was no less impressive.  There’s something about a huge plate of bone-in meat that just makes you want to put your face in it.  But I managed to show some restraint and use my fork (no knife necessary, this was fall-off-the-bone tender).  The lamb is accompanied with a corn risotto that really works with the strong wine and lamb flavors.

Viking Farms Lamb Shank

The Chilean Sea Bass was the only disappointment of the evening.  Although the menu says “seared” it was battered and fried.  What a terrible way to treat such a lovely fish!  It tasted fine, but sea bass should never be “just fine”.  I did enjoy the complexity of the red wine risotto that it was served atop, however it was slightly undercooked.  Another minute or so in the pan would have created risotto perfection.

Chilean Sea Bass

Of course no meal is complete without dessert.  If you read my earlier post about Tavern on South, you know that I have very high standards when it comes to sweets.  14 West did not disappoint.  The carrot cake with Grand Marnier frosting is quite simply the best carrot cake I’ve ever had.  I would challenge even carrot-cake haters to find fault with it.

Grand Marnier Carrot Cake

The creme brulee was traditionally prepared and had the perfect not too thin, not too thick texture.  And our server even noted that it was my birthday and dressed the plate accordingly.

Creme Brulee

For superior service, great ambiance and impressive food, I give 14 West on overall rating of 3.0.  Here’s the breakdown:

Price = $$$

Deliciousness = 3 (Excellent)

Ambiance = 3 (A Feast for the eyes)

Service =4 (Staff is proficient in fine dining service)

Bang for Your Buck = 2 (Overall experience justifies the price)

Overall Dining Experience = 3.0 (Excellent/Superior)

Click here for an explanation of my Restaurant Rating System.
14 West on Urbanspoon

Innovative Fare at Tavern on South

30 Jan

Filet Mignon Meatloaf

Tucked away behind Lucas Oil Stadium is Tavern on South, an inviting restaurant with an upscale, innovative menu and a gorgeous bar. Chef Allen Schideler, formerly of Broad Ripple Steakhouse, displays his talent for combining flavors and a flair for artistic plating. Tavern on South has only been open for about a month, and I visited during the very hectic Devour Downtown. I always expect a new restaurant to take some time to settle in, and while Tavern does have some room for improvement, the depth of experience of Owner Steve Geisler shows. Service was running smoothly and there were more hits than misses on the menu.

Tavern Salad

When I saw the filet mignon meatloaf on the menu I was instantly intrigued by the idea of using one of the finest cuts of beef in a meatloaf. It was even better than I imagined. The flavor of the filet really stood out among the chunks of fresh vegetables and the slightly smoky, sweet tomato sauce. This is truly a wonderful dish and I can’t wait to have it again. Other hits include the Tavern Salad with its granny smith apple vinaigrette and the broiled sea bass with a bloody mary corn and crab sauce. Next time I will try the Indiana “Shagged” Ahi appetizer.

Broiled Sea Bass

The big miss of the evening was dessert. Something went terribly wrong here. Its just incongruous to have such well-prepared entrees and a completely sub par last course. The apple strudel was a tough, over-worked pastry with a mushy apple filling that was almost completely lacking in flavor. The crème brulee, while flavored appropriately, was runny. The crème in crème brulee is actually a custard that is prepared the day before and sets up in a refrigerator overnight. This was not a proper custard. It’s possible that it did not contain enough egg yolk. However, I think it is more likely that they ran out of the dish and made the decision to make more and serve it without the proper setting time. For now, I’m going to blame the disastrous desserts on the restaurant’s newness and the demands of Devour Downtown. I look forward to going back to Tavern on South, ordering dessert, and eating it too.

Overall, I give Tavern on South a rating of 2.25. I think this restaurant has the potential to become a 3, and I look forward to reviewing it again later this year.

Price = $$$

Deliciousness = 2 (good to very good)

Ambiance = 3 (a feast for the eyes)

Service = 2 (friendly and efficient)

Bang for Your Buck = 2 (overall experience justifies the price)

Overall Dining Experience = 2.25

Click here for an explanation of my rating system.

Here’s what others are saying about Tavern on South:

Review by Traci Cumbay, IndyStar Correspondent

Review by W. Alexander, blogger, Indiana Insider

Review by Erin in Indy, blogger, Indianapolis Restaurant Scene

Tavern on South on Urbanspoon

“Impress a Man” Dinner

24 Dec

Sometimes you just want to impress someone.  Whether you’re dating someone new, planning a celebration, or looking to add some excitement to a date night in, this is an upscale take on steak and potatoes that is sure to impress your man.  Of course, ladies will also enjoy this!

The Menu

Salad with Pear, Blue Cheese and Candied Pecans

Pan Seared Rib Eye with Caramelized Onion and Blue Cheese Sauce

Fingerling Potatoes with Rosemary

Hericots Verts with Shallots

Continue reading