Tag Archives: Indianapolis Dining

Dig In Celebrates Hoosier Food

31 Aug

I was lucky enough to attend the second annual Dig In event this past Sunday courtesy of my good friends at Yelp! Indy.  More on that in a minute.  First, I have to deal with a bit of business.  Last week’s Eversave giveaway yielded ZERO entries!  So obviously it didn’t appeal to my readers.  If anyone has any comments, I’d love to hear them.  Now, back to Dig In.

Dig In at White River State Park

Dig In is a farm to fork event–in other words, Indiana chefs, food producers and farmers come together to celebrate Indiana food.  If that isn’t cool enough, the event took place at White River State Park , a great setting on such a gorgeous day.  There were 27 chefs, 11 breweries and 9 wineries offering samples as well as many more producers offering products for sale.  I was determined to taste everything, but had to call it quits after visiting 13 chefs, and even at that I only had a bite or two of many of the dishes.  It simply isn’t possible to leave this event hungry!

A Selection of Tarts by Chef Greg Scheisser

Here are some of the highlights.  My favorite dish was a tie between the pulled pork with baked beans and bacon foam by Chef Brendon Cheney from the JW Marriott and the applewood smoked lamb with grilled peach and poblano relish and corn, wild rice and goat cheese fritter by Chefs Braulio de la Torre and Ryan Evans from the Severin Bar & Grill.  Another stand out for me was the smoked turkey and ginger sausage by Chef Chris Eley of Goose the Market.  As for the sweets, I really enjoyed the peach and frangipane tart by Chef Cindy Hawkins at Circle City Sweets and the toasted salted caramel marshmallows from 240Sweet.

Pulled Pork w/ Baked Beans & Bacon Foam by Chef Brendon Cheney

There were so many more foods I loved, as well as many beers.  And there were so many more things I didn’t get to try!  I’d like to hear from those of you who went–what were some of your favorites?

Save the Date!


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.
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