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TThomas's Profile

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best sarasota restaurants

Thanks for the heads-up. I'll call to make sure they're not moving until after our next visit in about a month.

We also have Pomona Bistro and Selva Grill on our "try sometime" list. Any thoughts on those?

I hear what you're saying about other people's recommendations. They're a good starting point, but the restaurant's website is generally the best source of info for me. You can usually tell from a sample menu what the chef is trying to do, and whether there's real thought and effort being put forth.

TIA

Apr 03, 2013
TThomas in Florida

best sarasota restaurants

We're not local, but we vacation there for a week or so each year, and we always go to Derek's in downtown Sarasota (Central Ave), and Bologna Cafe on South Tamiami. I'd highly recommend them both, although the experiences are totally different. Derek's is contemporary American, and Bologna Cafe is a strip-mall hole-in-the-wall that makes its own pasta.

We sometime go to Ophelia's or Euphemia Haye when my parents visit because they like that traditional/stuffy style.

We always try a new place or two, and this year I have Mozaic and Lavanda on my list. I'm interested on other people's thoughts on those.

Apr 01, 2013
TThomas in Florida

BOLOGNA CAFE SARASOTA COULD IT BE ANY BETTER?? IT IS!!!!

We went in April 2012 and loved it. Great Bolognese and antipasti, and the pasta with truffles was to die for.

Looking forward to visiting again during our vacation next year.

T.

Jun 06, 2012
TThomas in Florida

bringing wine

My preference for BYO is driven primarily by two things: a desire to drink wine that is interesting to me, and a desire to avoid feeling cheated. Where I live, restaurant wine lists feature two things: current releases of American-style wines and industrial plonk from Italy, Australia, Chile, etc. I'm not really interested in drinking those wines with my dinner, regardless of price. Plus, local restaurants mark wine up two or three times retail, which means that if you do find a what should be a nice $30-50 bottle, it will cost you $80-100 or more. If you find a "special" wine that you'd pay $80-120 for at the wine shop, you'll be asked to pay $200 or more off the list. I'm sorry, but I feel cheated at those prices. I don't pay $80 for a $30 steak, so why do you want me to pay $80 for a $30 bottle of wine? Put fairly priced, drinkable wines on your list and I'd be glad to buy a bottle or two. Until then, I'll either bring my own or stick to water.

T.

Mar 12, 2011
TThomas in Wine

Restaurants in Downtown Indy

The Slippery Noodle is a couple of blocks away on South Street. Indiana's oldest bar, with decent food and live music every evening after 9.

The Claddagh Irish Pub is also a couple of blocks away on South Meridian.

TaTa Cuban Café is four or five blocks away and is just what the name suggests.

The Saffron Café is about twelve blocks away, and offers good Morrocan/Mediteranean fare.

Any of these would be appropriate for a night you don't go to Euphoria.

Cheers,

T.

Aug 25, 2010
TThomas in Great Lakes

Recess - Indy

Recess may not be for everyone, but I'm sure glad to have it as an option. It's like going to a friend's house for dinner -- you don't order from a menu, you just show up and enjoy. If you have an open mind the experience is positive more often then not.

The format seems generally to be: 1) appetizer course; 2) fish or poultry course; 3) fish or meat course; and 4) dessert course. If there are days with no dessert they are the exception, not the rule.

Portion sizes are modest for the price. And like most Indiana restaurants, the wine list is thin and young. But in a city with too few interesting dining options, it's certainly a welcome addition.

T.

May 09, 2010
TThomas in Great Lakes

Milano Inn, Indianapolis

Mixed reviews is about all you'll get for Italian restaurants in downtown Indy. Some people like Iaria's, but I'm not a fan. I've had good meals at Agio, but they're more Mediterranean than Italian and can be inconsistent. Mama Corolla's get's mixed reviews too, and they're not really downtown. Amalfi is good, but they're definitely not downtown.

There are a few Italian chains downtown of course. Buca di Beppo is downtown, as is The Old Spaghetti Factory. But unless I'm forgetting something, there's really not much to choose from downtown.

Good luck,

T.

Euphoria (Indy)

We finally had our second dining experience at Euphoria recently during the Devour Downtown promotion. This time the experience was completely different. Our party of three had a dinner with one or two excellent dishes, two or three average dishes, and several terrible (overcooked and dry) dishes. Perhaps this experience was an aberration. I sure hope so. It was certainly different from our first visit to Euphoria, which we enjoyed very much.

The cheese selection is still great, as was the tuna tartare. I really hope this place succeeds. Give them a try and let us know what you think.

Cheers,

T.

Downtown Indianapolis Dinner

I love Euphoria and think you'd be happy there, but I'm not sure how easy the transportation will be. It's not excessively far, but it's not really within a comfortable walking distance either, and I don't know whether there is public transportation (cab or bus) that you can rely on. I'm not saying there isn't; I just don't know. If you want to stay within a more comfortable walking distance, another option might be Barcelona Tapas. It's quick, fun, and the location is good for where you're going. They have a website that I'm sure you can find if you're interested.

There are several other options on Mass Ave that are very close to where you'll be, but I'd do either Euphoria or Barcelona if it were me.

T.

Euphoria (Indy)

Our first visit to Euphoria today was a real joy. The food was very good, the service friendly, and the atmosphere relaxing. It may not yet entirely fill the void left by the demise of L’explorateur and Elements, but it’s certainly worth support from the Indy fine dining crowd.

The restaurant is located on the upper level of the Buggs Temple building downtown on the canal near the IU medical center. It’s a huge, open, eclectic space that’s a refreshing change from the standard midwestern look. There were maybe 20 people dining when we were there, so the atmosphere was very relaxing. Some may desire a higher energy level, but we were happy with a slower pace.

Our meal began with glasses of Champagne to toast the evening, a few oysters, and the tuna wonton appetizer. The oysters were standard east-coast Blue Points, but the tuna wontons were a notch above. Quickly-seared tuna on fried wonton skins with pickled ginger and roe on top. Some sesame seeds in there too, as I recall. Very nice.

Our two entrees were the grilled scallops and the lamb chops. Four good-sized scallops were perfectly seared to a crispy crust with a tender interior. Served with an asparagus puree, baby carrots and lightly-truffled mashed potatoes. The grilled lamb chops were grilled rare with a minty-mashed potato and grilled onion accompaniment. Both dishes started with good, fresh ingredients and enhanced the natural flavor by light grilling that did not overcook or overseason. A winning formula in my book.

Following the entrees we shared a slice of hazelnut-chocolate torte, and it was very nice; moist and nutty. Blueberries and strawberrys on the side added a nice touch.

We finished with a cheese course and some port. The cheeses we selected from Euphoria’s large cheese menu. The Dutch, 5-year aged Gouda was multi-dimensional and had the slight, crystalline crunch that I love. The Camembert was complimentary in its creamy richness. A nice, aged cheddar and some orange marmalade and crackers rounded out the plate. I don't recall any other Indianapolis restaurant with the quantity and quality of Euphoria's cheese selections, and it makes an excellent way to end the evening.

The service was very friendly throughout. Not as polished as they will be after they’ve been open longer, but quite satisfactory and clearly anxious to make our evening pleasant. It was nice that Chef Gates stopped by to say “welcome.” We always enjoy meeting the chef and hearing a bit about his perspective and vision.

Overall, our first visit to Euphoria was a very good one. We’ll definitely be back. And for all those lamenting the demise of independent restaurants like L’explorateur and Elements, get off your rears and go try Euphoria.

T.

(IN) L'Explorateur - ohmygosh

I agree that the location was challenging. Remember that Tony Hanslits couldn't make that spot work, and if Tony can't make it work not many people can.

T.

Feb 02, 2009
TThomas in Great Lakes

(IN) L'Explorateur - ohmygosh

We were saddened to learn this weekend that L'explorateur has closed it's Broad Ripple location. They've been saying for months that they would be moving downtown, but it appears that nothing is set yet. Let's hope they find a new spot soon.

If Indy won't support people like Neal Brown and L'explorateur, then we deserve to have nothing but the formula-driven chain spots we all complain about.

T.

Feb 02, 2009
TThomas in Great Lakes

Who needs Babbo when there's Convivio?

Thanks to all who recommended Convivio. The veal tongue w/ Italian salsa verde appetizer was excellent, as were the tortelli and the head-on grilled shrimp. All the ingredients were fresh, and the preparations were refined without being overly fussy. The $59 prix fixe is a good deal, although I found the $45 additional wine pairing to be solid but not exceptional. Portion sizes were mixed, with several being closer to tasting menu size. Those smaller sized courses were a good value with the prix fixe, but would be less so at full fare. Service was very good. I don't think Convivio is "trying to be Babbo" but it's a good choice for a similar style of cuisine. Highly recommended.

Sep 14, 2008
TThomas in Manhattan

Louisville

We were in Louisville over the weekend for a soccer tournament, and while the team went to Chili's I went to Maido. Many interesting selections, and well priced. The hamachi collar and the grilled eel were great. Everything else was good or better. Certainly worth a visit if you're looking for something a bit off the beaten path.

Cheers,

T.

Starting up a wine tasting group, any advice?

Murano,

From my perspective the main requirement is to find a group of people that genuinely like each other and have at least some common ideas about what they want from the group. Beyond that, it's really a matter of personal taste. Some people like blind tastings, others don't. Some people like turning the tasting into a competition; others don't. My personal perspective is that low key tastings that accommodate differing levels of experience and enthusiasm are the most fun and the most likely to last beyond the first year. Also, pitch-ins are usually good to make it easier on the host.

I'd also recommend that you not limit each tasting to a single varietal, or even a single color. Tasting 10 of anything is boring compared to trying a sparkler or two, one or two (or more) crisp, clean whites, a lighter red or two, several medium-to-full bodied reds, and something sweet for the end. Inevitably you'll have some people (spouses?) who only like Chard (or Cab, or whatever), and it's nice to give them some options too.

Good luck and have fun,

T.

Mar 12, 2008
TThomas in Wine

Puck's Indianapolis

We ate at Puck's for the first time in several years this past week. It was spotty at best. Unfortunately, based on reports from friends who have eaten there over the past year or so, our experience seems to have been typical. The menu has been pared down from the original concept, and now offers little, if anything, of particular interest. Several of the dishes we had were good, but others were sloppily prepared. The service was pleasant but slow. All is all, there are many better options for our dining dollar.

Regards,

T.

True Maryland Crabcakes

Yes, the most important thing is to avoid the rubbery crab product and use the correct balance between lump crab and binder. For herbs, I find adding a little fresh tarragon to crab cakes is just the ticket.

T.

Jan 17, 2008
TThomas in Home Cooking

Dinner before or after Wicked?

Thanks for the recommendation. Good location for a pre-show meal, promising sample menu online, but the actual menu on the night we went had a bit less appeal for us. More problematic was that the food was only mediocre on the night we went, with several dishes being a tad overcooked and/or over-seasoned. Could have been worse, but could have been better. Maybe an off night, which happens.

Thanks again,

T.

Oct 19, 2007
TThomas in Chicago Area

Indianapolis - Brazilian Grill

We’ve been looking forward to a churrascaria in Indy since visiting Churrascaria Plataforma in NY several years ago. With the opening last month of the Brazilian Grill (west 86th St.) we now have that option, although in an admittedly scaled down version. I don't know how "authentic" the experience is (maybe yes, maybe no), but it's good fun and a change of pace from the usual Indy options.

Located in one of the strip malls between Michigan Rd and Township Line Rd, Brazilian Grill occupies a bright room with modest decoration. Nothing fancy, but clean and well kept. Dress is as casual as you want it to be.

A salad/buffet bar is offered for everything other than the grilled meats. On the night we went (Wednesday) there were cold boiled shrimp, fried bananas, tossed salad, several potato salads, black beans, rice, a mildly seasoned pasta dish, a stew, and a few other offerings. I suppose it’s not reasonable to expect an extensive salad bar in the limited space available, but a few additional vegetable choices would have been welcome if well done.

The main event though is the grilled meat, which is continuously brought tableside by roving servers carrying long skewers hot from the rotisserie. In the churrascaria style the meat is sliced from the "roast" right at the table, with each diner deciding which selections to try. Even on a Wednesday there were at least ten selections: beef tenderloin, top sirloin, seasoned sirloin, tri-tip, pork, lamb, tilapia, sausage, and chicken, as well as the house specialty picanha (a spicy beef). Almost all were very good-to-excellent, and it was usually possible to get a slice from the rare side for people who prefer that, or a slice from the medium side for people who prefer less red color in their meat. A grilled pineapple also made the rounds, although it didn’t circulate as frequently as I would have liked.

The desserts looked good, with the cheesecake our table split being rich and dense. The wine and cocktail lists were acceptable for Indiana; we opted for caipirinhas and were glad we did.

Overall, we had a great time – particularly since two in our group were “basic meat” guys. I’d have preferred a stronger salad/buffet bar to accompany the meats, but it’s hard to argue with the allocation of resources when grilled meats are the focus of the evening. The service was friendly and attentive, and helped even our first time churrascaria diners feel right at home. We’ll go back.

T.

mid-Indiana restaurant suggestions for $125

This sounds like an excellent chance to explore a little and try a place that you might not otherwise try. There are many suggestions on prior Indianapolis threads on this board, and all of them are worth a try. Plus, it will certainly be easier to spend the alloted $125 at one of those usual suspects than it would be to hit the centry mark at any of the hole-in-the-wall joints I've been in.

One of our favorite "off-the-beaten-path" places is Bijou in Lebanon, but it may not be the best choice if you really want a midwestern diner experience.

Good luck, and I hope you have a great time.

T.

Gnawbone Tenderloin Sandwich

Shorty's is the best. No real contenders, IMO.

T.

Best place for sushi in Indy?

Yes, H2O remains top notch in my experience. Fresh product. Amazing ice creams for desert.

T.

Apr 19, 2007
TThomas in Great Lakes

Indy - midrange nr 82nd and Fall Creek

The closest place is probably The Fox, on Fox Rd. at Oaklandon Rd. Less than five minutes, and passable American fare.

A bit farther would be Sangiovese, on 82 St at Dean Rd. About 10 minutes, and decent Italian fare.

Other options would include H2O Sushi, and Shanghai Lil's. Both within 15 minutes.

All of the Castleton Mall area stuff is whithin your range (10-15 minutes), including Maggianos, Bravo and the dreaded Cheesecake factory. I think there's also a PF Chang in the area. Also Hall's Castleton Grill, with decent prime rib, if you want to avoid the standard chains.

I'm not a big fan of Bella Vita, although I know others are. The food is OK, but the atmosphere is not to my taste. YMMV.

Rathskeller is downtown, which is 20 minutes if the traffic is good. Oakleys is northwest, and is also 20-25 minutes. Oakleys may not be within your stated budget.

For a birthday dinner I'd want a quiter place with softer lighting. Sangiovese would be a decent choice, IMO.

Good luck,

T.

L'explorateur in Indianapolis

I have no stake in L'Explorateur, but I'm sorry that you didn't enjoy your experience. We've been there only once, but it was excellent. We didn't order off the menu, instead asking the chef to prepare food until we said "stop." There were three of us, and we had probably six or seven courses. Several of them were from the menu, but most were not. They were uniformly fresh, literally and figuratively. I've heard similar reports from others who have been there.

I don't doubt that your experience was sub-standard, and I'm glad you reported it. If I had had your experience, I probably would never go back. I didn't, and I will.

Cheers,

T.

Crawford's Bakery in Indy

I don't claim to be qualified to rank-order the Indy bakeries, but we've had many nice things from Crawfords (Methodist Hosp) and from Taylors (62d/Allisonville). Also from the Illinois St Food Emporium (56th/Illinois). Long's certainly has a great local reputation, but I'm not sure I've ever had their goods. Same for Hilligoss.

T.

Indianapolis, IMA, Puck's?

We've been twice, and had generally good experiences both times. Other friends have reported less favorably. Consistency has been a problem during our visits, with some aspects of the food and service being very good to excellent, and others less so. It's worth a try, IMO.

Good luck,

T.

Irish Food in Indianapolis

I'm sure you know that the Claddagh is the name most people associate with Irish food in Indy. The one downtown is pretty good; I haven't been to the one or two others in the area.

Fionn MacCool’s in Fishers was pretty decent on our sole visit last fall. It was still relatively new when we went though, and I don't know if it's improved or tailed off since then.

You might look on indyethnicfood.com for some other recommendations. I see listings for Beef O'Brady's, Billy O'Neal's, Griff 1's, Griffin's, Mickey's, O'Conner's, O'Gara's, and Pat Flynn's all listed, but I haven't tried any of them and can't comment.

http://www.indyethnicfood.com/index.c...

Good luck with your search,

T.

Sushi in Indy/What to order?

H2O Sushu on Broad Ripple Ave is very good. I like to start with the Edamame, then do a few nigiri (especially yellow tail and/or amberjack), and follow that with a roll with some spice and some crunch. The entrees are good, and worth trying. Make sure to save room for some of their home made ice cream.

Enjoy,

T.

Indianapolis

You might also consider: 1) Restaurant at the Canturbury; 2) Chanteclair; 3) Glass Chimney; and 4) Bijou. Of these, only the Restaurant at the Canturbury is really near downtown, although none are hard to get to. (This is also true of Oakley's.) All but Bijou feature traditional Continental cuisine, while Bijou offers a more modern menu. All are nice enough for a 20th anniversary dinner.

Of those you've listed, we've had many fine anniversary dinners at Steve Oakley's places. I've never been to L'Explorateur. The others would not be on my 20th anniversay list, although I would and do go there at other times. In the end though, it's what you like that matters, and if you fancy R Bistro for the evening I'm sure you'll have a great time.

Best wishes,

T.