Adam Richman, that bottomless pit that comprises the "Man" half of the Travel Channel's Man v. Food,
has danced up to and around the Midwest to shove massive amounts of fatty foods into his burgeoning stomach chamber. He's gobbled fried chicken in Tennessee, slurped juggernaut malted milkshakes in Missouri, dove into "Meaterbratwurst" in Minneapolis. Now it's time for Indiana.
It's time for the Double All In.
Don't get too excited: It's not like Noblesville's Best Bet Breakfast & Lunch is slated on Richman's schedule this season. At least, not as far as owner Karen Bishop knows. She did put in a call about her 5-pound breakfast amalgamation otherwise known as the Double All In, but so far, no firm plans beyond a single callback.
What's, er, in
the Double All In? Two orders of "Ava" potatoes (named after Bishop's cat, not the screen siren); half a carton of fried eggs; a pound of pig, between the sausage and diced ham; loads of cheddar cheese; and the perfect trifecta of onions, green peppers and jalapeño. Give or take.
If the sound of so much food turns your stomach, rest assured that when you put lots of soft, salty, fatty things together in one plate, you've reached the pinnacle of comfort food. And it is good. Pair that with a basket of unlimited buttered Texas toast and homemade fried cinnamon biscuits, and you've got enough love oozing through your veins to keep you high for the next 30 minutes that you'll be awake.
Best Bet has been open for a bit over a year, but overlooked by practically all of the Indianapolis media. The place is at the end of a strip mall at the mouth of Noblesville, marked nondescriptly by red, white and green block letters and two blue awnings. They saved the character for the inside of this charming diner decorated with poker paraphernalia. Cards, chips and poker tips of various permutations fill the black tabletops that line the rectangular dining space. Photos of poker stars like Chris Ferguson, Scotty Nguyen and Jennifer Tilly hang above them, along with shots of regulars.
My host on a recent Friday lunch trip was none other than Karen Bishop, co-owner with husband Danny, of Best Bet. She recommended the Rueben sandwich (named after a royal suit of which I can't remember -- actually, all the dishes are named after cards or hands), an also-sizeable feast of corned beef, melted Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing on toasted brown bread. Every gape-mouthed bite of the tangy beef was followed by a pleasurable rush of pale orange sweetness. Again, more bites were needed to nail the fleeting taste.
Bishop's background goes a way toward explaining the delightful presentation and service at this greasy spoon, where the charm of a seemingly easy concept can elsewhere be murdered by poor attention to detail or a grumpy staff. Bishop, a veteran of the fine dining scene, including Shula's and Ruth's Chris steakhouses, keeps customer experience and food standards front-of-mind, and it shows.
Yet seeing her bright, happy eyes shining from under a black hat studded with a "Las Vegas" insignia and slicked with a little sweat from hustling around the grill on a sweltering day, you can tell that this is where Bishop's talents belong. There's no need to seek her out when you go: The help is so friendly here, they make it a point to ask your name.
I tasted the non-double All In, which I doused with liberal amounts of Louisiana hot sauce before taking the plunge. It's a messy mélange of goodness -- a firm piece of salty ham here, the soft seduction of tater tots there -- with so many co-mingled parts, it's hard to keep them all straight. You have to keep taking bites. If you need something to justify this exercise, rest assured: The pork is local.