It may be hard to believe today, but there once was a concrete parking deck spanning the canal in Broad Ripple. Not only that, many of the merchants there were convinced that trading the neighborhood's water feature for extra parking spaces was a good deal.
Well, that parking deck is long gone. And Broad Ripple is still a good place to do business – especially the restaurant business.
Flatwater Restaurant is the latest entry in Broad Ripple's culinary sweepstakes. Located on the site originally occupied by Bazbeaux (before that eatery took over NUVO's old digs) and then a couple of other hopefuls that never fully caught on, Flatwater makes the most of its canalside location.
After Bazbeaux moved out, succeeding owners of the site took advantage of the revivified canal and added considerable deck space overlooking the water. Flatwater is the beneficiary of this change. A recent visit indicates that the new place's owners are positioning themselves to make the most of this highly attractive situation.
We started with a Shrimp Cocktail ($9.50), five large and wonderfully tender critters draped over a Martini glass filled with cocktail sauce. The menu calls the sauce "spicy," forgetting, perhaps that this is Indianapolis. We know what spicy cocktail sauce tastes like. Flatwater should either change the description or add an extra dollop of horseradish.
Next up were a couple of salads. I ordered a small Wedge ($4.50), a snowball-sized cut of iceberg lettuce, finished with diced tomatoes, big crumbles of bleu cheese and hunks of applewood bacon. Everything, especially the size of the portion, was just right about this dish.
My companion asked for a small Mixed Greens salad ($5.50), a nice mound of fresh lettuces topped with walnuts, dried cranberries, those bleu cheese crumbles, and a nicely balanced Dijon balsamic dressing.
Flatwater offers small plates of tacos made with Mahi Mahi, shrimp or pulled pork ($8) and sliders ($9.75) with hickory smoked ham or turkey, grilled pork tenderloin, Hoosier mini pork tenderloin or pulled pork.
I opted for the tacos, two servings bedecked with chunks of Mahi Mahi, homemade pico, cheese and cilantro. The fish was smartly grilled and the chunks were good-sized; each mouthful was brightened by the gazpacho-like pico.
There are Entrees for larger appetites, including a 10 oz. Center Cut New York Strip ($20), Claus' Pork Chop ($14), a pan-fried Walleye ($17.50) and grilled Salmon with a sesame-cilantro glaze ($15). We chose the Vegetarian Pasta ($11.50), a satisfying blend of mushrooms, kalamata olives and artichoke hearts tossed in a roasted tomato cream sauce featuring tasty scrapings of parmesan cheese and fresh garlic over penne pasta. The sauce was a hit – with plenty of garlic and tomato flavors trumping the cream.
Flatwater has full bar service and, to their credit, features local Sun King and Upland brews on tap.
Flatwater's actual building isn't much bigger than a (very) cozy neighborhood pub. It's all nooks and narrow passages. It'll be interesting to see how the owners deal with cold weather. But as long as outdoor dining is on order, this is a prime spot with a menu that's small, but nicely packed with a sophisticated selection of vittles.
832 E. Westfield Blvd.
FOOD: 3.5 stars
ATMOSPHERE: 4 stars
SERVICE: 3 stars
Monday-Thursday: 11 am-10 pm
Friday-Saturday: 11 am-11 pm
Sunday: Noon-10 pm