Any outsider or local homebody who scoffs at the prospect of our city having a serious dining scene should be given free tickets to Zoobilation. What the zoo might lose from this act of benevolence could be subsidized by restaurateurs who would benefit manifold thereafter.
Practically every nice restaurant in Indy (and some more casual and chain eateries) set up shop here. First, the bad, because there's comparatively little of it: Too much damn tuna. Even Ruth's Chris was serving it. I love tuna, but I saw more here than at my favorite sushi restaurant on a given night.
Perhaps Ruth's didn't want to compete with the perfect salt-and-peppered, one-side seared tenderloin served at Euphoria, or the succulent barbecue-slathered beef tips from Maker's Mark Bourbon House and Lounge (Indiana Live! Casino) that managed to stay elegant.
Euphoria had my favorite spread. Their showing was strong and diverse, to include the aforementioned melt-in-your-mouth rare beef and a sort of indulgent mushroom dumpling bisque.
R Bistro's award-winning white gazpacho was garlicky and tangy, the kind of concoction from which I'd take swigs like it were wine on a sunny, warm day.
More down the meandering path lied the saucy vittles of Hoaglin to Go. This might sound overzealous, but their hummus was absolutely impeccable. I've had hummus from Damascus-born cooks, and I'm sorry to see this Middle Eastern street food constantly mangled in the restaurants of America. But this one was so creamy, oozing with olive oil, and with enough tahini so the elusive flavor was finally a bit perceptible.
If I'm allowed be fussy, I'd like to request better beer next year. The liquor drinkers got all the standards, so how about a stronger showing of across-the-board styles from Midwestern breweries instead of macrobrews like Leinenkugel's? None of the cutting-edge vittles pandered to mediocre taste buds, so why should the 'suds?
The wine was ... decent.
The roller coaster? A surprisingly good idea.
The Drink and I
What could have been Indy's version of Chicago's Second City ends up falling a little flat. The laughs are a little too sophomoric and underwhelming to warrant the $15 -- $20 price tag (and that's the price before the optional shots you can take throughout the show at the inventive cue: "SHOTS!").
I had high hopes: Most of the crew are local drama graduates, and at least one of the directors, Barry Teague, is supposed to have been a writer for television. The inventive actor bios, however, are what really got me pumped, as I found some of them quite humorous, like Aaron Henze's: "Five nights a week you can find me army crawling in the supermarket because all the best bargains are on the bottom shelf. I am also known for having one extremely long nipple hair that can rap around my body several times." Perhaps the actors should have written more of their own stuff. Hopefully they'll do more improvisation as they become more comfortable as a cast; they haven't been working together more than a couple of months.
Still, The Drink and I seems like a fun first stop for a bachelor or bachelorette function - if you've got a lot of money to plunk down on SHOTS!.