SoBro Cafe: A chai-infused oasis 

click to enlarge Mushroom pannekoek and chai at SoBro Cafe. - MARK LEE
  • Mushroom pannekoek and chai at SoBro Cafe.
  • Mark Lee

Suitably distant from the madding crowd that is Broad Ripple, but not so far away as to be inconvenient, SoBro Café offers a relaxing oasis in which to cool the jets and enjoy some made-to-order sustenance at almost any time of the day. Pleasantly devoid of attitude or pretense, this smartly appointed eatery caters to a wide range of tastes, from vegan to carnivore, with a strong emphasis on freshness.

SoBro’s menu is short but well thought out, offering a tempting array of dishes too numerous to sample in one sitting, but which certainly merit return visits. The house specialty is the pannekoek, or Dutch pancake, which comes in a dozen or so preparations, some sweet and some savory. Thicker than a traditional French crèpe, and thinner than the American pancake, these are served rolled up with a range of ingredients ranging from spinach with cheese to bacon and chocolate with mango chutney. Opting for something in between, on a recent visit we ordered the egg, bacon and cheddar for $5.75. Perfectly cooked and quite substantial, this could perhaps have used a touch more seasoning, but was delicious nonetheless.

An appetizer of four generous corn fritters ($4) was almost too much food for a first course. Just slightly crisp on the outside and fluffy within, these possessed a zesty citrus note which provided delightful lift to the accompanying black bean purée and sweetly spicy sour cream. Separately, the components of this dish were good, but combined they became intriguingly explosive.

Opting for the carnivorous end of the menu, I chose the chicken salad sandwich, served on whole wheat bread. One of only two menu items not prepared in house (the other being the potato chips), the bread was nevertheless commendably fresh and full of grainy flavor. The salad, chunky and seasoned with a touch of curry, delivered a tangy crunch, thanks to the judicious use of some pecans and cranberries, as well as a creamy dollop of gorgonzola for extra richness. This is a sandwich I will certainly steal for home use.

Our other sandwich, the Venice Beach $7.50), offered a refreshing and pleasingly zippy mouthful of crisp sprouts and cucumber, dressed with hummus and avocado. Substantial but pleasingly light, this was the very essence of springtime captured between bread.

No review of SoBro Café would be complete without a mention of their chai. Whenever you mention this restaurant, the chai always comes up in the conversation. And with good reason. Although it might have taken a few minutes to brew, this spicy, subtly creamy brew was absolutely worth the wait. With a complexity that hit every taste bud and kept on delivering flavor long after the last drop was swallowed, it’s easy to see why people are so taken by this drink. It’s like winter holidays in a cup. Should tea not be your thing, there’s a small selection of beers of wine and local beer as well as outstanding coffee from Indy’s own B-Java.

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