Renovated Broad Ripple eatery does classic fare Bleecker Street fancies itself a throwback to old Manhattan. Interior brick archways, a smooth concrete floor with charming cracks and jaunty French posters seem to re-create the Boulevard of Broken Dreams. The food is best when it echoes that late night bistro feel and stays away from anything too uptown. Bleecker Street’s New York strip ($20.95) disappeared quickly. We began with an appetizer of mozzarella, tomato and pesto crostini ($6.95). This is a dish that shouldn’t be served with less than prime tomatoes. Even while hiding under the nicely melted cheese, these tomatoes could not hide their waning fall flavor. That did not stop us from inhaling the crostini, however.
An innocent sounding creamy tomato soup ($2.95) was far more interesting. Here was a velvety orange broth, luxe with cream, and infused with tiny bits of sun-dried tomatoes, adding a subtle layer of sophistication to classic diner fare.
With my carb-loving half-Italian dad and my 100 percent Italian grandmother in tow, we plowed through three baskets of bread, which our server was happy to replenish. (Service throughout our meal was friendly and flexible.) The crust was crunchy and the dough airy. I prefer my bread with more gusto, but with big triangles of real butter in the picture, many problems disappear.
Bleecker Street entrees most pleased the men in our party. My dad’s New York strip ($20.95) disappeared before I could taste it. The menu offered it with embedded peppercorns, and our server (and the kitchen) kindly accommodated my dad’s request to forego them. Dad’s probably eaten two tons of steak in his 60 years of life, and this one left that satisfied carnivore grin in its wake.
My husband was equally enthused about the Bleecker Street Pot Roast ($15.95), fork tender beef with gravy and a bright palette of vegetables on the side. The lumpless mashed potatoes also got high marks from both men.
Mom’s Upstate Chicken Caesar Salad ($10.95) was perfectly uncomplicated, which may be the point. It resembled what you might find at Applebee’s or O’Charleys: lettuce, parmesan shavings and chunks of grilled chicken.
Grandma went for the fettuccini alfredo ($13.95 plus $2.95 for a chicken add-in). She scoffed at the low-carb pasta option on the menu, embracing the real thing. Her noodles were definitely al dente, and the alfredo sauce was thicker and not as plentiful as it might have been. Pastas are also available with marinara or pesto.
My own entree proved the most difficult to love. Being in a meatless mood, the marinated portobello ($14.95) suggested itself. Here were two warm saucer-sized ’shrooms, marinated in an intriguing combination of what I guessed to be balsamic vinegar and maple syrup. So far so good. But atop these mushrooms sat a pile of highly acidic salsa. This cold scoop of onions, tomatoes, avocado and peppers coated in their own strong vinegar bath just wasn’t a good complement to vinegar-doused portobellos. Sadly, the blandness of the pearl couscous with pilaf and corn served on the side was not strong enough to balance the acidity. My puckering muscles got a good workout.
Upon reflection, this is the kind of dish that seems out of the Bleecker Street comfort zone. Hearty, straightforward meat-and-potato fare works best with the street-wise retro look and feel of Bleecker. A very approachable bar offers a solid wine list with 12 whites, 22 reds, six champagnes and several ports and sherries.
Our meal ended with sweet potato pie ($6.50) for me, as well as a mile-high piece of New York cheesecake and a curious chewy chocolate pie dotted with whopping almonds. Each item was flanked with real whipped cream dollops and two maraschino cherries. My husband’s cheesecake was dead-on Bleecker Street: big, honest and classic. The chocolate pie was more torte-like in consistency. And how charmed I would have been to have had my sweet potato pie served warm. With my chilly pie, I felt like a forlorn figure in an Edward Hopper painting. Or, perhaps, it was just the retro ambiance of Bleecker Street.
6311 Guilford Ave.
Food: 3 stars
Atmosphere: 3 stars
Service: 3 stars