"Restaurant Week event lends hand to Indy’s hungry

Sure, $30 sounds pretty cheap when you’re talking steakhouses, supper clubs and chic bistros. But for some, and not just those in developing countries but folks in our own backyard, $30 might be a family food budget for a week. Maybe a month. Rachel Ray may get by in the gastronomic capitals of the world on $40 (including some questionable tipping), but could $30 take her through an entire week? For some of us, we likely throw away that much extra food in just a couple of weeks. Is $30 even a drop in the bucket when considering the average family’s food budget?

With those questions in mind, some of Indy’s dedicated foodies gathered at the Emmis Building on the Circle for a kickoff event for Downtown Restaurant Week on Monday evening that, appropriately, served as a benefit for Second Helpings. Far from helping the “haves” have more, Second Helpings works to rescue food from caterers, restaurants and grocers to feed those who struggle to get meals on the table, as well as training others to get jobs in the culinary arts. It’s a clever use of an already available resource — and a perfect fit for a fund-raiser to initiate a week so focused on food.

Thankfully, no one went hungry at the kickoff event, as a good number of those participating restaurants were on hand to offer up tastes of some of the things local diners have in store for them when they head out to eat this week. Just as downtown’s eateries are a pretty eclectic mix of pubs, hotel restaurants and upscale chophouses, the food at the event ran the gamut from a humble but quite tasty pulled pork sandwich from the Slippery Noodle to Blue Point oysters with a whiff of strawberry from The Oceanaire to one of the most well-brûléed crème brûlées around from 120 West Market. Shrimp from St. Elmo Steakhouse, beers from Rock Bottom, beef skewers from Dunaway’s and baklava from Greek Islands capped off a mix of classics, with a tender lash of lamb from R Bistro and crab cakes with tropical salsa from the Eagle’s Nest providing some subtle surprises.

If the raucous air of the event is any indication, Devour Downtown: Indy Restaurant Week is well on its way to becoming another smash hit in its second year. Some attendees had already made reservations for the first night of the week. Given that Second Helpings was the benefactor of the event, diners went off with a subtle reminder to heed their mother’s warning to clean their plates. But with such delicious food on hand, it was definitely hard not to.

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