Poor Devour Downtown. The biyearly prix fixe event gets smacked with a recession at the tender age of 5.
Usually it's an excuse to dine downtown for less. But these days people can't spare $20, let alone $30, the normal price for three courses during Indy Restaurant Week.
A bevy of restaurants have chosen to embrace the times rather than resist, and six restaurants are running two for $30 deals during Devour. Among them: 120 West, Barcelona Tapas, Iaria's, Scotty's Brewhouse, Smokehouse on Shelby and Slippery Noodle.
There are also some newer places to try for less than you'd normally pay.
You're probably due to visit Indiana-bred Scotty's Brewhouse anyway; the promise of three courses for $15 sweetens the deal. In fact, a full 10 of their entrees are on the Devour menu, including the very hot Mo'fo' buffalo chicken wrap, and the famous Shewman special, a burger whose buns are smeared with peanut butter, which goes marvelously with smoky bacon and jalapeños. Scotty's lineup is simply a good deal in hard economic times, but don't be giddy at the prospect of fried pickles in the appetizer lineup, as I was - they are salty.
Taste of Tango
Don't confuse Taste of Tango with Fogo or another Brazilian steakhouse - Tango is Argentinean. Fogo and other Brazilian-inspired chains have made it seem Brazil is the country that meddles most with meat, when Argentina, in fact, is the South American star of the stockades. Argentinians are the highest consumers of red meat per capita in the world.
You can surely taste that in Taste's vacio, a bottom sirloin flap steak on the Devour menu (the regular three-for-$30 deal). It's more what is not done to the beef that makes this toughish cut melt-in-your-mouth tasty: Tango only sources natural, Southern Indiana beef. We asked for the cut medium; it came out medium-rare. Clearly, exploiting beef is a sin to these people. Amen.
Tango's menu is European-influenced. To this end, you'll find noquis (gnocchi) and canelones Ã la Rossini (the latter on the DD menu). The noquis are homemade, light and airy even as they are dense potato dumplings. All breads and pastas are made in-house. The from-scratch crepes that surround the spinach-filled canelones in a light white sauce dissolve in the mouth.
Empanadas, available on the Devour appetizer menu, come as beef, chicken or ham-filled flakey pastry pockets. They are wonderful ambassadors of their Argentinean street brethren, who are differentiated among some 60 others by a specific crest design. This detail hasn't been lost in translation.
For dessert, get the dulce de leche crepe. And don't forget the national grape, Malbec.
It's somewhat surprising that BARcelona Tapas decided to do two for $30, but it's the consumer's gain - if he/she gets the right thing.
Goat cheese with red pepper flaked marinara and garlic bread is a tasty, spicy start. But then it's off to tapas choices - gambas (garlic shrimp) or pinchos (beef brochette)? Garlic wings or spinach and mushroom empanadas? Broccolini with sundried tomatoes or fire-grilled asparagus? Pinchos melt in your mouth around crisp, bright veggies. Garlic wings are a nice change of pace. Broccolini is interesting in its juxtaposition of salty-sweet sundried tomatoes and cherry-like Rioja reduction, but the asparagus are just plain good.
Smokehouse on Shelby
What better escapism than tons of low-'n'-slow barbecue at two meals for $30? Plus, you can substitute the dessert choice for a craft beer.
A word of caution when choosing an appetizer or sides: The cracker-breaded 'shrooms weren't the best. The fried portion separates, forming a sort of slimy, unholy alliance. Plus, it's served with cocktail sauce. Baked beans are good, but only if you like sweet - really sweet. There's gotta be loads of molasses in there.
Luckily, the meat here is divine. Get the wings with sweet chipotle BBQ as an appetizer, then move on to your choice of two entrees: fall-off-the-bone tender St. Louis Ribs; half an apple wood smoked chicken; low-and-slow smoked pulled pork (my favorite); or hickory smoked beef brisket.
Overheard at the table behind us: "This is the best pulled pork I've ever had."
Those ribs ain't bad, either.