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Indiana travel review-long

David W | Dec 30, 200505:33 PM

In from New York for the holidays.
We began with a return visit to Tallent in Bloomington. What a treat-a bottle of Travaglini Gattinara started us off. Shrimp and grits, butternut squash salad, foie gras with apples and walnuts (a healthy serving), pumpkin agnolotti with sage-all fabulous starters. Followed by duck breast with cranberries, lamb that had been slow cooked and pulled (very mild for lamb) and a scallop special with mushrooms. Finished with frozen soufflé with coffee sauce and chocolate bread pudding-very rich, and coffee. Total before tip $207.00. Once again, perfect in every way. I am now convinced that this is a destination restaurant, worth a major detour. (Thanks again, Groovin’ Gourmet.)
And thanks to Candy for Big Red Liquors-great selection (I picked up a Pio Cesare Barolo for the Christmas meal.)

Another day brought me back to my youth-the Kopper Kettle in Morristown . Fried chicken, corn, mashed potatoes, greenbeans, biscuits and gravy served family style. True, it’s a little worn and those costumes they make the waitresses wear are appalling (short, puffed out affairs) but the chicken is skillet fried and the gravy deadly-a great bargain, too.

Then on to 14 West in Indy, Tony Hanslits latest roost. The space is quite lovely, though it’s a little loud. Serious eaters should avoid game days, I would think. You should also ask to sit away from the bar, which draws a loud crowd. On to the food-crab cakes with apple salad, grilled shrimp with mango-ginger, and sweetbreads. All good, but a bit on the heavy side (gravy with the sweetbreads). A salad course had the house dressing-an odd cheese dressing, a little heavy. Salmon with tarragon cream, rack of lamb with garlic cream, and white truffle risotto. All very good, but as you may have noticed, pretty heavy (and did I mention the gorgonzola butter they serve with pretzel bread?). We finished off with a passable chocolate cake. All pretty good, but too rich-I felt a bit stuffed afterward. Oh, and the wine list is not so great-a lot of California (the usual suspects) but very few French or Italian-I ended up with a Penfolds Shiraz (and they overfilled the glasses). And I have to mention the food reviewer in Indianapolis Monthly magazine, who didn’t seem to know what bone marrow was-so my sympathy to any cook who tries anything out of the ordinary. Try 14 West, but go hungry. $201.00 before tip.

I saved Puck’s for last-we were on a tight timetable, and I wanted to see the Arts & Crafts exhibit at the Art Museum-we arrived in time for the 10:00 opening, and so were early for our reservation-I asked the “hostess” if we could slip in early-she asked: “Name?...12:45 reservation…I can seat you at 12:45.” So we wandered around the galleries and returned about 12:40…”Name?...your table’s still occupied.” When I said, so we should wait over there (tables) she nodded. After 15 minutes, we were about to ask about the progress of our table, when a group of 20 went into the restaurant. Figuring the kitchen would be slammed and we would be the last served, I went up to the “hostess” and told her we would have to leave as we were on a tight schedule…her response? “Name?”

Fortunately, we knew of a place in Greenwood-The Bay Window (3115 Meridian Parke Dr , in a strip mall) which serves soup, sandwiches, etc. A real mom-and-pop, with friendly service- had a real nice chicken pot-pie as a special. And a wonderful dessert known as ooey gooey (spelling?) This rescued our bad Puck day.
Thanks, and get ye to Bloomington!

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