Fletcher’s of Atlanta

As a surprise for Christine, Jon invited us to go with them on the Fisher’s Dinner Train, a fun variation on the traditional date night. We took the Hamiltonian Evening Express, one of the historic trains housed at the Transportation Museum.

The 18‐mile train ride was relaxing and fun; you ride in the cars that date back to the 1930s (and if you’ve ever taken the train to the State Fair, you know what we’re talking about).

The price for the evening included appetizers on the train (as well as a cash bar). For the price of the dinner, I would have expected something more than BBQ meatballs in a plastic cup and water crackers, but considering that it was hard to both bartend and navigate back to one’s seat without spilling on the rolling and lurching train, the menu choices were understandable. Plus, had I known how good dinner was going to be, I would have saved more room.

If you eat at Fletcher’s on your own accord (and not part of the Dinner Train group), the menu is far more extensive. As it was, we were offered our choice of two salads, five entrees, and three desserts.

The evening began with a typical baby green salad. I went for the Green Goddess dressing (hello, creamy!) and it was very good. Chris ordered the tomato and provolone salad, and what a perfect time of year for fresh tomatoes. It also came with greens, fresh basil, and a tangy vinaigrette dressing.

Being the bread lovers we are, the homemade dill rolls that came next were excellent…steamy and warm and buttery, the four of us could have easily gone for two more baskets and been happy.

For dinner, Chris and Christine both went with the evening’s seafood special. Fletcher’s online menu boasts many changing specials, which can be either a treat or a gamble. In this case, the evening’s special was halibut prepared with a tropical citrus salsa. While the fruits offered that sweet flavor that goes so well with fish, the halibut itself was thick and tender but not as flavorful as past halibut encounters have been.

I ordered the chicken saltimbocca, covered in pesto, sun‐dried tomatoes, and provolone and topped with a creamy tomato sauce. It was garlicky and tender, and although prepared differently than traditional saltimbocca that I have had in the past, it was still delicious. Both entrees came with baby carrots and grilled asparagus. The highlight of the sides, however, was some rich and creamy garlic sauce that was thinly veiled as scalloped potatoes. No kisses that night! One of my favorite touches was the fact that they wrapped my leftovers in foil in the shape of an elegant swan. I love that!

As the token vegetarian, Jon had seen that the kitchen would be happy to prepare a meat‐free entree for him (since the other menu offerings that night included pasta with shrimp and two steak options). They whipped up a pasta primavera and he chose the red sauce to top it. When the waitress asked if he wanted it prepared spicy and he said yes, apparently she wasn’t kidding. Jon sweated, but enjoyed dinner just the same. He said the mushrooms (which we decided were sliced shiitake) were a really good addition.

Dessert was a tough pick. Who wants to choose between homemade ice cream sundaes with caramel and macadamia nuts, flourless chocolate cake, and Russian cream (which was described as “sort of liquid cheesecake in a champagne flute”…not to Fletchers: change the description). Our waitress had even recommended we try the Russian cream the next time we come, but we had already placed our orders. Chris and I both went for the ice cream (suckers for dairy) and were very pleased. It was thick and dense but not too rich…the perfect ending to a delicious and unique meal.

The atmosphere at Fletcher’s was eclectic, to say the least. This is not the type of restaurant one would expect to find in Atlanta, Indiana. (Where?) If you have the opportunity to make an evening of it, make sure to study the large “inspirational” painting on the wall. We thought nothing of it until Chris really started to study it, and when the waitress saw us all looking at it, she got coy and told us that “it probably is what you think it is”, which confirmed that it really was what we thought it was. If you used your imagination, it featured lots of body parts. Enough said.

After dinner, a much‐needed walk through the dark streets of downtown Atlanta (it was a short walk) showed us quaint houses, a few different little businesses (which we think included a perfume store and boutique) and a big owl flying overhead. The train arrived to take us back to the “big city life” of Fishers, and the rocking of the train quickly put us to sleep.

The chef at Fletcher’s is a very friendly man in fun pants. The website, too, is worth a visit (what menu have you seen that contains the words “phallic” and “road kill” as dinner descriptions?), and genuine Hoosier hospitality comes out in the narrative, as well as in the demeanor of the staff at the restaurant. They are open and warm people who seemed to enjoy chatting with guests, and that make a big difference.

What an entertaining way to spend an evening! There was a little something for everyone, with the mechanical geeks enjoying the engineering of the train, the foodies being pleased with the menu, and the ladies getting an opportunity to dress up a little bit for a fancy evening of riding and dining.

Trios de Tuscanos

The next time you’re up in Noblesville and you need some lunch, stop at Trios. The warm and rustic decor is welcoming, and you place your order at one corner and shop in the McNamara’s flower shop until your pager buzzes you back to pick up your food (I know, weird combination…restaurant and flower shop…but it works).

One charm was the wide array of dressings they had available. While most Italian restaurants opt for your standard parmesan and red pepper, Trios offered no less than ten hot sauces, three gourmet infused balsamics (pear, mandarin, and raspberry), several different olive oils, and at least a dozen flavors, such as Emeril’s essence and other shakable toppings.

I opted for a cup of the Italian Wedding Soup (warm and hearty, but nothing special). It came with the same kind of meatballs you’d find in Spaghettio’s, so they weren’t terribly fresh.

The roasted vegetable wrap fared much better, however. The veggies, although served cold, were still crisp. The spinach was fresh, and the creamy spread wasn’t too overwhelming. The balsamic glaze gave it a hint of sweetness. It might have been better served warm, though, as a future suggestion.

Chris’s meatball calzone was “ok” and he said he liked the outside better than the inside, meaning the bread was good. The marinara sauce was tangy and tasty. Both meals came with a little cup of some sort of apple‐cherry crisp for the sweet tooth.

The menu also offers daily specials, and although neither of us opted for the pasta primavera tossed with fresh mushrooms and sliced bell peppers, it looked delicious and perhaps worth trying again at some point.

The atmosphere was cozy and just what we needed for a frigid winter evening when neither of us felt like lifting pot nor pan in the kitchen. Walking in to a warm environment, the rotisserie chicken smell filling our nostrils and the warm glow of an artificial fireplace beconing us to sit for a while was just what we needed. 

Though the menu doesn’t really offer anything out of the ordinary, the food is fresh and reasonably priced, the staff was friendly and the restaurant was clean. Plus, did I mention the flower shop is connected? You can eat and shop at the same time!

Peterson’s

Happy 3rd Anniversary, Emily and Christopher! After our IBJ article ran in April, the owner of Peterson’s emailed us and invited us to try them out.

We needed a special occasion, and this certainly fit the bill, so we made reservations for a Friday night. They specifically asked if we were celebrating, and when Chris told them, we ended up in a nice, quiet corner booth.

It was no fun not being able to order something to drink (they boast an extensive wine list), and Chris opted for a modestly‐proced Zinfandel. Observing the coversations being had at the three surrounding tables, we realized that because we were not as interested in drink as we were in food (one of the sacrifices of pregnancy), we didn’t so much receive lesser service, just less service. The sommelier spent a lot of time at the other tables and seemed to be very attentive. Our waiter was no less attentive, but we just didn’t see him as much and felt a little slighted.

We started out with an order for the jumbo lump crab cake, and it’s been too long since we’ve had a real crab cake like that. Huge chunks of crab, perfectly crispy on the outside… nice. Because it took a while for our order to come out, we were also treated to a shrimp cocktail. We eat shrimp fairly regularly, but I think we now know what shrimp can be when prepared to its best potential. Huge, three‐bite shrimp with zesty cockatil sauce (though it didn’t come close to the joyously nostril‐hair‐searing heat of Petersons’ downtown competitor—you know which one) were lightly grilled and beautifully presented. The cocktail was served with an unusual garnish: a crispy, paper thin slice of a fennel bulb. Unique!

Next came salads. My gourmet spring green salad with sweet basil vinaigrette was simple but flavorful (as always, I think restaurants could get away with using half as much dressing as they drench the plates in). Chris had the baby spinach salad, which was standard except for the way they shredded the egg into curly little strings. We note the little things.

And then the main course. Chris ordered the 16 oz ribeye (cooked medium), and it came back nice and pink, the way he likes it. I had my share of little bites, and it was a little rare for me (I like mine medium well, to be honest), but it was an excellent cut of beef and was sooo good.

I (sigh) went all out and ordered a “Red List” fish and went for the swordfish chop. They warned me that it was not the traditional swordfish steak, but rather it came with the bone still attached. Wow. Now I understand why swordfish is on the red list in the first place, and as guilty as I felt as an informed seafood consumer, it was excellent. The fish was tender and soft, but cooked medium well, so it was firm all the way through. It also came with a shredded bed of potatoes, on which rested a little cake of asparagus gratin topped with roasted hazlenuts. It was also accompanied with sweet carmelized onions, and the whole thing was unbelievable.

We can’t seem to go to a steak house without also ordering the most decadent side dishes possible, and this time was no exception. The spinach (as in “creamed spinach”) seemed to have been added for coloration purposes only, with the cream and butter being the main feature of the dish (read: still a good thing, but teetering on the edge of ridiculous). We also went for the potato bread pudding that we had sampled at Zoobilation, and we were not disappointed. Topped with Danish bleu cheese, this dense wedge of carbohydrate goodness was almost too rich, especially considering the sides that came with my dinner.

We did manage to save room for dessert (I did take half of my dinner home), which ended up being the most delicious cinnamon crème brûlèe ever. Chris also overheard the waiter at the next table telling folks about the secret batch of Limoncello that the chef had made. Not wanting to miss out on an off‐the‐menu secret like that, he ordered a glass and, in keeping with the rest of the evening, it was sweet and strong and an excellent way to end the night. This secret was something that should have been shared with common folk, not just the suits who order multiple bottles of $100 wine and ask the waiters if they want to join him for shots of Patrón right then and there.

All in all, the food was everything we had hoped it would be and the service was very accommodating. Our waiter even had the bartender create something “fruity, frozen, non‐alchoholic and with ginger ale” at my request. They also took our photo to commemorate the event (a pticture that will not be posted on this website, even though we’ve posted some doozies in the past).

My biggest “but” about Peterson’s, however, is the same observation I’ve made at other similar steak houses in the area. In order to feel like you truly fit in, you need to be willing to spend as if your are in a much higher tax bracket than we are. We felt a bit our of our league, even though restaurants should work hard to make every patron feel like they belong, no matter what kind of car they arrived in, what label is on their suit, or how many bottles of wine they order. Yes, we go out to eat to enjoy the food itself, but the atmosphere is just as important.

When presented with another special occasion (please let us not have to wait another year), we would be inclined to visit again. It is certainly not for everyday eating (at least not for us), but the staff was friendly, the food was delicious and well presented, and the quality of the experience was enjoyable. All in all, a special evening and a wonderful way to celebrate my love for the man I married.

Bazbeaux Pizza (downtown)

Gourmet pizza with homemade sauces and dough; 50 toppings; salads (try the creamy basil dressing) and decent sandwiches. We favor the garden pizza and the Tchoupitoulas (fun to say, more fun to eat). Also try the new Broad Ripple location, although downtown provides some fun people‐watching along Mass Ave and a door‐blocking mannequin named Maxine. This is a great place for lunch, as they offer three or four pizzas‐by‐the‐slice for a few dollars.

Updated!!!
We opted for take‐out sandwiches the other day. I went for the tuna sub, which had lots of tuna and very little mayo. That made it a little dry and crumbly, but I appreciated not drowning it in Hellman’s.

Chris had the Muffaletta, and I am only now beginning to appreciate the spicy, salty, nasty goodness that is 18 kinds of Italian meat and green olive spread with cheese. These are big sandwiches (and come with chips and a pickle), so to finish one was a bit indulgent but so worth every bite.

Bazbeaux Pizza (Broad Ripple)

Some 20 varieties of gourmet pizza, from standard to names like Chilope and Tchoupitoulas. Delivery and carryout available. New building may be slightly less charismatic than the old site, but it’s got to be four times the size. The pizza is just as fantastic and now you can enjoy rooftop dining! Our standard order is the 12” Garden pizza on wheat with side salads and creamy basil dressing. It’s so good that even after trying lots of their more unusual offerings we seemingly always return to the Garden. Who can turn down avocados, artichokes, ricotta and onions? We’ve found that the half‐carafes of wine are quite a bargain, as well. Just don’t drink and drive, even if you do only live a few blocks away…

Scholar’s Inn

First founded in Bloomington, Indy is blessed to have this Mass Ave establishment. Creative entrees, funky decor, a stylish upstairs bar, a fantastic wine list, desserts to save room for (creme brulee and tiramisu, to name two), all make the Scholar’s Inn a favorite. They’re big fans of polenta, serve unique seafood dishes (try the escolar) and dude, half price champagne specials for Sunday brunch!

Updates: After five people were made to moan like Bill Murray in “What About Bob” over how good the food was, may we recommend: The Rocket, Harvest, and Wedge salads, the pine nut crusted salmon, the lemon‐thyme chicken, the Scholars Inn meatloaf, the BBQ tilapia, and some scallop special that included gnocchi… Even my sister threw carb conciousness to the wind and truly enjoyed her dinner!

Buca di Beppo

Family‐style Italian food is acceptable, but most people dine for the tacky, flashy atmosphere (big parties get to sit at the Pope table). The best part is that garlic only comes in one size: whole cloves. Bring Listerine.

Bottom line, there are much better choices for a big, fun Italian meal.