City Cafe

I met a dear friend downtown a few weeks ago for an early morning breakfast (it was snowy, I was the first one there, and I walked in before the “open” sign had even been turned on) and it was a great choice.

I’d eaten here almost seven years ago (and my dining companions were far less enjoyable that time around) but remember being impressed by the huevos rancheros. Read the rest of this entry

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!

Three Sisters Cafe

Beloved by the Birkenstock crowd. Lots of health-conscious choices on the long menu. Many vegetarian and vegan sandwiches and entrees as well. The Korean selections are definitely worth trying, specifically the bi-bim-bap, which I have the hardest time selecting against. Emily loves the berry cobbler. If you’re dining in the wintertime, order some hot tea, because the quaint olde house can be a bit drafty. Service is very friendly, but can be a bit too leisurely paced if you aren’t in the right frame of mind. The three sisters are beans, corn, and squash, if you were wondering.

Sunday brunch is great if you get there early enough to avoid the long wait, and the pancakes are excellent, as are any of the egg dishes (and the accompanying potatoes).

I would also reccomend any of the homemade soups or salads (the one with cherries and brie and walnuts is the best possible way to make a salad more fattening), and if you’re ordering a side or house salad, go for the creamy seven herb dressing.

R Bistro

Excellent! The menu changes weekly, ingredients come from local sources, and the staff is attentive and welcoming. We decided to visit for Emily’s (belated) birthday dinner. All she’d requested was that “it be new and a surprise”. R Bistro was both.

For starters, the bread (crusty on the outside, warm and doughy on the inside) was perfect, and our salads were exellent.

Christopher had seared scallops served with swiss chard and cheesy polenta. On a whim, Emily ordered ham with potatoes au gratin and sauteed leeks. The server made quite a point in warning us that the ham would be served room-temperature. She appreciated the heads-up, and her dinner was so good that she did that thing where she crosses her eyes and closes them, and raises her eyebrows.

We found the service staff to be friendly and helpful. The owner’s husband meandered about and conversed with the patrons, so it was fun for us to eavesdrop and feel like we’re hip to what’s hapenning in the Mass Ave district.

Dessert and coffee weren’t the highlights of our experience, however. Coffee beans were from Hubbard and Cravens, a local roaster, whose beans are consistently more roasted than we prefer. Compound that with the fact that our coffee was brought to us in a French press, where all but the first cup was over-steeped in over-roasted beans, and the result was disappointing bitter coffee. Next time we’ll have a glass of port instead.

All in all, we are upset with ourselves for not visiting R Bistro sooner. It’s easily a new favorite!

Update 1/2005: Our bad for leaving a year in between visits. Yet another birthday prompted another visit to R Bistro, and we were again highly pleased.

Bread, still crusty and warm. Salad (with spinach, daikon, onions, and fennel) was crisp and tangy, while Chris’s cream of cauliflower soup with caraway seeds was warm, creamy, and smooth (an inspiration for our own attempts at home).

Chris ordered breakfast fopr dinner (huevor rancheros with awesome tortillas) and dinner for dessert (rice pudding with cream saunce) and was very pleased, but Emily totally won on this one. Although it’s hard for her to order coq au vin (just because she hates saying it), the mushroms and pearl onions would have been enough by themselves, they were just. that. good. Add chicken piences that don’t require a knife to eat because they were falling off the bone and some flatbread grilled with olive oil, and she was a happy diner.

Dessert, too, topped off the evening. Cranberry ice cream cake with chocolate crust and a frozen whipped cream and pistachio topping was delicious, and the coffee (what part of it Emily’ didn’t spill on the table) was a little better than previously. Perhaps they shouldn’t grind it so finely if it’s going to be served in a French press (and therefor avoid the dregs at the bottom of the cup).

Again, though, we loved our evening and it was romantic while bustling, private while public, and delicious while creative, labor-intensive, and delicious. The only bad thing is that by the time you read this, the menu will have totally new delicious options to choose from. Have fun!

Taste Cafe and Marketplace

A new little eatery at the growing-in-popularity corner of 52nd and College, we’ve visited twice for Sunday brunch and have been charmed both times. The baked goods that greet you when you walk in the door are reason enough to eat there, and if you make it past the alluring display of baked carbs, more large dishes of fresh potato, pasta, and fruit salads are chilled and just waiting for you to take them home.

The omelettes come with a cheddar cheese biscuit and potatoes (flavored with fennel and other delightful spices). Chris’s CB&G (cheddar biscuits and gravy) were heavenly, and the fresh-squeezed orange juice is full of pulp…just the way we like it.

The fruit and granola parfait is exactly how you’d expect it to be: sweet, fresh fruit, crunchy, homemade granola, and fresh yogurt. The other sampling was a peanut-butter-and chocolate muffin; need I say more?

Updates: Apparently, lunchtime food is just as good as breakfast food! Hooray! I had (for whatever reason) a hankering for the beet salad, which was delicious, even for beets. A BLT sandwhich had the perfect kind of bacon: thick and crispy, but not too crispy. Plus, we witnessed two grown men fighting over the last chocolate chip cookie. I guess that would be the one drawback to Taste: if you get there too late, your favorite food could already be 86d…


A quaint little cafe in historic downtown Irvington serves homemade soups and sandwiches. Plus, all their lunches come with cheetos!

Cafe Patachou

Without question, the best brunch in the city and well worth the hour-plus wait you’ll have to endure to get a table. No matter…just grab a mug of their COTD and people watch. You’ll be glad you waited once you get your omelet, homemade granola, or four chunky slices of the best cinnamon toast ever…

Hard Times Cafe

Chili is acceptable (I’d suggest the Texas-style), but make sure your server understands you when you specify “tenderfoot”.

Hard Rock Cafe

You pay for the name, not the food. Well, you pay for the food, but you pay way too much.

Fountain Diner

Traditional ‘50s-style diner with authentic vintage decor; greasy spoon, yes, but fun nevertheless. Hot the duckpin bowling alleys next door or go swing dancing at the Fountain Square Theater when you’re done with dinner.