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Food & Drinks

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Swoon List: 5 Things We Adore Right Now

1.    Fin & Shellfish Stew in a spicy Pernod broth at The Oceanaire Seafood Room (30 S. Meridian St., 317-955-2277).

2.    The banana-and-Nutella crepe at Petite Chou (823 W. Westfield Blvd., 317-259-0765).

3.    Eddie Merlot’s (3645 E. 96th St., 317-846-8303) Trio of Medallions—a mini steak flight of four-ounce filets. One has a bubbled crown of bacon and Gorgonzola, the second an elaborate Oscar treatment, and the third a mild peppercorn sauce.

4.    The Vietnamese beef bun at the recently expanded Egg Roll #1 (4576 S. Emerson Ave., 317-787-2225). A deep bowl of cold vermicelli noodles is layered with fresh greens, veggies, sprouts, and strips of caramelized meat topped with crushed peanuts and the most delicate fried egg roll hacked into bite-sized pieces. Addictive.

5.    Extra chunky potato soup at Kitley Inn (825 S. Kitley Ave., 317-357-3160).

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NEW IN TOWN: Ali Baba's Cafe

Ali Baba’s Cafe is now up and running in the northwest corner of the Block Building just off Market Street. The cozy little Greek and Mediterranean restaurant serves a bit of everything, from all-American french fries to falafel, and includes a discounted Express Lunch Combo menu from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. We stopped in just past the lunch hour (rats!) and gobbled up a large order of hummus topped with ground lamb and pine nuts, served with steaming hot pita bread on the side. Large orders of shawarma sandwiches came with grilled and marinated chicken or beef on two round pitas and a choice of taziki or tahini sauce, or sour cream. Dessert was a delectably sweet order of baklava.

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NEW IN TOWN: Pho Asian Grill

We had to fight through the traffic on US 36 west of I-465, but once we got to Avon, we were impressed that there are a growing number of independent, international eateries, not just chain restaurants in strip malls. The newest player is actually a remake of the former Green Leaf Vietnamese restaurant, which is now called Pho Asian Grill (10240 East US Highway 36, 271-7999). True to its name, this cozy, shotgun eatery with seating for only around 30 people offers Vietnamese standards such as the iconic spiced soup pho. We tried one with rare beef that had a good depth of flavor and the usual accompaniments of sprouts, basil, mint, jalapenos, and lime. But the restaurant also offers a small selection of entrees that span Asia, such as Chinese stir-fries, Korean barbecued ribs, even the Japanese fritter tonkatsu. Spring rolls, both fried and fresh, came with flavorful dipping sauces, a peanut version and a rice vinegar dressing, and cream cheese rangoons seemed a bit more homemade than some, if without much (or any?) crab. “Shaken” beef was perhaps the hit of the evening, with surprisingly tender beef the menu suggested was filet in a rich soy-based gravy with a nice kick of chiles. Lemongrass chicken was a bit more timid but did have an aromatic undertone of ginger and garlic. We might not trade our favorite pan-Asian takeouts inside of I-465, but if we’ve got a reason to travel west of town, we know we can find some freshly made Asian favorites amid the franchises.

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Swoon List: 5 Things We Adore Right Now

The Red Velvet cupcake from Parcha Sweets (2101 Broad Ripple Ave., 317-254-2000). The One-Eyed Jack at The Libertine Liquor Bar (38 E. Washington St., 317-631-3333). A familiar crusty egg-in-the-hole taken up a notch with the addition of garlic confit and fig jam. Mate’s Mozzarella at

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Getting Warmer

If you’re a little worn out on the autumn-themed drinks at your favorite corporate coffee store, there are five perfect-for-fall concoctions brewing at the South Bend Chocolate Company on Monument Circle that we can’t get enough of. Don’t let the Halloween-y names fool you—these drinks are for the big kids, too!

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COMING SOON: Bu Da Lounge

If Sensu (225 S. Meridian St., 317-536-0036), and The Libertine Liquor Bar (38 E. Washington St., 317-631-3333) taught us anything about downtown’s eating-and-drinking habits, it was that we are nowhere near our saturation point for attractive spots to comfortably sip cocktails and people-watch. Brothers Binh and Steven Phan, co-owners of Mass Ave’s teeny lucky-red Bu Da Lounge (429 Massachusetts Ave., 317-602-3643) are tapping into the game. By Nov. 11, they hope to be in their new 5,000-square-foot space on East Market Street.

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Meals on Wheels

Apparently, food trucks are big right now.

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Swoon List: 5 Things We Adore Right Now

1. The Jimmy John’s breadless Unwich. Meat. Gooood.

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Egg Rolled

That ubiquitous Asian appetizer, the egg roll, has many interpretations. Some are tiny and crisp, perfect for a little dip in wonton broth. Others are so plump with veggies that they could almost count as one of your daily fives. We sampled them all, from Sawasdee to Siam Square. Here, a pupu platter of our favorites.

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MINI REVIEW: The Clay Oven

The south side’s international dining offerings grew by one enthusiastic Indian eatery this summer with the addition of The Clay Oven (7415 US 31 South, 888-2600) in Southport. Priding itself on its tandoor oven, this strip-mall eatery offers up a plentiful menu with everything from chicken kababs to broiled salmon to an abundance of vegetarian offerings. A stop in for dinner last weekend proved that this newcomer can compete with some of the better Indian restaurants in the city. Particularly tasty was a vegetarian appetizer combo with crispy vegetable samosas, golden fried pakora, and alloo tikki, nicely spiced mashed potato patties. For entrees, the lamb rogan josh was a luscious curry with meaty hunks of lamb that didn’t blast our palates away. A side of cauliflower korma was lush and creamy with the richness of ground nuts, though an overabundance of salt had us reaching for our water glasses. Thankfully, we also had a malty Haywards 5000, an Indian brew with a full 7% alcohol (it’s labeled “Super Strong Beer”), which helped make this cheery eatery, with its quite amicable staff, all the more charming.

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Book Ends

First, let’s clear up the confusion that nearly turned last week’s dinner planning into an Abbott & Costello bit. There are two library-themed restaurants in the Indianapolis area: The Library Restaurant & Pub (2610 S. Lynhurst Ave., 317-243-1124) on the west side, and Woody’s Library Restaurant (40 E. Main St., Carmel, 317-573-4444) to the far north. The two are unrelated and located on nearly opposite ends of town, and yet you will need to make sure that everybody in your party is on the same page when you say, “Let’s meet at The Library for dinner.” Take our word for it.

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Swoon List: 5 Things We Adore Right Now

The fried mozzarella and beets, over lightly dressed greens, at Black Market (922 Massachusetts Ave., 317-822-6757). Elevates this pub staple to a light and intriguing treat. Beef ribs at Mama’s House Korean Restaurant (8867 Pendleton Pike, 317-897-0808).

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Hi There, Pumpkin

Check out the crazy gourd action at Locally Grown Gardens.

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The Skinny

If you are the type of person who prefers the savory crackle of Colonel’s Original Recipe over the aggressive crunch of Extra Crispy, you will appreciate this finger-licking-good story on chicken skin’s new gourmet cache from The New York Times. Chicken skin salad? Chicken skin tacos? Gravy encased in a chicken-skin balloon? That’s poultry in motion.

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COMING SOON: Public Greens

Restaurateur Martha Hoover, overlord of the Cafe Patachou empire that currently boasts locations everywhere from Clay Terrace to Indianapolis International Airport, is opening yet another Broad Ripple joint to go with Petite Chou. Called Public Greens, it’s shoehorned into a smallish, older building at 902 E. 64th St., hard against the Monon Trail. True to its foot-friendly location, Greens will specialize in gussied up versions of “pedestrian” fare. “Food that is normally seen as either a guilty pleasure or as cornerstones of fast food menus will be elevated by the ingredients and preparation techniques used,” Hoover says. Look for a smoothie, juice and milkshake bar, plus burgers, salads, appetizers and desserts. Public Greens opens in March of 2012.

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