Last fall, I traveled from our offices downtown to the Mansion at Oak Hill, a stately colonial on 116th Street, to speak to the Newcomers Club of Carmel. Despite its name, the group, whose members are spread across the northern arc of the city—including Fishers, Zionsville, and Westfield—hosts both new residents and natives in its myriad social activities, from book clubs to Bunco parties.
I love the 40-year-old club’s mission: to connect people with similar interests. As I learned when I arrived here just after the Super Bowl, making friends can be the hardest part of moving to a new city. Maybe even more so in Indy, where so many residents were born in the state and already share some sort of common bond you lack—alumni status at Indiana University or three-generation ties to Irvington, for instance. Newcomers president Sherry Levy tells me that some of the ladies even say the group “saved their lives” when they relocated here. Knowing how the friends my husband and I made have enriched our enjoyment of Indy, I believe it.
During the question-and-answer portion of my talk to the Newcomers, this query perked the most ears: “Who gets to be your restaurant reviewer?” Dining editor Julia Spalding—who has covered the scene here since the ’90s—gets that lucky responsibility, writing with such authority, I inherently trust her opinions. Thanks to her, I knew to try Shoefly Public House’s fish and chips; the walleye manages to be both perfectly crispy and succulent. The standout dish is just one reason Spalding—along with our other food writers, Terry Kirts and Taylor Ellis—included Shoefly in this month’s 25 Best Restaurants. Their deep research for not just this list, but all of our dining coverage, made it much easier to roll off answers to the club’s next question: “Which restaurants do you recommend?”
After all, it’s rare that an outing with friends doesn’t involve breaking bread, right? Recently, my husband and I headed to the Libertine with our gourmand pals Cathy and David. The confit chicken wings won out as my favorite dish, and I should have known—Spalding raves about them. If you’re looking for a few epicurean friends yourself, the Newcomers meet May 15 at the Bridgewater Club (see carmelnewcomersclub.org for RSVP details). Their “Out to Lunch Bunch” activity group sounds especially promising.
Amanda Heckert is the editor-in-chief of Indianapolis Monthly.
On the cover: Grass-fed filet mignon from The Loft Restaurant; photo by Tony Valainis.
This article appeared in the May 2014 issue.