The location itself has a history of flatlining, but the Friday-night scene at Clearwater Crossing’s months-old Brewstone Beer Company (3720 E. 82nd St., 317-577-7800) is alive and kicking. Barely recognizable under all of the varnished wood and fieldstone accents from its days as The Music Mill and, before that, a Discovery Zone indoor playground, the spot with the sprawling square footage (Cadillac Ranch was a prospective tenant at one point) combines the bling of a Vegas casino with the distraction of a big-screen sports bar. Diners pack the tables, jockey for spots at the central bar—where business got so frenzied one night that the ’tenders ran out of martini glasses—and occasionally hit the jackpot by landing one of the coveted outdoor tables, where the people-watching pairs well with a flavored mojito and an appetizer sampler. Imagine Geist’s Bella Vita without the water, or Champps Americana, but with better cut, clarity, color, and carat.
The menu focuses on crowd pleasers, listing six varieties of sliders, from meatball to veggie, as well as a deep selection of burgers and flatbreads. On a nice summer night, opt for the wedge salad, a respectable hunk of chilled iceberg under a tumble of bacon and bleu cheese, over the too-sweet French onion soup served in a tidy square bowl that defeats the gooey purpose of this indulgence. Garlicky shrimp scampi is a solid pick as long as it’s not date night. And nacho connoisseur will appreciate the heaping, straightforward presentation at Brewstone, which makes a solid case for liquid cheese and, perhaps, serves as a metaphor for Brewstone’s success: If you build it big, they will come.