Restaurant Guide Update: November 2019

Seafood with an aquatic view is the house specialty at far-west fave Rick’s Café Boatyard.

Tony Valainis

Gavel Curated Cafe

Gavel Curated Cafe is in the lobby of Fountain Square marketing firm MilesHerndon, and the aesthetic benefits of being the brainchild of a branding team are obvious. The sleek space, with its calming blue walls (and perfectly matched blue cups), definitely creates a “you-should-hang-out-here-a-while” vibe. Gavel (so named for its previous life as a Marion County courtroom) is a coffee, cocktail, and grilled-cheese bar, with housemade everything, courtesy of chef Carrie Herndon. There are parfaits, scones, and muffins if you’re in a breakfast mood, or soups, snacks (hello, jalapeño dip), and three daily grilled-cheese choices for lunch or dinner, including a rotating weekly option along the lines of roast beef and blue cheese with caramelized onions and mozzarella. Get your caffeine fix with pour-overs, nitro cold-brew, and lattes (spiced orange is the top seller), or grab a cocktail from the Italian aperitif–inspired menu, including the High Fashion, with cardamaro, ginger turmeric syrup, angostura, and orange bitters. Breakfast and lunch daily. 902 Virginia Ave., 317-681-2086 V $$

Upland Fountain Square

Bloomington’s Upland Brewery brings its casual-dining experience to a brand-new venue in Fountain Square, with an industrial, open-concept dining room and an already beloved dog-friendly patio. The Upland repertoire gets proper representation in the wall of taps behind the bar. You can casually sip a flight of sours and snack on smoked chicken wings, the perennially popular hummus plate, or a Mason jar of pickled veggies. Serious diners can get busy with dishes plucked from the chef’s rotating seasonal menu, and vegetarians get plenty of love, with options such as a Three Carrots seitan breaded “tenderloin” as tasty as the State Fair original. Lunch and dinner daily. 1201 Prospect St., 317-672-3671, V $$

Fork + Ale House

For a microbrewery, the food menu is massive at Fork + Ale House. Once you decide if you’re in the mood for an adult bourbon slushie or one of the signature in-house brews like Beehive Blonde or Hopping Hound IPA, you can turn your attention to the food, which is stacked with categories from “shareables” to “handhelds” to “pizza” to “mainplates” to “burgers.” If you’re overwhelmed, we’ll save you some time and suggest the beer-braised beef, a fall-apart serving of tenderloin chunks slow cooked with onions, Sriracha, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and beer. The restaurant patio is right next to the busy family activity space in front of Sun King Distillery, so you can challenge your kids to a game of ping-pong while you wait for a table. Lunch and dinner daily. 350 Veterans Way, Carmel, 317-669-2686, V $$

Sahm’s Place

There is nothing fancy about this Broad Ripple–adjacent spot that predates so many of this town’s casual-dining restaurants. But there are reasons it has been around for 20 years: everything from its selection of “Pittsburgh-style” steaks and chops served on sizzling cast-iron skillets to its diner sandwiches to a list of crowd-pleasing appetizers that ask the question: ranch, blue cheese, or both? Weekend brunch, Wednesday steak night, and a tabletop menu of jumbo sliders—plus all of the beers from sibling brewery Big Lug—make this workhorse of the Sahm’s Restaurant Group a perennially reliable choice. Lunch and dinner daily. 2411 E. 65th St., 317-202-1577, $$

Rick’s Café Boatyard

You don’t have to be a Parrothead (though it helps) to appreciate the pontoon-life allure of Eagle Creek’s waterside restaurant, with its breezy dining room elevated on stilts over the Dandy Trail boat slips. The menu gets creative with all of the casual-dining tropes, mixing smoked-salmon nachos and chicken cordon bleu fingers in with the jumbo shrimp martinis and oyster shooters, for starters. It serves all of the pastas, burgers, steaks, and entrée salads that you would expect from a place that draws big crowds. Aside from the live music on the patio and the steady supply of fast-pour drinks (including a coconut-y spiced-rum cocktail called Boater’s Tan), the best reason to spend a sunset at Rick’s is the deep selection of seafood, mostly grilled and creatively sauced. The selections range from the mesquite-kissed grouper sandwich to the Loch Duart Scottish salmon with Kyoto marinade to the simple but flawless grilled fisherman’s platter—a skewer of lobster, shrimp, and scallop with salmon, served alongside coconut rice. Lunch and dinner daily. 4050 Dandy Trail, 317-290-9300, $$$