Scratch That

If Mayor Ballard’s office hasn’t declared this the official “Summer of the Food Truck,” it ought to. Just about every time you turn a corner downtown, another blocky, retro trailer has its awning out, and a cheery short-order cook is handing an office worker or a foodie with a good GPS a sack of tasty lunchtime victuals.
The latest motorized munchies maker to  attract a dedicated fan base is Scratch Street Food whose signature red van with its icon of a cast-iron frying pan turns up everywhere from Central Library to Meridian Street to Upland Brewery south of Broad Ripple. When we’d heard that Matt Kornmeyer had finally brought his dream of owning a Portland-style food truck to reality in late May, we sought him out but had some timing mishaps (we failed to read his Twitter feeds). But we finally got him in our sights on Meridian Street, just in time to get a Vietnamese-style bahn mi sandwich with generous and nicely spiced pork meatballs. The bread was a tad, well, bready, and we could have gone for even more tasty, tangy garnishes, but this was definitely a refreshing twist in food truck offerings. The signature Scratch burger with a tangy but not overwhelming bacon “marmalade” was delectable but not overly rich, even with plenty of gorgonzola on a buttery toasted roll. Green chile mac and cheese with a few kernels of sweet corn was  creative but didn’t pack as much flavor as it might have. Definitely a highlight were some deeply golden, earthy fries, which could rival any in town. The biggest surprise was the jalapeño watermelon lemonade—both less spicy and a notch less sweet than we’d anticipated. But the deep vegetal undertones of the peppers were definitely intriguing—and refreshing. And that banana pudding? Almost more a thick mousse with surprisingly crisp Pepperidge Farm chess cookies, this was a better-than-homestyle dessert we had to buy extras of to take to all of our banana-loving friends around town.

A graduate of IU’s Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing, Terry Kirts hails from a town in Illinois so small it didn’t have a restaurant until he was in the 8th grade. Since 2000, he’s more than made up for the dearth of eateries in his childhood, logging hundreds of meals as the dining critic for WHERE Indianapolis, Indianapolis Woman, and NUVO before joining Indianapolis Monthly as a contributing editor in 2007. A senior lecturer in creative writing at IUPUI, Terry has published his poetry and creative nonfiction in a number of literary journals and anthologies, including Gastronomica, Alimentum, and Home Again: Essays and Memoirs from Indiana, and he’s the author of the poetry collection To the Refrigerator Gods, published by Seven Kitchens Press in 2011.