There are those who like to take note of dining trends—what spices are suddenly de rigueur, what countries’ cuisines
are now being fused.
We at IBJ, however, like to note different sorts of trends. For instance, this month, we’re going to focus on Indianapolis-area culinary newcomers that sport animal names.
Yes, we know such categories are inconsequential, but they do allow for variety.
On our March bestiary dining tour, let’s start with Red Lion Grog House (1043 Virginia Ave., 822-4764), which has settled into Fountain Square in the Murphy Arts Building spot briefly occupied by the pizza joint Gusto.
The layout is similar to its predecessor’s: a few tables at the Virginia Avenue window and a stretch of additional seats paralleling the not-very-attractive open kitchen and leading to more seating in the back. The liquor license had yet to be secured when we visited, nullifying the grog in its name. Nonetheless, we settled for seeing how the British fare fared.
Of course, sampling the Fish and Chips ($10.99) was a given. The Red Lion version features hand-dipped cod fried to just the right crunch, with minimal grease and a side of hand-cut chips (you know them as fries). The menu boasts homemade tartar sauce, which upgraded them further.
The Blanket Bangers ($9.99) were reminiscent of the American favorite Pigs in a Blanket—with a little more personality. Plump, tasty English bangers (sausage links to the rest of us) were wrapped in puff pastry, baked until brown, and served with a side of fries and garlic-Dijon aioli. We added a ramekin of spicy curry sauce (60 cents), giving the dish a welcome punch.
In the Chicken Pot Pie ($9.99), a similar light puff pastry covered a mixture of shredded chicken breast, carrots, peas and potatoes with veloute cream sauce and little eye appeal. Hearty but unmemorable, it helped stave off the cold and kept the belly full until dinner, but it wouldn’t be my first choice on a return visit. It came with French Onion Soup (a visitor from across the Channel?) that was thin on both cheese and flavor. We also tried a plate of Fried Pickle Chips ($6.99), which were surprisingly delicate—OK, delicate for pickle chips. A garlic-Dijon aioli helped cut the pucker.
No matter what the weather, Red Lion’s location offers a great way to walk off a meal—it shares a front doorway with the recently relocated Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art and a back door with the interior hallway of the rest of the Murphy galleries. While you’re expanding your culinary horizons, why not expand your esthetic ones as well?•
First of our month-long series of reviews of animal-named eateries.