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DINING: Mudsocks Grill doesn't mess around

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Dining - A&E
Our month of random restaurant choices continues to serve up surprises—and good eats. This week we trekked up to the Hamilton County crossroads of central Indiana's own quad cities, an area I call Carfield-Noshers.

Maybe it's in Carmel, as Urban Spoon says, or neighboring Westfield. Then again, it could belong to Noblesville, like its mailing address suggests. But whatever the ZIP code, Mudsocks Grill (14741 Hazel Dell Crossing, 580-0630) clearly pays homage to old-school Fishers, where farmers' horses wore the evidence of the muddy fields they toiled in before the vinyl villages arrived.

The Mudsock reference might be obscure, but the restaurant stays true to its small-town inspiration. A toasty fire greets diners just inside the front door—during cool-weather months, at least—and the restaurant is cozy despite its size. (And in a nod to the 21st century, the whole place is non-smoking, another plus.)

We started with the Chili Con Queso ($8), a Velveeta-like combination of creamy cheese, spicy sausage and pico de gallo served with fresh-from-the-fryer tortilla chips and salsa (the initial thimble was quickly replaced by a bowl when we asked).

It was a good start and things quickly went uphill.

The Windy City Blues pasta ($10 for the lunch portion) was a palate pleaser—spaghetti tossed in a bleu cheese cream sauce with sauteed peppers, onions and pine nuts, then topped with blackened chicken and more bleu cheese. The fresh ciabatta bread served on the side cut the richness nicely. (The larger dinner portion—$15—also comes with a salad.)

We also enjoyed the Grilled Tilapia Sandwich ($9, like all wraps and sandwiches). The fish was perfectly cooked, flaky and flavorful, and came nicely dressed on a buttered egg bun. The house tartar sauce was more like ranch dressing than mayonnaise, another score. And wraps and sammies come with a choice of side, so we went for the creamy macaroni and cheese. Hard to go wrong there.

We pressed our luck and ordered dessert—happily avoiding whammies in the process. Our server recommended the house made fried cheesecake ($6.25, plus $1 for a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side) and we warily complied.

We should have never doubted him. The subtle, tempura-like breading provided the perfect yin to the tangy yang of the cheesecake. Mmm. Fried cheesecake.

So will we return on our own dime to where fate (and IBJ) sent us? Already did, much to the amusement of our server, whose greeting made it clear he remembered us: "Back so soon?"

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