DINING: Tavern on South has obvious appeal

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Dining - A&E

How Tavern on South (423 W. South St., 602-3115)—the new eatery in the shadow of Lucas Oil Stadium—deals with the pre- and post-game masses remains to be seen­ since it opened at the end of the Indianapolis Colts’ season. But it passed a recent weekday lunch test with good grades and just a couple of opportunities to improve.

Despite its obvious appeal to fans of the three pro teams that suit up within spittin’ distance, the eatery avoids the raucous sports-bar atmosphere. The renovated 1910 two-story building is decked out with warm browns and oranges instead of the more-obvious Colts blue and Pacers gold.

The upstairs balcony overlooking downtown is sure to appeal when the weather breaks, and the main-floor dining room is gloriously smoke-free—as fitting for a working lunch as an after-hours cocktail. The flat-screen TVs are in evidence, but not in your face. The service is solicitous, the menu ambitious without being obnoxious.

We started with Deconstructed Filet Sliders ($11), which we knew from “Top Chef” meant some assembly would be required. Indeed, the appetizer featured tender, tasty slices of beef on grilled Ciabatta bread, with horseradish mousse and a tomato-mushroom ragout sauce on the side. The first bite was disappointing—the dense bread overwhelmed rather than enhanced. But when we experimented with more deconstruction, eating the sliders open-faced and topping the leftover piece of bread with the thick ragout, our meal was back on track.

My companion had the same issues with his Open-Faced Sea Bass sandwich ($10), one of the dishes our server recommended. Even the single piece of Ciabatta was too much, so he took his fork to the broiled fish

and accompanying sweet corn remoulade. The side of perfectly cooked, thick-sliced French fries was a plus, however, as was the small Tavern Salad ($6), which featured candied asparagus, sweet and spicy walnuts, dried cherries, Indiana goat cheese and other ingredients you are unlikely to find within stadium walls. Combined, with the Granny Smith apple vinaigrette, it would easily work as a satisfying entree.  

Dining Tavern on South’s Guiltless Chicken Wrap comes enveloped in a Napa cabbage leaf. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

I was thankful my Guiltless Chicken Wrap ($8.50) was bread-free. Instead of the standard tortilla, the chunks of grilled chicken and sun-dried tomatoes are wrapped in a Napa cabbage leaf, giving it some crunch along with something to hold onto. I’m not sure how guilt-free the herb aioli drizzled in and over the dish was—think fancy, housemade mayonnaise—but it sure was delicious. And I mentioned the cabbage, right?

Lest our meal be too healthful, we ordered dessert: a cake-and-ice-cream concoction called Black & Tan. And, no, it didn’t involve Guinness or Bass beer. The black was a reference to the miniature chocolate cake (although it actually was a much lighter color), the tan a nod to its peanut butter filling—and possibly the cinnamon ice cream that came on top. The cake was moist, the peanut butter creamy, the ice cream tasty. But only when we got all three in a single bite did it wow our taste buds the way a good dessert should.

The next time we find ourselves with Colts tickets, we’ll cut back on the dogs and beer to save room for post-game dining.•


First in our month-long series of reviews of new restaurants downtown.


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  1. How much you wanna bet, that 70% of the jobs created there (after construction) are minimum wage? And Harvey is correct, the vast majority of residents in this project will drive to their jobs, and to think otherwise, is like Harvey says, a pipe dream. Someone working at a restaurant or retail store will not be able to afford living there. What ever happened to people who wanted to build buildings, paying for it themselves? Not a fan of these tax deals.

  2. Uh, no GeorgeP. The project is supposed to bring on 1,000 jobs and those people along with the people that will be living in the new residential will be driving to their jobs. The walkable stuff is a pipe dream. Besides, walkable is defined as having all daily necessities within 1/2 mile. That's not the case here. Never will be.

  3. Brad is on to something there. The merger of the Formula E and IndyCar Series would give IndyCar access to International markets and Formula E access the Indianapolis 500, not to mention some other events in the USA. Maybe after 2016 but before the new Dallara is rolled out for 2018. This give IndyCar two more seasons to run the DW12 and Formula E to get charged up, pun intended. Then shock the racing world, pun intended, but making the 101st Indianapolis 500 a stellar, groundbreaking event: The first all-electric Indy 500, and use that platform to promote the future of the sport.

  4. No, HarveyF, the exact opposite. Greater density and closeness to retail and everyday necessities reduces traffic. When one has to drive miles for necessities, all those cars are on the roads for many miles. When reasonable density is built, low rise in this case, in the middle of a thriving retail area, one has to drive far less, actually reducing the number of cars on the road.

  5. The Indy Star announced today the appointment of a new Beverage Reporter! So instead of insightful reports on Indy pro sports and Indiana college teams, you now get to read stories about the 432nd new brewery open or some obscure Hoosier winery winning a county fair blue ribbon. Yep, that's the coverage we Star readers crave. Not.