DINING: Thunderbird cruises in with cocktails and creativity

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Dining - A&E

The Ford Thunderbird had a style all its own. And while the brick interior walls, funky lighting and exposed beams of Thunderbird (1127 Shelby St., 974-9580) might not be as original, Fountain Square’s newest nightspot seems built to last, fitting comfortably into the neighborhood while carving its own niche with creative drinks and unexpected entrees.

No question, the emphasis here is on craft cocktails, with such T-Bird Original offerings as the Slapped Actress (vodka, apple brandy, lemon, lime and sugar) and Boneshaker (bourbon, Averna, Amaro, lemon, sugar, heavy cream and egg) tempting those with $9-$11 to drop on a drink.

ae-diningmainthunderbird04-15col.jpg Biscuits come slathered in duck-neck gravy at Thunderbird.(IBJ Photo/ Aaron P. Bernstein)

For me, the primary lure was the interesting food lineup, sporting a decidedly southern accent in portions sized in that nether region between full entrée and tapas, including Hush Puppies ($6), Croquettes ($6), Shrimp & Grits ($10) and Biscuits & Gravy ($10), all looking tempting on the one-sheet menu. On a crowded Saturday night, friends and I opted for the B&G—after all, where else can you find quality biscuits and gravy at 11 p.m.? The Thunderbird version features a substantial house-made biscuit—neither overly fluffy nor overly dense—topped with duck-neck gravy and a fried egg. The dish proved the undisputed winner of the evening.

We had mixed feelings about the Chicken and Hoecake Sandwich ($10), although we agreed on how much fun it is to say “hoecake.” I found the fried buttermilk chicken thigh, smoked cheddar and bacon honey butter a textural treat, especially when softly sandwiched in the cake. A guest, though, thought it needed another element and wasn’t satisfied with the dab of pickled items barely siding it.

We agreed that the Fried Golden Beets ($10) would

have been better as a smaller side dish instead of being ambitiously presented as an entrée. Goat cheese, radicchio, slivers of pears, pistachio and a stone ground mustard vinaigrette sounded good on paper, but failed to excite on the plate. Some of the best supporting actors, remember, disappoint when playing leads.

As a side dish, we tried the Corn Bread ($4), which, even with a tasty spiced maple syrup, seemed to be resisting asserting its flavors. Other options include Fried Black Eye Peas, Crisp Hominy and Pickles (each $4).

ae-diningthunderbird01-15col.jpg When you order Pickles, don’t expect standard burger toppers. (IBJ Photo/ Aaron P. Bernstein)

The kitchen was already out of both house desserts—An Upside-Down Pear Cake with Whipped Cream ($4) and Beignets ($4)—by the time we attempted to order.

I should warn you that Thunderbird doesn’t serve lunch, instead opening at 4 p.m. each day. Of course, if you are having biscuits and gravy at 11 p.m., traditional meal times are irrelevant.•

—Lou Harry


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I am a Lyft driver who is a licensed CDL professional driver. ALL Lyft drivers take pride in providing quality service to the Indianapolis and surrounding areas, and we take the safety of our passengers and the public seriously.(passengers are required to put seat belts on when they get in our cars) We do go through background checks, driving records are checked as are the personal cars we drive, (these are OUR private cars we use) Unlike taxi cabs and their drivers Lyft (and yes Uber) provide passengers with a clean car inside and out, a friendly and courteous driver, and who is dressed appropriately and is groomed appropriately. I go so far as to offer mints, candy and/or small bottle of water to the my customers. It's a mutual respect between driver and passenger. With Best Regards

  2. to be the big fish in the little pond of IRL midwest racin' when yer up against Racin' Gardner

  3. In the first sentance "As a resident of one of these new Carmel Apartments the issue the local governments need to discuss are build quality & price." need a way to edit

  4. As a resident of one of these new Carmel Apartments the issue the local governments need to discuss is build quality & price. First none of these places is worth $1100 for a one bedroom. Downtown Carmel or Keystone at the Crossing in Indy. It doesn't matter. All require you to get in your car to get just about anywhere you need to go. I'm in one of the Carmel apartments now where after just 2.5 short years one of the kitchen cabinet doors is crooked and lawn and property maintenance seems to be lacking my old Indianapolis apartment which cost $300 less. This is one of the new star apartments. As they keep building throughout the area "deals" will start popping up creating shoppers. If your property is falling apart after year 3 what will it look like after year 5 or 10??? Why would one stay here if they could move to a new Broad Ripple in 2 to 3 years or another part of the Far Northside?? The complexes aren't going to let the "poor" move in without local permission so that's not that problem, but it the occupancy rate drops suddenly because the "Young" people moved back to Indy then look out.

  5. Why are you so concerned about Ace hardware? I don't understand why anyone goes there! Every time ive gone in the past, they don't have what I need and I end up going to the big box stores. I understand the service aspect and that they try to be helpful but if they are going to survive I think they might need to carry more specialty parts.