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DINING: Thunderbird cruises in with cocktails and creativity

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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

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  1. I had read earlier this spring that Noodles & Co was going to open in the Fishers Marketplace (which is SR 37 and 131st St, not 141st St, just FYI). Any word on that? Also, do you happen to know what is being built in Carmel at Pennsylvania and Old Meridian? May just be an office building but I'm not sure.

  2. I'm sorry, but you are flat out wrong. There are few tracks in the world with the history of IMS and probably NO OTHER as widely known and recognized. I don't care what you think about the stat of Indy Car racing, these are pretty hard things to dispute.

  3. Also wondering if there is an update on the Brockway Pub-Danny Boy restaurant/taproom that was planned for the village as well?

  4. Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?

  5. Look at the bright side. With the new Lowe's call center, that means 1000 jobs at $10 bucks an hour. IMS has to be drooling over all that disposable income. If those employees can save all their extra money after bills, in five years they can go to the race LIVE. Can you say attendance boost?

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