DINING: Upscale eatery makes its mark on Shelbyville casino

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Dining - A&E

Quick—what are the three most important factors in making a real estate decision? The answer is an age-old (verging on overused) axiom: location, location, location.

There’s little chance that was a stumper for anyone, yet somehow the simple truth of that statement seems to have escaped the operators of Maker’s Mark Bourbon House and Lounge (inside Indiana Live! Casino, Shelbyville; (877) 386-4463).

One of just three Maker’s Mark restaurants in the country—the others are in Louisville, Ky., and Kansas City, Mo.—the upscale eatery would have been a good fit in downtown Indianapolis, for example, or in one of the suburban dining-and-shopping meccas. Instead, the restaurant moved into an electronic gambling hall in Shelby County.

Then again, maybe it was a brilliant move. There’s certainly not much white-tablecloth competition in the immediate vicinity. But if atmosphere is to restaurants what location is to real estate, it sure feels like a misstep.

Don’t get me wrong: We enjoyed our meal. The food was good, the server attentive and the furnishings comfortably plush.

Even so, we never forgot where we were, thanks to the constant background “music” provided by the slot machines clanging away just outside the restaurant entrance. The casino bar also is within earshot, so the blare of the cover band performing that night added to the cacophony.

Perhaps if we were grabbing a bite after a winning night at the (electronic) blackjack table, it wouldn’t seem so jarring. But if you do make the drive—Indiana Live! is about 16 miles east of I-465—for a special-occasion dinner, it helps considerably if you also have a hankering to play the ponies or snuggle up to a one-armed bandit.

If that’s the case, make sure you’re flush. Our dinner for two (with a shared appetizer, shared dessert and a couple beers) topped $100 before the tip—and we steered clear of the “signature” entrees, which started at $35; soups, salads and sides are extra.

At our server’s suggestion, we began with the Five Onion Flatbread ($9), a pizza-like appetizer that featured smoked bacon, Chevre cheese and roasted tomatoes in addition to the namesake ingredient. It was tasty, if a bit overcooked.

For the main courses we created our own surf and turf combination, ordering the 8-ounce Petite Rib Filet ($24) and Maker’s Mark Bar-B-Q Shrimp ($21) to share. We added on an order of Roasted Wild Mushrooms ($8).

The steak—clearly a superior cut of meat—was prepared perfectly and paired nicely with the mushrooms, which were served soaking in a distinctively bourbon-based sauce. We’d expect no less from Maker’s Mark.

Oddly enough, the five large grilled shrimp didn’t retain much bourbon flavor despite being brushed with what was billed as a spirit-infused barbecue sauce. In fact, there wasn’t much sauce at all. The star of this dish was the unexpected addition of an array of root veggies, a welcome surprise.

Satisfied but not stuffed, we let ourselves be talked into one of the house-made desserts, assembled by a pastry chef in a sushi-bar-like area just off the restaurant’s lounge.

Our choice: Chocolate Banana Filo Napoleon ($9)—a mouthful both literally and figuratively. Chocolate and banana pudding is layered between thin sheets of carmelized filo pastry and served alongside a scoop of homemade maple walnut ice cream. Jackpot!•


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  1. I am not by any means judging whether this is a good or bad project. It's pretty simple, the developers are not showing a hardship or need for this economic incentive. It is a vacant field, the easiest for development, and the developer already has the money to invest $26 million for construction. If they can afford that, they can afford to pay property taxes just like the rest of the residents do. As well, an average of $15/hour is an absolute joke in terms of economic development. Get in high paying jobs and maybe there's a different story. But that's the problem with this ask, it is speculative and users are just not known.

  2. Shouldn't this be a museum

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  4. Marijuana is the safest natural drug grown. Addiction is never physical. Marijuana health benefits are far more reaching then synthesized drugs. Abbott, Lilly, and the thousands of others create poisons and label them as medication. There is no current manufactured drug on the market that does not pose immediate and long term threat to the human anatomy. Certainly the potency of marijuana has increased by hybrids and growing techniques. However, Alcohol has been proven to destroy more families, relationships, cause more deaths and injuries in addition to the damage done to the body. Many confrontations such as domestic violence and other crimes can be attributed to alcohol. The criminal activities and injustices that surround marijuana exists because it is illegal in much of the world. If legalized throughout the world you would see a dramatic decrease in such activities and a savings to many countries for legal prosecutions, incarceration etc in regards to marijuana. It indeed can create wealth for the government by collecting taxes, creating jobs, etc.... I personally do not partake. I do hope it is legalized throughout the world.

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