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DINING: Next to Recess, a room with a clue

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Dining - A&E

As important as a skilled chef is to a restaurant’s success, most also would benefit from having another trained professional on hand: an editor.

No, I’m not angling for my dream job ridding the culinary world of typographical errors. Rather, mine is a clarion call for restraint—for culling the multi-page menu down to the best of the best.
 

ae-fish-tacos02-15col.jpg Fried Fish Tacos may or may not be on the rotating menu when you visit Room Four. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Trying to please everyone often has the opposite effect. I don’t really want nachos with my sushi, and serving both from the same kitchen makes me assume neither will be great.

A limited menu doesn’t necessarily ensure excellence, of course, but the target is a lot easier to reach.

Local restaurateur Greg Hardesty hit the bull’s eye at Room Four (4907 N. College Ave., 925-7529), which changes its one-page a la carte menu daily. Like sister restaurant Recess on the other side of the hostess stand, it builds dishes around fresh local and regional ingredients. The basic lineup stays the same even though the choices vary: soup, salad, sandwiches and tacos.

We lucked into a Friday night table with no waiting, but the tiny eatery filled fast. Still, our server was as friendly as she was efficient, never making us feel rushed.

We started with the Chicken Pozole ($11), a hearty stew with a depth of flavor that suggested days of cooking—a big plus for my home-cooking husband who insists time is the most important ingredient in any recipe.

The “traditional garnishes” the menu promised without explanation included shredded cabbage and slivers of red onion—both served raw on top of the soup to add some crunch—along with cilantro, avocado and lime. We shared the generous bowl, which could have been a meal by itself.

Next up: a juicy, old-fashioned burger ($16) made with meat from Fischer Farms Natural Beef in Jasper and adorned with all the standard fixings. I didn’t see a source listed for the supple-yet-substantial buns, but they clearly came from a bakery, not a bag. Crispy fried potatoes served on the side provided some textural balance.

We also tried all three tacos of the day ($6 each): pork belly, fried fish and pork Milanese (also fried). All impressed, starting with a presentation that involves golf tees and plastic-wrapped wood. Two soft corn tortillas could barely contain each culinary concoction. Every bite tickled the taste buds.

Dessert is similarly simple—and sensational. Warm-from-the-oven cookies stuffed with classic candy bars instead of chocolate chips. The sole flourish, a side of house-made vanilla whipped cream, was nice, if unnecessary.

Or maybe that’s just the editor talking.

—Andrea Muirragui Davis

__________

Third in a month-long series of farm-to-table restaurant reviews.

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  1. Really, taking someone managing the regulation of Alcohol and making himthe President of an IVY Tech regional campus. Does he have an education background?

  2. Jan, great rant. Now how about you review the report and offer rebuttal of the memo. This might be more conducive to civil discourse than a wild rant with no supporting facts. Perhaps some links to support your assertions would be helpful

  3. I've lived in Indianapolis my whole and been to the track 3 times. Once for a Brickyard, once last year on a practice day for Indy 500, and once when I was a high school student to pick up trash for community service. In the past 11 years, I would say while the IMS is a great venue, there are some upgrades that would show that it's changing with the times, just like the city is. First, take out the bleachers and put in individual seats. Kentucky Motor Speedway has individual seats and they look cool. Fix up the restrooms. Add wi-fi. Like others have suggested, look at bringing in concerts leading up to events. Don't just stick with the country music genre. Pop music would work well too I believe. This will attract more young celebrities to the Indy 500 like the kind that go to the Kentucky Derby. Work with Indy Go to increase the frequency of the bus route to the track during high end events. That way people have other options than worrying about where to park and paying for parking. Then after all of this, look at getting night lights. I think the aforementioned strategies are more necessary than night racing at this point in time.

  4. Talking about congestion ANYWHERE in Indianapolis is absolutely laughable. Sure you may have to wait in 5 minutes of traffic to travel down BR avenue during *peak* times. But that is absolutely nothing compared to actual big cities. Indy is way too suburban to have actual congestion problems. So please, never bring up "congestion" as an excuse to avoid development in Indianapolis. If anything, we could use a little more.

  5. Oh wait. Never mind.

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