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DINING: North-side branch of downtown steakhouse means more Mo’s

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Dining - A&E

They had me at “butter of the day.”

Until our server uttered those magic words, my first visit to Carmel newcomer Mo’s A Place for Steaks was just OK.

Tucked away down a side “street” at the Clay Terrace outdoor mall, the low-profile steakhouse (14300 Clay Terrace Blvd, Suite 155; 660-0720) exudes the kind of upscale vibe that typically makes me feel underdressed and outclassed.
 

ae_Dining2nd-Mos04 Starters at Mo's include Moysters­—spiced oysters. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Our server’s borderline-condescending “guided tour” of the simple menu probably didn’t help. And a word to the wise: If you promise diners a tag-team “SWAT” approach to service, someone might want to at least make eye contact during the 10-plus minutes you spend attending to other tables.

So, yeah, I was a little grumpy. But my outlook began to change when our food arrived.

We started with the Moysters ($14), a half-dozen delicately battered, Cajun-spiced oysters pan-fried and served over spinach in a bleu cheese sauce. The breading somehow kept its crunch, providing textural balance for the melt-in-your mouth oysters and creamy cheese. Our only quibble was that the fresh-baked bread wasn’t delivered in time to sop up the dregs of the Alfredo-like sauce.


ae-diningmain-mos07-15col.jpg Seafood supplements the steaks at Mo’s. Dishes include Chilean Sea Bass. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

But the trio of still-warm, made-for-Mo’s breads—Italian, pretzel and Ciabatta during our visit—came with a welcome consolation prize: the butter of the day. Ours was a stone-ground mustard butter, a subtle flavor that complemented the pretzel bread particularly well. That set the stage for our induction into the clean-plate club.

We debated whether to have steak, figuring it to be a gimme dish for a steakhouse, but ultimately gave in to the beckoning call of a well-prepared piece of meat. Hubby opted for a 12-ounce Filet Mignon ($45) and a bowl of French Onion Soup ($8) and raved about both.

The lean beef was grilled to perfection, its crisp exterior giving way with every tender, juicy bite. The soup likewise was full of flavor—along with an abundance of thick-sliced onions, crunchy croutons and melted cheese. (A note for the frugal: Entrees come with a choice of the house salad or soup of the day, but upgrades like the French Onion come at full price.)

I chose the Chilean Sea Bass ($34 solo or $38 on a bed of veggies), making do with a decidedly uninspiring house salad and splurging on the sauce-soaked spinach and asparagus. I would have gladly skipped the salad altogether for more of the other vegetables—especially if I would have thought to ask for them without the buttery sauce. They were an ideal accompaniment for the flaky, mild fish.

In typical eyes-bigger-than-our-stomachs fashion, we also ordered a side of Lobster Mac N’ Cheese ($16), but managed to take only a few bites before relegating it to leftover status. (Hubby reports it makes a decadently delicious lunch.)

Still, we somehow found room for dessert: a house-made macadamia nut brownie ($7) served a la mode with drizzles of chocolate and caramel sauce. The thin, nut-packed brownie and scoop of vanilla ice cream was just enough to satisfy our post-meal sweet tooth without making us miserable.

Then we saw the bill. The white-tablecloth treatment isn’t cheap, and we probably won’t be back for another Monday night meal on our own dime, but Mo’s will definitely make the short list of special-occasion restaurant options.

Our 20th anniversary is coming up in a few months. I wonder what the butter of the day will be.•

–Andrea Muirragui Davis

  Fourth in a series of "possessive men" restaurant reviews.

  

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  1. I took Bruce's comments to highlight a glaring issue when it comes to a state's image, and therefore its overall branding. An example is Michigan vs. Indiana. Michigan has done an excellent job of following through on its branding strategy around "Pure Michigan", even down to the detail of the rest stops. Since a state's branding is often targeted to visitors, it makes sense that rest stops, being that point of first impression, should be significant. It is clear that Indiana doesn't care as much about the impression it gives visitors even though our branding as the Crossroads of America does place importance on travel. Bruce's point is quite logical and accurate.

  2. I appreciated the article. I guess I have become so accustomed to making my "pit stops" at places where I can ALSO get gasoline and something hot to eat, that I hardly even notice public rest stops anymore. That said, I do concur with the rationale that our rest stops (if we are to have them at all) can and should be both fiscally-responsible AND designed to make a positive impression about our state.

  3. I don't know about the rest of you but I only stop at these places for one reason, and it's not to picnic. I move trucks for dealers and have been to rest areas in most all 48 lower states. Some of ours need upgrading no doubt. Many states rest areas are much worse than ours. In the rest area on I-70 just past Richmond truckers have to hike about a quarter of a mile. When I stop I;m generally in a bit of a hurry. Convenience,not beauty, is a primary concern.

  4. Community Hospital is the only system to not have layoffs? That is not true. Because I was one of the people who was laid off from East. And all of the LPN's have been laid off. Just because their layoffs were not announced or done all together does not mean people did not lose their jobs. They cherry-picked people from departments one by one. But you add them all up and it's several hundred. And East has had a dramatic drop I in patient beds from 800 to around 125. I know because I worked there for 30 years.

  5. I have obtained my 6 gallon badge for my donation of A Positive blood. I'm sorry to hear that my donation was nothing but a profit center for the Indiana Blood Center.

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