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DINING: Washington Street eatery sparked by sibling synergy

Dee Gusto’s

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Dining - A&E

This month, we search for darn-good dining and daring dishes in a quartet of columns devoted to restaurants on the D-list—restaurants that begin with “D.”
 

ae-deegustos02-15col.jpg Dee Gusto’s Fried Chicken Wing Dinner shows surprising subtlety. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

First up, Dee Gusto’s Southern Cooking (1430 W. Washington St., 423-3553), a mom-and-pop—well, actually a sister-and-brother—operation housed in a former ice cream parlor just west of the Indianapolis Zoo. The restaurant is rooted in the recipes passed to owners Dee Dee Washington and Calvin Davis by their mother, Gustoria. In operation since 2010, Dee Gusto’s has room for only six tables, but also caters and serves takeout.

We dined in, missing the signature Breakfast Skillet ($8.99) which, along with Biscuits & Gravy ($4), are the only two dishes on the a.m. portion of the menu. The latter is also available for lunch as part of a $5 menu whose other options include Grilled Cheese, Chicken Drummettes and a Pork Chop Sandwich.

I wanted the full deal, though, so opted for the Pork Chop Dinner ($10). Here, a baked, breaded pair of chops displayed a delicious, crunchy exterior and sizable, meaty interior. When a place outside of the South has “southern” in its name, its kitchen often seems tempted to exaggerate the regional flavors, over-accenting like a bad actor. That’s not the case here, where subtlety wins out over excess salt and spices. The Chicken Wing Dinner ($9) similarly satisfied, with five substantial pieces providing plenty of crunch but not at the expense of the hidden fowl.

Each dinner comes with a square of dense cornbread and a pair of sides. If returning, I’d pass on the so-so Home Fried Potatoes and stick to the Greens and Mashed Potatoes. The latter didn’t leave us reaching for our water glasses as those in lesser establishments often do. The quality of the rest of the offerings now has me curious about the Basa fish (raved about by other reviewers) and Macaroni & Cheese. And, of course, those Biscuits and Gravy. A return visit—or two—may be in order soon.

Desserts? Of course, since they are made in-house. We sampled the Caramel Cake and Peach Cobbler ($2.99 each), preferring the former’s discreet use of the sweet coating on a hearty cake to the latter’s canned-fruit-meets-tasty-crust combo. Other optionsinclude Apple Dumplings (alas, all gone by the time of our lunch visit) and, depending on the day you visit, Banana Pudding or Key Lime Cake.

Best of all, the meal was served with the most genuine smiles of any eatery I’ve visited all year. At the risk of cliché, we felt like we were welcomed into a friend’s home. I only wish I had friends who cooked like this.•

—Lou Harry 

__________

First in a month-long series of D-restaurant reviews.

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  1. Why not take some time to do some research before traveling to that Indiana town or city, and find the ones that are no smoking either inside, or have a patio? People like yourself are just being selfish, and unnecessarily trying to take away all indoor venues that smokers can enjoy themselves at. Last time I checked, it is still a free country, and businesses do respond to market pressure and will ban smoking, if there's enough demand by customers for it(i.e. Linebacker Lounge in South Bend, and Rack and Helen's in New Haven, IN, outside of Fort Wayne). Indiana law already unnecessarily forced restaurants with a bar area to be no smoking, so why not support those restaurants that were forced to ban smoking against their will? Also, I'm always surprised at the number of bars that chose to ban smoking on their own, in non-ban parts of Indiana I'll sometimes travel into. Whiting, IN(just southeast of Chicago) has at least a few bars that went no smoking on their own accord, and despite no selfish government ban forcing those bars to make that move against their will! I'd much rather have a balance of both smoking and non-smoking bars, rather than a complete bar smoking ban that'll only force more bars to close their doors. And besides IMO, there are much worser things to worry about, than cigarette smoke inside a bar. If you feel a bar is too smoky, then simply walk out and take your business to a different bar!

  2. As other states are realizing the harm in jailing offenders of marijuana...Indiana steps backwards into the script of Reefer Madness. Well...you guys voted for your Gov...up to you to vote him out. Signed, Citizen of Florida...the next state to have medical marijuana.

  3. It's empowering for this niche community to know that they have an advocate on their side in case things go awry. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lrst9VXVKfE

  4. Apparently the settlement over Angie's List "bundling" charges hasn't stopped the practice! My membership is up for renewal, and I'm on my third email trying to get a "basic" membership rather than the "bundled" version they're trying to charge me for. Frustrating!!

  5. Well....as a vendor to both of these builders I guess I have the right to comment. Davis closed his doors with integrity.He paid me every penny he owed me. Estridge,STILL owes me thousands and thousands of dollars. The last few years of my life have been spent working 2 jobs, paying off the suppliers I used to work on Estridge jobs and just struggling to survive. Shame on you Paul...and shame on you IBJ! Maybe you should have contacted the hundreds of vendors that Paul stiffed. I'm sure your "rises from the ashes" spin on reporting would have contained true stories of real people who have struggled to find work and pay of their debts (something that Paul didn't even attempt to do).

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