IBJNews

DINING: Winner's is a place to show

Winner's Circle Pub, Grille and OTB

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Dining - A&E

With the Super Bowl just a flip of the calendar away, our focus this month is on newer downtown restaurants. First up: Winner’s Circle Pub, Grille and OTB (20 N. Pennsylvania St, 656-7223).

Right out of the gate, it’s obvious that Hoosier Park’s addition to the downtown dining race is no dark horse. Rather than the dank cave of a venue that made the previous off-track-betting facility feel like a house of shame, Winner’s Circle features proud signage and large windows into the dining room. Inside, the staff is cheerful and, at least outside of the closed-door OTB, there’s no olfactory obviousness that this is a smoking facility.

The food on the grille side proved unexpectedly ambitious. A $10 Soup and Half Sandwich lunch featured a Salmon Cake Sandwich that looked like it was auditioning to be on the cover of Gourmet magazine rather than the daily racing form.
 

winner circle Winner at Winner’s Circle: Salmon Cake Sandwich and Potato Leek and Smoked Sausage Soup. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

The tasty three-biter was narrowly beaten in the pleasure race by the Potato Leek & Smoked Sausage Soup, a creamy concoction with large slices of meat, and crunchy slivers of the titular onion cousin. (The menu states that all sandwiches come with a side of fries, coleslaw or sweet potato chips but apparently that doesn’t apply to this combo, where a pickle spear was all that rounded out the plate.)

I find it tough not to bet on Banana Cream Pie ($5.50), particularly when it is house-made. In the Winner’s Circle breed, a thin layer of graham crumbles were all that separated an ocean of banana cream from its bowl. Here, creativity won out over satisfaction: If I’d wanted pudding, I would have asked for it.

On a revisit (at which the waiter remembered my drink choice from days earlier), I found the Seafood and Andouille Sausage Flatbread Pizza ($10) to be far from

flat. In fact, it almost qualified as deep dish. The two toppings rarely shared space, though, making this feel more like different good pies rather than one outstanding one. Still, it was sizable enough to linger over if I’d had the time to place a bet on a race or two.

Also substantial was the Pork Tenderloin Strips ($11), a reasonably accomplished effort to apply the chicken strip principle to the breaded tenderloin. Looking like a plate of calamari that had been part of the doping scheme gone wild, the sizable pieces were aided by a house honey mustard dressing. The Wedge Burger ($10) was fine, but the meat and applewood smoked bacon lost the flavor race with the dominant blue cheese and roll.

Still, if I were a betting man (and, OK, I’m sometimes a betting man), I’d put down money on Winner’s Circle. It’s got the look and attitude of a winner, and, in its first efforts, succeeds in getting to the finish line—maybe not in front of the pack, but certainly in the race. Keep your binoculars trained on this one.•

– Lou Harry

__________

First in a month-long series of looks at newer downtown eateries.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  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.

ADVERTISEMENT