DINING: Rooting for Broad Ripple's Canal Bistro

March 9, 2009

This week, our month-long experiment with the iPhone Urban Spoon feature (type in a region, shake, and get a restaurant recommendation) led us to Canal Bistro International Grille (6349 N. Guilford Ave., 254-8700). It was my first visit to the Middle Eastern eatery, which now has an expanded dining room and bar, giving more of a loungy feel to the bridge-side eatery.

While we let fate (helped by the pocket electronic device) pick the Broad Ripple spot, my guest and I didn't let it dictate our dining choices. After the complimentary warm pita (whose taste was marred by strips of char. Nice to know it wasn't from a microwave, but still ... ) we maximized our chances of hitting a winner by ordering the Mazza Plate ($12).

This Mediterranean sampler came anchored with two bowls, one of thick hummus and the other finely chopped tabouli. The former disappeared quicker than the equally satisfying latter. Also on the plate: falafel, feta cheese, calamata olives, and bite-sized triangular spinach pie (I'd call it spanakopita but that, I think, would imply more spinach).

The meal could have been over at that point, but we kept exploring, encountering a Lamb Burger ($10) that left us wondering why stray from beef if you can't find something equally enjoyable? On the other hand, the Gyros Sandwich ($7) excelled, with thick slices of the traditional rotisserie beef and lamb dressed, but not smothered, in tzatziki sauce.

With any sandwich (there's also Falafel, Kafta Kabab, Shawarma, Grilled Feta Cheese, and hey-where-did-that-come-from Wild Salmon), you can get the standard fries (and by standard we mean plentiful and medium-thick), but remember where you are. In the interest of embracing the Mediterranean nature of the surrounding menu, we sampled — and now strongly recommend — the upgrade that tops the fries with crumbled feta cheese (although it kicked the price up to $9.50).

I only wish that we, like the restaurant, had more room. The Grilled Fruits dessert ($6) sounded promising, but we'll wait until next time.

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