DINING: In Irvington, an eatery that lives up to its 'Legend' name

March 30, 2009

With a name like The Legend, expectations run high. Luckily for us, The Legend Classic Irvington Cafe; (5614 E. Washington St., 536-2028) met them.

Our final Urban Spoon query led us to the cozy, classy east-side eatery, nestled in the heart of one of Indianapolis' first suburbs. The lunch crowd was sparse on our first visit, but the place was bustling during a return trip—enough so that the kitchen had run out of the popular macaroni and cheese.

The white tablecloths in the main dining room give the restaurant an upscale feel, but the friendly servers and classic menu—think meatloaf and grilled cheese—conjure up an appealing family atmosphere. The booths in the small bar area are even more welcoming.

We kept it simple on our first visit. The Ellenburger—Irvingtonians get the insider reference to a nearby park—was a veritable bargain at $7, especially since it's served with two side items that cost $2 each on their own. The burger was flavorful and easy to hold, if not as juicy as some might like. The side of mac and cheese was just creamy enough and topped with a satisfyingly cheesy crust.

Three Cheese Grilled Cheese on peasant bread ($6) perfectly married the crisp bread and gooey goodness. The $3 side salad also was a solid choice, offering up fancier-than-iceberg greens that went well with the dill ranch dressing.

It wasn't until days later that I realized how boring our choices were, so I made another trek with adventure in mind. I ended up with a variation of the N.Y. Sloppy Joe ($9 whole, $5 half) because the lunch rush had 86ed one of the ingredients.

They call it sloppy for a reason. Served on pumpernickel bread, this cold sandwich comes with mounds of sliced turkey, corned beef-or in my case, roast beef-Swiss cheese, coleslaw and Thousand Island dressing. Yum.

The salad dressing and mayo-laden coleslaw keep the sandwich from becoming dry, and the hearty bread keeps it from falling apart. I needed a fork to scoop up assorted droppings, but I ate every bite.

For dessert, I opted for a made-from-scratch Three Chip Cookie ($1), which featured white chocolate and butterscotch chips in addition to the standard semi-sweet. It was tasty but cold, making me think how much better it would have been fresh from the oven instead of the fridge.

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