DINING: Neighborhood joint offers tasty tweaks on bar/grill staples

I didn’t expect to find a quote from a long-dead French food writer on an Indianapolis restaurant’s website, but there it was: “In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is the sign of perfection.”

ae-jts-grille05print-1col.jpg JT’s Pork Out sandwich is a wonderful combination of grilled and smoked meat topped with coleslaw. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Maurice Edmund Sailland’s words ring true, no matter what the folks at Food Network would have us believe. A well-prepared dish doesn’t need sauces and sides to get my attention. Same goes for restaurants: White tablecloths and black ties do not necessarily equal excellence. Tasty food and friendly servers mean more.

I found both in abundance at JT’s Grille & Bar (2210 E. 54th St., 253-3300). As JT’s variation on the standard “bar-and-grill” name implies, the focus at this neighborhood joint is on the food, not the drink. And the quote on its home page told me I probably wouldn’t have to resort to Google to decipher the menu.

Indeed, the choices at JT’s are delightfully simple. And our selections were downright delicious.

I’m a sucker for a funny name, so I instantly gravitated to the Pork Out sandwich ($8.95): a grilled pork patty topped with pulled pork topped with coleslaw and served on a grilled bun. A side salad helped me justify the indulgence. (And I only tasted a drop of the yummy house-made bleu cheese dressing as a favor to you, dear reader.)

The pork-on-pork combo was fabulous. The patty was a solid foundation for the shredded meat and creamy coleslaw, keeping the sandwich together and providing a flavor-packed crunch that left me wanting more. The pulled pork, cooked in a smoker out back, was more subtle than the patty but equally appealing.

My husband continued his quest for a restaurant meatloaf that rivals his “World’s Best” recipe, ordering the Angus Meatloaf ($11.95) sided by cheddar whipped potatoes and a bowl of French onion soup ($2.50 upcharge). His clean plate was the surest sign that JT’s is a contender. Topped with a sweet-yet-tangy

sauce, the generously sliced loaf was moist and flavorful—its ingredients blended thoroughly enough before baking that they were impossible to identify.

Our companion opted for Chicken Cutlets ($11.95) with a side of baked beans, literally groaning with pleasure at juicy meat and light Italian breading pan-fried to golden perfection.

Then came dessert, thanks to our solicitous server’s high praise for the post-meal goodies the kitchen staff makes. We gambled on the Ambrosia cake ($3.50) and hit the jackpot. The fruity layer cake was moist to the point of creaminess, its light frosting making it seem less decadent than I’m sure it was. Simply perfect.•


Last in a month-long series of “Grill” restaurant reviews.

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