- Matthew Schniper
- Brewer's Republic/Underground
110-112 N. Nevada Ave., 633-2105/578-7771, brewersrep.com
When I spoke to new owner Jeff Haigh in March, he mentioned wanting to "push toward a higher level of service" and talked up his family's restaurant chops. But I don't see much of either when I visit. It starts at 6 p.m., entering the Underground and finding the bartender on the customer side of the bar, next to a half-eaten plate of food, with his shoes off. He starts to pull on a sock as we ask if he's open. He is. But hands ... feet. We retreat.
Upstairs we get the always-awesome Copper Kettle Mexican Chocolate Stout ($5). We try new items: a brie-apple-chicken flatbread ($10), jalapeño-corn risotto cakes ($7) and a white bean quinoa burger ($11). The flatbread chews dry and bland until we add sweet onion bacon jam, which garnishes the pleasant risotto cakes, which are generous for the price. House chips with the burger taste burnt. The burger, though nicely seasoned, crumbles quickly, and needs more pesto to combat the brioche bun's dryness. — MS
- Matthew Schniper
- Chaang Thai
7525 N. Academy Blvd., 594-4471, chaangthaicos.com
Owner Suwanna Meyer continues to produce fine Thai staples two years in, and will soon add new items. I pay for a preview of two upcoming dishes: a tilapia dish ($12.95) and Bangkok street-style chicken noodles ($10.95), both ordered and received hot. Served over fresh cabbage and greens, the tilapia holds a thin, crispy tempura breading reminiscent of sesame chicken's, and a sweet-and-sour sauce exudes big basil and chili essence. The noodles aren't a far cry from Pad Thai, replacing tamarind tang with a garlic-and-sweet-soy combo that gifts ample wok hay and a pad see ew vibe.
Equally pleasing from the main menu are Meyer's pineapple red curry ($9.95) and pork larb ($8.95), each ordered medium. Sweetness leads the curry, which we leave vegetarian with peppers, carrots, onions and the fruit — very fresh and clean. Red onion slivers and lime juice bite amidst the larb's meat, but the finish flavor holds nice chili and mint hints. — MS
- Griffin Swartzell
- Potato Potato
mobile business, facebook.com/potatopotatocos
Kevin Johnson's potato-pushing food truck — two-time winner in the Indy for Best Food Truck — has found a home downtown, sharing a parking lot off Boulder Street next to Ohana Kava Bar with Pig Latin. Naturally, we wandered by to see how things were shaping up for this beloved eatery in 2016. Though there was a 10-minute wait while Johnson was blanching a new batch of his starchy wares, the results were well worth it.
Greek fries ($7.50) present everything you'd want out of a Greek salad, but with hot-and-crispy pommes frites instead of lettuce. Despite the moisture from punchy Kalamata olives, pepperoncinis, bell pepper, green onion, feta and garlicky sauce, the truck's crispy fries resist any signs of wilting, adding crunch through all but the wettest bites. Potato Potato embodies something we love to see: a simple menu, refined to perfection. We can all learn something from Johnson's diligent attention to the art of the french fry. — GS