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Mike Harris heads to Sacred Grounds; Island Delight opens off Powers Blvd.

Side Dish

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From Public to Sacred

Chef Mike Harris placed third in the Indy's Best Of competition this year for his work at The Public House, elevating its fare above basic bar food. Now, he's moved on to a new challenge, taking a position as head chef at Sacred Grounds Cafe & Wine Bar (1801 Cheyenne Blvd., sacredgroundsbroadmoor.com).

You might recall that since Natasha Shnapper took over the spot in 2013, it moved beyond just "coffee in the canyon" into more full menus that included Russian specialties and weekly take-out dinners. Harris says many of the Russian items will stay, as will popular sandwiches like a house Muffaletta, plus Shnapper's popular honey cake and "the best tiramisu I've ever had."

But he plans to add more sandwiches, new burgers, more wines and cocktails, cooking classes and wine tastings, plus regular Friday and Saturday night dinners with live music. New hours will be 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, with exceptions for those dinner nights, which continue hours until 9 p.m.

"The opportunity here is amazing," he says. "We're becoming a destination."

Harris also notes that come warmer weather, Sacred Grounds plans to expand seating past the patio and deck into a newly landscaped backyard, where he'll also grow his own herbs and vegetables.

Return to Jamaica

Many years ago, Carlene Francis opened Jamaican Flavor off Academy Boulevard and the Hancock Expressway, but sold the business after only a year to deploy overseas to Iraq. She says she did several stints back and forth, continuing with military defense contracting up until this past May.

Then, in early November, she launched Island Delight (3735 Bloomington St., islanddelightcos.com), because "I love to cook," she says, matter-of-factly. "It's my passion."

Francis grew up in the town of Savanna-la-Mar on Jamaica's west coast, leaving the island when she was 20. Her menu reads like a local's, with traditional dishes like curried goat and goat head soup, oxtail, and several jerk-spiced options. But she says she's intentionally changed it up a bit from what she offered at Jamaican Flavor (which remains alive and well today), adding an array of salads and shrimp dishes, plus jerk burgers and wings and vegetarian items, some of which can be made vegan. Look for weekly specials too.

Her father Milton helps out with the business and her close friend Tamar Bernard also cooks; Francis emphasizes regular military, police and fire discounts. She re-joins a small Jamaican food scene that not only includes Jamaican Flavor, but also Island Grill Take Out, Spice Island Grill and the High Grade Catering & Food Truck.

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