Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tandoor Cuisine of India - Schererville, IN

 Now that's a lunch buffet!  The whole family went today and were pleasantly surprised, especially since the interior is much nicer than the exterior suggests.  Great variety on lunch buffet and the dishes vary often enough to keep things interesting.  The naan bread is served hot and there is even a garlic variety.  Personally I prefer the non garlic since it does not compete with the various flavors.  The waiters were quite friendly and conversational, and also knew the details of the dishes to provide guidance to the Indian cuisine novice.  Try the Maharaja pilsner, it's light and refreshing and does not compete with the seasonings.

Tandoor chicken, chicken makhani, and a bunch of others I cannot remember were all tasty.  Sorry I have no idea what "authentic" Indian may or may not taste like but I rate this as darn good food, authentic or not. 4/5 stars.

If you are looking for something different and have not tried Indian give it a go.  It may not appeal to the meat and potatoes eater but if you want an explosion of spices and flavor have fun.  And no, Indian is not necessarily spicy hot!  I think Monday night has the buffet as well. 

Definitely putting this on a more frequent rota.

Three Floyds menu -

Menu does change frequently!  Burger, fish n chips, scotch egg, bone marrow seem to be standard.  And the French fries are fantastic!!!!! 

January 11, 2012
small plate
mussels mustard beurre blanc, pickled asian pear, celery, rosemary.                                                     12
house cured meats foie gras, smoked ham, red eye ham.                                                                       12
smoked octopus black pepper oyster sauce, mushrooms, butterball potatoes, pickled garlic.               10
chicken liver crostini cured egg yolk, parsley.                                                                                             10
butternut squash soup hazelnut yogurt, pickled squash, anise.                                                               8
crab cake grapefruit puree, sea beans, purple carrots.                                                                              9  
ginger spiced pork meatballs romesco sauce, fried kale.                                                                          10  

smoked whitefish brandade, pickled cherries, parsley, garlic chips.                                                        10
slow roasted beef bone marrow quince chutney, picholine olives, harvest bread.                                  10

scotched egg pork & chicken sausage, horseradish mayonnaise.                                                            5
red romaine salad carrot and ginger dressing, candied sesame seeds, red onion, pancetta chips.      8
french fries choice of housemade mustard, horseradish mayonnaise, or chipotle mayonnaise.          6
housemade snacks: parmesan dusted chicharrón or bbq beef jerky.                                                      7
macaroni and cheese smoked turkey, american cheese, pickled onions, bread crumbs.                      10
smoked fish plate  sumac cured sturgeon, pickled mackerel, trout, lumpfish roe.                                 12
cheese plate  marieke foenegreek-raw cow, kentucky rose-raw cow, robiola rocchetta-blend.             10

pairing            1 arctic panzer wolf     citrus salad                                                                                      8
                        2 region riot                chicharrón
                        3 robert the bruce      bbq beef jerky

large plate
burger pretzel bun, lettuce, tomato, pickle, red onion, french fries.                                                         10
(add white cheddar, swiss, goat, gorgonzola, bacon, fried egg or grilled mushrooms, $1 each)
chicken sandwich sauerkraut, buttermilk dill, malt vinegar chips.                                                          10
fish and chips tilapia, french fries, tartar, lemon.                                                                                       12
braised lamb bucatini  piquillo pepper, parmesan reggiano, black pepper.                                              12
pork dashi  bacon, housemade ramen, kimchi, soy marinated egg.                                                        14
beef carbonnade chive spaetzle, arugula, radish.                                                                                      15      
halibut a la plancha, sunchoke, citrus salad, jalapeño, sorrel                                                                   14
3 floyds cassoulet braised pork, confit duck leg, venison sausage, parsley bread crumbs.                    15

cinnamon crème brulee  orange chutney.                                                                                                  6
asian pear cobbler alpha klaus butter cream.                                                                                            6

Three Floyds Brewing in Munster, IN, a gladiator bar??

One of my personal favorites, Three Floyds Brewing has the most exotic menu I have encountered in quite some time.  I'll post the most recent menu separately.  Two visits in this review exhibits a varying character of the establishment.

First visit was on a Saturday at lunch time.  5 of us dance dads took time between performances to get some lunch.  Be fore warned, get there early for weekends and dinner.  Opening at noon, there was a healthy line formed by 20 minutes to the hour.  Quite a gruff greeting by the doorman admonishing all to not enter without his permission.  A surly bloke to say the least. 

Drinks came quickly after being seated.  I had a Hessian Smog, one of the many unique beers they offer.  Don't go expecting anything from the big three, however PBR is available, possibly as a nod to it's intro at the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair.

Food also came quickly considering how quickly the place filled up.  Three gents had the burger in various guises, one the fish and chips and I had the 3 Floyds cassoulet.  Braised pork, confit duck leg, venison sausage, parsley bread crumbs.  Great hearty flavor, the white beans perfectly al dente and the variety of meats complemented each other.  Particularly pleasing was the venison sausage, finely ground, well seasoned and lean to counter the pork and duck.

Unfortunately, one of our group committed what must be a most egregious faux pas at Floyds.  He had the temerity to ask if the Blackhawks game was available for viewing in the dining room.  An old pre-standard-def gladiator flick was playing at the time.  We were firmly told by one of the staff (not our waiter), "NO, this is NOT a sports bar!" as he turned heel and strode away.  He could have politely declined and almost lost our table prior to the meals arriving.  Since there was still a line waiting to enter, I think the success of Three Floyds has made them some what snooty and upset that "The Masses" have discovered their eclectic little secret.  

So be advised that on Saturdays Three Floyds is a Gladiator Bar!

In contrast, lunch during the week was sensational.  Sitting at the bar with soccer (not a sports bar?) on one screen and Asian martial arts on another was quite convivial.  Starting with a Behemoth barley wine, we also sampled several other of the seasonal beer offerings.  This visit I had the braised lamb bucatini with piquillo pepper, parmesan reggiano and black pepper.  The home made bucatini were delicious, the sauce bold yet delicate and the lamb seared to perfection.  I think the lamb and sauce would be killer as a pizza too.  Had a barrel aged Black Sun stout for dessert too.  I have yet to try a real dessert there, but hopefully the asian pear cobbler is still available next visit.  

To sum up Three Floyds, do drop by during the week for lunch to get an accurate assessment, but take your chances on evening and weekends due to VERY limited seating and militant doorman guy.

3.5/5 stars for the surly guy.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Bulldog Brewery in Whiting Indiana

Lunch at the Bulldog Brewery in Whiting (  was one I have been looking forward to since I read about their opening in local rag about a month ago.  It is nicely located in downtown Whiting; the interior features exposed old wood ceiling timbers and the use of existing interior brickwork to emphasize the historical value of the area.  Apparently owned by three local gents, the decor is hopefully a work in progress that will develop over time.  It would be nice to see a lot of local flair inside like an old neighborhood tap instead of a typical generic makeover.

That said, the big reason to go was for the craft brewed beer.  And hopefully a nice meal too.  11 Mile Lager, Industrial Harbor IPA and Roby Red Ale were available and sampled.  Not bad, but I would call them unambitious or safe.  I was really hoping for bolder flavors.  The lager should appeal to those not willing to stray far from BudMiller territory.  The IPA was weakly hopped. The red needed more malt for richness.  Downtime Wheat and 1890 Stout were unavailable at this time.  A few other craft brews were also available, Dragon's Milk comes to mind (and not to be missed).  Also a range of standard beer, wine and spirits are available. 

Rob the bartender was a great host and provided an array of samples to help us decide on our final selection.

We ordered soup and a 1/2 sandwich for a light lunch. Portion sizes were appropriate and just enough to prevent an afternoon nap.  The soup was a beer cheese made with the house lager.  Pretty substantial and extremely thick, it could almost be used as a dip.  It was very cheesy, those residing behind the Cheddar Curtain would certainly appreciate it. 

The sandwich was an Italian panini loaded with a nice variety of meats and veggies.  A fairly tasty combination, but curiously served on naan bread.  Not bad but missing the crustiness you associate with "Italian".  And given the rarity of crusty bread here in NWI, not altogether surprising.  Apparently the in house pizzas are made on the same naan bread.  While it's an interesting idea, it seems like a bit of a convenient shortcut, even for pub grub. Kind of like passing off Boboli as homemade. 

Presentation was a bit on the plain side, since the sandwich was dwarfed by a mountain of potato chips on an oval plate.  May I suggest home made potato chips?  Not sure if condiments are available since none were in plain view. 

Overall, a satisfactory lunch, but the house beers could use some boldness.  Since one of the owners if home brewer who has won at some contests he should consider bringing those recipes to the Bulldog.  Another owner is a professional cook who needs to bring some flair and excitement to the menu.  While not disappointing, I have to give it 3/5 as a work in progress and plan on a revisit later in the year.  Good luck gents. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Station 21 in Crown Point, IN

Finally got over to Station 21 in Crown Point.  We had heard good things about it from the kids, so finally made it a point to visit.  I presume the Station 21 monicker references firefighters somehow, but I may be wrong.  Plenty of sports references, especially Notre Dame, adorn the establishment.  And a plethora of televisions are seen from every angle.  Even table side screens are at the booths.  We were led to the upstairs dining area and seated at a comfortable booth.  Overall feel was typical American sports bar.

The menu is hearty 'Merican pub grub with something for most everyone.  Thankfully not an enormous selection so I had high hopes for the meal.  Personally I would rather a restaurant focus on a few items well than across the board mediocrity.  Drinks were ordered, a house Reisling that got no complaints and a Fat Tire Amber Ale from New Belgium Brewing Co.  A generally solid pour, but the tap was in need of cleaning since I got that old beer taste right off.  Biggest complaint was the menu is a bit tough to read (black print on grey background) in the ambient light, so older eyes bring your reading specs.

We selected two soups to start, the Loaded Potato Soup with bacon and chive and the Firehouse Chili.  ($3 and $4) Both were quite tasty, the potato had plenty of body without being mealy or oily.  The chili was loaded with meat and just enough spice to be fun. The soups could have been warmer though, and this was brought to our waiters attention.  The main course was recommended to us by the waiter as a consistent crowd pleaser, and he is spot on.  Mac 'n Pork ($9) is a great variation on a classic.  Creamy cheese blend with bits of bacon and generous bits of pulled pork put it over the top.  Again, could have been served a touch warmer.

Overall, a good belly filling meal without pretense.  I am likely to return to try an entree since the menu offers great value.  3.5/5

Dining reviews to start 2012

Hello friends and Happy New Year!

Time to start kicking out some dining reviews to begin 2012.  I've decided to go in search of good food for 2012 and see how which grub stands out here in Northwest Indiana, henceforth known as NWI for those of you out of town.  Alas, for some reason I just cannot call it "Da Region".  Too Ditka I guess.  My hope is to focus on NWI with an occasional foray into nearby Illinois or Michigan.  A few gems from the past stand out in my mind but they will have to get revisited to make this blog.

I'll take any and all suggestions you may have with one caveat; no chains are allowed unless they are strictly regional.