between our regular full-time jobs and staplehouse planning, jen and i have very little time to travel back home to indianapolis to eat, drink and visit friends and family. we decided a trip was long over due and off we went for a little fun and food. from gas station junk food to a visit with the chef that opened my eyes to the world of cooking, the following are snap shots of a very memorable trip to the mid west and back again.
on the road you need to have a few things... good music, a good traveling partner and junk food! jen and i believed krunchers to be a long lost victim on the ever-changing face of road grub, but low and behold, a quick gas stop and a trip to the facilities and there they were. a childhood favorite smiling up at me saying "hey old friend, lets do this!". if you have never had jalapeno krunchers i know for sure that they live happily among the gas stations and rest stops of the stretch of highway 24 in tennessee.a new tradition for us, taking time to enjoy the journey! it use to be an 8 hour sprint from atlanta to indy, disregarding the wonders that the small smoky mountain towns and ohio river valley had to offer. nashville has become a new favorite mid-point for us to kick up our heals and enjoy a little nightlife. jack's bar-b-que is every bit the dive that a great q-joint should be. we arrived in nashville just in time to be the last allowed through the door, and trust us, when they say "we are closed", they mean it!down the hatch! ice cold bud and a brisket sammy, baked beans and mac and cheese, perfect. refueled and ready to hit the town we bounced around lower broadway like a steel ball in a pinball machine, lights blinking and beer bottles clinking. taking in the sights and sounds of the city that was just hitting its stride around midnight.
we settled in at an old school honkytonk called robert's. the history of this bar weighs heavy in every way. it was clear that regulars had called this home for long time. the old couple dancing as though no one else we there, the undivided attention the patrons gave the band up on the stage and the "recession special".
meet the "recession special"... a fried bologna sammy with lettuce, tomato and mayo. throw in a goo goo cluster, a bag of chips and a cold pbr and call it a night for $5.
a good nights sleep and a couple bags of krunchers later and we are in indy and ready for dinner at one of the best restaurants in the country that you will never hear about. my passion for cooking wasn't the artistically woven story that you hear from most chefs about making handmade pasta along side grandma, or trips to italy as a child - my story started after cans of campbell's soup for dinner and early summer jobs washing dishes at no longer living chain restaurants. i had completed culinary school and been through several cooking jobs before it clicked, and where it clicked was in the kitchen of greg hardesty's first restaurant, h2o sushi. a restless kinda guy, greg has opened and then sold both of his first two restaurants. now on his third, recess, with the fourth slotted to open in a month or so, it seems he has finally found his happy place. recess is a haven for foodies tucked into the north side of downtown indianapolis. the menu changes nightly and is based off what is available in the market that day. mostly local, always finessed and never compromised, the food is always honest. you won't get foams or whimsy combinations of ingredients that are made to shock. instead, you will enjoy bright straight forward flavors put together skillfully.
mom joined us for dinner, cheers ma!
nantucket bay scallop ceviche. simple. clean. delicious.
fresh sardines! if you have never had them, it will be hard to convince you past the image of mushy canned fish in an mystery sauce. trust me, these beauties were tender, flaky and went perfect with a bright pickled onion salad.
ivory salmon with local sunchokes, shiitake mushrooms coconut broth and enoki mushrooms.
we couldn't leave without trying some seared scallops and grilled octopus salad.
local lamb with mashed potatoes, wilted spinach and fennel, red peppers and red wine sauce. the perfect example of greg's "less is more" mentality.
dessert. cream cheese profiteroles.
round two of dessert, candy bar inspired truffles.
that's a wrap, time to unwind. always a good time and inspiring to me, thanks to greg and his amazing and talented team.