Eating Like a Local at The Local

Both Adam and I work for small businesses, so we don’t have traditional 401K’s, matching or life insurance programs that larger corporations offer. We know these things are important so we have made a connection with an investment company out of Indianapolis and have started making plans for retirement.

We meet with the investor reps about once every six months in Indianapolis. These meetings are typically over two hours long and full of, what seems like, really big decisions.

By the end, we are both pretty brain fried and really ready for an adult beverage.

After our last meeting in early May we decided to have dinner at The Local Eatery and Pub on the north side in Westfield.

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We first went to The Local a couple months ago with Adam’s sisters and their friends and spouses. I was coming from a catering event so I was running late. That night the rest of the group waited for me to order entrees but did order a few of the many appetizers and drinks.

I was rushed and a bit frazzled as I arrived because I felt bad that everyone was waiting for me, but I was able to see The Local’s laid back, rustic and simple vibe as soon as I got the table.

Beers, sodas, and some cocktails were served in mason jars. And, the cheese board, complete with seasonal fruit, brie, prosciutto and crostini, was served on a large butcher block.

That night, Adam ordered the chicken on a wire, which was free range local chicken with a fried egg. Adam has become a huge fan of any thing topped with a fried egg. We have done them on burgers, salads and I would love to try it on pizza.

I had the pulled turkey sandwich. It was slightly spicy thanks to the chimichurri sauce, but well balanced with melted smoked Gouda cheese.

I loved the feel of the place and we all had a great time.

The fun crew!  And then a silly chick in the bottom corner...

The fun crew! And then a silly chick in the bottom corner…

This most recent visit, when it was just the two of us, I had more time to take it all in.

That is, after I ordered a glass of chardonnay… my mind was still thinking numbers, the dollars we need to save if we were to live until 95 and about what would happen if one of us were to become disabled, handicapped or worse.

… Chardonnay clears those things from the mind and makes it everything better.

I was able to notice and appreciate the large chalkboard displaying the local farms featured on the constantly changing specialties section of the menu.

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I was also able to learn more about the story of The Local. The restaurant opened in 2011 and is located near many of the popular suburbs of Indianapolis like Carmel, Westfield and Noblesville. The Local’s goal is to support and feature local farmers and artisans in order to build a strong local economy. They also love to be a part of the Farm to Table genre because it helps to reduce their environmental footprint.

Their website lists their farm and artisan partnerships and the menu explains their relationships and passion for Farm to Table.

In addition to my wine and Adam’s local Sunking beer, we ordered the baked goat cheese.

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(If you are new here… Hi! Welcome and thanks for reading! And, just so you know, I like cheese… a lot.)

It was great. The cheese was baked with roasted garlic cloves and olive oil and served with toasted bread to put the slightly melty cheese spread on.

Adam ordered the same sandwich. He loves it. It looked great and is always on The Local’s menu. He also loves their homemade buns.

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I ordered the seasonal specialty which was a white fish with beans, oyster mushrooms and a ramps sauce. I was sold on the entrée thanks to the ramps.

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My parents are part of a tiny CSA near their home in Michigan. I say “tiny CSA” because it’s just one farmer, but my mom has always loved natural food and local farmers. It’s only natural that she has developed connections with this grower. At Easter, Adam and I were up at my parent’s home on the coast of the lake and she had received her first CSA from him of the season.

Ramps were in this first CSA. I had never seen or tasted ramps, but they are really interesting.

Ramps are sort of a leek, onion, and garlic combo and can be found in the spring. They are technically a wild onion but they look similar to a green onion and have a garlic odor. In cooking, they are pretty versatile. They can be cooked in any recipe that calls for green onions or leeks. My mom even just tore some up and put it in a spring green salad at Easter.

The dish was wonderful so I asked the waitress where the ramps were from. She didn’t know, but said she would find out. However, the girl didn’t come back to our table with any answers.

And, that’s my only minor complaint about this very unique and influential restaurant. They list which farms they partner with, but don’t say what is local and what comes from one particular farm or another. If it was my place, I would make sure the staff was prepared for questions and knew about the food they were serving. Or, at least had points of reference in the back of the house if a question was asked so they could easily find the answer.

But, everything else was excellent on both our visits. The staff was friendly and accommodating. The atmosphere is a perfect combination of rustic and approachable for the everyday. The food was great.

The Local is a great place in Indy that is making a great effort to support the community and local farmers. I am proud and eager to support a restaurant that makes this kind of effort.

Be sure to do the same if you are in the area!

The Local Eatery and Pub
14655 N. Gray Road
Westfield, IN 46062

http://localeateryandpub.com/

Mile High Eats and “Experiences”

It’s been a bit of a crazy week in North Central Indiana. The National Weather Service confirmed that EF-2 tornadoes came through our county last Sunday, one less than two miles away from our home. Here was the cover of our city’s paper on Monday morning.

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I tried to buy a copy but they were sold out across town by the afternoon.

All week long we have heard stories of damage. Driving through town I have seen damage that I really had only seen in photos or on the news.

Fortunately, patio furniture strewn across the lawn was all the “damage” to our home and property.

We also heard stories of where people were during the storm.

Fortunately, we were not in town. (This is major good fortune for my sanity… I would have been freaked out.)

We had just arrived back to Indy from a long weekend in Denver when we heard on the radio that a tornado was on the ground and headed to our little town.

The trip was a bit of a celebration for the end of harvest for Adam, my new job (started this past Monday!), and just for fun!

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We chose Denver because it always seems like the spring board to the next place, be it the mountains, California, where ever. We had never really been to the city, so we decided to take a little time to enjoy it.

With nothing on the agenda to do but to be together and relax, we had a great time. In fact, my dear darling “country boy” said that he could live in the city of Denver multiple times throughout the long weekend.

We stayed at a hotel on 16th Street, a major business district downtown that had virtually every major restaurant and store you could think of. We also didn’t rent a car, but it worked out great. Denver has public transportation down. A free bus system runs up and down 16th Street for about two miles making it easy to get to different areas.

We also took the bus from the airport saving us an expensive cab ride. The timing was great and the trip to and from the city wasn’t too long. (We took the AF Bus that had a stop right at the ground transportation area of the airport. Round trip was $20 per person. A cab ride would have been a cool $50 each way.)

Denver gets a bad reputation for having killer winters because we all imagine the snow from the mountains. I was prepared for cold temps, but it turns out we were warm. We walked a lot and did not need a jacket until the evenings. Not bad for November.

Denver is actually similar to a micro climate, protected by the mountains, and boasts over three hundred days of sunshine each year.

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(… this alone is something to make a Midwesterner consider a cross county move. Case and point? Tornadoes in November.)

One big thing I really wanted to do while there was seek out a restaurant or two that is locally sourced. I have done enough research on the Farm to Table movement and knew that Denver was a town that values local growers and has proximity to ranches producing fabulous cuts of traditional and unique meats. Plus, I wanted something to write about…

What I didn’t realize was that nearly any restaurant in the city was onboard with the movement. Granted we weren’t going to big chains and did hop off the beaten path, but each restaurant we visited had a blurb on their menu sharing where they source local produce, eggs, poultry, beef, game, whatever, from.

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Here are a few of our favorite meals from the trip:

We began with lunch at Wynkoop Brewing Company, Denver’s first craft brewery, after checking into our hotel. Craft beers are now pretty much the heart beat of Denver, but in the eighties it all began here.

We started with a flight of the home brews as we couldn’t decide between all the IPA’s, lagers, and ale’s. My favorites were the Rail Yard Ale, one of the brewery’s best sellers and a seasonal peach wheat.

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Starving, as our stomachs were still on east coast time, we also ordered lunch. Adam had the Pork Bahn Mi, an Asian twist pulled pork. I know he choose it because sriracha was listed as a topping. The kid has a hard time saying “no” to anything with sriracha. I had a BLT with thick slices of Denver Bacon, juicy heirloom tomatoes and baby lettuces.

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Before going out west, I asked for some Facebook input on must see restaurants in Denver. The resounding recommendation was for a brunch spot called Snooze.

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Snooze really came into popularity thanks to MTV’s Real World Denver as the cast always ate there. All the recommendations included a warning that anytime of day you show up, there will be a wait.

And there was. A forty minute wait… for brunch… on a Friday morning. I could sense Adam’s patience, or lack there of, so I assured him that everyone said this would happen but it would be worth it.

… A bloody mary also helped my cause.

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The bloodys were made with house made bloody mary mix and different hot pepper infused vodkas. I ordered a gazpacho bloody mary and it was fabulous. Adam had a spicy one, of course.

We were made aware our table was nearly ready via text message and headed into the diner.

I think this is the best idea ever!

I think this is the best idea ever!

Looking around the restaurant I knew we were in for some good food. There were huge pancakes, egg plates and french toast that looked more like dessert. Adam and I both opted for savory options versus the sweets.

Chiciquilles for him.

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Italian style eggs Benedict for me complete with prosciutto, cheesy hollandaise topped with balsamic and peppery arugula.

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Phenomenal.

And totally worth the wait.

Our final night we had reservations at Buckhorn Exchange, per recommendation from my aunt claiming it is “an experience.” She also recommended the Brown Hotel as a great place for a cocktail so we decided to have a drink there before heading to dinner.

The Brown Palace is a one hundred and thirty year old hotel, rich with Denver history as it was one of the first buildings in the city. We took a seat in the lobby as a pianist serenaded the many couples cozied up with martini’s.

After a weekend full of beer, I was ready for a glass of champagne. Adam had a Manhattan.

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We had a great conversation about friendships and our good fortune with friends as we admired the exquisite architecture.

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As we left, the Brown’s driver insisted he take us to dinner as he was free. We didn’t object to the free ride. On the way he also mentioned that Buckhorn Exchange is “an experience.”

I got a little nervous… What did everyone mean by this?

“It’s just a little guy,” Adam announced as we pulled up to a maybe thirty foot wide building.

The driver agreed but said it was deep and that tables went way back into the restaurant.

This was true. As we followed a waitress back through the narrow restaurant, I began to understand why it was always described as “an experience.”

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It was like going back in time into the wild, wild west. The building was warm, tables had red checked table cloths, old framed black and white photos covered the walls… in addition to hundreds upon hundreds of mounted game heads and furs.

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A little crazy, yes. But, clearly part of “the experience.”

Our menu’s were designed like a newspaper, explaining the history of the restaurant.

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The Buckhorn Exchange opened in the late 1800’s and was a favorite of Teddy Rossevelt. There was even a story about a night in the year 1900 when a masked bad guy held everyone in the restaurant hostage, robbing them of any cash or valuables and injuring barmaids. It really was part of the Wild West!

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Entrees included beef and buffalo, like many other restaurants in Denver, but it also included all sorts of wild game including elk, quail, game hens, lamb and duck.

Adam and I both had the night’s special, buffalo with garlic butter and elk with a spiced cranberry sauce. Our meals were also served with a garden salad and starch. I chose smashed potatoes and Adam had a baked potato, two things we never do at home so it was a big treat.

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The meal was delish, but what was even better was that it was just a piece of a great night that capped off a memorable weekend together.

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Below are links to all the restaurants we tried. Loved everything, but couldn’t write about them all. Check them out on your visit to the Mile High City!

http://www.wynkoop.com/
http://www.lodosbarandgrill.com/ — Located right in the LoDo neighborhood. Great place for a game.
http://www.snoozeeatery.com/
http://www.breckbrew.com/ — Great Buffalo Burgers and Brews by Coors Field.
http://viewhouse.com/ — Awesome patio on top floor with great views of the city. Bottomless mimosas and Bloody Mary’s on Saturdays in addition to a brunch menu.
http://bravapizza.com/ — Similar to a food truck; Mobil stone pizza oven with a two tap kegerator. Great, quick flatbread pizza’s right on a patio on 16th Stree.
http://www.buckhorn.com/

Hotels:

http://www.brownpalace.com/
http://www.sheratondenverdowntown.com/

Transportation:

http://www.rtd-denver.com/

… when we go back I am DYING to try The Kitchen and Squeaky Bean! Have you been there?!