Eat Random

The idea for this blog is to blog about everything I think about food and food culture. I'll tell you what I like to eat, where I like to eat it and if I thought it was good or if I thought it was crap. My thoughts about food could go anywhere. Hey if you don't like it go blog at

Random Dude Eats Random Food Indianapolis restaurants

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Last night I had the opportunity to enjoy a good meal with coworkers at a locally popular but otherwise unknown restuarant called Charleston's.  The best way to describe the style of cusine is comfort food through and through.  There are no froo froo cucumber foams or watercress salads at this place.  It's hearty stick to your ribs fare in huge portions and makes no apologies for it.  The menu is on the smaller side, but it is focused and most of not all of the food seems to be made in house which is something you can't find at enough restaurants these days.  For my meal I decided to go with the chicken fried steak which comes with garlic mashed potatoes and sweet cooked carrots.  I also added a side of coleslaw since I'm a big fan.  I finished the meal off with their apple cobbler with walnuts and vanilla icecream.  Our table also decided to get an order of the shrimp done escargot style for an appetizer.  Let's go ahead and break down each of these components one by one.

Shrimp escargot-style appetizer:  This was one of the more unusal dishes I have ever eaten.  I've eaten shrimp in a lot of ways and I thought based on the menu description that I was just in for another shrip scampi-esque creation.  I was wrong.  Yes the basic flavor was there of the garlic and butter, but the shrimp were served in little holes in the dish in the garlic/butter mixture and covered in havarati cheese.  Seafood and cheese is usually an unpleasant combination.  However, in this case the cheese was mild enough to not kill the flavor of the shrimp that were cooked nicely.  In conclusion very good.

Chicken fried steak:  Overall a very solid offering for a main course.  I could tell it was fresh and hand breaded and fried to perfection.  It was a large portion with a lot of flavor.  It was topped with what the menu called a "black pepper chipoltle" gravy.  The gravy may have been the most delicious part of the meal.  It was your basic white gravy roux but mixed with spices and I'm guessing a little bit of sugar to give it the sweetness that I found so different and delicous.  The only negative comment I can make is that when my steak was hot right from the kitchen it wanted to slough off the breading when I cut into it.  Not that big of a deal and it had no impact on the taste or enjoyment of the dish.

Sides:  The garlic mashed potatoes (hidden in the picture under the steak) were very good.  I only had a couple problems.  The portion of mash that comes with the dish is Man vs Food worthy.  I'm not a guy who usually leaves food on the plate, but I could only take down about half of my potatoes.  They were the skin on variety and mashed to a good consistency, but they could have used some more garlic flavor an addition of the some of that great gravy that was on the steak.  The carrots were also tasty.  They were your basic carrots cut up and cooked in a light sweet glaze.  They were a nice compliment to the richness of the other items on my plate.  The one thing I ordered that absolutely broke my heart was the coleslaw.  Coleslaw is hands down one of my favorite sides to get with comfort food dishes, but Charleston's version of it was an incredible disappointment and borderline inedible.  The menu said it was creamy, and truthfully it was exactly the opposite.  It was more or less a bowl of chopped cabbage.  What flavor it did have was a very assertive onion flavor that was terrible and one that shouldn't be associated with good coleslaw.  I will not be ordering it next time

Dessert:  Normally I don't get dessert since I'm usually full from my meal and I'm not a big sweets guy to start off with anyway.  However, this time everyone at the table was raving about the desserts so I felt I had to indulge.  My dessert was the apple cobbler with vanilla icecream.  Everything about it was delicious.  It had just the right amount of sweetness and apple spices.  The walnuts provided a nice crunch and the ice cream was a great compliment to the hot cobbler.  It was very good, but next time I think I'll try the bread pudding since I've heard such good things.

Misc:  The service was very good considering we had a large party of 8.  Our food was out promptly with little confusion and my drink was refilled without asking.  Charleston's also has a full bar and selection of good beers on draft if you're so inclined.

Overall I think Charleston's is a great local restaurant with locations on 82nd street in Castleton and on Highway 37 in Carmel.  Let's do the ratings.

Taste:  9/10  I know it's only coleslaw, but if Charleston's is doing comfort food they need to get that right.  Worthy of a full point deduction.
Value:  8/10  It's a little bit more pricey than your average fast casual restaurant, but it's not that much more expensive and the food is of such a higher quality it can barely be considered in the same league.
Randomness:  7/10  Charleston's is pretty well known locally so it can't really be considered off the beaten path, but it hardly qualifies as a big chain on a national level.  Also, it is quite dark on the inside and has gaslights which I find pretty random in 2011.

Charleston's on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

You need to come to NYC to eat.

Leslie said...

Their marinated mushrooms are AMAZING! Mine are better though LOL

Anonymous said...

Charlestons has changed the coleslaw recipe, and it is the best ever!! Truly amazing for this cole slaw lover. I hope if you haven't you'll try it again. I've only eaten at the Charlestons in Norman OK, not sure if they've made the change everywhere.