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

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Big Mike's Cafe Americana

Even before I had this blog it was one of my hobbies to scour the internets or whatever other sources I could find in order to venture out and try some new restaurants and find good eats.  With my focus being on good food in scaled down less formal settings I think Big Mike's Cafe is place that fits both of these bills pretty nicely. 

Note: Portion size is larger than depicted.  We couldn't wait to dig in.
Big Mike's is a relatively new restaurant on the Indy scene.  They do breakfast, lunch and dinner every day out of their restaurant located in a little aged strip mall at 96th and College.  Their menu is somewhat varied.  Other bloggers in the city have reviewed their sandwiches and tenderloins, but I wanted to go to review what seemed like the main focus of the menu, Italian cuisine. 

When you arrive at the restaurant the first thing you will probably note is that it doesn't look like much from the outside and that it may be a little hard to find if you weren't looking for it specifically.  You may think differently, but I consider that a plus in my book.  A lot of places can draw you in with window dressing, but the focus on the food is what really matters.  The Girlfriend and I went in and sat down and were immediately warmly greeted by Chef Mike and the rest of the staff.  It was a nice touch that doesn't happen enough at other restaurants.  The Girlfriend and I looked over the menu and decided to go with an appetizer of the garlic cheese knots and the ravioli (her's) and lasagna (mine) dishes respectively.

Our garlic cheese knots were out in short order and we devoured them in a likewise fashion.  They were delicious.  They not only had a great garlic and parmesan cheese flavor, but the texture was soft and chewy.  I thought it was much better than breadsticks I've had elsewhere.  My entree was also quite delicious.  I was served a large portion of lasagna that was bubbling with melted cheese.  Everything about the dish tasted fresh right down to the mushrooms that were included in the dish which I found to be a welcome addition.  I appreciated that it wasn't just a dried out square of layered pasta like is served at some other Italian restaurants I've been to.  The Girlfriend thought likewise about her ravioli, and although I didn't taste it personally it was confirmed by the fact that she finished the sizable portion. 

So many Italian restaurants in this area often times try to be something they aren't.  A lot of Italian cooking is based on dishes that grandmothers would prepare for Sunday dinner.  I don't think it was always meant to be served in overly pretentious environments that charge upwards of 20 dollars or more for a plate of pasta, and I also don't think it was meant to be mass produced over-priced blech like they serve at Olive Garden either.  In my opinion Big Mike's strikes the right balance.  We will be going back with friends next time, and I plan on tackling their Chicago style pizza which I was jealous of as soon as I saw it come out of the kitchen destined for a couple at another table.  Even if it is a little out of the way for you go to Big Mike's Cafe and give them a shot.

Taste 8.5/10  The best Italian food I've had since I last went to Matteo's.  Nothing completely earth shattering here just the classics done well above average.
Value 8.5/10  The Girlfriend and I got out of here for a total of 33 bucks before tip and that included our 2 entrees, the garlic cheese knots and 2 sodas.  I'd say that's pretty damn good considering you'd probably pay more at Olive Garden and get something of far less quality.

Big Mike's Cafe Americana on Urbanspoon


Lauren said...

Do you know if there was ricotta cheese in the lasagna?

Brent said...


I wish I could say one way or the other, but I didn't have my notebook to write down all my observations exactly. I don't remember noticing the ricotta taste or texture, but I could be wrong. It did have a nice creaminess that was excellent regardless.

citynomnoms said...

I love love love garlic knots - they remind me of college in Massachusetts and I haven't been able to find one that matches. I may need to try these...

Brent said...

I don't know how these will compare to your old fave, but from my perspective they were awesome. You definitely need to get in there and try the place out.