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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Monday, May 9, 2011

Ale Emporium: Pulled Pork Review

I was to preface this review by saying how big of a fan I am of the Ale Emporium.  If you've never been there it's a cool bar/restaurant in a little strip mall on the corner of 86th and Allisonville in Castleton.  They often have live music, plenty of TVs, plenty of tables, a non smoking section, outdoor seating and good service.  I've also had several meals at the Ale Emporium and almost everything  I've had has been top notch.  I think that is what made the pulled pork bbq sandwich I had there such an incredible disappointment.

It was Friday afternoon after a long week and I decided to meet my buddy at the Ale Emporium for one or two or eight drinks.  On this front the bar met my every desire to a tee.  Beer never tastes as good as it does while sitting outdoors on a Friday after work.  However, to go with my barley and hops I decided to also order some food.  I passed up a few of my usual favorite sandwiches and pizza (the deep dish at AE is awesome!) and decided to go with an item on the menu with the ever-attractive NEW!! label next to it, the pulled pork sandwich.  The menu description sounded wonderfully enticing.  Slow smoked pulled pork bbq topped with creamy coleslaw with a side of pretzel crusted fried pickles.  That sounded like the perfect combination of drunk food and late Spring early Summer deliciousness.

When it arrived at my table it was not really what I had envisioned and not what had been described.  What was the first thing I see?  A striking absence of coleslaw and a horrendous  addition of melted cheese on top of my pulled pork.  For shame.  Maybe some of you out there have a preference for that and feel free to make your arguments in the comments, but I'll tell you right now you're wrong.  It added absolutely no flavor or texture and just made it visually unappealing.  The pork itself was also incredibly bland.  It had the appearance that it was sauced, but I was struggling to find any sweetness or tanginess. The pork also definitely seemed more shredded than pulled which isn't my preference and made it seemed more processed than fresh.  The bright spot was definitely the fried pickles.  Fried pickles are a somewhat trendy new item on several bar food menus these days, but these with their pretzel breading are truly unique.  They were the perfect thickness.  Crunchy and salty on the outside yet somewhat soft as you bit into them.  Very delicious, and I'm definitely going to get some the next time I'm at the Ale Emporium.

And speaking of going back let me say that I will be going back to the Ale Emporium and probably will do so with some frequency.  It's just a good bar with good food.  Everybody is entitled to a swing and a miss every once in a while.  I mean some of you are probably Cubs fans and you stick with them despite them being crappy for almost well...forever.  Anyway, my point is stop by the Ale Emporium for a bite and a pint sometime.  Somethings are worth a second ...or 100th chance.

Taste 3/10 The fried pickles were fantastic.  I'd mainline them if I could.  The sandwich on the other hand was one of the least flavorful bbq sandwiches I've ever had and it had cheese on it for Chrissakes.  I probably should have sent it back, but I was willing to give it a shot, and sending stuff back unless it's under or over cooked really isn't my style.  From now on I'm going to avoid bbq unless a place does that as their specialty.

Value 4.5 The value here would be just a little above average if my meal was more enjoyable.  The sandwiches are about what you'd expect to pay for bar food in Indianapolis.

Ale Emporium on Urbanspoon


wibia said...

I agree, if BBQ is not what they do, I skip it.

Tom H said...

The Ale Emporium is one of my old haunts - WAY before they renovated it. I sadly had two horrible swings and misses in a row and haven't been back since... but maybe it is time to give them another shot. That being said, this review really doesn't inspire confidence - I've never before encountered cheese on any kind of bbq or pulled pork. That's just wrong.

Brent said...


If you do go back I suggest the wings or their deep dish pizza.