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Thursday, November 3, 2011

I Admit I'm Late to the Food Truck Party: Scratch Truck Review

Better late than never could easily be a cliched phrase I shout happily after the hapless Indianapolis Colts fire head coach Jim Caldwell and defensive coordinator Larry Coyer.  However, since (unfortunately) that day is yet to come I'm compelled to use it when I describe finally paying a visit to one of the vendors on the Indianapolis food truck scene, Scratch Truck.

In case you've been living under a culinary rock for that last 3 years or so food trucks are basically mobile food vendors that have the goal of serving high quality cuisine at various points around the city using social media to get the word out about their menus and locations.  Scratch Truck describes their culinary point of view as being "modern mobile comfort food".  More generally food trucks often boast of making cuisine superior than what is available at many restaurants.  On this point I have to confess I was rather skeptical for a couple of reasons. 1. Food trucks, for better or worse, are a food trend which has a tendency to put me off because these kinds of things sometimes live off their own hype rather than substance. And 2. Being that I live in the northern suburbs of the city and work in Castleton, I haven't had many opportunities to visit a food truck and taste for myself. Their strategy is usually more focused on areas with higher foot traffic like downtown and Broadripple.  Fortunately, for me I saw on the tweeters that Scratch Truck was going to be set up near my office in Castleton, and I decided I had to treat myself to a special birthday lunch.

Photo courtesy
As I walked up the first thing I did was examine the menu and the truck itself.  The truck was visually eye catching and looked in every way professional.  The menu was posted on whiteboards which indicates that they change it up based on what they have that is fresh and available.  I've read other reviews on the internets about Scratch's chicken cone so I decided to go for something a little bit different.  The Scratch Burger was described as a "1/3 lb custom ground burger, bacon marmalade, arugula, and gorgonzola cheese served on a fresh, soft, toasted roll". (Ron Swanson voice) That sounded delcious!  For an extra charge I decided to pair it with their poutine fries.  The poutine fries were hand cut, twice fried french fries topped with chicken gravy, fresh mozzarella cheese, and herbs. 

After I placed my order I was asked how I preferred my burger to be cooked.  I gave my answer as "medium", but seeing as how often my "medium" burgers come out more like "well done" at Indy restaurants I was tempted to roll my eyes.  However, when my burger arrived I was pleasantly surprised that my burger was cooked perfectly as I requested.  Not only was my burger cooked perfectly I have to say this gets the honor as my favorite burger in the Indy area.  The portion was ample.  The meat was perfectly seasoned.  The bacon marmalade added an element of saltiness and sweetness that I've never experienced on a burger before.  The gorgonzola was evident and blended in perfect harmony with the arugula and marmalade.  I was impressed by how much these normally very assertive flavors were used so subtly here.  You were able to taste each one individually without being overwhelmed by any single element.  That's my benchmark for great food.  This burger required no additional condiments, a rarity among burgers and another sign of excellence. 

The poutine fries were also incredibly decadent and delicious.  The gravy was not too thick or thin.  The fries were perfectly cooked. The herbs added flavor.  However, what really brought this dish home was the one thing that poutine purists would probably dispute, the fresh mozzarella.  While they may not have been cheese curds these mozzarella pieces were fresh, soft, flavorful and melted just enough by the heat of the gravy and fries to ooze just perfectly over each bite.   My only regret is that the gravy and cheese kind of took away from the crispiness of the fries a little bit.  However, this is not a complaint or criticism.  This is how poutine should be. Personally, I think regular crispy fries are more my bag baby (Hooray dated pop culture references!).  Even if you feel the same way I would still encourage you to try the poutine fries.  They are one of those really good "food experiences".   Let's get to the ratings and put a bow on this bad boy.

Taste 10/10 Absolutely everything I want in a burger and nothing I don't. Delcious fries.  Of course I can't speak about every food truck in the city, but Scratch Truck has set the bar high.  My preconceptions about what type of food I could get from a mobile vendor have been blown away. I hope they bring their business back up to my neck of the woods sooner rather than later.

Value 8/10 This is the part of the review where it starts to get a little tricky.  Normally if I went somewhere and paid $12.81 for a burger, fries, and a Diet Coke I would probably be pretty livid.  That's a fairly big pricetag for lunch and for a burger in general.  The difference?  This is no "burger in general".  This is a one bada$$ meal the whole way around.  At a more "premium" price such as this I couldn't eat it all the time, but at least when I do there is no doubt I'm getting a "premium" product.

Scratchtruck (Mobile Food) on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

IndianapolisEater said...

Glad this one worked out for you because my experience with food trucks has been underwhelming at best and I am in agreement that I think these things are more of a fad than anything else. I'd love to have these trucks prove me wrong over time though.