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 12, 2012

Fast Food Review: Culver's

When you go out to grab lunch during a workday it's really easy to get stuck in a rut.  Out of all the times I've went out to lunch in the past 6 months (usually only about once a week) I've probably went to Taco Bell for a plurality of them.  I do like Taco Bell, but let's face facts I go there because it's quick and cheap.  The other day I decided I had enough of the same old same old and decided to not only try some place different but some place I had personally never been to before.  That place is Culvers.

If you're unfamiliar with Culver's they are a Wisconsin based regional chain that has a diverse menu, but one that primarily focuses on their signature "butter burgers".  The butter burgers are fresh ground beef smashed thin on the flattop with crispy edges on a butter toasted bun.  Despite hearing from my co-worker that Culver's serves up a mean fish sandwich also I decided I was in the mood for some red meat.  I decided to go with the double mushroom and swiss burger combo that comes with a drink and Culver's crinkle cut fries.

The first thing I did when I unwrapped my burger was take note of it's appearance.  After all people do say if your food looks good it's more likely to taste good. That is exactly why Sarah Jessica Parker has nothing to fear from cannibals, but I digress. In this case I noticed the size of the burger, with the double patty, was definitely an ample portion and the crispy edges were evident.  The 2 slices of swiss were nicely melted, and the bun looked pillowy and soft.  What turned me off a little was the way the thin sliced mushrooms seemed to be few in number and scattered haphazardly.  Luckily there were more mushrooms on top of the bottom bun and the flavor and aroma of them came through nicely.  There was no mayo or extra "mushroom sauce" here that sometime come on other burgers of this genre.  They were not needed.  The mushrooms here complemented the nice flavor of the meat, and muddling that with sauce would have been a crime.  The crinkle cut fries were also a nice change of pace.  While I'm not putting them on the same level as my favorite fries that are always fresh cut they were crisp and had good potato flavor.  The medium portion size was also larger than I expected.  I should also point out that I tried Culver's own root beer, and while it was good I wouldn't be able to differentiate it between other mainstream brand.

Being a guy that likes fast food from time to time I can't believe I've slept on Culver's for this long. It might still be fast food but they are doing it at a higher level than almost every other fast food burger joint.  I'm looking foward to my next visit, and maybe I'll try some custard next time.

Taste 9/10 Probably my favorite fast food burger.  Could have used just a few more mushrooms. Crinkle cut fries were good, but not as good as fresh cut variety.
Value 9/10 My double mushroom swiss combo cost $7.62 including tax.  Considering how much I enjoyed it that's pretty good in my opinion.  You get enough food that there is no need to upsize. It might be a little more expensive than a medium combo at Wendy's, McDonald's etc but it's not by much.

Culver's on Urbanspoon

Indiana's First Jack in the Box to Open Monday

I'm not that interested in this news other than to say that JITB is a place I've never been to before, but based on this blog's web traffic it seems like a helluva lot of you are interested so I wanted to keep you posted. According to this article on the first location will be opening Monday 1/16/12 at the intersection of US 31 and County Line Rd on the South side.  I honestly doubt I'll be driving that far just to pick up fast food, but if my travels take me that way for some reason I might stop in for a bite to report back to you other interested parties.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Quick Food Thoughts: bbq

I was watching last week's Top Chef bbq challenge while I was writing my last Top Chef post and I had a couple bbq thoughts that I wanted to share.  People are sometimes divided on these so if you disagree or agree feel free to chime in with comments.

1. I prefer pork bbq.
2. I prefer a thicker sweeter sauce on most occasions (not always and there is such as thing as too sweet).
3. My preferred, no mandatory, side with bbq is coleslaw.  Has to be there...period.
4. As far as coleslaw goes I can enjoy it on the bbq or on the side, but I almost always prefer a mayo coleslaw with a citrus tang over a more vinegar based slaw.

Top Chef Texas: Thank God It's Time for Restaurant Wars

In past food tv posts I've done on this blog I've compared almost every other cooking competition show to Top Chef because I believe that over the last few years it has by far been the gold standard (No reason to get excited Ron Paul fans it's just a turn of phrase).  Top Chef has consistently had the most difficult and innovative challenges with by far the most talented competitors.  That doesn't even take into account so many of the interesting personalities they've had on the show as both judges and cheftestants.  However, it pains me to say that this season of Top Chef has been less than stellar. 

I can't really put my finger on what's different or what's missing (not enough Tony Bourdain!) but something about Top Chef: Texas just isn't the same.  It might just be a function of following last season's superior Top Chef: Allstars and we're just returning to the mean.  I think it's more than that though.   Every Top Chef season seems to struggle a little bit through the first few episodes where there are honestly too many contestants.  It's hard for anyone to stand out, and the show suffers from weaker competitors that really don't belong  in the upper echelon that have a chance to win.  However, we're far enough into the Texas season that this should not be an issue and still not a single competitor is sticking out in my mind as being particularly impressive the way Richard Blais and Angelo Sosa have been in the past.  Instead this season seems to have cheftestants that are more memorable for their appearance (the Chrises) or their grating personalities (Heather, Bev).  I'm honestly beginning to wonder if the producers have just struck out this season, or if the last few episodes are going to turn it around.

If there is going to be a turnaround this season for Top Chef I believe that has to start tonight with the obligatory restaurant wars challenge.  For fans of Top Chef restaurant wars is the one week we all look forward to.  The chefs divide up into two teams and come up with a menu and restaurant concept top to bottom.  It holds all the potential for what ABC Sports used to call "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat".  For every successful restaurant concept there has been, there has also been one that is the culinary equivalent of that ski jumper biting it in the most horrendous fashion imaginable.  I believe one season both teams did so poorly they were embarassingly offered a do-over the next day.  I don't know if we're going to be in store for that much excitement tonight (or last night for you readers late to the party), but I'm hoping for an old familar challenge brings some some old familiar feelings of viewing enjoyment.

P.S. Wild guess, but I'll say the person who does dessert has a good chance to go home tonight.

image courtesy

Monday, January 9, 2012

All Around Good Ish Review: The Local

"Hey, hey, hey. *What* is going *on* here?", a great high school principal was once famous for saying that. And if you think about it it makes sense to ask that question in more contexts than just wanting to find out what Zack's latest scheme is.  It actually probably makes more sense than journalism teachers that say you should start your articles with an "attention grabbing quote". (See what I did there?) But in any case that is precisely the question I asked myself when over the weekend The Girlfriend and I rolled up to The Local Eatery and Pub in Westfield to grab a bite to eat.  For people that are less food knowledgeable (not any of you readers I'm sure) The Local could be a slightly confusing place.  Is it an upscale pub? That is certainly in the name.  There is a full bar.  There are a lot of flat screen TVs. But wait, I thought this was a serious restaurant right? I mean there are menu items like mac 'n cheese with bacon lardons and a cheese steak made with braised beef tounge.  Those are definitely things foodies tend to wet their pants over. If it's a serious food place though is it stuffy and uptight, or can you eat in a relaxed atmosphere?  The truth is that is why I think I found this place to be so special.  It's all of those things.  I can have a beer and watch football.  I can eat some seriously bad ass food, and I don't have to feel like a pretentious d-bag to do it.  Let me talk a little bit about why and maybe you'll realize why you should get your butt into this place the next time you get a chance.

When The Girlfriend I arrived at the restaurant I have to admit it looked a little unassuming.  It's at the back end of a kind of strip mall in what used be a really crappy run-of-the-mill bar for 40 somethings.  However, when we walked inside we were impressed with the modern interior while still feeling welcomed in a casual restaurant/pub kind of way.  We were told there was a 30 min wait without a reservation, but we were able to quickly find a seat in the bar area as it was first come first serve.  The restaurant was busy so we took some time to look over the menu and we decided to start with the baked goat cheese appetizer and ordered the bbq bacon burger (my entree) and the fish and chips (for The Girlfriend).

The baked goat cheese came out first and it gave us a little hint of what the dining experience was going to be like.  The goat cheese was served fresh out of the oven in a dish of olive oil and roasted garlic.  It was served with a small loaf of fresh baked bread.  The flavors worked beautifully together and everything, including the bread, had a degree of freshness in its taste that is damn hard to beat.  I think my  favorite part was that the roasted garlic had become quite soft in the olive oil and I was able to cut it and spread it easily on my slice of bread along with the goat cheese.  Goat cheese is something that I see used on Food Network all the time, and up to this point my experience with it had been limited.  However, after trying this appetizer at The Local I would probably knock down a defenseless Alex Guaraschelli to get some more.

I know that in reviews where I really like what I had I can sometimes be prone to hyperbole, but trust me that is not the case when I say that the bbq bacon burger that I had at The Local was maybe the single greatest food item every conceived or prepared anywhere by anyone in the history of all mankind.  Ok I jest slightly, but seriously this mother $*!#@ is so good that I'm surprised Al Gore hasn't claimed to invent it yet.  Every aspect of it was nailed.  As I've lamented before I'm often incredulous when restaurants ask me how I want my burger cooked because it's usually going to come out medium well anyway.  Not the case here.  I asked for medium rare.  The waitress gave a wry smile as if to say "I'm glad you ordered it the right way" and that is exactly how it was cooked.  The meat itself had a ton of flavor, but all of the other elements only added to it.  The house made bbq sauce was the right note of tang without being sweet or overpowering. The carmelized onions added a natural sweetness, and the bacon was of the perfect type that allowed you to bite into it without sloughing off of the burger itself.  And oh yeah the fries that came on the side where of the hand cut variety and perfectly crisp.  Delicious.  The Girlfriend's dinner choice was just as good.

I was a little bit surprised when she decided to go with the fish and chips because she usually isn't a fish person (or a Phish person you dirty hippies), but she said she just felt like it would be good.  She was right.  The portion size was impressive with 2 very large white fish fillets and the same fries I mentioned above.  She said she couldn't believe how fresh the fish tasted so I had to try a piece (or 3).  She was right.  I've never had F&C that tasted quite like that.  The breading stayed on, but the fish was very tender and flaky.  The house made tartar sauce was distinctive also in a very good way.

Also, I don't always comment about service, but I feel obligated here.  Our server for the evening, Taylor, was extremely good at her job.  Despite being very busy in the crazy bar area side of the restaurant she tended quickly to our every need and made herself available for any questions if we had them.  If the owners of the restaurant are reading this know that you have a very good staff member there.

Ok ratings time, but let's face it these are practically  a formality at this point.

Taste 10/10 If this was Spinal Tap and these ratings went to 11 I would give it here. Why? Because this one was 1 better.  I'm not kidding the burger jumped to the top of my list of favorite burgers, and I can't wait to go back and try some other menu offerings.
Value 10/10 This is really the icing on the cake.  You can go to The Local and have a great, not good, great meal for a price that doesn't make it just a "special occasion" place if you have an average budget.  The Girlfriend's F&C was 12 bucks, and my burger was 11.  The app was more expensive at $9.50, but if we had forgone that we could have got out for under 30 bucks.  Win.

The Local Eatery and Pub on Urbanspoon