Our 2017 Super Bowl Deserted Restaurant Getaway

Picanha!

Picanha, a.k.a. garlic sirloin, one of Anne’s favorite bites of the night.

Each year my wife Anne and I have indulged our own special Super Bowl tradition: while the rest of the world is watching football and swapping snacks and beers with best friends and chatting about The Sports, the two of us have dinner at a fancy restaurant we’ve never tried before. Between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., anyplace without a large-screen TV is usually deserted and totally ours for the taking.

The last few years have also seen Super Bowl Sunday coincide with a local event called Devour Downtown, in which dozens of upscale establishments in downtown Indianapolis offer a limited-time sort of blue-plate special that allows plebes like us to come in and sample their cuisine from a specially selected discount menu. It’s still a bit pricier than five-dollar footlongs, but in our experience the quality has always been immeasurably higher, no matter where we’ve gone. This year the event was merged with several others of its kind, expanded citywide, and renamed Devour Indy. We ended up heading downtown anyway, but it’s nice to know we’ll have more compass options in the years ahead.

Tonight’s feature presentation: Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian steakhouse with over two dozen American locations in addition to their flagships back home. For one solid price that was more than we would ever dream of paying for non-special occasions, their Devour Indy special offered a buffet of fancy unlimited appetizers, while the waiters approached every table with a few unlimited side dishes and numerous small yet unlimited meat portions all prepared in the Brazilian way, by which I mean they were made of meat. Good enough for us.

Read more of this post

Advertisements

Road Trip Origins Year 2, Part 2 of 3: Trainwreck at the Trainwreck

Trainwreck!

American history! Frontier architecture! Bison tongue appetizer!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: a flashback to our second annual road trip, attending St. Louis’ second and final Gateway Sci-Fi Con in the year 2000. Actors from Mystery Science Theater 3000 were met, autographs were treasured, panels were enjoyed, and dozens of internet peers showed up to put faces with names. But we didn’t limit ourselves to the convention hotel’s property. None of us were from St. Louis; some of us were eager to explore and see what else the city had to offer.

Saturday night, seven of us piled into two cars and drove out to LaClede’s Landing, a district on the banks of the Mississippi River and down the street from the world-famous Gateway Arch. LaClede’s Landing is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, with warehouses and facades dating back to the mid-19th century that were renovated circa 1975-1976. Not so renovated: the solid cobblestone streets we navigated at 2 MPH, feeling bump after bump after bump after bump after bump after bump as we crawled the blocks looking for sustenance and wishing someone would make the bumping stop.

Fate brought us to a saloon called Trainwreck on the Landing. Other Trainwrecks have existed in the 314 since the 1890s, but we knew nothing about any of them. We figured why not and gave it a whirl.

Hated it. We hated it so much, I wrote a skit about it four days later.

Read more of this post

Cooking with Alex Guarnaschelli at Indy’s 2nd Fantastic Food Fest

Alex Guarnaschelli!

True story: Chef Alex is the first person we’ve ever met at a show who mentioned jazz hands in a Q&A before we even had the chance to ask.

Last year my wife Anne and I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural Fantastic Food Fest at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, planned by its creators at Circle City Expos as an annual event bringing together the best and brightest providers from numerous restaurants, markets, farms, caterers, bakeries, and other tremendous sources of locally sourced ingredients and cuisine under one roof for foodies to gather and escape winter doldrums. Year One’s big show brought in a headliner we loved to meet, Chopped host and hometown hero Ted Allen. If the show was successful, we figured we’d return regardless of the guest list.

As Chopped fans, we weren’t disappointed. Year 2 brought in a related special guest all the way from New York City, Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli, the Chopped judge most likely to deliver a ruling composed entirely of clever metaphors. Alex summed up the order of the day as she opened her 1:30 cooking demo: “It’s time to eat and cook and forget about a whole lotta other things for a while.”

Right this way for a photo gallery of amazing colossal foodstuffs!

Cincinnati 2016 Overnighter Photos, Part 6 of 6

Cincinnati!

Our hotel room’s view of downtown Cincinnati high above the nightlife.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s convention time yet again! This weekend my wife Anne and I have driven two hours southeast of Indianapolis to attend a show we’ve never done before, the seventh annual Cincinnati Comic Expo. With her birthday coming up in a few weeks, which usually means a one-day road trip somewhere, we agreed this would count as her early celebration.

Growing up in Indiana, we Hoosiers rarely had reasons to visit next-door Ohio until and unless it was time for another one-day family road trip to Kings Island Amusement Park, a few miles north of Cincinnati. If you believe the movie Anomalisa, the only two reasons to visit Cincinnati itself are the Cincinnati Zoo and Skyline Chili. After we wrapped up our Cincinnati Comic Expo experience, we did none of those things and found a few reasons not to be bored anyway.

Read more of this post

Farewell, Milano Inn. We Just Barely Knew Ye.

Milano Inn!

At the time we were excited to be there and had no idea the stop sign was deep, clever foreshadowing.

When it’s time to pay respects and say goodbye to a cherished person, place, or thing, sometimes it’s good not to wait till the last minute. Better still, keeping in touch and enjoying their presence while things are going well means you don’t have to feel quite so lousy if they depart without you orchestrating a proper sendoff.

Today my wife and I had fun plans in downtown Indianapolis in the morning, a nephew’s birthday party out in Brownsburg in the afternoon, and a gap between them that might fit a nice lunch. Our schedule filled itself out when we learned this week that the Milano Inn, a renowned Italian restaurant serving the Circle City since 1934, would be closing its doors for good at the end of 2016, a year that just won’t stop racking up casualties. A husband-and-wife date before their farewell seemed in order.

Key word: “seemed”.

Read more of this post

2016 NYC Trip Photos #28: The Last Manhattan Mealtimes

Junior's pastry!

Mini-pastry appetizer at Junior’s, one of the better experiences from the second half of our week.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year from 1999 to 2015 my wife Anne and I took a road trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. With my son’s senior year in college imminent and next summer likely to be one of major upheaval for him (Lord willing), the summer of 2016 seemed like a good time to get the old trio back together again for one last family vacation before he heads off into adulthood and forgets we’re still here. In honor of one of our all-time favorite vacations to date, we scheduled our long-awaited return to New York City…

On our vacations the meals trend in the same direction throughout our week: at first tentative while we’re exploring new territory. After a day or two we’re emboldened enough to experiment with places more imaginative or just more expensive. After peaking midweek with the greatest meals of the year, our dinners then begin to descend in either quality or excitement level as we reach the far end of our budget and tap into our last reserves of energy just to finish out the trip. We try to keep finding gems among the dross, whether the results impress our friends back home or not.

Read more of this post

%d bloggers like this: