Monday, July 23, 2012

Why Aren't We Flying? Because Getting There is Half the Fun. You Know That.

This past Saturday, we attended the Middle Eastern festival at St. George Orthodox Christian Church, and as we tucked in to eat, I noticed the following on the back of the menu handout we were given at the admission gate: Watch for the Middle Eastern Festival in 2014 at our new location in Fishers. St. George Orthodox Church will NOT hold a Festival in 2013 because of our relocation. Follow our news at

Super. Yet another instance of something nice in Indianapolis fleeing to the exurbs. We’ve only been attending the Middle Eastern Festival for a few years now, in part because we had stopped attending the Greek Festival, at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, when that congregation decamped for newer digs in Carmel. Their church was repurposed, and I hope that something similar happens to the St. George church (though its location at 40th and Sherman is not quite as desirable as the former location of the Greek Orthodox Church, at 40th and Pennsylvania).

I don’t remember, exactly, how we came to start going to the Greek Festival every year—but it was some combination of hearing about it from my mom and a burgeoning interest, for both Amy and myself, in Greek food; and getting there, as they say, was half the fun. The church was at 40th and Pennsylvania, and if you didn’t get there early, you could pretty much count on parking several blocks away and walking. We both love to walk, so that was never an issue; and it was always nice to look at the big, expensive houses along Pennsylvania Street (the church is in the southwest corner of the Meridian-Kessler neighborhood).

The Greek Festival was always packed, and it was often difficult to maneuver in the relatively small space that was set up for the festival behind the church. You would spend most of your time standing in line for food, and then standing in line to get pastries on your way out. There was dancing and music and church tours and an Athenian marketplace, and it was all very lovely and expensive. It was one of the first festivals we attended on a regular basis, and it was a good introduction to the world of summer festivals in Indianapolis. We gave it up when they moved to Carmel. It would not have been much fun to get there, and I’m not big on the pretension of the affluent. Also, their mayor, Jim Brainard, is batshit fucking crazy. There are roundabouts everywhere up there, and they would rather you do something about your vinyl or aluminum siding, instead of just letting it sit there on your house looking, you know...urban.

We had always known about the Middle Eastern Festival, but we had never attended it. There was no particular reason for that, I don’t think—and there are just too many festivals to get to them all, especially with my work schedule. I guess if I’m being honest, the location was part of it—40th and Sherman is within shouting distance of what is known as the Meadows (which isn’t quite the same as the Griswolds taking the wrong exit trying to cross the river in St. Louis, but it might be close). After we lost the Greek Festival, we decided to finally give the Middle Eastern Festival a shot—and wished almost immediately that we had tried it out sooner. It might well have replaced the Greek Festival before those pinheads did their part to contribute to urban sprawl.

The only thing the Greek Festival had that the Middle Eastern Festival didn’t have was that long walk down Pennsylvania Street so you could look at the fancy houses. (At 40th and Sherman, there are no fancy houses.) In its place, the Middle Eastern Festival has this quaint little thing called “parking.” Everything else at the Middle Eastern Festival is better: the food is just as good, and it’s less expensive; there are practically no lines for food (or, at least, there have never been significant lines for food any of the times we have been); and the line for pastries, though there is one, isn’t nearly like standing in line for pastries at the Greek Festival. The Middle Eastern Festival also has dancing and music; and an indoor marketplace (though not an Athenian one, obviously). They also have a silent auction and a small bookstore.

But now it’s going away, too. Like I said, though, there are tons of festivals in and around the city, so it won’t be like we suddenly have nothing to do in the summer. And I’m not really disappointed that a church is moving so that its metastasizing congregation has more room to sit when they do their congregating on Sunday mornings. Most of the time I’m completely indifferent to churches and the things they do—and I’m entirely indifferent, 100% of the time, to what they’re trying to sell; but every now and then they manage to do something of interest to the greater community, and that was the niche occupied by both the Greek Festival and the Middle Eastern Festival. I’ll miss those festivals, but there are plenty of other festivals, right here in the city. There is almost no valid reason ever to enter Hamilton County; patronizing a festival that supports people who decided to skip town just because it got a little crowded certainly does not pass muster.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Deep Thoughts #87

Not only do the In God We Trust monkeys drive like morons, they also give money to the off-ramp panhandlers. Locusts for $200, please, Alex?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Deep Thoughts #86

I would not have guessed that the first place in town where I would see electric vehicle charging stations would be the Greenwood Park Mall.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Co.

Jackson, of course, only ever wants to eat chicken; and when I say chicken, I mean those chopped and formed and breaded and fried bits of chicken, which I suppose are probably technically meat, but which may or may not stand up to rigorous scientific inquiry. I had the rare Monday off last week, but since it was so hot out, we didn’t have a real plan for the day. Usually, we’ll go grab lunch somewhere close to whatever the plan for the day—which generally involves something to do outdoors—is going to be, but last week we were just sort of flying blind. We finally vaguely decided on Thai, and made our way toward Broad Ripple.

We had noshed at Thai Café before, but since we rolled up there without checking first, we did not know that they were not open on Monday. We took our chances and left the car where it was, and started walking toward the village, though not at all sure what we were going to try. Then we saw the “Kids Eat Free on Monday” sign in the window at Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Company; and though it seemed a little bit counterintuitive that a place with Brewing in its name would cater to kids, we liked the idea of being able to get a free lunch for Jackson, so we took a chance and went in. (And since it was served by the same parking lot as Thai Café, we were in no danger of having the car towed.)

Nothing here that you haven’t seen before, since bar and grill places are a dime a dozen in this town. Thr3e Wise Men is an offshoot of Scotty’s Brewhouse, and it’s the space where the eponymous Scotty chose to stake out a brewery, so that he could serve his own beer alongside other local and national offerings at his restaurants. It exists in the space that was briefly the Sunflower Market, and it’s got pretty much everything you would expect from a brewpub, except for an especially interesting menu. This is partly by design, according to Scotty’s website, because the place mostly exists to make beer; but he also wanted it to be a place where people could go to eat, so there are a few things for those on solid foods—but the choices are mostly pizza and wings, along with a smattering of appetizers, sandwiches, and salads.

They’re not reinventing the wheel here, although it’s a little bit cool that one of the dessert offerings is an elephant ear crafted from their pizza dough; and they are to be commended for serving up local coffee from Hubbard & Cravens, as well as Pepsi products from their fountain. Most of the meat that they serve on their sandwiches and pizzas is sourced locally, too—including smoked chicken from Smoking Goose, which is also featured on a few pies at Jockamo (and is incredibly delicious). The downside is that everything on the menu (except for that elephant ear) is food that you have eaten before.

I had the lunch special, which lets you mix and match any two of the following: personal one-topping pizza, breadsticks, stuffed breadsticks, or small chop salad. The cheese and onion pizza, which was clearly handmade, was long on cheese, but not so much on sauce; and it could have used another minute or two in the oven or under a broiler. Maybe you trust pizza that isn’t a little bit browned and bubbly on top. I feel for you. The breadsticks, like the pizza dough, were very light and airy, and probably helped along by the pepperoni with which they were stuffed. This might have been the first pizza place I’ve ever eaten at where they used yeast for flavor as well as for leavening.

Amy also had the lunch special, but she got the other two choices—the small chop salad and the non-stuffed breadsticks. She gave the breadsticks to Jackson, to go with his cheese pizza, and made do for herself with the salad and the goat cheese and marinara appetizer we got to split. I don’t recall that she had anything in particular to say about the salad one way or the other, other than that it contained goat cheese, which we both agree is never a bad thing. The goat cheese and marinara appetizer was much more marinara than it was goat cheese, and the bits of bread for dipping were explosively dry. All that extra marinara, however, worked well to augment the dearth of sauce on the pizza.

Some of the brews they offer looked interesting, but I’m not much of a beer-with-lunch/dinner kind of guy, especially when we’re going out to eat. I would not mind to try a Hubbard & Cravens Porter one of these days, but I’m not going to lose any sleep waiting for that day to come. I’m also not going to lose any sleep wondering when I will get to eat at Thr3e Wise Men again. There was nothing wrong with it, but it’s not a place that inspired immediate longings for a return visit. I would have to be in or near Broad Ripple, in the mood for bar and grill food, and not interested in trying one of the many other bar and grill places in Broad Ripple that I hadn’t tried before. The chances of an unexceptional place like Thr3e Wise Men running that kind of gauntlet are pretty much astronomical.

1021 Broad Ripple Avenue