Indianapolis Has Oysters—and damn good burgers too!

There are restaurants, and then there are places you visit where they serve food with a history and prepare it as if they were serving family. Spoke & Steele is one of those restaurants. Drawing inspiration from the surrounding Indianapolis neighborhoods, the culinary team has created some seriously delicious and innovative plates. And while the flavors are outstanding, the absolute BEST part about this Indy restaurant is simply this: you know where your food comes from, how its harvested and how its prepared … whether it’s dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, and or vegetarian. And if that’s not refreshing, I don’t know what is.

Spoke & Steele sources their food from local farms and artisan houses, including Compart Family Farm, Gerber Farms, Black Falls Beef, Amelia’s Bakery, Smoking Goose and J&B Farmstead. And their seafood comes from one of the finest providers in the country—Fortune Fish Company. Fortune partners with the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership to help develop its sustainable seafood policy and therefore ensure consumers are getting the best product available.

This week, Spoke & Steele rolled out a new lunch menu, and I was lucky enough to get to sample some dishes, meet their new chef and learn why the Spoke Burger, really isn’t a burger …What I had …

OYSTERS  Even though I grew up on the West Coast, I’ve always favored the typically less briny, and not-quite-so-meaty East Coast oysters. But until now, I’d never tried the Japanese Kumamotos. Served with a barrel-aged hot sauce akin to Tabasco, only twice as good, Spoke & Steele’s oysters are a must have. And the best part, there’s no horseradish in the mix—you can ask for it on the side, but with these delicate oysters, I don’t advise spoiling their flavor with an abundance of anything extra.

Don’t call it a burger—call it a culinary adventure!

THE SPOKE BURGER  Yea, I know, I said not to call it a burger, but since the creator—none other than four-time James Beard nominated chef Greg Hardesty—named it so, I guess I’ll go ahead and do the same. So … the spoke burger is a ridiculously delicious masterpiece that patrons will come far and near to sample. Only you won’t be able to sample … one bite in and your taste buds will demand you finish. The burger uses a combination of chuck, brisket and short-rib meat from local purveyor Fischer Farms. It’s topped with a special sauce that includes capers, three mustards, a slice of American cheese, a slice of cheddar and Shisito peppers.

IMG_9643SCALLOPS  I love sea scallops—I order them in restaurants, cook them at home and even meet them for coffee every now and then. OK. No. I don’t meet them for coffee, I don’t think they like coffee. I also love mushrooms, so naturally, Spoke & Steele’s scallop dish is one of the best I’ve ever had. Bathed in a light umami miso broth, the scallops are perfectly plump, perfectly seared and truly melt in your mouth.

IMG_9614THE REUBEN  Spoke & Steele’s “Reuben” is actually made with porkstrami—because it’s pork, not beef like a traditional pastrami-based Reuben. The delightful sandwich is layered with just the right amount of porkstrami, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and a special sauce—but it’s not overly saucy like some Reubens can be—in fact, this version almost appears light.

Niçoise had me at hello

NICOISE  Spoke & Steele’s take on Niçoise salad had me swooning for more. The salad is divine, you can taste every single flavor—nothing overshadows anything. The version I had was delicious, but as part of their new menu, they’ve revamped the dish to include a crudo of seared yellowfin tuna, instead of the breaded tuna cake seen in my photo. The salad part is chalk full of fingerling potatoes, green beans, niçoise olives, fennel, and basil alongside a generous smear of tomato fondue.

What I’ll go back for … The oysters, duh. But I can’t wait to try the salmon—it comes with brown-butter pecans and peas, and well, thanks to Julia Child, I am a sucker for buttered peas. Shocker, I know. I also want to try the pan-roasted exotic mushrooms, and even though I’m a seafood aficionado, I admit the saffron risotto deponti sounds amazing. SpokeAndSteele.com

Read more about this amazing restaurant, Chef Erin Gillum and the new menu on the Edible Indy website—and let me know if you go … heck, maybe we can meet there with some scallops for coffee sometime ; ) I’m down!

DISCLAIMER: I’m a writer and an editor. And I try my best to make sure every post is articulate and free from errors. However, being that I edit my own work—and it’s next to impossible to properly edit your own work—I admit, occasionally there may be an error or two I miss. But doing so doesn’t make me an idiot so don’t be mean. Just smile, pat yourself on the back for finding an error and be glad you’re not the only one who makes mistakes sometimes … yes, even mermaids slip up every now and then. xoxox

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Hey there. I’m Shauna—a West Coast transplant in the landlocked state of Indiana … when I moved here I missed the beaches, the mountains, the desert, the rivers … and it took me a while to find places nearby that paralleled my old stomping grounds. BUT. Now that I’ve lived here for over 15 years, I’ve had time to explore the region and you know what? It’s amazing. There’s so much to do—from skiing in northern Michigan to relaxing lakeside in southern Kentucky to rocking the nightlife in one of the many metropolitan areas. And I love it here. I really do. BUT. I do miss the sea … and the sand and the rush of the waves … the smell of seawater … even the sting of too much sun after a day spent lollygagging at the beach. And I miss the constant supply of seafood and shellfish and riverfish? About that … since I’ve moved to the Midwest I’ve noticed that a lot of people here don’t consider fish that come from the river seafood … I’m not sure I agree, but hence the new word I’ve created, “riverfish” … time will tell if Webster picks it up ; ) So this little blog is my way of bringing a little bit of sea life (or is it sealife?) to the Midwest. Here you’ll find all kinds of information … some that you might find more useful than others—like where to find the best seafood (and riverfish) in the Midwest. And some, you might just find amusing … or not. Either way, and if nothing else, I hope you leave my little space here on the world wide web a little refreshed and maybe even a little inspired to bring a little bit of the ocean home with you. (Yes, I did use the word “little” four times in one sentence … it’s OK … mermaids like to repeat themselves.) Cheers! The Midwest Mermaid Oh, and if your curious, yes, I do actually write for a living … if you want to know about the organizations I work with and the publications where you can find my land legs, swim on over to the “Portfolio” tab … and thanks for visiting.

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