Southern exposure

Last week marked our sixth anniversary, which of course, called for a nice dinner out to celebrate the occasion. Instead of falling back on old standbys, hubby and I decided to break new ground and try somewhere new. We’d snagged a room at the downtown Marriott, and since it was about a gazillion degrees that day/night, we limited our scope to restaurants within a few blocks walking distance of the hotel. Fortunately, there were plenty to choose from. After some discussion, we decided to give Tavern on South a shot.

We’d recently driven past Tavern on South and thought it looked interesting, plus I’d read a pretty good review of the place in Indianapolis Monthly a few issues ago. We like gourmet gastropub grub and were just coming off a great meal at Black Market, so our hopes and expectations were high going in.

Trying to shave off a little bit of our outdoor walk to the restaurant, we took an indoor shortcut from the hotel through the convention center and only had a block or so to go once we emerged into the 110 degree heat index. Ugh. (By some stroke of sheer insanity, we’d both dressed in black. What were we thinking?) Needless to say, al fresco dining was not an option for the evening.

We arrived around 6 and were seated immediately, thank goodness. Our timing was good, the place steadily filled up while we were there. Decorwise, Tavern on South has a nice long dining room area, a busy bar, and some outdoor terrace seating. Décor is dark and colorful, but I must take exception to the TVs. Sigh. I know this is a gastropub, but hubby and I were both terribly distracted by the televisions mounted in each corner right over each other’s shoulders. We’re not SportsCenter fans, but my eyes couldn’t help but be drawn to the TV again and again. Not exactly the romantic vibe you want on your anniversary.

The menu wasn’t as long as I expected, but covered all the bases; one page detailing a couple of pizzas, sandwiches, salads and a handful of entrees. We ordered the kettle chips starter to nibble with our drinks. I’m totally in a kettle chip phase at the moment. If they’re on the menu, I’ll probably order them. These were good, too, super fresh and satisfyingly crunchy, served with a garlic aioli and a refreshing and unexpected red pepper ketchup for dipping.

(I must apologize for not having photos to include with this post… since this was a special personal occasion, it didn’t seem right to tote the Nikon along. Plus, it didn’t really go with my little black dress.)

We had a couple of issues with the entrees, though. First impression — the presentations were great when the dishes arrived at the table. But the chargrilled 7 oz. filet I ordered arrived WELL done instead of the medium I’d asked for. It was chewy and dry, even the luxurious dollop of lobster butter on top couldn’t save it. The little molded timbale of cold artichoke potato salad underneath the steak caught me off guard, but I really liked it.

On hubby’s side of the table, the grilled chicken consisted of two thin boneless breasts with nice chargrilled marks over an asparagus artichoke corn succotash with balsamic syrup. The chicken was much more competently cooked than the steak, but the kitchen committed the unforgivable sin of including some onion in the succotash. Even after hubby specifically quizzed the server about whether or not it was included in the mix and she assured him it wouldn’t be.

As it turned out, hubby loaded up on the chicken and my steak, while I took care of the succotash and my potato salad. I thought the serving sizes were a little on the small side, given the price. My steak plate set us back $26, not terribly good value for what I received.

We thought about dessert, but decided to hold off. In retrospect, Tavern on South seemed a decent representation of an upscale gastropub, but probably not the best choice for a romantic date night. Hubby seemed more impressed with the place than I was. Given the choice between the two, I’d rush back to Black Market instead.

For more info:

http://tavernonsouth.com/

Tavern on South on Urbanspoon

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