Duck, duck… Goose!

There’s a neighborhood deli here in Indianapolis called Goose the Market that’s been on my radar for awhile now. Lunch today with my friend Amy seemed a great excuse to give it a test drive.

Goose the Market is a tiny place nestled into a storefront along Delaware at 25th Street, right along the way home for many downtown commuters. There’s a liquor store directly across the street that was doing a stonking business during our noontime visit, and although the area is still what you’d consider urban, it’s undergone a ton of renovation during the past decade to improve housing opportunities. Part of those efforts included the addition of a handful of local businesses.

Goose is celebrating its second anniversary, and appears to be doing just fine in this location. The place seems to bill itself as a market first and restaurant second. The claim-to-fame is obviously the cured meats; there is an impressive selection behind the glass counter priced by the pound, along with a small but well-considered array of cheeses, fish and olives.

In addition to all that, Goose offers local produce, the freshest baguettes I’ve seen this side of France, and a soda fridge full of out-of-the-ordinary offerings. Bottles of Abita root beer, Traders Point Creamery milk and Sprecher sodas. Nice touch! Don’t miss a visit to the cellar to browse Goose’s creative inventory of beer, wine and gourmet foodie spices, sauces and other items. I may have to make a special trip back just for some of the bourbon smoked paprika…

Glancing at the store’s web site, I see they manage a “Bacon of the Month Club.” Hello! It’s the gift that keeps on giving!!! They’ll be glad to cook up a holiday turkey for you as well, and home cooks (like myself) will be pleased to hear that you can drop off your knives there for sharpening once a month.

But back to lunch. The menu is limited to a handful of sandwiches, a soup and some baked goods. The owner knows what he does well and sticks to it. No fault there. This is a perfect example of a business that’s found its niche. As my friend Amy is a vegetarian, though, I worried for a second that she wouldn’t be able to find something to order amid all that meat. However, the staff was very friendly and accommodating, and able to steer her toward appropriate options. She ended up with a baguette filled with smoked salmon, but said it could have used a little something to kick up the flavor just a bit – dill or capers perhaps? She vowed to go for the salmon pastrami next time.

Named for Mario’s dad, a meat-curing master in his own right who operates a shop in Seattle, the “Batali” seems to be the sandwich of choice here. That’s what I got, and it’s a doozie consisting of three kinds of Italian salami, provolone, lettuce, spicy giardinara, sweet tomato preserves, mayo and pickled onion. If that sounds like a lot to cram onto one narrow swatch of baguette, it is, but it works.

The meats and cheese are sliced super thin and the fillings aren’t slathered on so thickly that you have to unhinge your jaw to take a bite. The giardinara has an addictive kick of heat; I kept picking pieces off to nibble as I made my way through the rest of the sandwich. Apparently, the culinary powers that be agree – the Batali made a top 10 short list of best sandwiches across the country in Bon Appetit magazine.

Is it the best sandwich I ever ate? I don’t know that I’d say that, but it was certainly good. And at $6.95, the value was very fair – it was a filling two-parter full of fresh, delicious ingredients. For my next visit, I’m already daydreaming about the “Goose,” a concoction of Prosciutto di Parma, basil, fresh mozzarella and extra virgin olive oil.

Can’t forget the gelato – there’s a mouthwatering collection of 10 or so gelato flavors, and samples are allowed before you decide on your choice. I got a small cup of the limoncello flavor; Amy chose the Swiss chocolate. Both were scrumptious in totally different ways. The chocolate was rich and creamy, while the lemon was light and nearly floral. It’s hard to find gelato in Indy, and I’m glad to know it’s available here.

Space is tight at Goose the Market if you plan on eating in. Like, five-barstools-lining-a-window tiny, along with a scattering of outdoor tables. Too cold to consider al fresco today, so Amy and I ended up eating our sandwiches standing up. We did snag two vacated stools as we lingered over our gelato. Most customers got their orders to go.

I will definitely come back here again with hubby in tow. He loves proscuitto, and will think he’s died and gone to ham heaven. (Don’t tell him, but I picked up a six-pack of Kolsch beer for him as a surprise…)

http://www.goosethemarket.com

Tiptoe, through the Tulip…

For several weeks now, my friend Alison has been raving about and recommending I try this new cafe called Tulip Noir on 86th Street. When another friend said she’d been there this week and it was great, I decided I’d waited long enough. Hubby and I finally made it up for lunch the other day and I’m pleased to report it IS all that.

The cafe is located in an old My Favorite Muffin joint, but it bears no resemblance to anything so pedestrian or cookie-cutter now. The place has been gutted and is now dressed in shades of calming blues and greens. It’s so clean, it almost feels sterile. Not that this is a bad thing when you’re in a dining establishment. It’s more clean and pristine in a Japanese Zen kind of way – not exactly cozy, but still very soothing and comfortable at the same time.

Tulip Noir is only open for breakfast and lunch. There’s not a ton of seating, so I figured it might be hard to get a table after a rave review published in the current issue of Indianapolis Monthly, but we got there around 1 p.m. and were led to a table immediately, no waiting. They were also very gracious about accommodating us with a high chair, as we had baby in tow.

The first thing my husband noticed was that he was the only man in the place. There definitely is a feminine vibe here; it’s a perfect place for ladies who lunch, especially rich, Carmelite ladies judging from the looks of the clientele. (I predict this place will be packed to the gills on Mother’s Day…)

The owner of Tulip Noir, a former interior designer, has obviously put a lot of thought and creativity into her cafe, and the menu choices reflect her careful attention to detail as much as the decor does. The menu changes seasonally, and all items are organic with a health-conscious spin. This is not to say there is any skimpage on flavor. Au contraire, mon frere. Think Omega-3 egg omelets with spinach, tomato, salsa and cumin; rosemary pepper bacon strips; mini whole-wheat “pan-cakeys” with almonds, bananas, powdered sugar and honey; and a breakfast salad with greens, strawberries and pecans in a citrus vinaigrette. And that’s just the breakfast menu. For lunch, you can choose from soups and salads (every last bite made in-house right down to the fresh dressings); grilled paninis, salads and a whole-wheat veggie quesadilla with avocado sauce.

I was tempted to try to the asparagus mushroom crepe with goat cheese, and the broccoli cauliflower fritters with gorgonzola creme fraiche also caught my eye, but I couldn’t resist ordering the grilled peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat with apple slices and crystallized ginger. It arrived all melty and gooey, as any good grilled sandwich should, with peanut butter oozing out the sides at every bite. It was good, but it could have used a little heavier hand with the apple and ginger. Most bites, all I could taste was P.B. I also got a little bit of mixed green salad alongside my sandwich. I thought fruit might have gone better with the peanut butter, but I wasn’t unhappy with the greens – they were very fresh and the slightly sweet acidic vinaigrette actually cut through the heaviness of the peanut butter quite nicely.

Hubby ordered the lemon garlic chicken ciabatta sandwich with dill, provolone cheese, tomato and avocado sauce; and a side of the same salad that I got. He pronounced it all very tasty.

To drink, we ordered off the fairly extensive tea menu, which breaks down options by caffeine content. There’s also a small selection of coffees, along with spritzers, smoothies and lemonade. I chose a Relaxation Blend tisane, a caffeine-free mix of chamomile and mint leaves that’s steeped just like a tea. In a terribly anti-Irish move, hubby ordered the Old Black Magic coffee, but I promise not to tell his family back home.

Again, no detail is forgotten here. We each received a small taste of the tea of the day – the tropical fruity “I Dream of Maui” – in tiny ceramic cups. When the tea and coffee were delivered to the table, each still brewing in its own small pot and French press respectively, the server also dropped off a ticking electronic egg timer so we’d know exactly when our quaffs had reached the optimal degree of flavor before pouring. Nice. Very nice.

There’s also a really cool tea bar (not a coffee bar, a TEA bar) that looks like something out of Star Trek – a funky modern halfmoon of seats where diners can be fussed over as they watch the mystical concoctions being prepared before their very eyes.

Throughout the meal, our server struck just the right chord – friendly and welcoming without being oversolicitous or insincere.

I wished we’d saved room for dessert. Next time. And there definitely will be a next time.

Tulip Noir, http://www.tulipnoircafe.com