Indy Restaurant Review: Rook, Yard House

Tasty vittles at Yard House.

Tasty vittles at Yard House.

The downtown Indy restaurant scene has really blossomed over the past year and Caitlyn and I got a chance this past week to try two new-ish food joints, Rook and Yard House.

ROOK:

Cozy and cute, Rook is a nice addition to Fletcher Place.

Cozy and cute, Rook is a nice addition to Fletcher Place.

Rook, not for the claustrophobic, is a teeny, shotgun restaurant sandwiched between Chilly Water Brewing Company and The Bureau, inside the Hinge Building in Fletcher Place. Rook bills itself as “contemporary Asian cuisine,” and it’s hard not to see why.

I tried the Curry Noodles, which came with eggplant, fried tofu, mint, basil, shallots, mushrooms, bell pepper and pickled red onion. As you might expect, it packed a little bit of a spicy punch, but nothing I couldn’t overcome. The tofu was perfectly fried — just a little crispy and not too hard to munch.

Noodle this one.

Noodle this one.

Caitlyn ordered up the Ra Mein Noodles, with mushroom, gai lain, peas, pickled mustard greens, cabbage and fermented black beans and added a fried egg. A little sweeter than the Curry Noodles, the Ra Mein would be a nice alternative for vegetarians not interested in tofu. In addition to what we got, Rook is also known for its “steamed buns,” which are sort of a dumpling-like concoction that comes with either avocado or pork belly.

If Asian isn’t your thing and you’d rather look at TVs than talking to your companion during dinner, we suggest Yard House, located in part of the former Nordstrom space downtown.

YARD HOUSE:

It's spinach, so it's healthy, right?

It’s spinach, so it’s healthy, right?

With TVs everywhere you turn, Yard House is a great, upper-scale venue for watching sports and taking in any of the 100+ beers on tap. We visited on its second night, so new employees and trainees were about just as ubiquitous as the TVs. We had a friendly server who chatted with us about March Madness (MSU all the way, baby!) and was extremely prompt in taking our order and getting us our food.

Normally, Caitlyn and I aren’t big fans of the chain restaurant scene, but Yard House does something we haven’t seen before at chain restaurant: Offer a full menu made with Gardein meatless products. I got the Gardein buffalo wings and they were fantastic. Honestly, it’d be hard to tell they weren’t real boneless wings.

Caitlyn got the pear and Gorgonzola flatbread, a cheesy-meets-sweet dish, thanks to the balsamic dressing drizzled over the top. She also ordered a salad that impressed her with the corn being from corn on the cob. We shared the spinach dip appetizer, which came out with eight massive, thin and salty pita chips for dipping.

Yard House tip: Get there between 3-6 pm Monday-Friday for deals on lots of dishes. The spinach dip was $4 off when we went, as were my wings. Who doesn’t need more delicious food for less money?

The service was stellar, although, we wonder how it will be in a couple of months once the new shine wears off. The ambience was … loud. If you want to hear who’s sitting across the table from you, be prepared to lean in real close or yell. Then again, it’s an upscale sports bar and not the Capital Grille, so that’s to be expected.

All in all, two great new-ish restaurant experiences for those looking to branch out in Indy.

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