Indianapolis is quickly becoming one of the hottest food cities in America. A destination for true foodies who are interested in everything from fine dining to food trucks. This column will put the spotlight on one of these local hot spots to help get the word out and share in the love of all things food.
Review by Dustin Heller
Buckle up Indy foodies, we’re headed North of the city to a hot spot restaurant and wine bar that is serving up big flavors on small plates (not literally small, more like sharable). LouVino is located inside the Switch building in the booming Nickel Plate District in Fishers, IN at 8626 E 116th St. The idea for LouVino was born in Louisville when founders Chad and Lauren Coulter noticed there wasn’t a major player on the wine scene and wanted to rectify the situation. Fast forward to 2014 and the very first LouVino (Louisville Wine…get it?) opened and the brand has been picking up steam ever since. In 2016, the Fishers location was opened to much fanfare, and things have been booming ever since…so much so, they’re opening a Mass Ave location later this year (this doesn’t mean that you downtown readers don’t have to make the trip to Fishers!)
The interior of the restaurant is upbeat and oozes with an energetic vibe, all while staying classy. The beehive-shaped wine racks on the walls are a show-stealer. The restaurant sits right on the corner of the bustling intersection which gives diners on the outdoor patio plenty to take in. When it comes to the food, most of the plates are of Southern influence and pair perfectly with their extensive wine selection. Half of the menu changes about every two months (gotta keep it fresh and seasonal), whereas the other half contains popular staples that might cause a riot if taken off. Chef Elliot Checinski is in charge of the kitchen and the culinary mastermind behind the seasonal menu at the Fishers location. The Spring menu is up and running and there are some new dishes worthy of our excitement. As it so happens, I’ve had the pleasure of trying this new menu and let me tell you, it is awesome! Since the plates are sharable, you might as well order everything on the menu, but if that doesn’t fit your budget or your waistline, here are my four “can’t miss” items from LouVino:
1. Fried Chicken Tacos…Take everything you think you know about chicken tacos and throw it right out the window. It isn’t as much like a Mexican taco as it is more like Grandma’s Sunday dinner. Being completely honest, I was taken back when I took my first bite…because it was not at all what I was expecting. They start with a flour tortilla (pretty standard, right?) and then fill it with crispy chicken, garlic whipped potatoes, cheddar cheese, and pepper gravy. I’ve never had a taco like that before! The potatoes are silky smooth and that gravy! Everyone is going to think I’m nuts when I request chicken tacos next Thanksgiving.
2. Brussels Sprouts Salad…Anyone who reads this column regularly knows how much I love Brussels sprouts, and it’s always on my short list of must try items when visiting a new restaurant. Let’s just say that this warm Brussels sprouts salad didn’t let me down. All of the flavors LouVino managed to cram into this dish had my taste buds jumping for joy. The Brussels sprouts are roasted to perfection and then tossed with a chili and sweet potato salsa and cilantro lime vinaigrette. I don’t feel like I’m getting my point across strongly enough…you really just need to experience this one for yourself!
3. Loaded Baked Potato Tots…I’m sure all of you are rolling your eyes and thinking “how good can a tater tot really be”? Don’t worry, these are not Napoleon Dynamite’s tots…and don’t be a hater until you’ve tried them for yourself. For such a small item, they sure pack a wallop when it comes to flavor. First off, they use Yukon gold potatoes which should tell you all you need to know. Combine that with bacon, cheddar cheese, and scallions and then fry to a golden brown. They serve them with a house made ranch that isn’t for dipping, but rather submerging (I’m trying to say it’s delicious). An alternate name for these tots could have been “cherry bombs”…the flavors literally explode in your mouth.
4. Pork Tendy “Hot Brown”…This item is on the Spring menu, so you better make plans to get in there before it’s gone. The Hot Brown is an open-faced sandwich that originated in Louisville, Kentucky. The standard HB contains turkey and bacon and is covered in Mornay (cheese) sauce, and then baked until the bread gets crispy and the sauce begins to brown. That’s the way everyone else does it, but LouVino has a fresh, new take on this classic. They go with a fried pork tenderloin in place of the turkey and put that right on top of some delicious sourdough. Now is where the real fun begins…they smother this strong foundation with velvety smooth gruyère mornay, bacon, salsa verde, and finally green tomato relish. All of the traditional Hot Brown’s out there need to take note!