Rock Bottom Brewery
Indianapolis, IN and around the NE and Western USA
Review by SuSu, MaceVindaloo, Diana, VagBoy, Runt, BunchBox
Bars just aren't good enough anymore, probably because if you go to one, your wife/girlfriend will never go further with you and you'll be some sort of social pariah. And your kids will be too ashamed of you; or you'd set a bad example which they'll follow with gusto! Thus family-friendly "brewpubs" with family-style food are de rigeur. To make things even safer, the smokers and poolshark-wannabes are relegated to the basement.
Chain-type breweries seem to be prevalent in Indianapolis, at least in the downtown area. They are patronized by what look to be young politicoes or not-quite legal eagles. But they come off as men who wish they were still frat boys they play a lot of pool, drink a lot of beer (believing themselves to be unique in their choice of descriptively named ales and lagers), try to be cool, smoke a lot, and there are very few women in the basement area. But it's fun, even if they sucked at pool. (In this town, it's not so much having the skill to win a game, as the patience to wait for the others to lose!)
The food comes in huge portions and are basically what might be considered appetizery things. Yes, you can get a steak; after all, this is Indy, the demographic center of the country. Steak is what defines us as Americans! But go for the appetizers instead, since they are somewhat interesting, and don't order too many or you'll have to schlep food back to the hotel!
They have things like flautas, which are renamed "twigs" and there are a lot of dippable things like fried calamari, artichoke dip with "brewbread" (meaning made with beer as the liquid), and Buffalo-style wings. They were pretty good, though they didn't come fast enough for us ... I guess when the place has a chain-restaurant and family ambiance, we assume food will come quickly to feed hungry kids and dads. A couple of us made a meal out of appetizers, simply because there was so much food on the plates (and the mains seemed kind of uninspired)!
Their sides were good string beans, garlic mashed potatoes, that sort of thing. Salads were huge and not terribly inspired, but they were good, fresh, and they'll certainly fill you up; think twice before having a salad and something else for dinner. Next time, we'll pass on the dessert. The aforementioned steak was decent and cooked properly, albeit small in size. We got a carrot cake and when the waiter had described it as "huge" we thought that meant "good" ... but it just literally meant physically large! It must've weighed over a pound, and it was sticky and stodgy, with not enough icing.
The dark-wood and brewpots decor was nice, and the path to the downstairs smoking and pool area was marked by decals on the floor of billiard balls, which they told us to follow on our own. It saves the staff actually having to lead you to the stairs, and maybe having to go up and down all the time. There seemed to be a shortage of waiters downstairs compared to upstairs; maybe it's the aforementioned speed of service where kids and families are, compared to aged frat boys. It was a pleasant evening.
Oh, and the beer was good, too. They claim to make it here (though "here" might mean "in the company"), and the ales and lagers were good and had a "handmade" feel and taste, kind of creamy. Those who imbibed enjoyed themselves, so you try some if you're allowed. While it's true that "microbrews" tend to produce similar beers, it's still nice to imbibe in the fantasy in a kind of bland and safe way, like us C3-goers imbibe in Star Wars ... actually, it's not like that at all, but at least as far as finding a decent place to have dinner, the Force was kind of with us!
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