I frequented Tavern on South twice for this exercise and both times I was not disappointed. The first trip I was accompanied by the Hon. Heather Welch and my colleague Jim Voyles, and the second trip by Bob Hill, Marion County’s chief public defender. Going twice provided an opportunity to diversify my review and check the consistency of its offerings.
Practically next door to Lucas Oil Stadium on South Street (go figure), this warehouse has been transformed to a really cool joint. Modern but comfortable and not too “tavernish,” it is very accessible because of its large parking lot immediately east of the building. On game days, it may not be as accessible by car, but I’m sure the foot traffic will provide the owners with record days.
On my first trip, Jim ordered a side Tuscan salad (really a Greek salad) which impressed him as being fresh, not drowning in dressing, and the perfect size. He indulged in a tavern crispy pepperoni pizza which is on wheat thin crust. Jim, the traditionalist, got scared of some of the bread offerings on the sandwich list because no sandwich was offered on Wonder Bread or Sunbeam Wheat. His fear guided him well with his pizza. The pizza offerings also include a Red (red sauce, red pepper, mozzarella, parmesan and fresh basil), White (béchamel, mozzarella, parmesan and white cheddar) and the Black & Blue (barbeque sauce, Cajun beef tenderloin, mozzarella and blue cheese). Heather polished off her Circle City Club of grilled chicken, Mariah’s Indiana peppered bacon, goat cheese, and pesto tomato, served on grilled ciabatta. (Heather, being the good, open-minded Democrat she is, did not shy away from the non-traditional bread choices.) She ruled in favor of the sandwich by cleaning her plate. I could not resist the Tavern Tenderloin Sliders served with mustard aioli and lettuce on pretzel rolls. Those little suckers were as good as the larger versions! I opted for the herb dusted French fries, but the homemade kettle chips are the way to go.
Overall, service and food-wise, they were about knock-it-out-of-the-park until we (well, “we” being Jim) ordered a simple dessert of ice cream and some chocolate sauce. We waited and waited and waited until we could wait no more. The place got busy and we were forgotten so we asked for our check as Jim wiped that lone tear drop from his cheek.
On the second visit, Bob and I split the crab ravioli which was bland and not worth the calories. I wish we would have opted for the crispy Maple Leaf Farms duck wings with your choice of salt and vinegar, garlic buffalo, or shagbark hickory teriyaki. Apparently Bob, like myself, abides by the saying “I did not fight my way to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian.” He devoured the Tavern Smoked Bison Burger dressed up with charred tomato barbeque glaze and peppercorn bacon on brioche roll. I daintily ate the Tavern Smoked Prime Rib on grilled ciabatta with onions, smoky natural jus, and horseradish mousse. The “Tavern Smoked” preparation of both sandwiches added great flavor, and I would suggest either. If you are vegetarian they do offer a roasted pepper and grilled Portobello sandwich and some entrée-size salads and the non-meat pizzas, of course. The second visit was consistent with the first so that is a good sign.
Grab a colleague, friend, opposing counsel, mentor/mentee and enjoy sophisticated food in a sophisticated-tavern-type setting. Worthy of 3.5 gavels – if only you had remembered the ice cream and forgotten the crab ravioli!
Tavern on South is located at 423 W. South Street in Indianapolis, Ind. For more details visit: www.tavernonsouth.com.•
Fred Vaiana and Jennifer M. Lukemeyer practice at Voyles Zahn Paul Hogan & Merriman in Indianapolis, focusing in criminal defense. Vaiana is a 1992 graduate of the John Marshall Law School in Chicago. Lukemeyer earned her J.D. from Southern Methodist University in 1994 and is active in the Indianapolis Bar Association, Indianapolis Inn of Courts, and the Teen Court Program. The opinions expressed in this column are the authors’.