Sidebars: Café's limited menu features fresh, high-quality food

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SidebarsEditor’s Note: Sidebars reviews and rates eateries lawyers may enjoy visiting when working at courthouses throughout Indiana. Fred offers this issue’s review.

If you haven’t been to downtown Carmel lately, go! The vision of longtime Mayor Jim Brainard has, in very large part, come to fruition with a wonderful big-city vibe along Main Street’s Arts and Design district, buttressed by smartly efficient mixed-use development surrounding it. The “if you build it, they will come” mantra is quite evident, and they’re still building.

Of course with a project of this magnitude, there is controversy. Mayor Brainard and the city council continue to spar over funding but, placing that aside, we still reap the surface benefits of world-class entertainment at The Palladium and quality, varietal dining options. Today I focus on one of those collateral benefits, the Blue Moon Café.

A dream of experienced culinary school graduates Brian and Shelly Jordan, the business finds itself nestled in the Indiana Design Center on Rangeline Road just south of Main Street. The Blue Moon Café is one of those places I’ve driven by countless times and, while piquing my interest, I never stopped. It took a rare, warm spring Saturday earlier this year and my 12-year-old son, Anthony, to make it happen.

After getting tandem haircuts at, where else, the Main Street Barber Shop, the topic of lunch arose. Traffic was rerouted due to the Carmel half marathon, so we spilled out of a side street near the Blue Moon Café. I mentioned how I always wanted to try it and Anthony said that he wanted to go, so in we went. We were both glad we did.

Not far from Carmel City Court, this place is a wise choice for your breakfast and lunch options. The hip and spacious decor can easily accommodate solos, couples, families and small business meetings. While the menu is limited, it’s reasonably priced, fresh and of high quality. Not much more you can ask for. Even Jenny would like it.

The menu rotates quite a bit, but there appear to be a few staples. There is something for everyone here. There are vegetarian options, soups, salads, wraps, panini sandwiches and, best of all, high-quality desserts. I selected the grinder panini as my choice while Anthony chose the BLT, flanked by a side of pasta salad.

One thing I like to do when sampling a new place is to order unsweetened iced tea. If the establishment cares enough to serve a quality iced tea then quality food usually follows. So when my iced tea was good I knew the food to come had to be.

The grinder was everything you would expect from an Italian-style panini. Well-proportioned meats such as smoked ham and salami along with cheese, in this instance provolone, accompanied by shaved onions, sliced tomatoes, garlic mayonnaise and a wonderfully flavorful giadinera. Anthony’s BLT was uncommon, on the plus side. It included peppered bacon from local gem Goose the Market, havarti cheese, romaine lettuce, sliced tomato, and the same flavorful roasted garlic mayonnaise I had on my sandwich. Both were served on sourdough bread, enhancing the well-meshed symphony of flavors. Anthony’s pasta salad was enjoyably spicy. He gobbled it up, nonetheless, as he’s developed quite a respectable palate for spicy food as a 12-year-old.

While we did not sample from it, the crown jewel of this place is the dessert case. Variety is again limited to a few options, but they look sinfully decadent. Examples include the mile-high cake that on the day of our visit was a carrot cake, but the flavors do rotate. It is a six-layer masterpiece that earns its moniker. On this day the case included a tempting raspberry chocolate torte, but the most intriguing option, and I’m told among the most popular, is the homemade ding dongs. From the looks of them their popularity is no surprise.

So if you find yourself in downtown Carmel someday, this place is a solid lunchtime choice. Anthony wants to go back, and I’ll join him. Someone has to – he can’t drive yet.

Blue Moon Café, 200 S. Rangeline Rd., Carmel, IN. M-F, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat. 7 a.m.-3 p.m. 317-844-8310. Catering available.•


Fred Vaiana and Jennifer Lukemeyer practice at Voyles Zahn & Paul in Indianapolis, focusing on criminal defense. Both enjoy a good meal with colleagues and friends. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the authors.


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