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Sidebars: Despite detour, lunch did not disappoint

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Sometimes you have to go with Plan B. On a muggy afternoon, Jenny and I arrived at our target location, Napolese at 49th and Pennsylvania in Indianapolis. I wanted to write a comparative piece to my last Neapolitan pizza review, Pizzology in Carmel. The problem is Napolese does not offer a lunch option. So, remembering a hot tip from Chris Moyer at Segway of Indiana, we changed course and went to the Monon Food Co. in Broad Ripple. We were both glad we did.

We arrived to find a lively restaurant mixed with ample outdoor seating and indoor seating options. Nearly at capacity, we were seated inside upon my request as humid, outdoor dining did not appeal to me in my courtroom attire. The hostess sweetly apologized up-front for the barrage of servers streaming by as she informed us that this day was their first day of table, as opposed to counter, service. I wouldn’t have noticed anything out of the ordinary. It looked like well-choreographed confusion to me, the way a popular restaurant should be.

Jenny ordered water and I opted for iced tea. She also ordered some chicken mini rolls off the starter menu. These were three open-faced Kaiser-style rolls coated with shredded barbecue chicken and melted cheddar cheese. A hearty portion large enough for an entrée was satisfying but a little heavy as a starter. Nevertheless, we managed with the rest of our meal quite nicely.

We also ordered a Greek salad and our server offered to split it into two bowls for us. This portion size was perfect and the salad was quite refreshing. Fresh greens, olives, feta cheese, red onions and roasted red peppers all combined with a side of homemade vinaigrette got us in the mood for our entrees, despite it being our second course.

We chatted about the office, clients and such. I mentioned how my afternoon appointment cancelled thereby giving me an open afternoon. Jenny likewise had an open day and we noticed an adjoining table enjoying a bottle of wine. Feeling duty-bound to give our audience a complete review, we scanned the beer and wine menu. Jenny ordered a glass of Chardonnay and I followed with a can of locally brewed Sun King Cream Ale. Given our entrée selections, this was a remarkably sound idea.

Jenny dined on the rotisserie chicken dinner. This was a slow-cooked half chicken with barbecue sauce on the side. It came with a tasty corn muffin and a choice of steak fries, green beans, Cole slaw or Jenny’s selection of mac and cheese. She found the breast portion a bit dry but overall the dish certainly was not lacking in flavor. Seasoned with tasty herbs, she found it a worthy companion to her Chardonnay.

I chose the fish tacos. Packed with tilapia, chipotle mayo, shredded cabbage, guacamole and salsa, this was a delicious entrée that was only more enjoyable with the accompanying Sun King beer. Oddly, the tortilla shells stood out as almost the best part of the dish. They were hearty but not too large and sturdy enough to hold the concoction inside. If there is a way to daintily eat tacos, these tortillas could make it possible. Just ask Jenny, I certainly wasn’t dainty with this lunch.

While this place is nowhere near a courthouse, it is somewhere worth visiting. The menu has a wide variety, including a vegetarian section. The microbrew selection was impressive and the prices were a downright bargain. My fish taco dish was priced at $7.49. I’ve paid more than that at a chain restaurant for something of half the quality. On this day, Plan B worked. Pay Monon Food Co. a visit at 6420 Cornell Ave., Indianapolis; 317-722-0176; www.mononfood.com.•

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Fred Vaiana and Jennifer M. Lukemeyer practice at Voyles Zahn Paul Hogan & Merriman in Indianapolis, focusing in criminal defense. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the authors.

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