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Sidebars: Left Bank Cafe offers delightful canal setting

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We give Left Bank Café 2 1/2 gavels!

I love sitting outside for lunch or dinner during the summer. But there is something about Indy and that concept that makes me giggle.

Indy restaurants/bars/cafes will put outside seating no matter their locale/setting/view. Haven’t you ever noticed a few tables set out in front of a place that just makes you scratch your head and say “I’m not sure I’d enjoy sitting outside there watching/smelling/hearing (fill in the blank).”

Well, we found a delightful outside venue where that won’t be your complaint. The Left Bank Café is located on the canal walk in downtown Indy.

I know it is not necessarily near a courthouse, but on a pleasant summer day it is worth a little extra effort to stroll the canal and grab a bite at the Left Bank Café. Sure there is foot traffic, some bike traffic, and the Segway tours (which Fred could do circles around them on his!). But it beats looking over a busy intersection inhaling bus exhaust. It is a small cafe with plenty of good outdoor seating located on the canal level of the newly constructed Cosmopolitan apartment building at 310 W. Michigan St.

I had lunch there with my husband last week and was very impressed considering it’s in its infancy. Fred and our associate, Tyler, returned for lunch in hopes of a repeat. It was close, but the kinks are still getting ironed out. Their menu is somewhat aggressive and diverse given its size, and the café fortunately does not restrict itself to the coffee-house standards. They offer a variety of flatbread pizzas, paninis, and crêpes.

The flatbreads are not really traditional pizzas as they are smaller portions of flatbreads with three varieties of toping mixes. Andouille sausage, red pepper pesto, red onions, and pecorino cheese adorn one. Another is with Italian sausage, honey Dijon, portobello mushrooms, red peppers, and provolone. For the vegetarians there is one topped with spinach, goat cheese, and garlic-infused olive oil. On the prior trip we had the Andouille flatbread, which was very satisfying. Insisting Fred and Tyler try it, we ordered one. However there was a mix-up in the kitchen, which combined the Andouille sausage flatbread ingredients with the Italian sausage one. That was a bit disappointing because the flavor mixture of Andouille sausage flatbread, as promised on the menu, is quite delectable. Tyler had the Italian sausage flatbread for his entrée, and it, too, had the ingredients mixed up. Another disappointment, but we moved on. (The chef did apologize and was extremely sincere so that gained back some credibility).

Fred had the crêpe with chicken, mushroom, and spinach. He was satisfied and it was hearty, but he wasn’t heartily satisfied. Some more flavor kick would have been welcomed. They also offer an apple and leek crêpe, a smoked salmon crêpe, a veggie crêpe, and a spinach and artichoke crêpe, so there are some choices. A number of sweet crêpes also are available.

The panini I had was the three cheeses (brie, gruyere, and provolone) with apple wood bacon and tomato, served with chips. I really liked it. I also sampled the Caesar salad that had a variation of the traditional dressing with what appeared to be cornbread croutons – mmmmm. You have to judge for yourself. My husband had the Rueben which sated him, and it was not so heavy that it sends you for a nap. The other panini include pulled pork or chicken with red onion and cheddar jack; cheese steak; grilled Portobello; and a veggie selection.

The overall experience earned 3 gavels from me, but Fred would give it 2 because of the flatbreads mix-up and because his elitist sausage taste was not impressed with the quality of meats on the flatbreads and antipasti plate. I love the setting, the menu selection, and as an after-work venue they are hoping for a liquor license soon. Give it a try – I have faith they’ll work out the kinks ­– and enjoy a view that is unique to the downtown area.

Left Bank Café is at Canal Walk level, 310 W. Michigan St.; 317-642-3305. Hours are Monday through Thursday 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday.•

__________

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 those of the authors.

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

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  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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