All the way down at the far end of trendy Massachusetts Avenue in Indianapolis, known to the locals as Mass Ave., an old, freestanding building hosts a treat of a new restaurant simply called Black Market. It deserves your lunch attention. Fred and I ventured down there with our colleague/competitor/friend Rick Kammen who described the experience best – “interesting” (and not like “interesting” as in “she has a great personality” because we all know what that really means). I would whole heartedly agree and add “awesome” to the description. The diverse menu offerings are interesting, without being too aggressive. The cool décor welcomes guests with a long bar, a couple of long communal tables, patio seating, and individual tables and offers what I would surmise would be a warm atmosphere in the winter or a cool respite during the summer.
Fred, Rick, and I received prompt attention by a knowledgeable server. The promptness continued throughout the lunch without any feeling of being rushed. On a subsequent visit, I met one of the proprietors (and chef), Micah Frank, who had come from R Bistro, and who partnered up with the owner of a previously, positively reviewed place, Siam Square. Their creative menu items include fresh and local products, but offerings are not restrictive to the more traditional palate. I learned their lunch crowd has not been as consistent as their dinner crowd, so hopefully after reading this article, you will support this local establishment which I am confident will result in return trips.
Starters always include “daily pickles” which on our visit were kimchi, green beans, and corn. The tasty and tangy pickled veggies could easily substitute as a salad and this plate changes, hence the “daily” part of the item. The Welsh rarebit truly delighted my husband and me on the other visit (even though he was fully expecting a rabbit dish having misread the menu). The sharp cheddar dominated this traditional tavern dish and the bread on which it was served was perfectly toasted. As starters there was a beef tongue cocktail (which received Kammen’s blessing), fresh sardines, and French fries. Notable about the fries, which we all split with our entrees, is the daily-changing mayo that accompanies the fries. On our visit we lucked out with tomato curry flavored mayo. On another visit, the mayo base was tangy with a slight cilantro flavor. The surprise mayo makes it necessary to order the fries on every visit (like you need an excuse as the fries themselves clearly were fresh and seasoned perfectly).
I have to start with the best pick which was made by Fred – the Black Market burger adorned with goat cheese spread, grilled red onion and house pickles. Absolutely worth the $13 price tag. Fred immediately detected the distinct flavor of the lamb which made up half of the otherwise beef burger. Rave review from Fred as he polished off the juicy burger. Kammen struggled with his decision between the braised beef and cheddar and the fried mozzarella and tomato salad before opting for the latter. A large piece of fresh mozzarella, not overly breaded, sat atop fresh greens with tomato and lightly drizzled with bagna cauda (a warm dressing made with garlic, anchovies, olive oil) which he asserted perfected the dish. Finally, I ordered the egg salad on toast with tomatoes and green salad. The egg salad was very rich and atop a thick toasted bread that was a bit too thick even with the generous portion of egg salad. The fresh tomatoes complimented the egg salad best. Other offerings were ale-steamed mussels, roasted butternut squash, apple salad and pork Manhattan (with a three-bean gravy).
We were all very pleased with our selections and the enjoyable lunch conversation. If you have a party of more than four, the communal tables would make Black Market a perfect destination. Having the benefit of having had lunch and dinner there, both are advisable. If it is your dinner destination (or a liquid lunch, I suppose), be advised that they only serve beer and wine. Prices were reasonable as the burger was the most expensive item on the menu. This place deserves our highest ranking, four gavels, due to the overall “interesting” experience. Black Market is located at 922 Massachusetts Ave. and on the net at blackmarketindy.net.•
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’.