Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Indie Café: Edgewater glows with the taste of impressive Thai and Sushi
11:30 a.m.-10 pm., Mon.-Thurs.;
11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.,
Fri.-Sat.; noon-10 p.m., Sun.
Thai noodle dishes, $7.75-$9.25;
Thai curries, $7.75-$15; Maki, $8-$19
By Lee Barrie and Cindy Kurman
We have a fabulous cousin, Harriet, who recently graduated from Carnegie Mellon’s prestigious theater administration program and now has embarked on a promising career at Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre. To celebrate her jubilant entry into the real world, we decided to take her out for dinner. We picked her up in the car and, while we were going through the various options, she said, “I know a place, you’ll love it—the Indie Café.” Cindy and I looked at each other and smiled. A place we haven’t been to before. Perfect.
So off we drove to Edgewater, where we were thrilled to discover this upbeat and chic BYOB café that offers an excellent selection of both Thai and Japanese dishes. Cindy will always go for sushi, which she loves, but it was a cold day and so Harriet and I chose the Thai menu. We ended up sharing everything anyway, as you’d expect.
What sets the Indie Café menu apart from most menus is that it includes good descriptions of the dishes along with some photos. The Thai offering is wide ranging, with a nice selection of appetizers, soups, salads, noodle dishes, rice dishes, fried rice and curries and seafood. Dishes are labeled according to the level of spiciness and you can request more or less heat, depending on your liking. On the Japanese side, there are some creative maki, accompanied by a good choice of nigiri, appetizers, salads, soups and teriyakis. Portions are large, but not overly so. The dishes are consistently fresh tasting and attractively presented.
Among the Thai standouts was the Crab Rangoon, a Thai appetizer made with crab meat, cream cheese, water chestnut, carrot, and celery wontons. We also enjoyed the Andaman Salad, a multi-textured treat incorporating steamed shrimp, scallop, crab meat and calamari in lime juice, smoked chili paste, onion, carrot, lemon grass and mixed greens.
To try a noodle dish, we ordered Pad Thai, the ubiquitous dish that compared very well with other Thai restaurant versions. Other good noodle choices include Drunken Noodles, with fresh basil, hot chili, broccoli, peas, carrots and tomatoes, bamboo shoots, green beans and bean sprouts, and the Drunken Udon, which features wide wheat noodles stir fried with spiced seafood.
There are some creative Thai curries on the menu. We tried the Indie Signature curry which features classic Mussamun beef curry with cashews, potatoes, spices and herbs. There are several other curry selections that sound delicious.
For my entrée, I ordered the Ginger Fish (I chose tilapia, but you can also order salmon or snapper). This simple dish, steamed in soy with ginger and scallion, was perfectly balanced and even more delicious than I expected. There are numerous other fish and seafood choices, including Stir-Fried Paradise, which includes crispy fish fillet with ginger, red and green pepper, onion, scallion, cashews, and shitake mushrooms in a black bean herb sauce.
Moving to the Japanese menu, there are several tasty salad offerings, such as the signature Indie Salad, a seaweed salad with spicy mayo, crab stick and masago. Teriyakis can be made with beef, chicken, salmon, scallop or tofu. Maki choices are plentiful. Cindy ordered the very fresh tasting White Scorpion, featuring tempura crusted soft shell crab, cucumber, spicy mayo, masago (capelin roe), topped with super white tuna and avocado.
Other interesting maki include the Devil, with crispy salmon skin, cilantro, avocado, cucumber, habanero masago, chili paste, srirachi (spicy Thai sauce) and BBQ sauce; the Crocodile, with a whole piece of eel and stuffed with spicy tuna, cucumber, avocado, tempura crump, habanero masago and BBQ sauce, and the Butter Ocean, with asparagus tempura, cream cheese, smoked salmon and masago, wrapped with shrimp and avocado and topped with spicy butter. If you prefer a more traditional maki, you can order a Dragon or Rainbow, to mention a couple of options.
We were pleased with the service, the upbeat music and the colorful décor. Harriet was thrilled that she could actually take us to a place we hadn’t been to before and that it was such a winner. We’ll have to make dinner with Harriet a regular part of our routine.
Note: DineWise is a weekly column appearing in StreetWise magazine. Lee Barrie is on the StreetWise board of directors and he and his wife Cindy own Kurman Communications, a Chicago-based public relations agency specializing in lifestyle, restaurant and hospitality strategic branding, marketing promotions, media relations and social networking. If you'd like your restaurant to be featured on the DineWise blog and in StreetWise magazine, please contact mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you enjoy reading DineWise, you may enjoy our other blog Got Buzz. Please check it out.