Indianapolis is quickly becoming one of the hottest food cities in America. A destination for true foodies who are interested in everything from fine dining to food trucks. This column will put the spotlight on one of these local hot spots to help get the word out and share in the love of all things food.
Review by Dustin Heller; follow him on Instagram: @eatindywatchindie
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Mass Ave? The happening bar scene and nightlife? The uber-popular farm-to-table restaurants? The artsy boutiques that line the sidewalks? All of these would be good choices, but what if I said a family-friendly neighborhood restaurant that is all about supporting the local community? I’d, of course, be talking about Rooster’s Kitchen which resides on the east end of the strip at 888 Mass Ave.
The place is owned and operated by Ross “Rooster” Katz, who has literally had just about every job there is in the food industry. With his entrepreneurial roots and his vast restaurant experience, opening Rooster’s Kitchen was fulfilling a lifelong dream of his.
Rooster’s resides in the spot formerly occupied by the dearly missed R Bistro, and it couldn’t be any more different (not a bad thing, though). Where R Bistro was upscale fine dining, Rooster’s is more focused on everyday comfort food at a reasonable price point. Even with using high-quality, locally sourced products, it was important to Katz to not price it out of anyone’s reach. The dining area at Rooster’s is simple, but feels like a slice of American pie. It is a great place to just kick back and hang out for a while.
Rooster’s is a scratch kitchen that makes everything in house…and no, it is not a fried chicken joint! If fact, they have somewhat become famous for their build-your-own mac ‘n’ cheese, which was originally intended to just be a side item to compliment the delicious sandwiches. Speaking of sandwiches…the meats, such as the brisket and the pork shoulder, are cured and slow-cooked on-site and literally melt in your mouth. Even though Rooster’s is known for their mac n cheese, I’m focusing my attention on the rest of the menu for my “can’t miss” list. Trust me, you can’t go wrong with anything at Rooster’s, but the four items below really set themselves apart:
Canadian Tuxedo…Before I start drooling over this sandwich, let me explain to everyone what a Canadian tuxedo actually is…because I didn’t know. A Canadian tuxedo is a clothing outfit where you wear a denim jacket with denim jeans, and I think we can all agree that it is a great look on just about anyone. I won’t get into it here, but you should Google as to how the name came into existence (it’s kinda funny!). When it comes to the Canadian tuxedo that Rooster’s is serving up, it is no joke. They start with Canadian bacon that they cure in-house and place a perfectly cooked egg right on top. They leave the yolk runny, so it can cascade down the entire sandwich. It is then covered with their whiskey maple aioli which is the perfect condiment because it’s not overly sweet, but it pairs perfectly with the saltiness of the bacon. The final piece to the puzzle is the ultra-light and melt-in-your-mouth soft brioche bun from Cornerstone Bread Company. On the surface, it might seem like a simple sandwich, but the taste is anything but simple.
Brisket Melt…When I think of a good melt sandwich, it starts with gooey, melted cheese dripping off of delicious meat (beef is my personal preference) and then slapped between grilled pieces of bread. The Brisket Melt at Rooster’s checks all of those boxes and even takes it a step further. If you couldn’t tell by the name, the protein in this sandwich is slow-braised brisket that is chopped into nice bite-size chunks. The brisket is then smothered in a buttery Havarti cheese and capped with caramelized onions and tangy thousand island dressing that is made in-house. Last, but not the least, is the grilled City Loaf from Amelia’s that gives it a nice crunch. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you make a proper melt!
Buddha Bowl…Buddha bowls (aka hippie bowls and macro bowls) have been growing in popularity in the States over the past few years, but it’s not easy finding a really good one in Indy. The concept is pretty straightforward…put some fresh veggies, healthy grains, and some protein in a bowl and viola…but the execution is the key. The basic Buddha bowl at Rooster’s contains turmeric wild rice (flavor overload!) with charred carrots, grilled zucchini, arugula salad, and pickled radishes. For those of us that aren’t basic, they offer some other options so you can make it your own. You could add an avocado to make it a vegan bowl, or add brisket, pork, or Becker Farms turkey to make it an Omnivore bowl. If you’re feeling extra frisky, add a fried egg and don’t give it a second thought.
Lucy…This sandwich is the Rooster’s Kitchen take on a classic Cuban. I’m a huge fan of the Cuban sandwich and to be honest, the Lucy was main reason I visited Rooster’s Kitchen the first time. I’ve since come to appreciate pretty much everything they’re serving up, but the Lucy will always hold a special place in my heart. Sit back and try to imagine…a French roll topped with roasted pork, house cured pork loin, Havarti cheese, and no Cuban would be complete without mustard and pickles. Is your mouth watering yet…cause mine sure is!