A Night out at Scotty’s Brewhouse

Scotty's BrewhouseThis past Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009 I went out for dinner.  My girlfriend and I were being hosted at Scotty’s Brewhouse on 96th street for an evening of food, drinks, and conversation.  The event actually started on Twitter when I took up a conversation with managing partner Scott Wise.  I bet you can’t tell me where the name Scotty’s Brewhouse came from.  He and I began discussing social media, blogging, and eventually the concept that I had for writing a restaurant review for his north side location.

Sheryl and I were excited about this opportunity for a couple of reasons.  The first reason being that we love Scotty’s Brewhouse.  Scotty’s, established in 1996, offers free wifi and matched with their incredible drink specials and mouth-watering menu, it is a no-brainer that we find ourselves buried in our laptops on any given night.  But this night was different as after my meal I was going to be writing about my experience with Scotty’s.  What follows is my experience with Scotty’s Brewhouse.

We walked in about twenty minutes early as I have a tendency to do that.  I actually set all my clocks, outside of the one on my cell phone, fifteen minutes ahead so I am never late.  I honestly cannot tell you the last time I was late for anything, let alone a reservation for dinner.  So we walk in a few minutes early and are happily greeted at the door by a hostess.  I mentioned to her that I had a reservation at 8:00 PM.  She immediately knew why I was there and joked that I was a hot topic of conversation in the kitchen as the entire staff was awaiting my arrival.

The hostesses proceeded to take us into the bar where there was a table waiting for us.  It had a perfect table setting with silverware, appetizer plates, and a nice centerpiece.  The centerpiece included salt and peppershakers, a double-sided specials menu, and a unique sugar caddy.  Instead of using the stereotypical sugar packets that you see everywhere else you go, Scotty’s use what appear to be tall tubes of sugar.  Sure, they contain the same amount, but the presentation is a conversation starter.  They also have fresh flowers in the center of the table.

It was not thirty seconds that we had been sitting down when our waitress, Kylie, came up to us and introduced herself.  She was extremely nice through every step of the process and had nothing but good things to say about her job at Scotty’s.  You could tell in the way she spoke, and the way her and the other servers carried themselves throughout the restaurant, that this is a great place to work as much as it is a great place to eat and drink.

Kylie began the evening by telling us a little bit about our appetizers and our first round of drinks.  She seemed a little nervous at the start, but for good reason as she had no idea who I was.  She didn’t know if I was a strict food critic that would be writing down everything that I saw (I did take five pages of notes that evening).  She did eventually lighten up a little as she became more comfortable with the table and I joked with her about the amount of food and alcohol that found its way onto the table as the night progressed.

When setting up this restaurant review I spoke with Scott about what I would like to have prepared for me that evening.  I told him that I could not care less what I was served but wanted the kitchen manager to prepare her best work.  On top of that, to match these appetizers, entrees, and desserts I wanted the bar manager to do the same by pairing a drink from the bar that would complement each menu item.  The first things to come out were the appetizers.

Round one consisted of an order of their meaty chicken wings.  We had an order of ten wings with five being dipped in the BBQ sauce and the other five dipped in their signature mo’fo’ mustard.  These wings were some of the best wings I have ever had and for one reason and one reason alone.  These wings were covered in meat.  I have been at places where the wings are more breading than meat, or more bone than meat for that matter, but there was a perfect amount of meat on these bones.

Also included in our first round was an order of their dill chips.  This is by far their most popular item and based on what I heard from the various managers that introduced themselves throughout the evening it is their best selling item as well.  There is nothing special about this appetizer; it is just deep fried pickles.  But when you dip them in the ranch dressing, or the homemade horseradish that comes on the side, you will be lost in the flavor at hand.  I would even venture to say that people who do not even like pickles would enjoy this item.

The drinks that matched these menu items included two flights.  The first was a martini flight.  This flight included a Lucy’s Cosmopolitan (named after Scott’s wife – her middle name), a marga-tini which was a martini that uses tequila instead of vodka, and a Stuffed and Dirty, which is their classic martini but served with blue cheese stuffed olives.  Kylie even made mention to their process when they stuff the olives as they do so in house every day.

The Lucy’s Cosmo came with a rim of sugar, which was a nice touch for a cosmopolitan.  I have had a few of these Sex and the City specialties in the past (mostly because I loved that show and the movie) and I have never had one with a sugar rim.  The marga-tina was served just like a margarita, but not frozen or on ice.  It had an obvious tequila taste, which for some is a turn off, but I love tasting the pure tequila in every drink.  And who can go wrong with a classic vodka martini?  It had a taste of higher end liquors, but I went straight for the stuffed olives.  It does not make a huge difference in the flavor of the drink but they are a lot more tasty than a typical pitted olive.

The wine flight included three wines.  The first was a J. Lohr Riesling.  This wine had a very strong nose and a smooth, typical Riesling finish. The second was a wine from Oliver Wineries right here in Indianapolis.  It was their Soft Red.  This wine tasted more like grape juice than anything and had a very cheap flavor to it.  I have never been a fan of Oliver wines and this soft red did not win me over either. The third was a Bella Sera Pinot Grigio.  This wine had a very weak nose, and a non-existent finish, but would be a wine I could see myself drinking two or three glasses in one sitting. All-in-all Scotty’s is not a place that I would go to have a glass of wine.

Next came the entrees. We were first served the Volcano Pot Roast.  The name matches the visuals to a T.  The pot roast is served on top of a pile of mashed potatoes.  There were sharp cheddar cheese and bacon bits mixed in, and enough au jus to make the entrée just tender enough to enjoy.  There was a small roll served on the side and it was plenty of food to fill any belly.  Next to that came a Scotty’s specialty.  It was a bacon cheeseburger served with all the fixings.  (The fixings included lettuce, tomato, red onion, and pickles.) But what made this burger special was what came on the bottom of the bun.  Ketchup? Maybe some mustard?  Nope, it was not anything on the list of condiments that you might expect.  It was peanut butter.  Yes, peanut butter on a burger.

When you first bite into the burger, because the peanut butter is on the bottom, you are not hit with the nutty flavors.  You get all of the fresh fixings, then the burger that throws in the cheddar and bacon flavors, then as your mouth thinks it has had all of the flavor it can handle, you are punched in the face with a tender and smooth peanut butter taste.  This burger was not anything like I expected it to be, and it is definitely something I will be ordering again in the very near future.  This burger is one of the best I have ever tasted.

To go along with the entrees we were treated to a selection of eight beers that Scotty’s has on tap. They feature an ongoing list of beers that hit some incredible microbreweries.  The list included beers such as Sam Adams Winter, Boddingtons, Hoegaarden (which I actually learned is not pronounced how you would think) and Gumballhead. They even sampled a new beer from an Indianapolis brewery called Sun King.

By the time the entrée plates left the table we were so full we had no room left for dessert.  But they didn’t care as we were treated to an array of dessert drinks and menu items.  First came the French press.  This was something I had seen before but never had the opportunity to taste.  It is coffee, but it has a process.  You have to first wait for the coffee to settle and the longer you wait the darker the brew gets.  We waited a few minutes and pressed away.  The coffee is actually Seattle’s Best but it did not taste like that as I felt it would blow a cup of Starbucks out of the water.  Next to that came a nice cup of Red Wagon Hot Cocoa.  The cool thing about this drink is that for every one purchased $1 is donated to Riley Children’s Hospital.

The food pairings were delicious as well.  First came a Slater’s Peanut Butter Cup.  This was a tiny little dessert, named after Scotty’s son Slater, and has their peanut butter pie filling inside.  Topped with whipped cream I was glad this thing was small as it was very sweet.  Delicious, but I could only eat a few bites before it became too much.  Next came the Suga’ Momma Soto.  This was much bigger than the Slater’s Cup and had apples, graham cracker crust, a big scoop of ice cream and topped off with some fresh ground cinnamon.

The desserts were almost too much as I had been given so much food up to this point.  The Suga’ Momma, named after the kitchen manager, was big, almost big enough to share, and the cinnamon added a lot to the taste of the apples.  Matched with the hot coffee and the peanut butter flavors in the Slater’s Cup, it was the perfect way to end the meal.  The only thing that I did not like about the dessert was the thick layer of whipped cream on top of the hot cocoa.  The chocolate itself comes from a local chocolate shop in Zionsville, but by the time you got through the cap of whipped cream on top it was almost pointless to even taste the chocolate.  Needless to say, it was still good chocolate and the drink was one I would definitely order again.

By the time the final plates were removed from the table I was so full that all I wanted was to lie down and take a nap.  I was given absolutely royal treatment by the Scotty’s staff from the host stand to the service and the managers that introduced themselves as the evening went on.  When the server brought the bill I was blown away by the total.  All of this food, all of this alcohol, and all of this service came in at under $90.  You cannot go to a nice steak house and have dinner for two with an entrée and a drink for less than $100 these days.  The prices are incredibly fair, and I would venture to say could compete with any sports bar and restaurant in the city of Indianapolis.

My evening at Scotty’s Brewhouse was one that I will not soon forget.  I will go back, as I have already made plans to return next week with some good friends of mine, and I will always continue to support Scott and his staff in all that I do.  Outside of the great service, Scotty’s also works with non-for-profit groups on private events and meetings, and even donates a percentage of the profits back to that organization if an event is held in those four walls.

The next time you head out of the house and are arguing about a place to go for dinner, look no further than Scotty’s Brewhouse.  They have incredible food that tastes like it is homemade, they have an awesome selection from the bar ranging from microbrews to ice cold lager straight from the tap, and their service is out of this world.  When you watch your server walk by singing along to the songs on the radio (which plays an amazing selection of music I might add) you know that you have come to a place you can call home.  I would like to personally thank Scott Wise and his entire staff for hosting my guest and me for an absolutely unforgettable evening of food and drinks.  My hat is off to all of you.  Scotty’s Brewhouse; Good food, good blues, good brew, and good people.