About a month ago, my buddy Brent Perkins invited me to the grand opening of a new restaurant and bar located just off the circle in downtown Indianapolis. (It is actually located inside of Union Station.) I am always up for checking out new places and seeing what this city has to offer. Even better, he said the tickets were VIP and that there would be food, drinks, and a packed house of folks getting to know this new establishment before the general public. I was unable to attend the event but wished Brent a good time nonetheless.
About a week later, after they had in fact opened for the public, I heard a co-worker talking about their Thursday night drink specials. He said they were featuring $1 domestic drafts, which is almost impossible to find here in this city. I asked if he had been before and he said that he had been there a couple of weeks in a row and had experienced nothing but a great time. Even that night, on my way home from work, I heard my good friend the Deuce on X103.3 talking about this joint. He said they were there broadcasting every Thursday night for Buck Em’ Thursday featuring those same drink specials my co-worker had made mention to as well as sexy bull riding (I will explain more about that in a moment) and even prizes like concert tickets to all the upcoming rock shows in the city.
I decided that it was time for me to give this place a shot. So, I called Cadillac Ranch, made reservations for Saturday night (note that they normally do not take reservations for parties less than eight people) and asked my girlfriend to join me for a night of food and drinks. So when Saturday finally came around, we headed downtown for a night out, starting with the Cadillac Ranch.
We arrived just before 7:00 PM when I realized that it was, in fact, a Saturday night in downtown Indianapolis. I dropped Sheryl off at the door and began to look for parking. Not only was there an Indiana Pacers game that night but it was also the night before the Indianapolis Colts would take on the New York Jets in the AFC Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium. All of the parking meters were full, every parking lot was packed, and even some of the parking garages were full. I eventually, nearly a half an hour later, found a spot at the top of a parking garage on the other side of the city. A few blocks later and I would walk into the Cadillac Ranch for the first time.
I was, upon entering, already excited about this place. I had heard so many good things about it I just had to see for myself what all the fuss was about. Based on the name alone I was thinking this was going to be similar to that of a Texas Roadhouse where you can toss peanut shells on the ground. However, when I entered the front door all I could hear was a rowdy and energetic crowd and some Owl City playing on the speakers. It definitely did not make me feel like I was in Texas Roadhouse by any means.
In the time that it took me to find a parking space Sheryl had entered to make sure they were aware we were running a few moments behind. The hostess at the door had never heard of me and had said that I did not actually have a reservation on the books. When asking to speak to a manager, Sheryl was told that they were all in a managers meeting. However, by the time that I had parked and walked all the way over a manager had come out and had straightened everything out. The hostess walked us to our table and our server, Chet, immediately greeted us.
Chet was energetic and tossed down some cocktail napkins as soon as he greeted us. We had not even had a chance to get comfortable and he was asking us for our drink order. Sheryl would have a Pink Cadillac Cosmopolitan while I went with a Fleetwood Long Island Iced Tea. The Cadillac Cosmopolitan is actually a drink served in honor of the late great Elvis Presley. It is served chilled in a martini glass and topped with an orange and cherry flag. The presentation was just about as good as it tasted. I am not keen on that style of drink but it packed a punch in terms of the alcohol content. As did the long island iced tea. It was served with a lime and lemon wedge that added to the acidity of the beverage. All in all, it was a great way to jump-start our night as the appetizers started to make their way to the table.
Starting off with Appetizers
The first dish to arrive was a tower of sweet deep fried onion rings served on top of a pile of onion straws. On each side sat a vat of ranch dressing for dipping. I had never had ranch dressing with onion rings before, so I was a little nervous as to the flavor of the batter that sat on this mile high pile of rings. However, the batter was quite sweet and the ranch actually complimented it quite nicely. The onion straws, on the other hand, had very little flavor but I felt served a greater purpose than flavor and just simply added to the presentation of the dish.
Next came a fresh margherita grilled flatbread. This dish was huge and looked more like a large pizza from any of your classic pizza joints. But the flavors packed inside this sucker were enough to knock you off your feet. First off, the entire thing was literally covered in some of the thinnest sliced tomatoes that I have ever seen. Then, more cheese was sprinkled on top and the dish was finished off with some fresh basil. The dish was very light in terms of the impact it left on my stomach and is something that I not only would order again but I am craving as I type this.
Just when I was thinking of taking a break to wait for our entrees is when they delivered a sample of their cowboy bites. These little guys are something you can get anywhere. They are little cheeseburgers. No big deal, right? Well, Cadillac Ranch goes a little above and beyond with this dish. They start with a sesame seed bun, that actually packed a lot of flavors itself, and then toss some more of those onion straws on the bottom. Then comes the fire grilled burger that was grilled to perfection, keeping all of the juices deep inside the patty, and a slice of American cheese. Next come a tomato and the top of the bun. They slam a toothpick through the whole thing to keep it together and place a thick sliced pickle through that. The presentation is quite nice as well, as they look almost too pretty to eat. These tasty treats also came with some shoestring fries that would put Steak ‘n’ Shake to shame.
Time for the Main Course
After we had the chance to taste all of these delicious appetizers, the main course arrived. First we were served their Chicken Diablo Pasta. This dish was your typical chicken pasta presentation with a tomato cream base and chopped chicken. There were two slices of garlic bread to garnish the dish and a duo of spoons to help you work your way through it. The pasta actually had a little bit of a kick to it. The server stated that it was not too hot, but just right in terms of heat. The noodles, however, were under cooked in my opinion. They had a chewy texture and were harder than I would like to have seen them. The chicken as well was incredibly dry. But, while those two things could use some major improvement, the sauce was enough to pull the dish back to the top. The sauce was incredible with its spice and creaminess making its way into each of the noodles and all around the diced chicken.
The next dish barely had room to fit on the table. All of the appetizer plates were still there and we were working our way through the pasta. But that is when a full slab of barbeque ribs showed up. This dish was huge with two half slabs of ribs (your can order these either half or full slab off the menu) stacked perfectly leaning up against a bowl of their famous seasoned steak fries. I did not enjoy the fries as much as the shoestring ones that was served with our appetizers, but I can see why they come next to the ribs. They are thick, heavy, and make for a perfect combination to the Jack Daniel’s BBQ that is smothered on the ribs. I managed to kill half a slab.
Satisfy Your Thirst
When we were about halfway through the entrees Chet came back to check on drinks. The two cocktails from the appetizer portion were gone and we required additional libation. So, based on Chet’s recommendation, Sheryl had a Blue Moon (they offer beers such as Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Light, and Blue Moon on draft) and I was served a Johnny Vegas.
The Johnny Vegas is a shot but could be treated as a drink with their portion sizes. It was served with a lime on the rim of the glass and had an overwhelming melon nose to it. I would later learn that there is in fact melon liquor in the drink as well as Jose Cuervo tequila. They top that off with a little Red Bull energy drink and you have a shot that can go with just about any meal.
Time for a Restroom Break
While we were rapping up and getting ready for dessert, I needed a restroom break. On my way back to the restroom I had the chance to see the mechanical bull up close and personal. While I did not ride the bull myself (I am sure some of you would pay to see that), I did witness numerous people jump on and fly off as they gave it a shot. Now, I am not a much of a mechanical bull connoisseur, but I have seen a few in my time. This one, however, was the most realistic mechanical bull I had ever seen. I mean, the thing actually looked like a real bull. If I didn’t know better, while riding it I am sure it feels like one as well. The bull, unfortunately, is not free to ride. It costs $3. However, Chet did make mention that the servers carry a handful of free passes that they give out throughout the night.
Just past the mechanical bull is where you will find the restrooms. But that is not all you find back there. You are then hit with yet another room at the back of the restaurant. This room has a third bar, another huge plasma screen showing sports all night long, and a look and feel like a martini lounge straight out of New York City. There are white leather couches surrounding the room and they offer bottle service for the VIP guests that visit. Seeing this room, it shows that the owners of Cadillac Ranch really are trying to hit a lot of markets here. They have great food, a great drink selection, and a mechanical bull. They play top 40 music and have a VIP lounge for the more swank of Indianapolis. They also show sports on nearly every TV (one of the televisions by the front bar was actually showing Titanic). I am not sure if this will benefit them in the future but it truly is a melting pot of patrons.
Always Room for the Sweet Stuff
Right as I got back to the table we were served our final round of drinks to compliment the dessert. Sheryl, still sipping on her Blue Moon, passed up the final drink as she was more concerned about the spoon cake that hit the table shortly there after. This was a huge slice of chocolate cake topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a cherry. This is actually the only dessert on their menu. Sure, you could say that you don’t come to a place like this for dessert, but at least provide some options. The cake was just mediocre at best in my eyes as it looked and tasted as if it was pulled from a box. I am not saying that Sarah Lee made this cake but I have definitively had better cake in my life. And what makes it a sponge cake? It was served with two forks for Pete’s sake.
Just when I was ready to explode from all of this incredible food, the bartender brought over a top shelf margarita. This thing was packed with alcohol. It was so much that I actually had to ask him what all was in it. He said the drink included tequila, a little Patron Citronge, some Grand Marnier, a splash of OJ, and some homemade sweet and sour. There were too many flavors in that glass to keep my head straight.
Bidding a Fond Farewell
After the dishes were all removed from the table and we had a few moments to let everything digest, Chet came back over to see if there was anything else that he could do for us. As we throw in the white towel on a meal well done, Chet proceeds to say, “Hey, couple more shots coming up. Let’s do it.” Then came Vegas Bombs. In this little guy you have some Crown Royal, Butterscotch Liqueur, and again more Red Bull. This little drink was sweet and was the perfect way to end our evening.
There really is no one way to describe the evening that I had at Cadillac Ranch. The place is new to Indianapolis and based on the crowd you would have never guessed it. We got there at seven and by nine there was not an empty seat in the house. They even began to bring out tables and chairs to be able to stuff a handful more people through their door. Take note, though, if you are planning on going there after nine on a weekend expect to pay a cover. They do, however, continue to serve a full menu until 10:00 PM and then a late night menu from 11:00 to 1:00 AM. So if you get hungry there is still a chance to chow down. The cover is $7.
By the time we left I had been impressed on multiple levels. I had heard good things about this place and not only were they all true, Cadillac Ranch went above and beyond. Being so new there are some kinks that need to be worked out (they do not have a carry out menu for instance) but you can expect that from a place like this. They are a huge facility that can seat a few hundred people and have space for your private event or parties. Brandon Slate, the General Manager, is actually an old classmate of mine. He and I had a chance to chat before I left. He said they have a lot of potential in this space and he is excited to be a part of it. I, myself, am excited to have been a part of this place as well. I will definitely be back to Cadillac Ranch.
By the way, when you go in ask for Chet. He was an incredible server. Also, if you pay close attention you might see a little resemblance to Robin Williams in him. He, and the rest of the Cadillac Ranch staff, made my experience one to remember.