Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wednesday Tidbits

Bravo Moves South: Bravo! Italian Kitchen is opening a Greenwood location (from Cory at Property Lines.) Word on the local scene is that few restaurants -- chains or otherwise -- are seeing the numbers they hoped from the south side. There may be some overall economic issues (many restaurants had a tough December), but Greenwood may be an exception to the "if you build it, they will come" rule, one on which many restaurant investors were relying. Recently, one local restaurateur considering an expansion spent a week sitting in seemingly popular Greenwood establishments tracking and counting customers throughout the day. He wasn't surprised by what he found: a boatload of popular chain restaurants half empty. "When you consistently walk into Chili's right in front of a mall and it's not full, there's a problem."

Additionally, look for 2008 to bring some shake-ups in the chain market in Indianapolis, especially on the northside. With a slow December, restaurant supply companies (the closest early indicators to failure) say big changes are coming. A record number of restaurants have fallen behind -- and without a December bump to pay bills, some won't make it into summer. At least one company says look for the big chains to start closing locations that aren't working -- and addressing the market saturation among diners in the Castleton area and 86th St. corridor. We'll always have new ones coming in, but look for less patience from parent companies for restaurants to prove themselves.

Cheffy Shuffle: Oh, the drama of small town restaurants. Kathy Jones, chef at Cobblestone Grill quit and has re-emerged as chef at Cafe de Paris, the new bistro on Carmel's Main Street. (The Dish reports she'll be doing African influenced food? Seems odd in a French Bistro, but whatever.) Oh, you Zionsville folks are snickering behind your glasses of merlot over all this, I know.

Fletchers of Atlanta: Life might not be over for this Indiana institution. Look for new ownership from inside the kitchen in the next few weeks. They're hoping to help Fletcher's return to the best of the past -- and they *might* even be able to pull off the relaunch by Valentine's Day. (Looks like the website URL has already been hijacked by poachers since they've been closed.)

Name This Cheese: Going Local's Victoria Wessler announces that Fons Smits at Trader's Point is just about ready to unveil his newest cheese, a *pasteurized* cow's milk cheese that he calls a cross between Gouda and Cheddar. (Fons is a man that knows his Cheddars if you've ever had Cowgirl Creamery's Red Hawk.) Fons has been calling this new cheese "Chouda" which he pronounces in his wonderful Dutch accent as "Chowda". He also says "Gow-da" where we'd say "Goo-da" so, my vote? Call it "Chowda" but spell it so everyone knows how to pronounce it! Wessler says they're looking for ideas for the new name through the end of the week. Post here and I'll send the email over to Fons. (Would rather not post his email here to avoid filling up his spam box.)

Women, Tell Men How You Feel -- about Dining: Scott Hutcheson, the Hungry Hoosier asks the question of women: How to you rate men based on how they choose restaurants? Take the survey via his blog.

Quiz Answer: Huitlacoche is corn smut. (Heh, "corn smut" -- must be Michael Pollan's version of food porn.) It's actually a fungus that attacks corn in damp conditions and enlarging the kernels and turning them grey. Popular in some southwestern cuisine. In the late 89s, the James Beard Foundation even led a charge to change the name to "Mexican truffles."


SCUBAchef said...

Name that cheese:

Cheddar-like Cheshire + Gouda = "Goudshire"?

Anonymous said...

Gouda/cheddar ?....
Fromage Gouche....Gouddar Gold ...

Anonymous said...

Read one brave man's journey through frightening foods, including huitlacoche, here: Steve, Don't Eat It!. Featured foods also include potted meat food product, Beggin' Strips, breast milk, natto, and homemade prison wine.

Kirsten said...

Re: African-influence French bistro food
Given the large colonial presence of France in Africa, it's really not that much of a stretch to imagine this kind of take on bistro. Think Vietnamese-French combinations.

SCUBAchef said...

Yeah, but don't call it Cafe de Paris. Though maybe Cafe de
Afrique Occidentale Fran├žaise
doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.