Let me just put this out there: I love barbecue. I’ve been fortunate to have been to many hot barbecue spots in the US, and have had good (and lower quality) examples of almost every subtype of quintessential American cuisine over the years.
As a result, this Tweet on May 19 from the athleteMatt Schneidman during Green Bay Packers offensive line coach Luke Butkus’ press conference recently sent my mind racing:
Luke Butkus said he recruited Caleb Jones (6’9″/ 370 lb Packers UDFA junior) out of high school when he was coaching in Illinois. Jones picked Indiana State, and Butkus (jokingly?) is still mad at him. Butkus said everything has He was forgiven for eating at Jones’ father’s grill in Indy. pic.twitter.com/O0E3KFYD7s
– Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) May 19, 2022
Immediately, several questions popped into my mind. First, Jones is a big guy—his size, 6ft 9, 370lbs, is something the entire Packers media field immediately noticed when he signed up—so did his dad’s cooking have anything to do with that? Second: Where is the restaurant? Third: and most importantly, how is the food?
I set out to answer all of these questions. The first part was easy to solve thanks to an article published in August 2021 by Hoosier . network. This piece, which discussed Jones’s swearing-in to his father James in his cooking in his final year in college football, also provided me with the answer to the second question: is the restaurant called place restaurantwhich was found to be located off the intersection of Interstates 70 and 465 on the east side of Indianapolis.
Question number three had to wait, but fortunately, that wait was short. I’ve already made a visit to Indianapolis scheduled for the following week, so the timing of this one that caught my eye wasn’t much better. So, I set out to see just how good James Jones (unrelated to the hooded former Packers receiver, as far as we know) really is at his craft, planning two visits to the restaurant with the tagline “chicken & waffles, ribs and soul food.”
The next step was planning my meal menu. In this article linked above, Caleb Jones mentions his dad’s ribs as his favorite ingredient: “I absolutely love ribs and my dad has a great dry rub.” Try the ribs – got it. My favorite roast option is beef, though, so I planned to order a platter of ribs and brisket with some comfort food sides to go with it. I’d settle for a classic, macaroni and cheese, and a particularly intriguing option, bourbon cream corn.
For my second visit, why isn’t the other item specifically mentioned in the restaurant’s logo? Chicken and waffles is as well. However, a look at the list reveals that place restaurant The dish is actually served with several different types of waffles (although all are served with four huge chicken wings): a classic Belgian waffle, a red velvet waffle served with cream cheese glaze, a “choro” version with cinnamon and sugar, and finally a standard waffle topped with peach cobbler. . With all of these options looking amazing in different ways, I decided I’d ask for a recommendation when I got there instead.
Here are my impressions of the two visits.
I arrived Tuesday afternoon, on my way to Indianapolis. After a warm and friendly greeting, I sat at my table, ordered my usual lunch drink (unsweetened iced tea) and set off to confirm my BBQ order.
However, I was disappointed when my server informed me that the kitchen was ribs. They obviously earn a set amount during the week, smoke it low and slow for a long time to get it ready for the weekend. As a result, when Tuesday came, they were outside.
It doesn’t matter, though – I would just stick to my plan and have a larger portion of the breast meat with the sides I chose. To my surprise, I also got my choice of bread, opting for cornbread over white or wheat bread wasn’t an option at all.
to the food!
The brisket came unadorned with BBQ sauce, and the server delivered a bottle to the table with the tray, so it was my drizzle of water and I followed it up with some extra sauce for dipping. Let’s start from there: The sauce was excellent – a thick, dark, sweet sauce with a bit of spice. It reminded me of some great sauces I’ve had on my visits to Memphis and will pair well no matter your choice of protein. I can only imagine this sauce caramelizing over the ribs, then covered with a dry rub…but alas.
The breast meat itself was very greasy, but full of flavour. It was exceptionally well seasoned too, and came apart easily with just a fork – no knife needed. This is a close-up of the breast meat from the restaurant’s Twitter account. I would note that my batch did not have a noticeable smoke ring, but the slightly burnt crust around the edges was definitely present and made a nice contrast to the soft, low-fat meat.
As for mac and cheese, it’s a perfect BBQ restaurant style. I think this style is “dry” macaroni and cheese – it’s not sticky or liquid, instead it’s sticky and holds together in a tight ladle. It’s traditional, and it was just what I was looking for. The cornbread pancake was pretty much the same. She wasn’t trying to do too much or fantasize, it was a simple, classic, delicious version.
To my surprise, however, the secret star of the dish was the creamy bourbon corn. I wasn’t really sure what to expect here, but the texture was whole grains cooked in a delicious cream sauce rather than the crushed grains you might get from canned style. And this sauce… I’ll be dreaming about it for a while. Onions and paprika were in the mix, along with plenty of garlic and a bit of zip from the thing (cayenne, perhaps?) to give it an extra dimension. A slight hint of bourbon topped it all, especially for a whiskey drinker like me.
One of the best parts about this meal was that I didn’t feel overly stuffed or fatigued afterwards. It was just about the right amount of food for a solid lunch, and the balance of protein and carbs in the afternoons put me in a good place.
I came back again later in the week for lunch, this time on a Friday. I might be able to try the ribs this time, as they were once again available, but I knew I had to stick with a version of chicken and waffles to get the full scope of the culinary experience.
The same server recognized me from my previous visit a week ago – it probably helped that we talked a little about the owner and Caleb, whom she called “the biggest boy I’ve ever seen”, and she promised to come back in a few days. This time, I asked for her recommendation on what kind of chicken and waffle I should try. Her opinion: The churro version was her favorite, and the peach cobbler came in second. When I mentioned that peach be My favorite fruit, it promptly prompted me in the direction of the cobbler, so I agreed.
Reader, this was one of the biggest food bowls I’ve seen in a very long time.
First we have chicken wings. There were four of them, each one whole and each one battered and fried to the perfect golden brown. Then there was a huge scoop of peach cobbler dropped over the middle of a large Belgian-style waffle, with two scoops of whipped cream and—yes—a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the middle of it all to finish off the ensemble. The server also brought a variety of sauces for me to serve in my spare time – honey, hot sauce, syrup, and barbecue (just in case).
At the server’s suggestion, I stripped the meat and skin off one of the wings with a fork and knife in order to get a full bite out of the entire experience at once. With that complete, I applied a little more hot sauce to the first bite of the chicken, waffle, and cobbler.
I say this as someone who regularly combines savory and sweet flavors: the combination was great. The saltiness of the chicken and the mild, garlicky heat of the hot sauce contrasted with the sweetness of the waffle and cobbler. It wasn’t just the flavor, though, the crunchy rusk skin with the smooth, creamy texture of the cobbler and the sticky working together in perfect harmony.
Yes, after about 25 minutes or so I was able to finish everything (thanks so much for a light breakfast). Unlike my layer from my first visit, I definitely felt this way when I finished, but even so, it somehow managed to weigh less than I expected.
I have no doubt that the churro version would be delicious, adding some extra crunch to bring out more contrast in the texture, or that the cream cheese drizzle over the red velvet waffle would also pair well with the chicken. However, I was left confident that I made the right choice that day for the first crack at that particular item.
Was writing this review more than a flimsy excuse to eat some great food? You can be the judge of that. Regardless, I was able to chat with my server about Caleb Jones and feel tangible excitement in the restaurant for his potential NFL career — I joked that it would be fun for both father and son to be famous in their own rights. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to meet James Jones and either thank him for the meals or pass on a wish to his son for good luck.
As for the food, I can see why Caleb swore to his dad before his first season in Indiana and why Luke Potkus’ disappointment was somewhat mitigated when Jones decided to play college football in Indiana rather than commit to playing him with Eleni. Calories counting aside, after I cleaned my dishes, I found myself frustrated that there was no more to enjoy, even though my stomach was satisfied (or more than satisfied, in the case of my second meal). I suppose that just means I’ll need to stop at some more place restaurant When I find myself on my way across the east side of Indianapolis.
Plus, you still need to try those ribs.