Just three steps north of Indianapolis, you’ll find the beautiful suburb of Carmel. Originally called Bethlehem, Indiana, Carmel is home to 92,000 people and a fantastic trail system (known as the Monon Greenway). It hosted one of the first traffic signals in the US back in 1924, and has an Art & Design District filled with galleries, boutiques, lifelike sculptures, cafes and restaurants.
Among those restaurants, my fellow critics and I stumbled upon one gem shining above the rest. The Pint Room piqued our interest when scrolling the menu online from our hotel room, and did not disappoint from the moment we found the free parking garage around the corner.
We were greeted with gracious hospitality worthy of the most famous food districts. The time we spent on a short wait for a table was actually an unexpected gift as we rounded the bar and laid our eyes on the never-ending row of taps for our choosing. 3 Floyds Brewing, Founder’s, North Coast, Bloomington, Bell’s…the menu read like a Christmas list. Settling on a root beer, an Eliot Ness Lager from Great Lakes, and a tall, single vodka cranberry, we returned to the host and found our table was ready.
Our server was Emily, who was extremely busy and very on top of her game. She didn’t take much extra time to chat, but I can’t pass judgment this time, not with the number of tables she was taking care of. Flawless execution on her part, with the exception of forgetting to mention there were no pretzel buns being served anymore that evening. Minor. Had it been another omission, it would not have been worth writing about, but wow, the bread REALLY makes the sandwich. The special that was ordered was delicious, but surely would have been better with the pretzel roll it was billed with.
Overall, the menu is nothing short of stunning; I am hoping someone closer to home picks up on it and adds an idea or two…the combinations of flavors were mouth-watering. The cilantro and pork carnitas on the street tacos…unparalleled. Personally, I decided to go Topless…the salad featuring an entire burger (with no bun, hence, the Topless title) as a garnish, and it was green perfection. The house vinaigrette was drizzled over the chopped greens with care, and I have yet to match the flavors in my own kitchen, which I can usually accomplish within a week of returning home.
Beautiful town, even amid a slushy blizzard, and fantastic restaurant find in the midst of what seem to be a multitude of eclectic options.
While this isn’t the house vinaigrette from The Pint Room, it is an incredible mix of flavors from my sister-in-law’s kitchen…a Mustard Vinaigrette you will find yourself making weekly to shift your every day side salads into works of culinary art.