Catablu Grille

6372 West Jefferson Boulevard,
Fort Wayne, IN 46804

Our first visit back in 2009 was rather disastrous primarily because of an immature server (click HERE to read all about it).  We've hesitated to return, but decided it was time to give Catablu Grille a second chance - and boy are we glad we did.  Our recent visit was infinitely more enjoyable!

Going with our server's recommendation, we opted to try a Pomegranate Martini (right) and a  Raspberry Truffle Martini (left).  These $10 tinis are way over priced.  These beverages would be a much better bargain at $8, but at $10, we say skip the calories and the cost.

With several tempting options teasing us, we selected the Four Cheese Spinach Artichoke and Crab Dip - Y.E.S.!  It was spectacular.  LOVE LOVE LOVE that the crab was so prominent.  The creamy cheese blend formed a fabulous foundation for the spinach and artichoke to mingle.  Ooey gooey goodness!  Big fan - give it a try!
sorry for the bleached out photo
I had the Chicken Chop Stuffed with Smoked Cheese and Roasted Mushrooms (description on the menu below).  It was a bone-in skin-on chicken breast (personally, not a fan), but . . . it was prepared to perfection.  It reminded me a lot of the poultry entree I had a Joseph Decuis (click HERE to read about it).  Our server indicated it was definitely a top 10 most ordered so I jumped at the chance to try it.  It was delicious.  The chicken was tender and juicy and accompanied by spinach, artichokes, and small roasted potatoes.  The sauce was satisfying and savory.  I would recommend giving it a try. 

Allen L went with the daily special, Pad Thai.  Its plentiful portion packed a powerful "pop" of peanut sauce spice.  She selected 2 proteins for an additional $4 which created a delicious and fulfilling combination.  The beautiful presentation was matched with a wonderful combination of textures and flavors.  If you find yourself at Catablu Grille on a Tuesday - take part in their Thai Thai Tuesday! 

As a sister restaurant to the now shuttered, Blu City Tavern (click HERE to read our review), we HAD.TO.TRY their Warm Apple Tart which we have drooled about.  Yes - it's similar to the gold standard and we're so thankful to have an opportunity to be able to continue to indulge in this culinary masterpiece.  It's sinful - it's sassy - it's spectacular.  It's a MUST TRY!!!!!
 What you don't see in the presentation below is the buried treasure of gold under the flaky puff pastry . . . a thick luxurious pooling of caramel sauce goodness!  The caramel, flaky puff pastry, warm apples, and cinnamon ice cream are an indescribable ensemble of excellence!  YUM!!!!!

As we've mentioned numerous times on this blog, excellent service can make a sub-par meal shine while poor service can ruin even the most amazing culinary creations!  On this outing, our server, Lauren, was delightfully charming and helpful.  We appreciated her willingness to answer our questions, keep our water glasses filled, and exceptional timing. 

Because the evening was stunningly beautiful, we opted to eat outdoors.  It was lovely for the most part.  The chairs were comfortable and the evening shade was welcomed.  There were, however, some birds flying overhead.  It's worth a disclaimer that I'm bird-phobic so I won't be sitting outside again and that was solidified when the young lady at the next table was pooped on.  If you don't mind birds, and possibly their eggs falling from nests overhead splattering on your table or having your head pooped on, then you may want to opt for al fresco dining as well; otherwise, take the safe route and enjoy the charming interior accents. 

With improved service and culinary excellence, we have changed our vote to "like it". 

Until the next bite - 
Catablu on Urbanspoon


800 Degrees

800 Degrees
5129 Illinois Rd Ste 101
Fort Wayne, IN46804

With the recent opening (just 6 days prior to our visit) of the 800 Degrees’ South location, the 3 Elles were destined to try the eatery which consistently ranks at the top of Urbanspoon’s suggestions. 

The manager visited us at our table and gave us some “inside information” including the ovens are really the signature “thing” of the restaurant.  It’s too bad that’s really the case because they are definitely not “shown off” or exemplified in any way.  If indeed, they are so special – imported directly from Italy, then why “hide” them, we ask? 

Jake explained that the Napoli crust is hand pulled resulting in a thinner center and thicker crust.  The crust, which is truly perfect, is made from Italian wheat. 

One of the other “tidbits” we were hipped to was that they use local ingredients especially their proteins which come directly from local farms.  We feel this was an extremely important thing to share with customers and definitely makes it worth patronizing this establishment.  (Note to owners:  We really do feel strongly about using local ingredients and think it should be more widely promoted in-house either on the menu which was just an 8.5 X 11 piece of paper, or something more grand like including it in a large sign/mural/or chalkboard).

We selected Bruschetta to begin our Italian journey.  Because of the ovens, the $6.00 starter is uniquely prepared resulting in a beautiful presentation unlike anything else we’ve tried in The Fort.  The edges are oven fired (read that as “burned”) which has some charm visually but slightly less pleasant on the palate.  It’s changed up pizza crust base lacked the PIZAZZ we were expecting and the linear pieces were slightly difficult to eat.  You definitely can’t look cool while trying to balance the toppings on the crusty pillars.

Presented at our table was a rubber gasket sealed bottle of filtered water along with 3 8 oz. glasses.  This embossed self-pour vessel was definitely quaint and added a special touch to what is otherwise just boring water.  It was beautiful and fun.  (Note:  we weren’t told or offered, but saw others ask for larger glasses).  

Adams L and I enjoyed unlimited soda refills!  The service was exceptional and the refills were plentiful and prompt.

Allen L discovered a secret treasure – beer samples.   With her indecisiveness, our server, Lauren, offered her a chance to get 3 samples which, in effect, was cheaper than one normal sized beer.  To keep it all straight, the samples arrived with a coaster with the 3 beers (and their locations) handwritten on it. 

We have really one word to describe the food at 800 Degrees - it’s “FRESH”  like “F.R.E.S.H.” like the freshest thing you’ve ever eaten FRESH!    The salads arrived with a crispness unequaled in FW.  The just picked lettuce and veggies brought amazing enjoyment.  That said, we suggest skipping the salads.  They are overpriced for the ridiculous salad-to-topping ratio. 

Adams L selected the Caprese salad featuring fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil, olive oil, and balsamic.  It’s light combination of incredibly fresh ingredients was indeed a palate pleaser.  Adams L suggested that either it be prepared with a  bit more oil or served with a side of additional oil.
Allen L opted for the Mista salad which included fresh greens, carrots, cucumbers, fennel, red onion, parmesan, pine nuts, and tomatoes.  It’s heavy-on-the-greens base had delicious, but sparse amounts of the other toppings.  The rice vinegar dressing was exceptional.  Fresh ground parmasean and/or black pepper tableside might have been a nice touch – but none was offered.

I thought I would start things off with a large Caesar salad which had only 4 ingredients . . . 99% romaine lettuce, a handful of pizza crust croutons, 4 cherry tomatoes, and a few grates of parm cheese.  The freshness of this salad cannot be described.  The true disappointment that I paid $8 for a huge bowl of mostly romaine lettuce can be described as a rip off.  I boxed up ¾ of my salad (it was a HUGE salad) for lunch the next day and was completely unimpressed enough to eat it – it was just lettuce!  On a positive note, the scratch Caesar dressing was over-the-top awesome!!!!

With guidance from our server and the manager, we opted for the yin and the yang of their pizzas:  800 Degree pizza and a Verdure Pizza.  Seriously, these 2 pizzas could not be more opposite and luckily Adams L loved the Verdure while Allen L loved the 800 Degree and I loved them both – worked out perfectly!

The 800 Degree pizza is the house specialty pizza including tomatoes, spicy sausage (SPICY!), mozzarella, ricotta, roasted red peppers, chili oil (SPICY!!!!  And fyi – it can be omitted but no one warned us ahead of time), and Italian Parsley.   When it arrived, we all said the same thing – wow, it looks so fresh . . . and definitely homemade .  .  . nothing frozen or nuked here!  It’s uniqueness and POW definitely make for a fun play date with your taste buds. 
For our contrasting option, we selected the Verdure Pizza which presents with a white sauce, mozzarella, roasted red peppers, red onion, zucchini, mushrooms, fennel, tomato, basil, goat cheese, and chive oil.  Want to guess the word we used to describe our first bite?  FRESH!  Unbelievably, deliciously, unequaled freshness!  This veggie pizza was a rainbow of delight on the plate.  It’s colorful presentation left a pot of gold goodness in our mouths.  The balance of flavors including the sweetness of the onion played harmoniously together. 

A couple of general observations about the featured item at 800 Degrees - their pizza.
1.        We think pizza servers should be included . . . awkward and messy to hand serve.
2.       The pizzas were NOT greasy and were bursting with flavor  = fantastic.
3.       The 4” diameter plates it was served with was kind of insulting – bust out the bigger plates.  This isn’t the appetizer course after all. 
4.       Since the pizza is their signature item (at least for now, Jake informed us that they were going to be including fire roasted duck, chicken, and other luxury entrees in the future – by the way, we don’t think that is a good match for the eatery’s niche), we feel that it deserves some special presentation whether that be on a elevated stand or with a charger, but the simple white pie plate is uninspired.
5.       Fresh ground parm tableside was a nice touch – too bad the grinder (she tried 2 of them) didn’t work.

Please understand that we had a perfectly fine time.  This extremely clean restaurant is a must-try if you enjoy pizza, and we understand that with only 6 days under their belt, everything may not be completed.  In the meantime though, the restaurant really needs to decide what it wants to be.  It’s “warehouse” feel including the stainless steel and distressed concrete floors conflicts with its Tuscan café paint scheme.  The concrete “theme” is definitely missing – unless the mixed message is the theme (unlikely).  Here are some examples:
1.        Gourmet pizzas and other menu items presented in plain black font on basic white printer paper.
2.       Handmade tables that are to be admired shoved too closely together to comfortably access.
3.       The juxtaposition of a casual atmosphere including using your hands to serve the pizza with upscale lighting pendants leaves a diner spending more time trying to figure the eatery out and less time really enjoying the food. 
4.       Such pride is had with the use of quality ingredients including imported Italian Wheat and local proteins so put it on display – many restaurants such as Unos and even Penn Station have their cans of ingredients set out as a display.  Consider a display, a mural, or even a large chalk board detailing the interesting aspects of the ingredients.

Lauren was lovely.  She was funny and engaging and helpful.  While not always present, the other servers were more than willing to step in and assist.  Lauren and Jake explained that the key feature to their customer service is that the staff is a TEAM – we definitely noticed how willing to help everyone was.  We have no doubt that you will feel taken care of an your every need attended to.

We enjoyed our food immensely.  We were confused by the undefined environment.  We were pleasantly surprised by the top to bottom freshness of every ingredient.  We feel this eatery is perfect for a mother-daughter shopping day, a co-worker gathering for a pint and slice after work, and possibly a casual date – not so much for a girls’ night out.  This is not an elevated level of fancy cuisine or elegance – despite the gourmet combination of ingredients and some of the décor elements.  It’s definitely worth trying and we all agree we would go back. 

p.s. Love a newly opened restaurant with a sense of humor and willingness to roll with those less than planned things that happened . . . (a sign for "sprinkler" arrived 20 times larger than it was suppose to) . . . we thought it's funny . . . where's the sprinkler?????

p.s.s. The manager asked us to make mention that there is plentiful parking in the back of the restaurant and the eatery has a lovely canopy covered entrance back there as well - so no excuses, go check 'em out!

Until the next bite - 
800 Degrees Three Fires on Urbanspoon


Brick House Grill

19 W Washington St 
Huntington, IN 46750
(260) 224-6696

Looking for a funky unique change-of-pace?  The Brick House Grill is exactly that! 

See for yourself -
An old dingy bar was renovated by 2 friends into a hip, fresh, and fun pub experience.   This over 21 establishment makes it perfect for a date, a night out with friends, or a place to close a deal.  It's rich character, menu depth, gourmet trained chefs, and small town charm should put this restaurant near the top of your "must try" list. 

Upon the recommendation of a friend, Allen L and I tried a Bi-Polar Martini.  It's combination of blue curacao and raspberry liquor created a purple fusion of tropical tastiness.  These won't knock you on your butt and for $6.50 it's a toss up whether or not it's worth the splurge.  Like most eateries in this category,  martinis are served naked which is always disappointing, but is regretfully the norm.  

 We started off with Scotch Eggs which is simply an amazing concept - it's literally a bite sized breakfast with a hard-boiled egg surrounded by sausage and paired with a side of maple syrup.  It's uniqueness in American restaurants makes this a must-try. 

With the assistance of a coupon, we were able to try a free appetizer and selected Spinach and Artichoke dip.  This $6.00 appetizers (free with our coupon) was a bit disappointing.  It wasn't bad by any means, but it lacked any flavorful punch that would have made it memorable.  It was primarily melted cream cheese with little spinach and almost no artichoke.  Although the presentation was lovely, the deep friend chips-to-dip ratio was off.  We would suggest skipping this as there are other more amazing appetizers including the Reuben Egg Rolls, Crab Cakes, or of course, the Scotch Eggs. 

Allen L and I selected exactly the same thing for dinner - Englishman's Feast with sides of kettle chips and lager rings.  It was delicious but definitely an overload of fried goodness.  We asked for our fish to be prepared extra crispy which the kitchen happily did resulting in a perfect texture.  Allen L made an impressive culinary observation when she said, "I prefer the breading to compliment the fish not cover it."  The BGH's breading, while delicious and perfectly crispy, was a bit thick and retained a lot of the grease.  The generous portion (5-6 large filets) of flaky fish was definitely better than most other area eateries (Paula's On Main being the untouchable Gold standard, of course).  Condiments including ketchup and tartar sauce were presented in condiment cups which was an improvement over a gross multi-use bottle.  If you are a lover of fried fish then this is certainly a delicious dish worth trying. 
Buried under the mountain of fish and rings is the chips.

This is a rare gem with it's unique menu and relaxing atmosphere including music perfectly selected for the establishment's target audience.  The family-owned restaurant is staffed by 2 couples which keeps the service and standards high.  The leisurely pace of the meal makes it perfect for unwinding after a stressful day or just enjoying the company of the people you are with.  Without a doubt, this is a place to try in the near future!

Until the next bite - 

Brick House Grill on Urbanspoon