[Literally] farm fresh produce Char-toasted GF bun The absolute freshest tomatoes
[6 minute read]
This time around, we’re home. Ish. Ok, we’re back in Indiana. Indianapolis. Surrounded by suburbs, the Circle City also boasts amazing neighborhoods and for this one, we’re jumping down to Broad Ripple.
Broad Ripple is an artists cove, a small eatery nest, a college bar-hop, an old village and so much more. It’s also home to a little place called The Cake Bake Shop. Being a previous Pastry Chef and Creative Director for a couture cake business, I truly had no need to visit. The style was a bit…uh, more…and there wasn’t a GF cake slice offered. Well, there is now so I guess I’ll be setting that up soon. Until then – back to the rest of Broad Ripple and the place I’m actually taking you: Public Greens.
Some people may snub the Midwest and Indiana but honestly, Indianapolis is a great city. I can get [almost] anywhere within 30 minutes and downtown is filled with cozy neighborhoods that each have their own soul. It’s a beautiful city and the food scene is exploding. I’m jealous that I’m not able to take advantage of all of it. For now, let’s take advantage of Public Greens and their most-amazing-fresh-from-the-farm-literally-across-the-street produce.
I’m not joking, as you sit on the gorgeous patio, large black umbrellas shading each table, string lights dangling from the skies, you can take a peek across the Monon Trail to a garden of delights that produces parts of their menu. However, distracting you from the luscious greens may be the people watching that is, probably, one of my favorite parts of eating here. Cyclists, walkers, joggers, dogs of all breeds meander up and down the trail, some slinking in to Public Greens, some shuffling off to anywhere. If you have nothing to say to your dinner mate, at least you both have something to watch.
On our first visit, my daughter and I waltzed up to the open air counter, the black building looking simultaneously modernly quaint and cozy. A fresh breeze blew over the patio helping to cool off the Indiana heat. Reminiscent of cafeteria days, we approached a long open air window with a peeping view to the kitchen beyond. Clipboards with paper menus were nonchalantly scattered near the entrance to the ordering zone and we glanced over the fare. I was immediately glad to see simple listings below each item designating “dairy, wheat, egg” [if they were in it] and at the top, a “sub GF bun” title. Clear, easy to read navigation – so appreciative.
I always try to find something that’s a regular item to try first. Like something with a bun that I can swap to GF. The gentleman at the register instructed me immediately that they were currently housing ‘the absolute best tomatoes he’d ever tasted’ and being that he made it sound like if I didn’t have something with these ambrosia level tomatoes on it, my tastebuds were sorely losing out, I went for a summer classic: the BLT. With fries, because, fries are my kryptonite. I watched a platter of crispy golden sticks float by us heading for another table and knew that was an excellent choice. Speaking of fries, they did not mention a separate fryer for gluten free items. I somewhat always take a risk when ordering foods like fries, but as I looked over the menu, I didn’t see much besides fries that were going into the oil anyway, so I took that chance. I’m so glad I did.
Two sparkling pink lemonades in-hand, we made our way to a seat closer to the shade and chatted about the rest of our day while people and dog watching. Quickly our food arrived, my daughter: a falafel that was as big as her head and fries and me: my BLT and fries. Now, I don’t know if this was on purpose or an accident in the kitchen but if it was the latter, they need to keep it as standard. My GF bun was soft and brown but the insides were almost char-toasted. Pairing it with [yes, they were that amazing] the thickest tomato slices and bacon crisp yet substantial, the smokiness from that charred bread was perfect. A creamy dill aioli complimented the whole, pulling it all together; the lettuce’s chlorophyll green bitterness offsetting any richness. Truly, so simple, yet so delicious. And yes, the fries were everything as well. Golden and hot, salty and crunchy.
A few weeks later, as the husband was jealous he didn’t get to join us on the first round, we brought him along too. I opted for something that was specific to Public Greens this time: the Okonomiyaki. I wanted to optimize the farm to table availability to its fullest. The Okonomiyaki is their take on a Japanese vegetable pancake though I’m going to place it closer to a frittata or omelette for reference. Bursting with a variety of fresh veg and loaded with a rough salad of bitter greens atop, it was a summer garden on a plate. A drizzle of a sriracha aioli complimented the richness of the egg and veggies. The one thing that almost ruined it was the ‘sauce’ served alongside. The menu stated a sesame ginger sauce but I’m nearly certain it was simply gluten-free soy sauce or tamari. There was no sesame or ginger to be found in that little ramekin of saltiness. I drizzled it over and almost made the meal inedible. Luckily, I was able to divert some of it away.
Alongside our meals, we grabbed an app of guac and chips; the guac chunky, fresh and creamy, the chips thick and homestyle. I left that up to my daughter to inhale. And at the end we all tested the cinnamon bomb which I will say, was lackluster to me. A small muffin-like sweet, rolled in cinnamon sugar, though gluten free, was a little dense and dry. I’m thinking that dunking it in a smooth cup of coffee would be the way to go and quite possibly, that’s the intended use for it. It would be delicious soaking up and dripping with a dark roast, maybe I’ll try that next time. It was, however, amazing to see a gluten free sweet treat on a menu though and I fully 100% appreciated that option.
Truly, to take full advantage of this sweet little place, I’ll need to visit a significant number of times. There were so many options, another gluten-free gallivant is sure to be in the future.
What To Know Before You Go:
Worry-free eating? Yes, for the most part. The menu is very clear on allergens and is listed below each item.
Easy to customize? Definitely. I simply swapped a GF bun for my BLT and the majority of the menu was clear with ingredients.
Wide menu selection? Very! From brunch to dinner, there are options for anyone in your party. Sandwiches, bowls, soups, meats and vegan options- all the things.
Are you from this area? Do you have a GF fave that I need to check out? Comment below and let me know!