I am not a foodie. I'm not some hipster douchebag with my jeans rolled up like manpri's, some clever form of facial hair combined with some thick framed, non-prescription glasses. I don't sit around waxing philosophical about the culinary world as if I am a food expert. Don't get me wrong, I am all about culinary innovation, but I also recognize if my dessert wasn't prepared with liquid nitrogen so I spew a fog of vapor out like a dragon with each bite, then it doesn't mean my dessert isn't cool or good.
I am about real people cooking real food and sharing their love and passion through their menu and ambiance. I am about supporting hard working individuals that work tirelessly to provide for their families instead of corporate conglomerations that seek to profit while watering down the American culinary experience.
Despite my aversion often times to the trendy parts of town, I found myself recently in the Broad Ripple section of Indianapolis. Broad Ripple is often considered the youthful, trendy part of town. The nightlife in Broad Ripple is the place to be generally. So with some trepidation I set out to find my kind of place in what I feared would be a hipster stronghold. On north College Avenue, I spied the Aristocrat Pub & Restaurant. The signage proudly advertised the place had been in operation since 1933. That sounded like my kind of place. I was a tad concerned it may be a hipster enclave since it resides next door to a vinyl record shop, however I promised to give it a shot.
What's that? Vinyl records are vintage, you say? They are and I have plenty of them from my younger years, however I know what they are and how they sounded back in the day. Not this new trendy way of listening to albums by kids who never smelled the aroma of a freshly opened vinyl album.
Inside the pub, I was greeted by a wealth of warmly-stained woodwork. I elected to seat myself at the bar. The bar was well lit and bright, which helped showcase the beautiful woodwork, which includes wooden booths and an all-wood square beam ceiling right out of the 1930s period. The bar itself was an expansive u-shaped wooden monster allowing for plenty of seating and showing off the 60 beer taps available. I was at a seminar so I wasn't able to sample the selection, but I took a look and there is something for any beer lover. Stouts to lagers to IPAs to cider and beyond.
Some of the Aristocrat Beer Selection
The menu provided by my attentive bartender was ample, however not overcrowded. It was an eclectic mix of international and American cuisine. I decided to try the egg rolls as an appetizer. The portion was large with three full egg rolls and fairly priced at $9. The egg rolls at the Aristocrat also have chicken in them. Large chunks of chicken actually and they are served with two different sauces. The soy-ginger and sesame-garlic sauces are similarly Asian, yet distinct in texture and flavor. I spent time sampling back and forth and I like the soy-ginger the best in the end. It was salty with a good bite from the ginger and the sesame-garlic was good, but seemed a little too thick and sweet for me.
The veggies in the egg roll were crisp and fresh and the chicken was juicy. Everything played well with the sauces. My only criticism was that the middle portion of each egg roll wrapper was a little soggy. I would have preferred the wrapper a bit crispier. All in all, the dish was great and the meal was off to a good start.
Egg Roll Appetizer
A heaping mound of kettle chips came with the sandwich and they were delicious. The chips were warm and extra crispy as a good kettle chip should be. The chips showed evidence of a salty, garlicky, peppery adornment on them making them impossible to stop eating. I definitely considered ordering some on the side to take home. The bartender told me the chips were not made in the restaurant, but sourced locally from a small batch chipmaker.
The Smokey Reubenson
All in all, I was very impressed with the lunch I had at the Aristocrat. The sandwich was ample to eat alone and was affordable at $9. If you crave a wide selection of domestic, craft and international beers paired with a solid menu of food, then I think you will enjoy the experience. The staff was also knowledgeable about the menu and took great care of me, checking in often and refilling my drink regularly. The current staff are doing a good job of maintaining the traditional appeal of a place that has been around 80 years in an area where the new seems to be preferred over the old. The distinct lack any signs of hispters present during my lunchtime visit let me know they have been doing things right for some time. As a matter of fact, the two gentlemen dining on my side of the bar were old enough to have dined at the bar when it first opened. Hopefully I will be dining there in another 70 years as the tradition continues.