The Big Lug

 

You pull into the parking lot, and realize immediately that someone has got some serious taste and class.  The building itself invites you in the door.  The logo is brilliant and whisks through those days of yesteryear out on the trails of the mountains of the American West.  You remember how good, cold and refreshing the water is from a glacial stream when you used to ingurgitate from a southwestern-themed, wool-covered canteen.  As you enter the restaurant, the bright colors and modern graphics grab your attention. The booths are on the right, as you turn the corner, and my wife asked where we should sit.  I looked up, and there was Jesus from The Big Lebowski, and our seat was chosen.

The menu arrived at the table, and it was a full color onslaught of beauty, creativity and everything I could have wanted to eat for the next few weeks.  I even told Melissa that we might just want to rent a booth and move in.  I must stop for a minute and simply say that if you have ever liked cauliflower, and appreciate the joy it can bring when it is deep fried in spicy garlic sauce—I hope someone is reading the rest of this to you as you drive to the Big Lug. (Btw, if they are not currently open, you should stop reading until they are open and you can acquire some of this goodness for yourself.)

They have Nashville chicken, Italian beef sandwiches and a host of hamburgers, but their salads are where it’s at (yes, they come complete with two turntables and a microphone).  My eyes were drawn to the Hot Chop.  This salad has a sport pepper pesto, giardinera, pistachios, fresh basil and green tomatoes.  My wife interrupted my crooning to remind me that there was no meat on that salad.  No worries.  They sell Nashville hot wings, and they offer them in spicy garlic.

Their special menus are based off of pop culture, and the creativity is boundless. This is a fun place, with great servers, and I look forward to the next time I can drop by and enjoy their next offering.

Romanda’s

Where are you currently? Are you in Indianapolis? You might be in Virginia, or even in North Carolina. Well, you should be in Converse, IN, if it is between 7AM and 3PM. Rob and Amanda recently opened their Romandas restaurant on Jefferson Street in the old Essenhaus/Rickner’s Essenhaus building. The first day I wandered in they were still only serving breakfast. I ordered the Porky (an omelette with bacon, pulled pork, ham and sausage). Some people might think that an omelette is an omelette is an omelette, but they would be wrong. I dare you to find a more magnificent gathering of swine offerings. Romanda’s is a farm to fork restaurant, and that omelette comes with Rob’s home fries that will make you want to bring a sleeping bag or a hammock next time, because his special batter/seasoning on those fries will keep you coming back for more.

They are now open for lunch. They focus on burgers and wings, and we will talk about those in a minute. I feel like there might be some vegetarians wondering if there is something in this for them. Most vegetarians I know love a good grilled cheese. Rob’s grilled cheese includes 8 slices of cheese. Come on, man! And, if it’s in season, do yourself a favor and get some fried green tomatoes drizzled with a little garlic aioli. You will be glad you did.

He’s got burgers like the Teriyaki, the Reuben, the Cordon Bleu and a Pizza burger to name a few. But, my oh my, those wings. The first ones I tried were the Sriracha Lime. I then tried the Faceburner. I even tasted other sauces like Brown Sugar Bourbon, but time stood still when I tried the Salt and Vinegar. I love wings as spicy as they can come, but that Salt and Vinegar stopped the train without the need for a brakeman. I had a friend try one, and the people at the table laughed as they saw the sheer wonder on his face. He then replied, “he (Rob) might have just transformed the wing!” There are new flavors being added regularly, and you simply will not find a better wing.

Rob and Amanda will treat you right. Stop in and enjoy. I’ll probably be there.