Review of End of the Line Public House, Fountain Square (Indianapolis)
I have not been to Fountain Square often, and every time I’ve gone I have found something new to like. Tonight, it was End of the Line Public House.
After finding some free street parking and walking a block through the winter wind, my wife and I were greeted immediately at the door and seated right away. The decor was exactly what I personally prefer in a restaurant — interesting enough to notice, but not so busy as to be distracting. There were old pictures of Fountain Square and a few televisions that were, blessedly, on mute (with closed caption in case anything was really interesting; since it was mostly celeb gossip news stuff, it wasn’t interesting to me at all, so I could easily tune it out).
There didn’t appear to be many staff members, so they were all working hard, but they were working efficiently. As my wife noticed, they seemed to pay attention to when we finished each course so that the next courses were ready at appropriate times — we didn’t feel rushed, and we didn’t feel that we had to wait.
We went during “Devour Downtown” (http://www.devourdowntown.org), which meant that our meal cost $30 for the two of us, plus $13 for a “full flight” of beers on tap. A “full flight” means 10 different beers, each with a 4-ounce serving size. Our server, Brian, kindly brought a “cheat sheet” and a pen — without being asked — so that I could not only keep track of which beers I had in which order, but also so that I could take notes.
For our appetizer, we chose the pretzel sticks with a havarti dill sauce and a milk stout cheese sauce. This was just about a perfect appetizer; the pretzels were soft and hot, and salty without going overboard. The sauces were perfect compliments, and were a nice change of pace from the usual standard cheese sauce.
For the main course, Ann chose the “Drunken Chicken Sandwich,” which was described as “chicken breast with four mushroom, cheese & onion mix sauteed in fresh beer served on crusty Italian roll.” If that sounds good to you, double your expectations. I chose the “Bonfire Burger,” described as “just like it was cooked over an open campfire, topped with onion marmalade, diced tomatoes & goat cheese served on dark rye bread.” My one and only complaint is that I ordered the burger medium, and I feel that I received medium well — however, the main reason that I order medium is to make sure I don’t get well done. The medium well burger was still nice and juicy, and the onion marmalade and goat cheese paired so well with the dark rye that by the third bite I completely forgot any problem I might have had with the burger.
For dessert, Ann had the House Made Carrot Cake. She warns that carrot cake purists might be okay with the raisins but are more likely to take issue with the pineapple in it, and she would have preferred a little more of the cream cheese frosting. I noticed that the carrots were shredded and noticeable in the cake. I didn’t taste it, since I can’t stand carrot cake, but I wanted to warn you in case you, like me, find the idea of obvious shredded carrots inside a cake to be completely unacceptable. Of course, the fact that it’s carrot cake might make that okay to some of you. I had the House Made Flourless Chocolate Cake, with raspberry sauce. This dessert is gluten free (which doesn’t make a lot of difference to me), but it didn’t taste like it was free of anything. It was absolutely delicious, and was easily in the top three of flourless cakes that I’ve ever had. (In case you’re wondering, number one is a flourless cake that Ann made, and number two is from a restaurant that is no longer in business.)
And yes, I did indeed get the full flight, and Ann had sips of each one. In the order in which I tried them, here are my thoughts.
1. Upland Preservation Pilsner
This beer had a mild nose and a good hop flavor that was not at all aggressive. The bitterness increased when I held the beer in my mouth, and there was a faint nutty aftertaste. This beer paired very well with the burger, and I feel it also would go nicely with a pulled pork sandwich or as an ingredient in a hearty chili.
2. New Albanian Beak’s Best
This hoppy beer is described as “session-strength” and as an “American bitter and soul liniment.” I found it to be perfectly good but unremarkable. I thought it was too hoppy for those who don’t care for bitter beers, but not hoppy enough for true hopheads. I thought it paired brilliantly with the pretzel sticks in the havarti dill sauce, and I would have liked to try it with a spicy Thai dish as well.
3. Flat 12 Walkabout Pale Ale
This beer baffled me with its nose; it has a noticeable fragrance of a tropical cocktail (according to the manufacturer, passionfruit). It was very well-balanced between its malts and its hops. When I think of the main difference in flavor and mouthfeel between a craft beer and a standard American pilsner, this beer fits exactly in my imagination. Ann and I agreed that it would go well with a spicy grilled tuna.
4. Triton Railsplitter IPA
This had a faint malt nose. For an IPA, it was remarkably and disappointingly un-hoppy; the hops only materialized at the back of my throat (as if I had burped after drinking someone else’s IPA). A big gulp put the hops on my tongue, but almost unpleasantly. My best recommendation for a pairing would be to pair it with another beer.
5. Triton Magnificent Amber
A somewhat hoppy nose — hoppier than their IPA above — gave way immediately to a malty flavor. This was a very good all-around beer; when I finished it, I immediately wanted more of it, despite having no particular stand-out flavor or feature. I would not pair this with a strong beef dish, but just about any chicken, turkey, or pork dish woudl do.
6. Sun King Sink the Clipper
An incredibly mild nose on this one proves deceiving; once the beer hits the palate, the rich malt flavor narrowly edges out the bitterness of the hops. This has a full mouth feel, and to use a term I was taught applied to red wine in particular, it has “legs” — it’s thick enough to leave a lacy trace of its head on the glass. It’s not a strong-tasting beer, but a very satisfying one. I agreed with Ann’s assessment that it wasn’t a beer that needed a pairing; it’s a social beer, one that we could easily envision happily drinking around a campfire with friends.
7. Upland Komodo Dragonfly Black IPA
Our server, Brian, said some people rave about this beer. I’ve had two other Black IPAs that I have thoroughly enjoyed, which made this beer astonishingly disappointing. It had a reasonably hoppy nose, but a phenomenally sour taste. Please go out and try a Black Cannon from Heavy Seas instead. This was the only beer that I didn’t finish. My ideal pairing for this one would be the sink drain.
8. Flat 12 Lacto-Maltic Milk Stout
This had a very malty nose — the best smell yet — and it also had a full mouthfeel. The deeply roasted — almost burnt — malt taste ended with a great chocolate and coffee finish. A fantastic example of what can be done with a milk stout. I would pair this with a non-fruit dessert.
9. Fountain Square Brewing Oatmeal Stout
The rich, malty nose promised a smooth beer, and that promise was kept. This was so creamy and dark, and so smooth and un-hoppy, that it was easily my favorite of the evening. This paired well with my chocolate-and-raspberry dessert, and I would definitely recommend it with any chocolate and/or berry dessert you might care to try.
10. Old Rasputin Imperial Stout
A malty nose and a deep dark roast malt flavor can’t hide the taste of alcohol on this beer. It had the intensity of Turkish coffee. In fact, I can’t see possibly consuming more than a single pint of this at a sitting. Ann and I would have paired this with vanilla ice cream, creme brulee, or ideally a plain New York style cheesecake — no frills.
All in all, a great birthday dinner, and I am guaranteeing that I will be back.