Saturday, August 04, 2007

BadaBoomz: Great beer choice in downtown Indianapolis.

From the top of the hill on the breezy lawn at White River State Park in Indianapolis, the visitor is exposed to a 360-degree panorama that stunningly illustrates how far Indiana’s state capital and largest city has come since its 1970’s “Indy-A-No-Place” nadir.*

The vista to the north and west yields views of the terminus of the urbanized downtown section of the Central Canal towpath, the IUPUI campus, the NCAA headquarters, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, Indiana State Museum, Military Park and the Medal of Honor Memorial.

To the west are the Indianapolis Zoo and the main section of White River State Park. Facing south and sweeping east are seen the existing Convention Center and RCA Dome, and the new Colts home at Lucas Oil Stadium, still under construction, and Victory Field baseball park. Just past the complex of state government buildings directly to the east are the downtown skyscrapers (and Conseco Fieldhouse hidden just behind them).

Verily, downtown Indianapolis is booming, but upon closer examination it all can seem disturbingly corporate in nature. The usual food and dining suspects that one would expect to find in the open air food court in the exurbs -- Hard Rock, P.F. Chang’s, Jillian’s, Ruth Chris -- are slick, clustered and ready for charge cards. They don’t appear to be hurting for customers, whether drawn from the ranks of numerous tourists, visiting conventioneers or the Indiana state government employees swarming the streets at lunch and after work.

Standing at the corner of Washington and Illinois, and looking southeasterly, Rock Bottom pops up in the left eye, and both Alcatraz and Ram in the right. All three are chain brewpubs, and within the past two years Rock Bottom and Ram both have established branches in the teeming northern exurb. In my experience, they’re all above average in terms of overall beer quality, the food I’ve had in each was fine, and I respect them for what they are, usually opting for the rotating seasonals and specialty beers that better reflect the brewmaster’s discretion.

At the same time, I won’t deny that my personal preference for brewpubs in Indianapolis runs to the venerable Broad Ripple Brewing Company and relative newcomer Brugge Brasserie, located two hundred yards apart on the Monon Trail pedway in the Broad Ripple Village area far to the north of downtown Indianapolis, so excuse me if I sidestep for a moment the question of whether chain and independently owned breweries can both dance on the head of the ideological pin by noting that most beer-related itineraries probably are organized around either/or choices pertaining to Broad Ripple vs. the city center, and not both/all at the same time.

Rather, let’s consider the best independently owned establishment at which one can enjoy craft beer in downtown Indianapolis, and certainly one of the finer “hotel bars” anywhere, the newly transformed BadaBoomz Ale House & Grill. Many readers will remember it as Buffalo Wild Wings, then as now located on Maryland Street just around the corner from Conseco Fieldhouse, and with a door leading into the Hampton Inn lobby.

BadaBoomz owner Mike DeWeese has gone private, severing the BW3 connection and completely remodeling the interior and food menu while leaving the sports-oriented televisions intact as well as the forty taps, which continue to pour 95% good beer as they always have.

On the Friday evening of my session, before and after the outdoor Snow Patrol concert at the aforementioned White River State Park lawn, there were around ten Indiana microbrews on tap, two of which found their way to me: Mad Anthony IPA and Mishawaka Four Horsemen Ale. There also was time for a Founders dry-hopped Pale Ale … and then another IPA.

There’s a diverse bottled list as well, and from it I was able to locate a Moretti LaRossa dark lager to please Mrs. Curmudgeon, who also praised her vegetable pizza. From my perspective, an appetizer of jalapeno poppers (rings of peppers breaded and fried, sans cream cheese but with sour cream for dipping) followed by a smoked salmon wrap accented by blue cheese balsamic sauce was ample sustenance, and not overbearing.

BadaBoomz keeps pleasingly late hours. Brief but helpful beer descriptions are provided, and food and beer pairings are noted on the menus. Our server was knowledgeable. The commute from table to elevator to reach our Hampton Inn room was quite short, and in the morning, the Nordstrom department store located a few steps across Meridian has an espresso bar facing the street that opens well in advance of the store. The time-honored St. Elmo Steak House can’t be more than three blocks away.

All the ingredients are in place for a sports or concert road trip. Keep an eye on the schedules, especially for the Pacers; the Colts won the Super Bowl, but Indianapolis’s NBA squad didn’t make the playoffs in a weak conference. Larry Legend should be giving away tickets, so perhaps we should grab a few this winter, book a room at the Hampton Inn, eat a steak at St. Elmo, and then take a seat at BadaBoomz before and after the game.

Now that’s a Curmudgeon’s prime weekend getaway package.


* The I Choose Indy! blog offers pros and cons of the city’s ascent. This posting has no pictures because yours truly neglected to take his camera.


antzman said...

The weekend get away sounds like fun.... except for that Pacers game. I think I would just stay at Badaboomz

edward parish said...

But what about the Turkish noor in downtown Indy.