Restaurant Reviews --> The Eagle Beer & Food Hall
The Eagle Beer & Food Hall
A Hipster Hollyhock Hill
Last week we visited the newest Mass Ave eatery, The Eagle Beer & Food Hall. It is a sister restaurant to the Ohio based group that brought us Bakersfield, just three doors away. The Eagle occupies the space that formerly housed the Front Page Bar, an Indianapolis institution that faded away with the demise of the Indianapolis Star building, and probably even before that. Knowing Bakersfield's distinctive, hipster vibe, we included our nephew, Zach, the general manager at the Elbow Room, who has the tattoos and man bun to confirm his hipster creed, just to be sure we could get in the door. It turned out that we didn't need it since the restaurant, at least on Sunday afternoon, was filled with a combination of multi-generational families, the just-out-of-church church crowd, and a variety of others who have obviously heard that this is the "new" spot for fried chicken. We're dubbing it the "hipster Hollyhock Hill" after the Indianapolis' fried chicken and mashed potato institution Hollyhock Hill.
The menu is short, focused, and feels more like Charleston or Atlanta than Indianapolis. It features four snacks, including things like brown sugar bacon and pickled country vegetables, three interesting salads, available in half or whole orders, five sandwiches that, of course, include fried chicken, as well as a sloppy joe and a pork shoulder sandwich. But the main attraction is fried chicken, using free-range, hormone free Amish chicken from Ohio that is brined and breaded with a crispy, but lightly spicy crust. Beginning with a whole chicken at $18, half chicken at $9 and breaking down to a white or dark quarter chicken for $6, this is a serious bargain. The chicken is served with a little pitcher of spicy, hot honey, that can add to the burn.
Our efficient and personable server, Trevor, pointed out that the multiple sides were generous and meant to be shared, and reasonably priced at $3 to $6 each. They include everything from collards, succotash, biscuits, spoon bread, sweet potatoes and white cheddar grits....pretty southern. We opted to share the excellent fries, served in a cone with a side of aioli, the horseradish mashed potatoes with herbed chicken gravy and the mac and cheese with garlic bread crumbs...yes, a starch-fest, but all delicious. And Linda still regrets that she did not add the Collards, since we ended up taking half of our chicken home for dinner.
Zach and Linda chose the quarter chicken portions, which were very generous, with the white including a large breast and wing, and the dark with 2 legs and a thigh. I chose the fried chicken breast sandwich, served on a French roll, topped with coleslaw, spicy mayo and spiced pickles, and at $9, almost enough for two.
The beer list that occupies the entire back of the menu is a beer lovers dream, with everything from PBR to dozens of fine craft beer selections. The wine list, on the other hand, is pretty pathetic, but at least well-chosen, with four whites, four reds and two sparkling wines, all available by glass or bottle. We shared a bottle of Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnay that was slightly overpriced at $46, but Linda kept reminding me that this was not a wine destination. They also have a full bar that I'm sure has every craft Bourbon you could ever want.
We will, however, visit again in warm weather, not only because we loved the chicken, but because they have what we think will be the best outside seating on Mass Ave. We still love Hollyhock Hill, but it is fun to see a modern, contemporary restaurant that has based its identity on its fried chicken and tasty old fashioned accompaniments.
The Eagle Food & Beer Hall
310 Massachusetts Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46204
February 24, 2016