Restaurant Reviews

Restaurant Reviews --> A Visit To Tinker Street

A Visit To Tinker Street
Just a short trip to downtown

I'm not really sure we need to add to the amount of positive ink that Indianapolis media has used praising Peter George's new restaurant, Tinker Street. But our first experience was so good that we felt compelled to write about it.

Peter George is a pioneer on the Indianapolis restaurant scene, opening his first restaurant in Fountain Square in 1985, long before Fountain Square was hip. He followed with the elegant restaurant, Peter's, on the south side of Keystone at the Crossing, where I treated many out-of-town vendors in the '90s to the best meal in Indianapolis. Peter may have spent the last decade in residential real estate, but we think that he still has amazing talent in the restaurant industry. Combine that with the restaurant experience of Tom Main, and the result is Tinker Street. And then add Chef Braedon Kellner's extensive experience, which includes time in Low Country, with stints at Kiawah Island and Charleston, where he perfected his shrimp and grits. He came to Indianapolis with the opening of the new Alexander Hotel, all of which seems to have left him well prepared to develop Tinker Street's rather unique menu.

The location is almost as daring as the menu, located on the barely gentrified corner of E. 16th Street and North New Jersey, with a boarded up house next door and new residential construction across the street. One perk is that they do have a parking lot, although it was full when we left at 7:15 pm. The restaurant is small, with as many tops inside as outside on the pleasant patio where we sat, meaning tables may even more difficult to get next winter. We were warned that this is a hot ticket, and since reservations are not taken, show up early or be prepared to be patient. We arrived at 5:30 on a Thursday night to celebrate our wedding anniversary, and we were not at all the first diners to arrive, and it was pretty full by 6:30.

The menu is both creative and refreshingly affordable, with no entree priced at more than $19. It is divided into four sections, small plates (appetizers), botanicals (soups and salads), land and water (entrees), and confections (dessert). Each category contains six to eight choices that contain a wide range of locally-sourced ingredients, and the menu reads much like a local farmers' market.

Upon being seated, the menus arrive along with a complimentary, small flute of sparkling wine that starts the dining experience with a festive beginning. The wine list is well-curated by wine director, Lindsay Sloan, who I know from her time as a representative with a local wine distributor. She has certainly parlayed her experience and knowledge into a balanced list that walks the fine line between popular and more obscure labels. The list is fairly priced both by the glass and the bottle, with bottle prices that begin at only $26, and top out with a Cakebread Cabernet at $100, with most falling in the middle, and most mark-ups well below twice retail. We began with glasses of Bouchaine Carneros Chardonnay, and moved on to a bottle of Morgan Peterson's Bedrock Old Vine Zinfandel at $54 ($30 at Grapevine Cottage).

We began by sharing the sweet corn and sautéed mushroom bruschetta, with charred lemon and thyme, served on wonderful slices of toasted, Amelia's artisan bread. It was a perfect beginner that pushed the edge of a small plate with three generous slices for only $9. For our entrees, Linda chose the large gulf prawns served over grits in a rich shrimp bisque, garnished with a green tomato chow chow, better than the shrimp and grits we had in Charleston.

My choice was the sliced, medium-rare sirloin, served over more fresh corn and oyster mushrooms, in a light cream sauce, garnished with fresh blackberries and cherry tomatoes. Excellent, although not quite as interesting as Linda's shrimp, which she graciously shared with me. And at $19 and $17 respectively, both dishes were an amazing value, as was the basket of shoestring potatoes we choose to accompany our dinner. Thinly sliced and flash fried, they were crisp and served with a house-made ketchup and a hemp seed ranch dressing that was delicious.

Since it was a special occasion, we decided to try a dessert. I really wanted the deviled egg BLT from the small plate menu that had just been served to the table next to us, but Linda's choice prevailed with banana cream pie that was served in a vanilla wafer cup, with banana slices brûlúed with a crunchy, sweet crust. A great finish to a great meal, on a perfect 75 degree August night.

Tinker Street

402 E 16th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
(317) 925-5000