Saturday, July 2, 2016
Road Eats: Hot Pot Aug and More at Ralph's Great Divide in Indianapolis.
My friend Mike Hobbs turned me on to this place. He did so with tales of coconut cream pie, mentioning how a pie fanatic like me should appreciate a good slice. And so I did sit in my car with my computer, wearing strange clothes and sipping on tea, looking at this website for this place right off the interstate in Indianapolis. At the time, I looked longingly at the cool idea of chicken salad (it was over 90 degrees that one afternoon) and resolved to include it in my post-event adventures.
So I found myself following my Google maps directions into the post-lunch fray onto interstates in downtown Indianapolis on a Monday afternoon, hungry and ready to try something new.
This is what I saw through my windshield when I pulled up.
Actually, considering some of the barbecue joints I've reviewed over the years, this was the freaking Taj Mahal. Of course I was in.
At this point, all I had said when I'd come in was "just me" when I was asked about my incoming party. The lovely lady who came to check on me asked me what sort of beverage I would like, and I responded "unsweet tea?"
She leaned over to me and said "now, our sweet tea here is Yankee sweet, less than half the sweet of Southern sweet."
I just looked up at her and asked "how did you know I was Southern?"
I went looking over the menu, and she made suggestions. I had to let her know I was allergic to pork, and she chuckled under her breath and said "well, don't even bother looking at THAT section," referring to a whole slate of sandwiches in a pink box labeled BOURBON SMOKED HAM. She excused herself, and a young man came to take my order.
In that small bit of time, I had found something that had roused my curiosity. "Does the potato soup have pork in it?"
"You can get it with bacon."
"I'm just wondering about this Hot Pot Aug."
"That's a classic," he said in an unaccented voice I could not duplicate to save my life. "It's our potato soup with a lot of sharp cheddar cheese thrown in and more on top. It's our version of potatoes au gratin."
"I have to have that. And... the prime rib of beef sandwich, Philly style?"
"We roast our own beef here. Good choice."
He whipped my menu away and I was left ignoring the political mess on the TV over the bar. I pulled out my phone and started to send out the Instagrams, which he noticed when he came to check on me.
"You do the Instagrams."
"Well do those Instagrams!" he grinned, and a few moments later he returned with a flairish swoop, delivering a cup of the aforementioned soup to my table with a basket of crackers.
I kid you not, my very first thought was "great googly moogly."
"That was quick!"
"We're masters of the 30 minute lunch," he told me. "A lot of people only get an hour, so we make sure they can get in and out."
I tried it next on a cracker, hoping for cooler returns. Which I got, but I instantly realized I didn't want to dilute my soup with crackers. The flavor profile wasn't right.
I could not tell where the Swiss cheese began and the beef ended on this
To say I was happy doesn't quite cover it. I mean, I'd had some pretty good food so far on this trip, but this, this made me ecstatic.
It took a little time to get through the soup and sandwich, thanks to the former's sheer heat, but I savored the consumption while other customers came and went. Eventually, the nice guy who was waiting on me came back and cleared my table.
"So, you'll be having some coconut cream pie. You're going to want that," he told me. I didn't argue.
That was a wise decision.
Speaking of injuries... thank goodness the stomach is an expandable organ, because man, I hurt myself on that pie.
I was asked how I figured out how to come to this place, and mentioned Mike's name, which brought reverence as well as definition for the staff, who'd all come in at some point to see this girl from Little Rock and hear what came outta her mouth. We got to talking about the SCA and this 50th Year celebration their friend Mike had just run, and I relaxed a bit. I doubt they realized I was there for the pie initially, or that I'd be writing about it. Hey, Indianapolis folks, yeah, that's what I was there for.
I'm just glad I got to experience Ralph's Great Divide. Boy, this place has my number.
If you'd like to check it out, plug the address 743 East New York Street into your GPS and head to Indianapolis. You can always call (317) 637-2192 if it gets you lost. And be sure to take a gander at the Ralph's Great Divide website.
While you're at it, go look at Mike's site, too. It's a barrel of laughs AND it has some really excellent recipes I'm going to be... borrowing.