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Misadventures at Cadillac Ranch July 16, 2017

Posted by Kenny Norman in downtown.
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Ebony and I went to the Cadillac Ranch at Mall of America. We LOVED it. Good music videos to watch, an extensive menu of delicious food, and a wild mechanical bull to ride! We heard there was a Cadillac Ranch here in Indy and got excited. We made plans to go on July 14.

That said, our trip downtown to Cadillac Ranch did not go well. Black Expo was in town, so when we were on 10th street, traffic was stopped. We had cars blocking intersections on the way there. When we got there, we apparently had to get carded, which they do after 7:00. And the menu was NOT what it said it was online. It was supposed to be the smaller version of the extensive menu. We had all of 10 options.

Worst of all, the bull was BROKEN. They wouldn’t get it fixed until 10:00, and we both had other separate plans after dinner- Ebony wanted to play with her niece and I was headed to the south side for the last half of game night. Ebony was NOT happy! At least we got like seven free coupons each.

I mean, at least I got to see Ebony, and I hadn’t seen her in a month, so that was nice. But I swear, next time we’ll just eat at Yard House and then walk down to Cadillac Ranch to ride the bull!

Giving Ram a try July 9, 2017

Posted by Kenny Norman in downtown.
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After my dad picked me up from Popcon, we decided to go out to dinner. We had just done Yard House, also in the area, the night before, so my dad wanted something new. We tried Harry & Izzy’s and then Mikado, in that order, but both places were so pricey that the cheapest entree was barely under $20. We were walking back from Mikado when we passed by Ram. We decided to go in there and check out the menu. Lighting was a little on the dark side, but it was still light enough to see. The hostess, a young blonde girl who was very lively and sweet, happily gave us a menu.

Granted, there were a few entrees from $20-30, but it was nice to see most of the entrees were from $11-20, and there were plenty at the cheaper end for me to make a selection. We sat down, and it was a good eight minutes before we got any service. Our waitress, Clarisa, finally arrived, and got our drink orders. I was pleased to see that they had root beer there. A lot of restaurants carry Pepsi products, but root beer never seems to be among the choices. And to give credit where credit was due, once Clarisa found us, we never had to worry about anything.

She filled our orders correctly, gave us refills promptly, and cleared all empty plates quickly. She was great! I forget the exact name for what I had, but it was a burger with lettuce, barbecue sauce, cheddar cheese, and bacon on it. The only modification I made was to remove a tomato. While it wasn’t the best burger I ever had, it was very juicy and not too burnt. My food was also surprisingly filling. I have to admit, I was disappointed at first when I saw the size of my entree, but then I ended up getting just the right amount of full: not too starving and not too stuffed. There were several other entrees worth trying, like sirloin, salmon, fried chicken, and steak sandwiches, so I think a return trip is in order. With good service, fair pricing, decent portion sizes, and tasty food, Ram is a place I would recommend. I give it 7.5/10.

Return to the Hibachi Bar July 2, 2017

Posted by Kenny Norman in north.
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So I went back to the Hibachi Bar in Broad Ripple for dinner with my dad on June 30. (Don’t worry: despite the name, it’s not an actual bar. I don’t do those.) Broad Ripple being the area that it is, all the storefronts are right up to the street with parking behind. It was difficult to find parking. Eventually we just parked in an old office building closed for the weekend. We got in there around 7:25 and there was a bit of a wait. The odd thing was that there was enough table space to sit everyone waiting, but we weren’t seated for 20 minutes simply because it took the staff that long to clean off the table we wanted. Once that was taken care of, we were seated. It took the chef a while to arrive, but in the interim, the staff was very friendly and attentive. They got us drinks, salad, and soup, and they correctly took our orders. I ordered a chicken and shrimp combo while my dad ordered a scallop and shrimp combo. My dad and I started talking to this nice couple, Pat and Christine, who moved all over the country before settling in the Lawrence area of Indy. And to think, they nearly ate at Cheesecake Factory that night! (Just my opinion, but I prefer the Hibachi Bar.) Those two got Japanese sodas. The sodas looked interesting both in concept and design. Pieces of the cap popped off and fell into the drink! When the chef arrived, he offered us the chance to have zucchini tossed into our mouths. Amazingly, I caught it, and so did two other people at the table! The chef was very fun and engaging, though I have to admit he didn’t put on as showy a show as other hibachi restaurants do. Also, I had to personally request ginger sauce from the chef, whereas it automatically comes at other places. The food was pretty good, though. It was honestly just a little bit below food from Sapporo or Tomo in terms of taste. However, the price difference made it much more worth it! Fried rice was included with the entree. The full price for two would have been $40, as compared to Sapporo and Tomo’s $60. Note that I said FULL price- Pat and Christine told us about a Groupon discount with that app. My dad downloaded it and got us $30 off, so we only paid $10. Total steal! Overall, Hibachi Bar has some pretty good food, though it wasn’t quite as good as other hibachi restaurants and the service was a little slower. But at prices like these, I don’t mind!

Day Out at Freedom Springs June 27, 2017

Posted by Kenny Norman in south.
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So right before my 4th of July Party, Lauren texted me and asked me what I was doing the day after the party. I had initially planned to go with Bridget to Splash Island in Plainfield, but Lauren then told me about Freedom Springs in Greenwood. She said it was supposed to be built to compete with Splash Island. Naturally, I was immediately intrigued and decided to check it out. Bridget got sick at the last minute, so Lauren was thoughtful enough to invite Nathan to come with us, and I’m glad she did. We got there at 1:10 and paid $10 to get in, which wasn’t bad. There was also an option to get a 10-time pass for $50, but I didn’t know how often we’d use it, so I didn’t get it. Freedom Springs seemed a little smaller than Splash Island in terms of square footage, but it had most of the same features: three water slides, a lazy river, a rope climbing area, and an olympic-size pool. One of the slides even required tubes to go down, and you could go down in single or double tubes. It did bother me that I wasn’t allowed to wear my goggles on the water slides, though; Splash Island doesn’t mind if I do that. Also, the slides at Freedom Springs are bigger, longer, and faster than the ones at Splash Island are. For most people, that’s a plus, but it’s a bit too big, long, and fast for me, so I prefer the slides at Splash Island.

That said, I liked the lazy river a lot better at Freedom Springs. It had a more even current and a better layout. The pool was about the same at both places; still, I was impressed by the decent size. And I like how you can see everything about the place, as well as the surrounding area, from the top of the slides. The staff was very helpful, polite, and attentive, even though we didn’t require much help from them. The bathrooms were also clean and well maintained, and the whole place is a giant rectangle, so it’s easy to navigate. We did the slides a lot. I first tried the tube slide with Lauren. She liked to go in the back because it was faster there; I liked to go in the front because it was slower there. The inside of the slide was oddly heated. We flipped over as we headed out and water was lodged deep in my ear. It took me a while to get it out! We took turns on the slides for a while, trying both the body slides and the tube slides. The body slides came in red and blue. Red was covered and went faster, while blue was open to the sunlight and went a little slower. I preferred blue. Nathan and I headed to the lazy river. When we saw Lauren was still on the slides, which she openly admits are her favorite feature of Freedom Springs, Nathan quickly got out of the lazy river and went up the slide. I joined him. Lauren and I did one last joint ride on the tube slide and then I did one last run on the blue body slide before Freedom Springs closed at 6:00. We got changed and left around 6:05. Overall, I really enjoyed Freedom Springs. It was a nice place and I’d go back there again.

Game night at Rascal’s Fun Zone June 21, 2017

Posted by Kenny Norman in south.
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For one of our most recent game nights, the lady in charge planned a trip to Rascal’s Fun Zone in Whiteland. That’s a bit far for me, so I carpooled with her and everyone else met us there. It was honestly worth the trip! The place had a large indoor electric go-kart tracks and a decent-sized arcade as well! Outside there were bumper boats, two courses of mini-golf, and two go-kart tracks. There’s enough for a second run here. I hope we make one. We didn’t have time to do everything here, so we started with the outdoor stuff…for all I know, the next time we go to Rascal’s, it may be cold.

Scott, John, Nathan, and I did a round of mini-golf. We did that first because the sun was setting and light matters more in mini-golf than it does in go-karting. The course was fairly straightforward and easy to follow, though I would have preferred signs and numbers near the holes. It wasn’t super difficult to get a par 3 or 4, but it was just difficult enough that it wouldn’t be easy, if that makes any sense. Scott and John were very close, but Scott barely won. Also, those two and I all got a hole in one at some point! The staff gave us suckers for competing. Major points to the employees, by the way. They were very competent and efficient. They knew everything about the facility that we needed to know, and they ran the place very smoothly. We didn’t wait in long lines, have any problems, or have any malfunctioning machines. Also, the building was INCREDIBLY clean…much cleaner than I would have expected for this type of facility. Next, we tried both go-kart tracks. One was a large loop, and one was a whole two-level figure-8 track. We did the loop first. I didn’t find that one as fun, but the carts ran smoothly, the track was slick, and the employees kept a watchful eye to unjam my friends when a few of them collided and spun around. Next was the two-level figure-8 track. I found that MUCH more enjoyable.

I got one of the lead cars and I easily overtook the two guys in front of me. I also did the same to the guy in last place. My friends say I got the best car of the bunch. They also say I drove like a maniac, which, considering I learned that from them the last time we went go-karting, I took as a compliment. After that, it was 10:00 and the place closed at 10:30. We played a few arcade games, most notably skee ball and Deal or No Deal. It was odd how the skee ball machines calculated points differently. Scott got a higher score than I did, but somehow he got fewer tickets. Nathan and I played Deal or No Deal. He kinda got screwed by not taking the deal at the end and opening a personal case of very few tickets. I did the opposite- I took the deal at the end of 75 tickets, but my personal case had 100 tickets. There were several other arcade games available that looked interesting, including duckpin bowling, but we were nearly out of time. About the only thing I didn’t like was that it was hard to get a decent prize for only 122 tickets. I feel like my tickets went further at Greatimes or Dave & Busters. Oh well. I split the candy I won with the guys as a thank you for a great night. We even had time to do a few games at the lady in charge’s house after Rascal’s closed! Overall, I like Greatimes a bit more, but I’d do Rascal’s again. I hope we can do so before summer ends, or at least before it gets cold outside.

Aldi remodel complete! June 1, 2017

Posted by Kenny Norman in north.
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Aldi reopened their 52nd & Keystone store on May 25. I went in there tonight, May 30, and was pleasantly surprised how they put the 20 additional feet to the right to good use! First off, the lighting is a lot calmer inside. Instead of being evenly bright, it shines selectively on certain items and gives the eyes a break elsewhere. Second, there’s signage for EVERYTHING. No matter how small the section, there’s a sign above its location in its aisle to help you find it. Third, there are more aisles now. Fourth, there is a break in every aisle in the same spot so you can cut through the store now. Fifth, there’s more space in the aisles now. Three carts could probably be nearly side by side now without incident. The layout has more freezer space and a few things have been moved. The bread is along the wall instead of by the checkout lines, the produce is in the corner, and the baking supplies are in the middle of the store. The juice is now where the bread once was by the checkout lines. I don’t like how they made a smaller space for apple juice. They used to have a space eight feet wide and six feet tall. Now it’s two feet wide and three feet tall. It’s too easy for me to buy their entire supply now. Sadly, they STILL close at 8:00 p.m. I tried to get out tonight and found that out when I was locked in. I just manually unlocked the door, pushed the doors open, walked out, and pulled the doors closed behind me. I didn’t really notice any NEW merchandise, but the remodel makes the place more pleasant to look at and easier to find things.

SoBro Greek’s now open! May 31, 2017

Posted by Kenny Norman in north.
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Finally! The SoBro Greek’s Pizzeria opened at 49th & College opened on May 20. I’d been waiting a while for this. Also, it seems like whenever a Greek’s Pizzeria opens near my house, it closes soon after. There have been two attempts in Broad Ripple and one attempt downtown, all of which failed. I was excited when one opened at 71st & Binford in March 2016. This one at 49th & College features a taproom up above. The dining area, which is really nice inside, is open until 9:00 p.m. with the taproom usually open until 11:00 p.m. or midnight. The dining area is surprisingly spacious, and it’s nicely lit. I didn’t find it too bright or too dim. It also seemed to be very clean. Our waitress was always kind enough to check back with us for drink refills and plate removal. Of course, it helped that she was in constant view of us.

This Greek’s also had sauce options, which is something I’m completely unfamiliar with. Our waitress wasn’t sure what other options there were for sauces, so I’ll have to check that out on my next visit. Oh well. The basic sauce is good enough. It’s rich and sweet, but it still tastes like pizza sauce. As always, I love the cheese and ham at Greek’s. The cheese is chewy and flavorful, but it doesn’t stretch to infinity. And the ham is juicy and not spicy, unlike most other pizza places where I’ve eaten. It’s nice having a Greek’s close to me with their delicious pizza. I’ll definitely be back for more and I hope this location sticks around for quite some time!

Dinner at Tian Fu May 14, 2017

Posted by Kenny Norman in north.
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Bridget, Ebony, Lauren, and I had dinner at Tian Fu at 86th & Michigan Road on Indianapolis’ northwest side. I had seen the place several times, but I’d never been. We checked it out and thought the food was pretty good. The wait staff seemed to have limited English, but they knew to clear plates, take orders, and get drinks. Everything was done correctly, and the manager even got personally involved on several occasions, not because we complained, but because he actually cared enough to make our experience there enjoyable. I got chicken egg rolls and wonton soup as appetizers. The chicken egg rolls really didn’t taste like chicken and weren’t that special. They didn’t taste bad, per se, but I probably won’t order them again. The wonton soup was MUCH better, and it came in quite the large bowl! I’ve had better wonton soups, but I WOULD order that again. For my entree, I got chicken & shrimp with broccoli. Oddly, it was the same price as chicken & broccoli. Anyway, it tasted wonderful, and it was covered in a sauce that was sweet, but not TOO sweet. It provided a nice accent to the taste, and it went well on my sticky rice too. Finally, when Ebony couldn’t eat her honey banana dessert, I finished it off. They had different criticisms about it; I thought it was just right. It had a crunchy thin layer outside with a gooey thick layer inside. It was mostly banana, but I could taste some honey. All in all, while Tian Fu wasn’t the best Chinese food I’d ever had, I enjoyed my meal there, and I give it a solid B. Also, their menu is quite extensive, so I have plenty of alternative entree options for my next few visits.

Aldi renovation April 20, 2017

Posted by Kenny Norman in news, north.
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The Aldi I shop at on 53rd & Keystone shut down April 15 for an extensive remodel. They wanted to add another 20 feet to the side of the store to fit more freezer facilities. Part of the remodel includes a temporary shutdown. They’ve been open for a while, and while it smelled like wet cardboard, at least I could still get my groceries. I went there one last time before they shut everything down, and the place was ransacked. The freezers were blocked off, and everything that wasn’t frozen food was ransacked! At least I still got my apple juice. The renovation will be complete May 25, which seems like a long way away. I may shift over to the new Broad Ripple Fresh Thyme (with a bit of Wal-Mart to bat cleanup) in the interim, but at least the Aldi staff was nice enough to hand out coupons- $10 off a $40 purchase during the closure, valid at four other Aldi stores: 96th & Hague, 84th & Michigan, 46th & Lafayette, and Washington & Arlington. All those stores are a bit out of the way for me, but it’s nice to know they care enough to help customers with the inconvenience! I eagerly await Memorial Day Weekend when the new store is fully renovated.

Broad Ripple Fresh Thyme has Grand Opening March 31, 2017

Posted by Kenny Norman in news, north.
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I found out a few weeks back that the Broad Ripple Fresh Thyme would be opening March 30. Eve works there, so she kept me in the loop and told me I should go there to check it out. Parking was easier than expected, as the whole first floor of the garage is exclusive to Fresh Thyme customers. The layout was somewhat reversed of every other Fresh Thyme I’d been to, so I got lost at first. Luckily, the staff is very cheerful, friendly, and helpful, so I had them point me in the direction of what I needed. Unlike other Fresh Thyme stores, this one had a smoothie bar, hot bar, and chippery. Naturally, I had to check out all those features! First, I checked out the hot bar. The food was $8 per pound, so I may not do the hot bar a lot. One day I may treat myself to it. It had corn, mashed potatoes, chicken, broccoli, and all sorts of other delicious comfort food! It smelled really good, too. Next was the smoothie bar, which is also part of a coffee station that also serves Hubbard & Cravens coffee. I don’t do coffee, so that particular feature won’t do me good, but I know other people will like it! I got two smoothies while I was there at their new smoothie bar! One was good! The other…not so much! The “Blondie” smoothie had apple juice, banana, and strawberry. It was good. The “Da Blues” smoothie had apple juice, banana, and blueberry. It wasn’t quite as good. Next stop was the chippery. The staff there were so helpful. If I wanted to sample a chip that they didn’t have out, then they’d open a bag for me to taste one! Their sweet potato chips were a bit bland and not very sweet, but their sweet barbecue and their sour cream and onion chips were great, so I got both of those. Also, because it was Grand Opening day, I got a free reusable bag and a whole bunch of samples- bread, cheese, salami, sushi, even a hot dog! I wish the samples were an everyday thing, but I know it was just for the grand opening. The hot dog was especially good. The lady running the booth was very interactive and energetic. I donated $1 to the art center, as she was asking for donations in exchange for hot dogs. I also got $5 rotisserie chickens and a bunch of strawberries! I also checked out the patio, which was open because the Grand Opening day was warm and sunny. The sales may vary from week to week, although not as much on Thursday, which is their “double ad day,” when the previous and the next week’s ads are both valid. The Broad Ripple Fresh Thyme has enough interesting things to warrant a return visit, I’d go back there again just for the smoothies!