Saturday, November 1, 2008

Eating Bloomington: A Belated Report

The main campus gates, looking out on Kirkwood Avenue, the main drag and where most of the restaurants and bars are located.

Some imposing campus architecture.

It has been over a month since my trip to Bloomington Indiana and I know I owe you all a report. In fact, I promised you one not once, but twice, and then proceeded to post about cabbage and chowder and turnips. And sadly about Bri's passing. I promised that I would post a recipe for ceviche, and I will but first I want to give you my short report on my trip to Bloomington, taken oh so long ago in September.

First off, the school visit went well. Indiana University is huge! I had no idea that it was so enormous. Their campus is 1800 acres, stuck smack dab in the middle of Bloomington, which, compared to the university, is pretty small. There are about 71,000 people in Bloomington, and 40,000 of them are students. That, combined with the fact that IU is apparently one of the top five "party schools" in the USA, meant that there were a lot of bars lining the streets outside the main university gates. Thanks to IU's famous sports teams, most of those are well provisioned with loud tvs turned to the game for the benefit of fans.

Ivy covered university buildings.

But luckily for me, some of them also serve pretty darn good food, and there were even some real restaurants tucked away here and there too! In fact, Indiana natives are pretty proud of Bloomington's restaurant diversity. Its like a little DC: instead of hundreds of Thai and Indian restaurants, there are just a couple, but for a small city in the middle of southern Indiana, that's doing pretty good. Bloomington even does DC one better by having two Tibetan restaurants, one of which we had lunch at shortly after our arrival in the city. This surprise is by virtue of the fact that his Holiness the Dalai Lama's elder brother lives in Bloomington, where the country's only Tibetan Cultural Center is located. As you can see, despite the sports and beer vibe, this place is not quite your normal mid-western college town.

Over the course of the weekend we ate out at the following places (listed in the order in which we ate at them, for your viewing pleasure):

Anyetsang's Little Tibet (Get the momos, but be warned that the "level 5 spice", the hottest they offer, is a far cry from what is considered spicy in DC, not to mention Belize...)

Soma Cafe (a great little independent coffee house with yummy no nonsense fruit smoothies: nothing but frozen fruit and apple juice. No powdery mystery mixes, no added sugar, nothing but pure fruit flavour). Also has vegan baked goods that looked mighty tempting, but we didn't try any.

The Irish Lion (The whisky pie is no joke, the walnut cake is decadent and don't forget the tasty fish and chips, Irish soda bread, and stew served in a bread bowl!)

The Uptown Cafe (awesome oatmeal raisin pancakes on the specials list!)

Nicks English Hut (it seems almost dangerous to put this next to the Irish Lion, doesn't it?) (get the juicy and satisfying elk burger, and the house salad with sun-dried tomato vinaigrette!)

Farm (should have had Jose's bacon and egg pizza...that thing looked tasty. Got a too small yogurt and granola parfait instead.)

The host stand at Farm. See chef and owner David Orr's book on the display stand.

A service counter at Farm with a nice herb collection.

Some heirloom tomatoes and peppers in the deli case.

The Scholar's Inn Bakehouse on the town square. A pretty mild chicken and habanero combo, "the spicy kickin' chicken wrap" didn't quite live up to its name, although the flavour was tasty. It came with a generous serving of hard pretzels that made a nice snack for later, and the pickle was fresh and crispy. I think I just ordered the wrong thing for Bloomington, which seems to be pretty timid when it comes to the spices. The baked goods looked excellent.

Here is the famous fountain gazebo at Indiana University. Pretty isn't it?

There are a bunch of other places that I wanted to eat at while in Bloomington: the famous Restauant Tallent, Roots, Laughing Planet Cafe, Janko's Little Zagreb, Casablanca Cafe and the Blu Boy Bakery among others, but I will have to save those for next time.


Cynthia said...

Hi Lyra, thanks for the update and glad to see and hear that you're settling in.

Lyra said...

Hi Cynthia, I'm not actually living in Indiana now, I'm back in DC, this is just my report on my weekend visit to Indiana University that I took back in Sept. It was beautiful weather when we were there, so I got some nice pics.

Herb of DC said...

Thanks for the pics and the post! I haven't been back to IU in over 25 + years and it is wonderful to see pictures of the campus which thankfully, hasn't changed at all!

NICKS!!!! Ahh the buckets of beer I had there in the day!

There was some legend about the gazebo (although I think it goes by some other name) that a young woman was not truely an IU coed until she was kissed there at midnight.

Okay, I said it was over 25+ years ago, right?

Lyra said...

Herb of DC, that is correct actually, someone told me about the legend, but in 2008 I would venture that it should be changed: a young student (male or female)is not truely an IU coed until they are kissed there at midnight.

All universities have these strange traditions it seems. At my current school, students rub the nose of a statue of a hippo for good luck in their exams, or take pics sitting on it in their graduation robes.