On a recent trip to fly out of one of my favorite airports, I knew I desperately needed two things: a hotel room (as I would be getting in quite late on Friday) and some city time.
In fact I got in after midnight, delirious from the long day of travel and quite possibly the endless exits and loops that are the Indianapolis 500 training ground for civilians. I was so pleased to rest my head at the Hyatt Place near the airport. The room was clean, quiet, comfortable and I hunkered down the next morning at a well appointed, complimentary breakfast spread. I knew I didn’t have what it took to go into downtown Indy, and so settled on an outer loop via 465.
Stumbling into the sunshine, I had my first destination: the Apple store at Keystone Crossing. Now, please remember I have not seen a Real Mall in about 2 years, so this one took my breath away. I didn’t have it in me to cross over into the other sections, wings, buildings that stretched as far as the eye could see. But I did have a great conversation with a genius who studied abroad in Vienna. Don’t all geniuses begin as music majors?
Dazed by the mall, I needed caffeine. I snubbed the Starbucks in the mall and set to Googling around. In the end I defaulted to a Starbucks down the road, but first? The Flying Cupcake. If they had beverages, I think they’d be perfect – but in the meantime they make a damn good cupcake. I went for the Red Velvet Elvis. The highlight? It was tucked away into a white takeout container. Maybe people at Starbucks thought I was snarfing beef & broccoli at 11 a.m., but it was my little secret.
I had it in mind that I wanted some Indiana wine to take home and enjoy. After the State Fair and the push for the Indiana Wine Trail (and alcohol to be served at said fair), I went online and found a long list of Indiana wineries. Based on my trajectory toward Charleston, I settled for a winery away from the city and on the way home. Chateau Thomas Winery in Plainfield, Indiana is indeed, away from the city, but may not be what you’re thinking of in terms of a winery. When I think of a country setting for a winery – I think vines, outdoor seating, quiet country (like Cameo in Greenup, IL). Not so, Chateau Thomas.
The winery is nestled between hotels, fast food chains and a Harley Davidson store. Wine goes with a lot of things but I having a hard time reconciling the Subway, Cracker Barrel, Holiday Inn combo. I went for a tasting (5 wines for $5) and came away with a surprising red. It was a quick experience, with some really nice people, some basic info (most grapes are imported to IN) and a whole lot of kitsch.
Lunch was down the road at a well recommended restaurant: Black Swan Brew Pub. The most startling thing about this place? The price. A grilled chicken salad and their signature fries (with choice of toss and dip flavor) came to a grand total of $11.12. The fries alone should have been $11 – they were tossed in truffle oil and parmesan, and my dip was a basil aioli. Tremendous find in the middle of nowhere.
Cafe Patachou gets a shout out here, as well. Advertised as “A Student Union for Adults” and recommended by one of my flight mates, I didn’t know I’d had it til after the fact. A very good salad and soup in the pre-flight hours left me wondering why people complain about airport food. Now I know, they are a culinary wonder in Indy and a big hit for breakfast. Took me awhile to remember that name .. Pikachu, Patacake .. what?
Indy (if outer) gets another thumbs up from me.