Black Market922 Massachusetts Ave Indianapolis, IN 46202
We were planning on going to Mama Irma’s, but we were told they ran out of food, so we had to improvise and decided on Black Market, a gastropub with farm-to-fork food. To find it, you have to travel down to the end of Massachusetts where you’ll stumble upon a lone structure. Before walking in you can see the large industrial-style lights hanging over two 12-top tables at the center of the restaurant. There are about five four-tops around the long tables and there’s additional seating at the bar. If you are dining at one of the two main tables, as we were, you can expect community-style seating. This can enhance your dining experience if you have friendly neighbors who allow you to stare at their food, ask for their recommendations, and then return the favor to the patrons sitting next to you. It is understandable that this is not for everyone, but we enjoyed it.
Based on favorable reviews we read, we ordered the Daily Pickles ($6). That night’s selection included pickled serrano peppers, beets, an egg, turnips (pickled in sourdough) and homemade peanut butter. The turnips were Sean’s favorite pickled ingredient—cold, crispy, and pink-colored, with a slight sourdough flavor— and my favorite item was the peppers. The peanut butter was the crowd favorite, which may defeat the purpose of ordering a plate of pickled vegetables altogether. Only two items really stuck out to each of us, which hardly seems worth it.
Recommendation: Despite the Yelp reviews to the contrary, we were disappointed with this dish and would not recommend it.
The Indiana Farmstead Cheese ($10) plate was accompanied by oatmeal cookies and grilled bread with house preserves. For 10 dollars and the fact that it was a cheese plate, the amount of cheese served was laughable. We received two very small cuts of cheese – one was goat cheese and the other wasn’t memorable, as we already forget what it was. The accompanying bread was crispy and had great grill marks. The raspberry preserves were an obvious, but delicious addition to the plate.
Recommendation: For the price, selection, amount of cheese and accoutrements (or lack thereof), we were FAR more impressed with the cheese plate at Bluebeard.
We always like to try unique foods when we see them and the Lamb Tongue, House Bacon & Egg ($10) with root vegetable hash and cauliflower puree was our pick to be adventurous. The tongue had a crispy exterior, but was a little too chewy in our opinion. If you’ve ever had cow tongue, you know how soft and tender it is. This was nothing like that. To be fair, we have not had lamb tongue before so this could be the way it is supposed to be cooked. Either way, it was not for us. The egg was soft boiled, which is perfect for those who like to cut the egg and spread the yolk over the other ingredients on the plate. There was nothing special about the vegetables or the way they were seasoned, but the cauliflower puree was quite good. Overall the flavors were combined well, but we would have liked a slightly bigger portion of both proteins and some actual flavor from the vegetables.
Recommendation: For being such an unusual dish, we were hoping to be blown away. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
As our waiter was describing the daily specials, all of our heads turned to each other as the Mozzarella Cheese Sticks ($10) were announced. We got three sticks that were about 10” long and 1” thick with house made mozzarella. They had the perfect crisp and delicious, fresh mozzarella. They were served with a curry sauce that had some slight heat to it. This sauce actually made us question whether marinara is truly the best sauce for mozzarella sticks. Everything about this simple dish was great. They don’t taste like your average finger food.
Recommendation: These are a must.
One of our friends ordered the Bluegill & Cheddar Grits ($24) that came with smoked hock, gravy and pickled blueberries. There was a generous amount of fish, which was thin and coated with cornmeal, and fried until the fish was flaky. The grits were thick and creamy. The smoked hock was Sean’s favorite. It brought the right amount of smokiness and was melt-in-your-mouth tender. The gravy lacked some butter, and the pickled blueberries were very acidic by themselves, but they went well when eaten with the other ingredients in the same bite.
Recommendation: Out of the four entrées we shared, this was our favorite.
The Apple Brined Pork Chops ($23) came with BBQ beans, pickled peaches & BURTONS syrup. The pork chop was large and had good grill marks on it, and it also came with the bone. The beans were a little too al dente for us, but had a good balance of sweet and spicy. It also came with collard greens. We understand that the peaches were intended to provide sweet balance to the salty pork chop and greens, but they just didn’t go well with the dish in our opinion.
Recommendation: It was a good dish, but not good enough to order a second time.
Sean ordered the Duck Leg Confit ($24) with citrus spaetzle, butternut squash and apples. The leg was cooked perfectly—crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Sean also liked the spaetzel and thought it went well with the leg. The vegetables on the other hand were similar to those in the lamb dish. They were not seasoned well, if at all, and added no real flavor value. We have had better tasting vegetables from the fair.
Recommendation: As great as the meat was, the sides didn’t elevate the dish like they could have.
I ordered the Black Market Burger ($15) with AMELIA’S brioche bun and goat cheese spread, grilled red onions and green tomato pickles. The burger comes medium rare, but it was a little too undercooked for our liking. This gave the burger a one texture note—mushy. The goat cheese was good, but Sean thought it overpowered the other flavors. Therefore, the green tomato and red onions added didn’t come through as much as we would have liked. The meat to bun ratio was perfect and the bun held up well (no one likes a bun that falls apart two bites in). It’s not the best burger I’ve ever had (that spot is taken by the Refinery in Tampa, FL), but it was good.
Recommendation: Is it too much to ask to order a dish that exceeds expectations? It was good, but good usually doesn’t make for repeat customers.
If you haven’t noticed by now, we like our desserts. If you don’t see a dessert review in one of our posts, you can assume only one thing—they didn’t sell dessert. We ordered all three they offered. Our first was the Apple & Caramel ($7) with pawpaw ice cream. The caramel and apple came in a strudel coated with cinnamon and sugar. Pawpaw is a fruit which is indigenous to the Indiana area, and tastes like a sweeter mango. It was a little too sweet for our liking. The pawpaw ice cream did not go well with this particular dish, but we also wouldn’t have liked it as a stand-alone dessert either.
Next up was the Lime Pudding Cake ($7) with preserved peaches and an almond crème fraiche. It had the texture of angel food cake. The peaches and crème fraiche did not go at all with the dish. Rather than tell you about each flavor, we’ll just say that the whole thing was a disaster.
Lastly we had the Salted Chocolate Brickle ($7) with cream cheese ice cream and bourbon caramel. This dish tasted like the result of a seven year-old asking their mom what would happen if they mashed up some dry Saltines, threw in some ice cream and topped it with caramel. I don’t know many ingredients that could balance out the salt in a Saltine, but this terrible ice cream is not one of them. Everything about this dry, salty dish was just a mess.
Recommendation: Take this dish off the menu.
Sean ordered a Mr. Poon ($10) – Casa Pacific Blanco Tequila, Ghost Pepper, Chocolate-Cumin Syrup, Agave Nectar, Orange Bitters and lime. This drink had a smoky tequila flavor, with the heat from the ghost pepper creeping in as an aftertaste, which was just enough to warm your mouth, but certainly not spicy.
Sean also ordered the Synchronicity ($10) – Hayman’s Royal Dock Gin, Senior Curacao of Curacao, Cynar, Maple-Blueberry Shrub and basil. The Cynar dominated this drink and because of that, it tasted as if we were drinking an herb garden. A fresh herb garden, but a garden, no less. The high ABV from the gin gave the drink a pleasant kick. The maple-blueberry added a little sweetness to the drink, but was hard to taste (because of the aforementioned herb garden in your mouth). The drink was garnished with clove buds that gave off a clean and powerful clove scent, but didn’t add flavor.
I ordered The Brevity Thing ($10) – Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, Dumante Pistachio Liqueur, Vanilla-Nutmeg Syrup, Mole Bitters and cream. The waiter told us it was a dessert drink and he was right. It reminded us of eggnog with pistachio flavor. It also had a slightly grainy texture to it from the grated nutmeg on top. I don’t like eggnog so it’s no surprise that I didn’t like this drink. It was thick and way too strong for my liking.
Black Market was decent, but not great, especially for the price. The highlight of the dinner was the mozzarella sticks. Is that sad? Do yourself a favor and go about 1.5 miles down the road and eat at Bluebeard (although we cannot say this with as much confidence now that John Adams is no longer a co-executive chef there). You will pay a comparable price for your meal, but the dishes are much better, and a little more avant-garde. The service here was fine, but it was nothing to rave about.
Location: Downtown Indy (Chatham Arch)
Cuisine: American (New), Gastropub
Dress Code: Casual